See It To Believe It: The Persuasive Power Of The Infographic

24 Jan

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Guest Contributor: Matt Hillman

Creative Director

 

Of all the types of content available today, nothing is forwarded more than the humble infographic—three times as often as any other content on social media. Distilling reams of information into lively, succinct, and easily digestible content, the infographic is the data snapshot we can’t seem to get enough of. So we thought it would be interesting to create an infographic about infographics. Definitely information that you need to see to believe.

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Search Marketing in 2017

10 Jan

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CoreyMorrisGuest Contributor: Corey Morris
Director of Digital Strategy

 

This is the time of the year where everyone posts the obligatory recap of the past year and look forward to the next. While I’m typically good for one of those types of posts, I find that they often lack details and substance. I can be as philosophical as the next person with a dozen years of working with search engines on a daily basis. However, my clients aren’t relying on me to say the same thing as the industry leaders and prognosticate on things that don’t have a strategic or tactical importance on their business. What I am going to share is what we know and what you should do – regardless of what may or may not happen with Google and Bing in 2017.

Mobile

In B2B, we don’t always think about building our websites, microsites, landing pages, and complete user experiences around the mobile user. We know they are important and we’re on the mobile bandwagon, we just don’t shape an entire experience around what in some cases is just 20% of our audience. That being said, we can’t ignore the fact that Google does care very much about this audience. With most searches being made on mobile devices across the entire Google search universe, not understanding or caring enough about the mobile algorithm or factors can hurt. Interstitials (pop-ups) must follow new guidelines and if you are running AdWords, you need to finish your migration to expanded text ads in January.

Links

Content has been king for longer than SEO has been declared dead (that’s more than a decade now); however, we’re not always working off of the same definition of what content is and even if we were, we’d differ on the importance of sticking to a defined content strategy to guide our efforts for a full year. We must have more relevant content and content that is intended to be helpful to our visitors. It isn’t about getting it into Google–if no one converts or moves further down the funnel, then it was a waste of effort and (this is debatable, but still important) could hurt us when a user bounces back to the search results page and continues looking for the right answer. Featuring the right content is critical as further validated and evidenced in the recent release of Searchmetrics’ annual ranking factors data set. Lastly, good content attracts links and is easier to build links to. This is nothing new, but does still matter and hasn’t totally gone away.

Data

You might have thought I’d lead into this with attribution. Attribution was last year’s big topic at every event I went to. We don’t have everything solved with lead and conversion attribution, but everything leading up to it has to do with a data point. The explosion of dashboards and integrating every piece of data this year was predictable. We have been doing real-time dashboards for clients for years, but have dedicated ourselves to a shift to them and away from static report documents this year. As we get easier access to APIs from more social, search, and tools platforms, this will continue to improve. Google knows the importance of this as well, evidenced in the rollout of two products in 2016 that include dashboard functionality from Google products, as well as A/B testing that is normally reserved for the enterprise Analytics product.

2017

Where does this lead us? We’re running full steam into 2017. It is hard to use the calendar to delineate a point where things slow down or roll over to new subjects of focus. The big deals right now:

  • If you’re not thinking mobile first, then it is time to start.
  • If you’ve got a shotgun approach to content, you need to tighten it up and focus on your key themes and stick to them
  • If you’re not seeing the full picture of what your marketing is doing for your bottom line, don’t wait any longer!

 

We’d love to hear if you have additional themes or feedback on mine!

 

 

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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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5 Doable Steps to Maximize CMO B2B Engagement

20 Dec

The Power Of Communication

Your sales team is doing its job, but you have yet to land the whale that will take your profits to the next level. Higher level communications tend to get big projects done with less bureaucracy. Here are five steps you can take to maximize communications between your C-suite and the customers that really matter.

1. Stay Agile

Strategic leaders within a company have the ability to look beyond immediate targets and short-term objectives. You can land the whale by simply staying on your toes in terms of industry trends. Instead of responding to hot RFPs for companies that are high in demand, you can do business with a strategic partner who will provide you profits far down the line. You spend less because you are doing your deals in the off-season, and your partner is validated because you recognized long-term potential instead of following short-term trends.

2. Continuously Build the Relationship

Your sales team should have no problem initiating contact with their counterparts across companies if the C-suite has already made an acquaintance. In contrast with a low-level salesperson, a CMO taking a potential partner executive out for a round of golf creates relationships throughout the entire chain of command. In effect, the CMO becomes the lead salesperson rather than the “man behind the curtain.”

3. Create a Humanized Entity

You can save tens of thousands of dollars in marketing spend by creating a humanized relationship across companies through your CMO. The decision makers from other companies will not have to view your high quality advertisements in order to understand what your company is about. They got that information firsthand from your CMO during the trade show mixer.

If there are no industry events that give you an excuse to put a human face on your operations, make one. CMO is also head of PR, even if you have outsourced PR to a third-party specialist. Get in their business to make business.

4. Become the Organizational Storyteller

As the CMO, you have license to talk to people about your company in a way that no one else does. You can look at the Chief Marketing Officer as the Head Storytelling Officer if you have trouble remembering exactly what you are supposed to be doing out in the field. Your future partners want to understand how your company connects the dots internally and as it moves into its partnerships. As the CMO, you are the link between R&D, marketing, distribution, and IT that can explain all of these connections with a human touch.

5. Challenge Your Industry

No one knows better than you what your company can accomplish. If you extend your position as leader of the company into your industry, you can set the challenges that potential vendors and partners respond to. In essence, you are creating a problem that you are the best company to solve.

Speaking engagements at industry events are always a great way to direct the trends of your industry culture in an advantageous direction. However, you can also do this on an individual basis, because you have access to all of the decision-makers in your industry. Do not waste your time with them, but let them know about how your company is moving your industry forward and why they need to get on board today. Once you have set this tone, your salespeople can work out the details later.

Even the Xerox CMO John Kennedy has stated on record that B2B marketing is more about personality than ever. Use the above tips to arm your CMO for the front lines, because the C-suite has to lead from the front in this business generation.

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