If You’re Not Using Case Studies for B2B Marketing, It Might Be Time You Started

According to research, 73% of business to business marketers are now investing their efforts in creating case studies. There are lots of effective B2B marketing strategies but the great benefit of case studies is that you are able to tell a story about your company and how you solved a problem for a client or customer.

By reading your story, the potential new customer can get a better idea of what your company can do for theirs. You can’t convey this in-depth amount of information using channels like social media, unless you put it into a video, so case studies are the best option to provide all of that extra detail that will persuade a business that they need your services.

The power of case studies will vary depending on the industry that you are working in but regardless of which industry that happens to be, a customer lead will be looking for a service that you provide because they have a problem that needs solving or a need that they have. This is why case studies tend to be structured in a way that describes: The Problem; The Solution: The Results.

Writing about the problem

As an example, their problem could be that the company is spending too much time dealing with email enquiries. A software development company could solve their problem by creating a chatbot for the company’s website that answers some of the more common questions that they receive all of the time. So, instead of receiving 50 emails per day, the emails were reduced by 40 of those emails being answered automatically by the chatbot instead.

The case study would be able to talk through the problem in terms of how many hours per week were being spent on answering these emails, even including the impact such as taking on extra staff, or stopping employees from being able to concentrate on other tasks that will generate leads.

Outlining the solution and results

The case study then outlines the exact way that the problem was resolved and finishes with the results, which should be metric, wherever possible. For example, reduced 10 hours of work per week, or saved £xxx in salary per annum for staff to deal with the enquiries. In this section you want to be trying to show why your company is the best one for the job, rather than one of your competitors. Numbers and facts really do help to add more weight to your story.

How long should a case study be?

The length of a case study is usually around the 750 to 1000 word mark, you need to get enough detail in, without boring the reader with too much detail! Providing a story about your business helps you to build credibility and give a better understanding of what services your company provides. The other factor that makes case studies so good for B2B marketing is that stories are more memorable than just a page of text about a company.

If you haven’t already considered adding case studies to your marketing strategy, it could be the missing part of the jigsaw to help you to convert more leads.

4 Social Media Strategies You Need for Successful B2B Marketing

Social media is one of the most powerful ways to engage with other businesses but there are so many different strategies to choose from that sometimes it is hard knowing where to begin. Therefore, concentrating on a select number of strategies that are most effective in B2B social media marketing is better than taking the scattergun approach.

Here are four of the most effective ways to optimise your B2B social media marketing:

Share original content

If you have spent years creating marketing content then creating new content will usually come quite natural to you but for others, it can be tempting to use someone’s else’s content. The problem with this is that it will be generic content that does not relate to your business and social media users will be able to tell which content is original and which isn’t. So, spending time creating original content, or paying someone to take care of your social media for you, is going to be more effective than using someone else’s content.

Maintain consistency

It is also really important to remain consistent when you develop your social media strategy. Putting loads of content on one day and then nothing for weeks is not the best way to build up a social media following, so make sure that you schedule posts so that they are going out in consistent volumes. You don’t have to upload content each time, you can pre-set posts to go out on the dates you have scheduled them for, using a social media tool. You also need to be consistent in terms of the tone you are going to use, as your brand voice should not jump between formal and informal, for example.

Experiment with content and posting times

When you start posting content, don’t just stick with posting at a certain time, as you need to test out the time that you get more engagement. It might be that your target audience spends more time on social media at 9pm, for example, so try out some alternative days and times to see what gets the best in terms of engagement. You should also work out which type of content your followers like the most. You can try different content types like video, polls, questions etc. to again see what works the best. Content that people want to share will give you a bigger reach, so try to spend time creating high quality content that people find useful or worth sharing for another reason e.g. being humorous.

Engage in conversation

Just putting posts out there will not necessarily get people commenting and engaging with it, you have to angle your content so that it prompts people to respond. So, asking questions, running polls, responding to any comments will help to get people more engaged with your brand. Getting into a conversation will help you to build relationships with your social media followers and make your brand more memorable to them.

There are plenty more great ways to engage with businesses through your social media strategy but if you can master these four as a starting point, you will be heading in the right direction.

The Power of Marketing Automation

Automation of any nature is a powerful tool but digital marketing automation software is an opportunity that businesses cannot afford to miss in today’s digitally centric world. Historically, marketing automation was a very expensive element of marketing that few companies could afford to invest in but through advanced technology solutions, it is a feasible option for every business to use.

What is marketing automation?

The most commonly used type of marketing automation is seen on email campaigns, chatbots and content creation tools. The capabilities of marketing automation are limitless, with developments being made all of the time. Automating tasks saves huge amounts of time but it can also help to deliver a more consistent experience across multiple channels.

A quick Google search for marketing automation tools will bring back more results than you could ever have the time to explore but you should spend some time finding out what solutions are most effective in your industry. From leads generated by CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems, to creating more personalised communications to customers, marketing automation is one of the best strategies for getting a better return on investment.

Investing in marketing automation also leads to increased productivity, allowing a marketing team to concentrate on other tasks that need doing, or exploring new marketing opportunities whilst the time-consuming jobs are taken care of automatically. The marketing team will have time to be more creative and feel energised and empowered by having some of the more mundane, repetitive tasks taken away from them.

Chatbots

Chatbots are a type of automation tool that can take care of some of the basic questions that a potential customer want to ask before they purchase a product or hire your service. A chatbot is basically able to simulate a human conversation, based on a computer program. As AI and machine learning is becoming more sophisticated, so too is the capabilities and quality of chatbots.

So, whilst some early chatbots only served to annoy customers when they couldn’t provide the answers they needed, there has been a lot of progress since then. With chatbots able to field many of the most questions, this frees up the time it would take for an employee to have a telephone conversation or respond to an email to answer that question. If you are getting 100+ enquiries each week, that stacks up to a lot of time saved.

Email marketing

With email marketing, there are lots of time-consuming tasks that can be completed quickly and easily through automation software. For example, if someone signs up to receive a newsletter on your website, the contact will be added to your email list and when it comes to sending the newsletter out, it will go out to them. There are numerous different workflows that you can set up within email marketing automation software that will improve your email marketing strategy.

If you have not yet explored the full possibilities of what marketing automation can do for your business, give us a call, so we can talk through some suitable options.

Should You Be Using Infographics for Your B2B Marketing?

When you are developing your B2B marketing strategy, there might be several strategies that you usually dismiss because you think that you don’t have the time, or the skills, or the need to successfully deliver that type of strategy. One of the strategies that people are often reluctant to try is infographics because they are worried about the design element of creating this type of content.

However, infographics are a very effective form of B2B marketing if you have the budget or the tools and creativity to get it right. High quality infographics work well because they are more engaging than most other content types, also if you manage to think of a really useful set of information to convey via an infographic, people will share it and help to grow your reach.

Whilst it isn’t a good idea to start using infographics for all of your marketing content, and it would be pretty difficult to put all those kinds of content into an infographic, using them sporadically, when you have the right type of information that will fit nicely into an infographic is ideal.

Where to start when creating an infographic?

The first part of the creation journey is to identify some data that can be easily presented in the form of an infographic. You don’t want to try and put too much data into the image and make it too distracting, so refine the key parts of information that you want to use. Statistical analysis that you often see content marketing companies sharing through infographics are a good example of effective ways of creating infographics e.g. 80% of all online content will be video by 2021.

Survey results are also perfect for building into an infographic e.g. 70% of consumers said they would rather buy online than buy the product in a store. So, once you have the right data to present in an infographic, you have done most of the hard work. Remember, the data has to be useful for people, don’t just create infographics for the sake of designing a pretty image.

Designing the infographic

This is the bit that can often put people off because they think they need to have advanced design skills to be able to create attractive infographics. There are two different approaches to take with this, the first one and the easiest is to hire a freelance graphic designer to do the work for you. If you just give them the data, they can usually design a quick infographic for a reasonable price that looks really professional.

The other option is to try designing it yourself, now if you a pretty decent graphic designer with the right software then you are good to go. If you have no design experience or software, don’t worry because there are free tools that you can use that will help you to create an infographic of a pretty good level of quality. Canva.com is one such free tool that provides templates and images that you can incorporate into your infographic. There are lots of premium images and features within Canva but you can still do a good job just utilizing the free features.

Once you have designed your infographic, you simply need to share it with the world, so whether that is through LinkedIn or whatever channel you want to use to share the content, you have just created and shared your infographic and should start to see engagement with it.

8 Stats That Show Why Content Marketing is the Most Important Marketing Strategy

There are many different types of marketing that have proven to be successful over recent years but what is effective one year, might die a death the next, so it is important to stay up to date with the latest trends and most effective marketing methods.

Content marketing is certainly not a new trend but changes in consumer behavior, advances in technology and updates to data privacy regulations, for example, can influence the effectiveness of a certain type of marketing.

Here are some statistics that add weight to the argument that you should be investing in content marketing over any other channels.

  1. Content marketing costs 62% less than outbound marketing but generates 3x as many leads

Now that is a powerful stat and as marketers, we are constantly looking for the lowest cost method to generate the most leads. Traditional marketing methods such as direct mail, and media advertising are expensive and take a lot of time and effort to deliver compared to content marketing.

  1. Over 200 million people use ad blockers

Let’s face it, most people find ads annoying and it is no surprise that a huge number of people have ad blocking software to stop them from being pestered with constant ads.

  1. Content marketing leaders achieve 7.8x more traffic than the rest

Marketing guru Neil Patel shared his insights on how successful content marketing leaders are compared to their competitors. Developing compelling content that adds high value to the reader is priceless.

  1. Content drives brand recall = increased engagement

Personalized content helps to make a consumer remember a brand, engaging with the company on a deeper level. According to an IBM Digital Experience Survey, 56% of marketing professionals believe that personalized content drives higher engagement rates.

  1. 73% of major organizations hire a content marketing strategy manager/professional

More and more companies have now realized the value of hiring a content marketing expert, to ensure that they are prioritizing this type of marketing, as they now understand how profitable it is. This also allows the company to identify the best technology and platforms to use for the most effective types of content marketing.

  1. For every $1 spent, email gives back $38 in ROI

According to CampaignMonitor, for every $1 that is spent on email marketing strategy, it is able to earn $38 back in ROI. By developing personalized and targeted emails, conversion rates are much higher than other channels.

  1. 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing

The huge majority of B2B marketers invest in their content marketing, as a vital part of their marketing strategy. Content marketing also gives more sustainable value than other marketing options.

  1. Many marketers will use over 13 content marketing tactics

Using the full range of content marketing tactics generates greater results than focusing on just one or two, which is evident by so many marketers choosing to deploy varied and diverse channels.

These eight statistics really underline the importance of content marketing, how effective it can be and why marketers include it as the staple of their marketing strategies.

How Third Party Directories Can Boost Your SEO

When a Google user is looking for a service or product that you provide, they are generally looking for a listicle that will point them in the direction of the best companies to provide what they need.

For example, if you searched for ‘best contract management software’ you will see the businesses that have paid for Google Ads at the top of the search results but then there is a list below it that includes lots of software companies. The listicle has been created by a software review site, which basically lists all of the most popular contract management software solutions, along with ratings and reviews left by customers. They also display information like cost, a link to the company’s website, company logo and platforms the software is compatible with.

This type of listicle ranks top because it successfully answers the user’s question. It adds real value to the person searching for the best contract management software and provides in depth information that will help them to make the decision regarding which solution to choose. The companies that feature on this list, especially the ones that are displayed in the top places on the review page, stand to gain a lot of traffic through this, so if you are a contract management software company, you will want to get onto that list, right?

How to get onto third party directories

In a lot of cases, the reality is that companies pay for the privilege of featuring on such a site. However, the companies that are already the big players will already be included, or else the list would lack credibility. So, if you are a smaller, lesser known company, then you can help gain more traffic to your website by paying to get onto the review site. Whatever type of industry your company sits within, featuring on a listicle that performs well in search results is going to be powerful.

The costs involved can vary depending on the type of services or products that are being reviewed but the reason these review sites are so good for Google is because it means users do not need to go onto multiple websites to find the information that they are looking for. Additionally, these sites tend to give a balanced, fair view of a range of companies instead of going onto a company’s own website, where they will obviously be promoting themselves.

So, if you want to gain more traffic to your website and hit the jackpot when people search for ‘best xxxx provider’, this is definitely an option that you should look into. Your first step is to perform the search for your relevant services or products and find the review website that you want to get onto. They will usually make it easy for you to contact them to have a discussion about featuring on their review site.

How to Build an Opt-In Email List at No Cost

The changes to GDPR have made it harder to create email lists for targeted email campaigns, so it is important to understand the best way to create an email list that people are happy to opt-in on. There are a few different techniques that you can use to help to build such a valuable list and these are some of the most effective:

Create a ‘lead magnet’/gated asset

A lead magnet is basically a piece of content that you can offer to people that they want and will provide their email address so that you can send it to them. The type of content that typically works is something like offering a free webinar, ebook or template that will help people solve a problem, or learn how to do something. For a graphic design company, they might offer a set of templates for creating brand guidelines, or an accountancy business might provide an ebook guide on tax changes, for example.

Offer a free trial of a tool

Offering free trials is another gated asset geared around getting people to opt-in for your email list. Companies like Microsoft and Adobe are great examples of this, where they offer a 30-day trial for free. In order to get the free trial the user must provide an email address.

Use social media to promote your gated assets

Once you have a lead magnet or free trial to offer, you need to raise as much awareness of it as possible, using all of your marketing channels. Writing blogs, posting about the offer onto your Facebook business page, or LinkedIn page will help to raise awareness and if it is a really useful tool or piece of content then people are more likely to share it with others. You could write a blog that is related to the gated asset and have a CTA that sends the user to your website where they can opt in.

Be creative with your email campaigns

The more effort you put into your email campaigns, the more conversions you are likely to generate. The other important way to get more out of your email campaigns is to encourage recipients to share the information about your assets with friends or colleagues that they might think are interested. Using CTAs is again really important within your email campaigns to prompt the reader to take their required action. You can even include share buttons within the email that will encourage more people to share the email. Using the right kind of email campaign software that allows you to add prominent, attractive buttons will enable you to optimize your emails for maximum results.

Focusing on these four areas will help you to expand your existing opt-in list but it is also important to try and re-engage with existing opt-ins that have not recently been responsive in terms of opening emails or clicking through links/buttons. So, spend some time working out which gated assets will work well and start creating them.

6 SEO Questions You Were Too Scared to Ask – SEO 101

SEO is a topic that has slowly become more commonly understood and spoken about, even outside of the marketing world, as more people start to realise the value in getting to grips with SEO. However, as this awareness of the subject grows, some people start to worry that they can’t ask questions about SEO, for fear of sounding like they don’t have a clue what they are doing.

The truth is, SEO involves so many different elements and it is evolving all of the time, so there are very few experts that know every single aspect of SEO and are fully up to date with the latest trends and best practices. Whether you are completely new to SEO, or you have a basic understanding, if SEO is not your area of expertise, don’t worry, here are some of the most common questions that people don’t like to ask about SEO:

  1. What is SEO?

Even if you think you have a basic understanding of what SEO is, it might help to look at this in more detail. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is essentially a set of techniques that will help your website to be more visible in search results. In other words, if you apply good SEO techniques to your website and content, when somebody uses Google, Bing or any other search engine to search for services you provide, you have a better chance of them finding your website.

  1. What is the difference between paid results and organic?

There are two main ways to get more traffic to your website, one is through paid search results, which is where you pay Google or another advertiser to appear at the top of the results. The other way is organic search results, where an algorithm analyses websites to determine where they should stand in the search results. This involves how effective the SEO techniques are on the website, i.e. how well they perform against the priorities set by the algorithm.

  1. What are meta descriptions? How important are they?

The meta description is the section of text that is displayed below your page when it is shown in search results. This content is important as it helps to make it more compelling for a user to click through to your website, so it is worth spending a bit of time getting this section of text perfected to drive more conversions.

  1. Do I need to optimize my domain name to include keywords?

Whilst there are some benefits of having a domain name that includes a keyword, this is not the most important consideration. Having a domain name that is long and difficult to remember will really harm your SEO, so don’t try and force a keyword in just for the sake of it if the short and snappy domains with that keyword have all been taken.

  1. What is the difference between an inbound and an internal link?

This is an area that people confuse quite a lot and you can see why! To clarify, an inbound link is one where another website links to your content. Internal links, on the other hand, are ones within your website that go from one page to another.

  1. Is there a difference between indexing and crawling?

Crawling is the process where search engines ‘crawl’ through your content to review it before determining how or whether it will be indexed. Indexing is basically how the content is organised, a database of the content. Some content will be crawled but then won’t get indexed.

Hopefully, that will have answered some of those questions that you were too embarrassed to ask.