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Go for the B2B Gold

11 Aug

Butterfly Stroke Swimming Champion

The Olympics Inspire B2B Excellence

The Olympics has become one of the most anticipated events throughout the globe. You may even have favorite athletes or events that you always enjoy watching. With such stories of triumph, unity, and humanity the Olympic brand is personal and inspirational. From watching some of the games with my family, I realized that they can teach B2B marketers a thing or two when it comes to creating a long-lasting brand and engaging audience experience.

According to Sponsorship Intelligence, the Olympics not only wins on appeal, but scores higher than many other global brands on values such as inclusiveness, inspiration, and excellence. The games strive to bring the world together through sport, and its overall movement is for a higher purpose—going above and beyond consumer expectations.

Although the colorful rings are one of the most recognizable and beloved logos, branding doesn’t just stop with a logo. Branding is essential because it shows the development and thinking behind who your company is and why people will connect. These days people are bored of perfection, and throughout the Olympics there is a healthy amount of achievement, as well as humanity. A powerful moment in Olympic history that captured hearts across the globe was Jamaica’s first-ever bobsleigh appearance, and although they went medal-less, their story was so inspirational that it even led to a Disney movie.

During the Olympic games, the moments that have been most memorable for fans have showcased the personality of individual athletes, their “brand,” like Carl Lewis or Michael Phelps—it’s the people who define the movement for fans. It’s important to realize that while you may be marketing for business-to-business, there are people who are making the decisions within each interaction and are who you need to build relationships with. By doing so, your business can create its own legacy.

Whether it’s watching Michael Phelps win eight gold medals in 2008 or fans being inspired by the 2012 London Olympics to get out and get active, the Olympic brand tells a story of inspiration that virtually anyone can relate to. Most importantly, the experience for both fans and athletes from around the world is unforgettable. As B2B marketers, we need to strive to create shareable moments, just as the Olympics did with record-breaking tweets during London’s 2012 opening ceremony. Engaging with your audience across your brand’s many different channels to reflect your brand’s true personality—and for transparency—results in winning the gold.

So whether you are a marketing giant, or a triumphant underdog, this year’s games serve as a great source of inspiration for both branding and customer experience. Take heart like an Olympian, and bring your brand center-stage with inclusiveness, inspiration, and excellence.

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AdWords Expanded Text Ads: What are they and why do they matter?

10 Aug

Google Advertising Program webpage on the browser

CoreyMorris

Guest Contributor:
Corey Morris, Director of Digital Strategy

This year has been a big one with Google updates and news across all platforms and products. Google AdWords has not been immune to large scale changes that have an impact on how advertisers manage accounts and campaigns. Earlier in the year Google removed all ads from the right side of the Google search results page. This update means that text ads are now only showing at the top and bottom of the page and while there was a lot of debate about what this would do to advertiser costs to remain in front of the targeted audience, it was accepted as an evolution toward a mobile-first mentality for Google and advertisers alike.

 Compare the Two…

First Image
Google’s New Expanded Text Ads
Second image
Google’s Legacy Ads

What are expanded text ads?

A natural evolution toward the mobile-first mentality was launched in late July and is rolling out to all accounts in the form of “expanded text ads.” This update by Google is available for advertisers to use when creating new ads featuring a new format and level of flexibility in ad creation and has a handy preview as you’re composing your ad for seeing how it might render on mobile and desktop. This update removes the need to check the mobile device box on text ads and for more detailed break-outs of campaigns by focus on mobile versus desktop.

Why should I care?

I have boiled this down to the pros and cons for the new format. Regardless of how you feel about the format, it is something that must happen and we recommend getting on board as soon as possible so you can get any possible advantage during the transition period in having more real estate on your search engine results page.

Pros:

  • The ad creation process will be easier going forward
  • You gain more flexibility with how the ad text lines are formatted (one line and continuous statement versus two) and it is expanded to 80 characters
  • You can have multiple headlines (30 characters each)
  • The display URL allows for multiple directory layers (backslashes) providing the opportunity to work more keywords into the display URL
  • All ad extensions are still in play allowing for even more real estate for your ads

Cons:

  • If you have a lot of ads in your account, or if you manage multiple accounts, you’re going to have to invest time in creating new expanded text ads. There is not a way to have your ads automatically convert in format and you will have to go through them in detail.
  • You won’t be able to update legacy text ads after the October 26, 2016 deadline. While your ads will continue to run, they will be frozen in time.

The Data

ERM started building expanded text ads when our accounts became eligible and started A/B testing against the legacy format. We’re monitoring the tests and will follow up with another blog post in the next 1-2 weeks with the results of our testing and more information about how expanded text ads are performing across the board. Stay tuned!

More info from Google on expanded text ads and the transition: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/7056544

Help on setting them up on your own: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/6167115?hl=en

To read more, check out this article: http://searchengineland.com/google-expanded-text-ads-quirks-testing-results-255093

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Top 5 B2B Social Media Marketing Myths

26 Jul

iStock_000065451201_Large

Social networking is a large part of most people’s lives. But we don’t always know how to make it a part of our lives as B2B marketers. If you are not on social media or if you are not having strong results, you may have fallen prey to one of these common social media myths.

  1. Social media marketing isn’t for B2B. 

There are social networks that are expressly for B2B communication, such as LinkedIn, SlideShare and, to a lesser extent, Quora. There are also social networks that you should consider just because they are a huge part of most people’s day-to-day lives, such as Facebook and Twitter. Remember that businesses are made up of people; go to the networks your people are most likely to be on and you will find a way to connect.

  1. You need to be on every network.

Joining every social network that comes up will lead to burnt out employees, too much money spent networking and not a lot to show for it. Every network is different and has a different audience. LinkedIn is a place where professionals gather. Quora is a good place to hang out if you have a lot of knowledge to share about your industry. YouTube and Instagram are great for sharing visual content. There are many customers for building materials on Pinterest. Pick two or three networks and work on building out robust presences there. Don’t worry about the rest.

  1. It’s never okay to automate.

Automation can give you a chance to connect with people who you might not otherwise reach. If you have an international customer base, automating a few posts to show up while you are in bed and your prospects are up and at the office or job site can mean access to people you might otherwise miss. Automation can also allow you to keep posting consistent even when you are away from the office or otherwise tied up with other tasks.

  1. Automate everything!

It’s easy to go too far in the other direction. Have you ever posted on Twitter and immediately been hit by an @ message from a Twitter bot triggered by a phrase you used? No one else likes this any more than you do.

  1. Social media marketing doesn’t work.

Every year, hundreds of think pieces come out claiming that social media just isn’t the place for business. The figures prove these people wrong. According to HubSpot, two out of three companies with a presence on LinkedIn have gotten a customer from there. Businesses that use Twitter have twice as many leads as those that don’t. The benefits of a social media presence are measurable and powerful.

Social media marketing success does not come overnight. It can take a while to find your niche and your audience on social media. When you have gotten into the groove, you will find that you have better relationships with customers, a better-known brand and more business by using social media well.

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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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The Learning Continues

27 Jun

3 Suggestions for New Grads

brochure man

hillman

Guest Contributor:

Matt Hillman, Creative Director

As I approach a quarter century working in the marketing & advertising field, I’ve begun exercising my hard-earned right to be a curmudgeon. And a recent article in AdWeek offered some interesting reflections on the latest batch of graduates headed out to “conquer” the advertising world, and that helped me get in some quality scowling.

The article’s subhead “Traditional job titles can be shackles for multitalented grads” really grabbed my attention. It got me to thinking about not only new grads coming to advertising, but to the workforce in general.

The article opens:

Meet Jason. He’s an art director/filmmaker/editor/web designer. Or say hello to Sarah. She’s a writer/art director/journalist/photographer. Over there’s Ayusha. She’s a planner/art director.

From the rest of the article, it would seem like these new grads, nurtured by advances in technology and social media-fueled collaboration, are a force of multidisciplinary wunderkind poised to change work as we know it.

But the first problem as I see it isn’t in their state-of-the-art training or access to vast information, it’s their lack of experience—or rather, their confusing of ability with expertise. The notion that graduates arrive at agencies or offices or warehouses or any full-time job with a fully functional collection of self-defined skill sets is absurd at best and dangerous at worst.

The tricky thing about experience is that it takes experience to gather it, and time to realize that knowing is not the same as understanding. One of my favorite parts of the film Good Will Hunting is where Robin Williams’ character explains life to the young, troubled genius played by Matt Damon:

“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling, seen that.”

The desire for those entering the job market to somehow bypass the vitally important experience-phase seems to have grown more pronounced in recent years, perhaps fueled by the interactivity and immersion available from the internet. But there is no substitute for actually working in a real-world environment, removed from the safety and surety of the classroom.

The second problem is the idea that job titles are “shackles.” Job titles are intended to define a function or role, but not a person. And this is not a new idea. People coming from the exact same educational program with the exact same degree would still offer very different skill sets because their backgrounds, personalities, and experiences are different.

If job titles were what defined a person’s abilities, then based on my own skills and education, I could have easily started my career 24 years ago as a “writer/editor/illustrator” or even a “designer/coordinator/announcer” or any number of combinations that would have tried—futilely—to capture what I could contribute.

But instead, I selected one job title and worked to master it. I made a decision and commitment to be the best I could in that one area before setting out to tackle any others. And in the process, I not only made valuable mistakes, but I was able to surround myself with incredibly talented people in the fields that touched mine. In other words, I continued to learn well past graduation.

And that’s where I found the idea for 3 simple suggestions for new grads—let me know if you don’t agree:

Your 20s: Find Your Strengths.

Brimming with information, ideas, theories, and youthful exuberance (do not discount the value of that!) this is the time to figure out what you’re truly good at. Choices will need to be made routinely that will impact the course of your career and life; spend this period honing your skills in the real world, daring to be bold, taking risks, and asking questions. And in that process, learn from mistakes and build on successes.

Your 30s: Know Others’ Strengths.

Once you’ve sorted out what your core strengths are, surround yourself with talented people who are different—and even better!—than you are and learn how you can benefit from their strengths. Continue to polish your craft, but figure out how it relates to those of others. Whether it’s through helping directly, anticipating needs or simply having everything accounted for on your end, focus your energies on being the person everyone else can count on—that person who “gets it.”

Your 40s and Beyond: Understand the Balance.

By this time, you’ll have had some struggles—between life and work, between the job you have and the one you want, between your role and those of coworkers, between being someone who does the work and someone who leads it. This is the stretch where applying what you’ve learned comes into play. Understanding what’s really important and what really isn’t can only come from experience, and now is when you apply what you’ve learned over the years. This is the period where those hybrid job titles aren’t so farcical because they’ve been developed over time and are backed up by tangible experience.

While having multiple talents and being versatile can definitely be an asset, there’s an inescapable truth to the term “jack of all trades, but master of none.” With the ability to move laterally in different roles, the generalist will always have a place in an organization, but being a true master of your craft is the surest way to move up instead of just around.

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