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Key Digital Branding Tips to Dominate Your Online Presence

9 Jan

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In a competitive marketplace where analytics and conversion rates rank high among digital marketing tools, many businesses put the idea of branding on the back burner. Because it’s a relatively slow process, traditional branding is often overlooked in favor of the instant-gratification of PPC campaigns, Facebook ads, and AdWords. Establishing a brand can sometimes be accomplished in just months…but in many cases, an effective brand can take years to develop.

As a critical marketing strategy that creates measurable results over time, downplaying the importance of your business’s brand is a big mistake. Take a look at our most valuable tips to help establish, expand, and empower your digital brand’s presence:

Leverage content to develop authority in your industry

These days, it’s no secret that content is crucial to any digital marketing strategy worth its salt. Video has risen to the top as a content leader, and blog posts are still the method of choice when it comes to establishing your brand’s voice through writing: the key is to keep the content high-quality, engaging, and authoritative.

Another great way to define your brand and establish authority is to publish free informational content designed to educate and assist your customers without directly selling to them. This type of content can have a positive effect on your SEO efforts by increasing page views, links, and long-term visibility.

Use social media to promote your content

No matter how much amazing content you publish on your website—it won’t do you any good if no one can find it. Utilizing social media ad campaigns can help with promotional efforts by streamlining your target audience and expanding your content’s reach. For example, Facebook allows you to aim for groups who “like” companies and products similar to yours, and Twitter offers the option to target a specific brand or influencer’s followers.

Maintain content that resonates with your brand voice

Effective branding relies on consistency, and keeping your content in line with your brand image is a critical step toward forging a meaningful connection with your audience. Focus on publishing content that’s consistent with your brand’s subject matter, image, and tone of voice.

Concentrate your efforts on branding over conversion rates

With the massive amount of fast-acting digital marketing tools available today, it may be tempting to focus on short-term metrics rather than long-term effectiveness in evaluating your branding campaign’s ROI. Many businesses make the mistake of initially strategizing with the intention of strengthening their brand—only to compromise those efforts by redirecting the campaign strictly on boosting conversion rates and return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) metrics.

Rather than trying to push a product or conversion in the effort to strengthen your brand, focus instead on associating the brand with a specific feeling, a sense of nostalgia, or reliable solution. This isn’t to say that those digital marketing metrics should be ignored—but they should be evaluated separately from your branding strategy. After all, branding’s real value and ROI can only be accurately measured over the long term.

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Using Social Media for Customer Service

19 Oct

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There are many ways that B2B companies are different entities than B2C companies, but social media usage is not one of them. Because the fact is that your prospects, existing customers and employees are all on social media, probably every single day. Social media has become an easy way to keep up with friends and relatives as well as business connections.

Depending on your industry, the social media sites your clients visit will vary. But there is a lot of usage overlap with B2C companies. One of the best features of social media sites is the ability to chat in real time with your contacts. This feature is used so much on Facebook that the site has a separate mobile app just for chat alone. Additionally, video sites such as YouTube offer product and service education opportunities that you can use in discussions with existing customers to help them solve problems.

B2B Customers are Not Just on LinkedIn

While it is true that many B2B professionals are active on LinkedIn, you can also find them on other social sites including Facebook, Twitter and some industry-specific sites. LinkedIn is a great site for content, connections and networking, but is it the best place for customer service? Probably not. Unless you are using LinkedIn for setting up a face-to-face customer service meeting, there are better places to interact.

Using Facebook for Customer Service

Facebook gives you several ways to conduct customer service conversations. You can set up a section of your company’s Facebook page to have questions and complaints answered. The key here is making sure someone is always available to answer these questions during the hours you specify you are open. Facebook is a great way to have direct contact with customers, but if you don’t respond quickly, they will be disappointed. You can connect with your customers via Facebook Messenger from just about anywhere in the world for free. As long as you have an internet or mobile connection, you can help customers solve their product issues or discover their service needs. You can also set up a section of your Facebook page for customers to ask questions that other customers answer with the ability for your staff to jump in when needed.

Twitter for Rapid Response

Twitter only has room for 140 characters; however this makes it ideal for rapid response to service issues. The entire platform is full of interactions that are short and to-the-point. You can set up an entire account just for customer service, and post the link on your main Twitter account and other social media sites. Customers can contact you easily and you can respond with a quick solution. The biggest drawback to Twitter is that the site is open for all to see, whereas Facebook offers you privacy on Messenger.

Customer Service Adds Value

When a customer knows that they can get the customer service they need consistently and quickly, they will be happy with your level of service. This customer confidence adds value to your company as a whole and can act as a channel to market new products or services to existing customers. At least for establishing initial contact, social media is an ideal way to interact and resolve customer service issues.

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Why B2B Marketers Should Care About Algorithmic Attribution

20 Feb

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Successful companies in the B2B market space must prioritize attribution in order to fully understand how marketing affects sales. Attribution creates a convenient and precise way to match marketing efforts to the successful movements of the sales funnel. The data that attribution cultivates revenue, lead generation, etc., that each channel generates – and helps to map out the customer journey.

One of the most successful methods of quantifying attribution is the algorithmic model. Algorithmic attribution was created as a response to simpler, less effective models such as the first touch and the last touch model. It is a hybrid model that avoids much of the criticism of the simpler models; algorithmic attribution employs less of the predetermined rules that reduce the complexity of the customer journey too far.

Creating a Viable Model for Marketing

As analytical technology improves, it is no longer necessary to reduce model complexity in order to fit into limitations on the delivery or timeliness of information. As models become more detailed, accuracy naturally increases. The improved number of touchpoints within the algorithmic attribution model as compared to, say, the first touch model, greatly improves the viability of the conclusions lifted from its data inputs.

An AdRoll report seems to show that marketers believe the algorithmic attribution model to be more effective than any other methodology. Models that utilized machine learning as the data intake method were the most impressive.

The Method Behind the Algorithmic Madness

The major difference between algorithmic attribution and its simpler cousins is the custom weight that the algorithm places on data as it moves through the sales funnel. Instead of relying on assumptions or old data, algorithmic models rely on historical data that is already proven to be valid and useful to your company.

Why the B2B Market Should Prioritize Algorithmic Attribution

Many B2B marketers make the mistake of treating customers like businesses instead of individuals. Although the scale of B2B sales is usually larger than B2C, individuals within the company are making those purchases. These individuals exhibit the behavior of a commercial consumer in most cases, and treating them as such has many positive effects.

The successful B2B company of the future learns its customer most accurately. The algorithmic attribution model allows a company to access the data that is most appropriate for the current analysis. B2B marketers are able to see the stages in the customer journey that should be of the highest priority. This is especially important for a company with a multichannel or omnichannel approach to sales – the channels that are most successful can be identified accurately as well.

The Main Differences Between the Algorithmic Model and Simpler Models

  • A company may be able to add stages to its customer funnel that would otherwise go overlooked
  • Data is more actionable, because it falls into more precise and easily identifiable channels
  • Sales credit is given to the appropriate channels, allowing unsuccessful channels to be completely removed or reduced
  • The model itself translates more easily between departments, because the modeled customer journey closely resembles the actual customer journey

Knowing where to invest the human and financial assets of a company is essential to its ongoing marketing efforts. The algorithmic attribution model provides a more accurate depiction of the customer journey for marketers, leading to a more successful journey for marketers as well.

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Consolidation and Convergence: B2B Marketing in 2017

5 Jan

 

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Many industry experts agree; the idea of collective data will be a driving force moving forward into 2017. Proprietary data and walled gardens for individual publishers aren’t cutting it anymore, there is new content daily and new iterations of the same data thousands of times per day.

Consolidation and convergence giants such as Forbes have been ahead of the curve in the B2B market, with most smaller publishers consolidating in the B2C market. However, smaller brand data collectives with an emphasis on the B2B market are now a viable option, with platforms aggregating data from CRM platforms and industry analysts alongside traditional publishers.

The Takeover of Account Based Marketing (ABM)

2016 saw some very interesting changes in B2B, mostly because of the takeover of account based marketing. ABM was not a new technology; however, 2016 was the year that it became viable for the average business to use.

The market for ABM is now in its consolidation stage. Marketers are not looking to purchase a separate dashboard for each product, especially when networks are converging and providing more data in one place at once.

Where is Business Truly Converging?

The convergence of ABM platforms is all about sales and marketing teams converging as well. There is less of a gap between the two disciplines, as well as a new outlay of business specific metrics that are creating a shorter distance between acquisition, visibility, and revenue. 

The marketing qualified lead (MQL) went the way of the dinosaur in 2016, and experts are still debating what the replacement metrics will be in 2017 and moving forward. Some of the metrics that are being tested include target account engagement level, brand exposure, opportunity for acquisition, and campaign sales funnel depth per target account.

Will Ownership Be Socialized?

In 2017, the notion of owning data may also move in favor of the collective pool of data that is useful to all partner companies. There are already efforts to develop a Universal ID standard that will be used to identify different audience profiles. The precursor for these developments was proven to be profitable in the B2C market, prodding the big budgets associated with B2B to move on the issue in 2017.

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Building Materials Industry 2017 Search Engine Benchmarks

3 Jan

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CoreyMorrisGuest Contributor: Corey Morris
Director of Digital Strategy

The 2017 International Builders’ Show (IBS) is upon us. As we prepare our agendas and get excited to see what is new and noteworthy in the industry this year, our digital marketing team has taken a look at the state of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) for the industry and select segments. Knowing that XX number of B2B buying decisions start with a search engine and that new technology and competition continues to make the building materials channel more important to move products through than ever, we need to harness search engine traffic to build leads and sales.

Overall, in the building materials industry in 2016 we saw a slight decrease in direct traffic by visitors keying in the domain name and going straight to the website as well as a decrease in visitors who came from referral sites and links; however, we saw a major increase in traffic from social media sources, a slight increase in organic search traffic, and a steady rate of paid search traffic.

The number one source by far is organic search engine traffic. This highlights the importance of basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) if you want to be found by users already aware of your brand. It’s even more important that you go beyond the basics in order to be competitive for the most important generic terms.

The second and third biggest sources are both paid sources through the search engines and display ads. Combined, they make a big impact and are big drivers of traffic—right behind the “free” organic traffic.

Social media is a growth area and while it hasn’t been adopted as fast in building materials and further up the channel (compared to other consumer-focused industries), it is growing rapidly and poised for further expansion as manufacturers, distributors, and dealers find ways to help support selling products down the channel.

 

Building Materials & Supplies industry vertical under Construction & Maintenance from Google Analytics

2016 2015
Direct Traffic 13.2k 12.7k
Organic Search Traffic 46.1k 47.9k
Paid Search Traffic 25.2k 25.2k
Traffic from Social Media 4.2k 2.8k
Referral Traffic 8.8k 9.7k
Traffic from Email Marketing 3.9k 3.3k
Display Advertising Traffic 13.2k 11.2k

 

In addition to looking at stats by traffic source, we researched website engagement metrics. One encouraging discovery is that the growth in traffic is accompanied by quality content. A major increase in new visitors is coupled with double-digit percentage increases in pages per session and the average session duration. Not only is site traffic increasing in the industry, but audiences are staying on pages longer and viewing more content. This is a great trend to measure your 2017 efforts against.

While we’re not surprised by the benchmark data in 2016, there are encouraging signs. B2B companies, especially in the building materials industry, will be poised for more success if they push further into growth areas like social and continue competitive positioning in both organic and paid search. Be mindful of  competitive pressure from new entrants as well as many changes in the Google organic and paid search algorithms that have an impact on positioning and performance.

Do you know where you stand in comparison to these benchmarks? We’d love to hear about your 2016 performance and if you’re seeing the same trends we are.

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