Aggregate.com offers a download-able guide to business to business blogging trends for 2011.
Highlights from the report:
B2B blogging is growing - Less than half of B2B companies currently have blogs, so there's still opportunity for growth. If you do it right, 2011 is a good year to start a blog.
Aggregate.com offers a download-able guide to business to business blogging trends for 2011.
Listen in to the HubSpot User Group, where CEO Brian Halligan discussed the HubSpot road map as they shift focus from sales and marketing to product development and innovation. He also highlights how across 4000 customers, HubSpot users average a 10% increase in leads month after month.
The first tip for lead capture forms on your website is easy...get one! If you're not asking visitors to take some action on your website, then the chances are...they aren't.
OK, honestly, if you've never done it before it can be a nightmare. But I'm trying to be helpful here ....
These days, most business buyers and potential partners will review your site before they do business with you. It’s potentially the most powerful sales & marketing tool you have – it can help you:
- Generate leads
- Nurture existing leads and move them closer to purchase
- Deliver information about your products & services in a compelling way
- Process orders, cross- and up-sell, and run special promotions
- Communicate with existing customers and distribution channels
- Generate publicity
Think of your site as an interactive brochure that speaks with different groups and converts visitors into prospects and customers. It’s an extension of your brand and an example of the quality of work you do.
Although a site can be a substantial investment, it doesn’t have to be expensive; it just needs to effectively communicate with your market and support your brand. Yet when you develop your site with richer content and some basic marketing functionality, you gain broad and potentially lucrative marketing capabilities.
So where do you start? With the content – the information and tools you’ll need to share with prospects and customers. Design, functionality and programming all come later – first, you need to decide what your site needs to deliver to your market.
There’s a lot to think about, but here’s a basic process to get you started:
1. Identify who will visit your site, then list the information & tools that each “profile” will want and need. For example, if you sell to three different customer segments – Fortune 100, midmarket, and small businesses – you’ll need to offer content that speaks directly to each segment. Profile your visitors in as much detail as possible; try to identify what they really need each time they visit your site, then add that content to the list.
2. Gather internal ideas. Invite someone from each team in your company; ask what content could help them improve the way they reach out to sell or service customers. You can do this in a series of one-on-one meetings or hold a brainstorming session. At this point you’re just collecting ideas so add everything to the list.
3. Identify content that can help you sell to prospects who find you online. Most business buyers use the web to find information about products, vendors, and solutions for their problems. And the higher the price of the product/service, the earlier the buyer starts the search. When do you think prospects will seek you out and what do you need to give them to engage them, get them to request more information, and/or buy now?
4. Identify content that you’ll need for marketing campaigns. Think short- and medium-term. Consider content such as special organic search landing pages, paid search landing pages, email newsletter section, news section, downloadable white papers, webinar archives, signup forms, etc. You’ll want to make sure your site is ready to handle these activities.
5. Check out your competitors. What content do they offer that you haven’t already identified and should include on your own site?
6. Miscellaneous ideas. Is there anything else you may want and haven’t already thought of? Browse other industry sites, award winners, even business sites in vastly different industries – you never know where a great idea will strike!
This process may take a day, a week, or multiple months depending on the complexity of the site and the content needed.
Now that you have a long list, it’s time to prioritize. What do you absolutely need right away and when will you reasonably need the rest? Understand what you’ll want in the medium-term, but remember that you can launch sections on a rolling schedule.
What happens next? This list goes a long way in helping you and potential vendors/developers understand the scope of your project. If you’re developing the site in-house, your next step will be to organize the content to create the site architecture, then start defining your requirements for look-and-feel, functionality, technology, and reporting.
If all of this sounds overwhelming – you’re not alone. But remember -- how do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
A legitimate news story is an endorsement that can reach a wide audience for very little cost beyond your own creativity and time. It can help you
- Build awareness about your products/services, expertise and people
- Drive prospects to your website
- Drive participation in a promotion or event
- Educate the market about problems your company can solve
Getting publicity isn't about luck. Just like any sales & marketing campaign, you gain publicity by knowing your audience, capturing their attention, and delivering a message that's interesting, timely and relevant.
Before you crank out a press release, how can you maximize your chances for success? Here are a few general tips:
1. Start with a strategy. What's your goal for the campaign? Are you looking for serious coverage in a major industry publication, or do you just need links or content for your website? Different strategies require different tactics.
2. Who's your audience? Are you writing to capture the imagination of reporters or are you trying to reach your market directly? Know and write to your audience.
3. What's your hook? Why should your audience stop what they're doing and read your story RIGHT NOW? We all have thousands of options dancing in front of us at all times. A good story has a hook, a compelling reason for the audience to read right now.
If you're having trouble coming up with a hook, think about the last movie you saw. Was the leading character the same in the end in the beginning? Was life the same at the end of the movie? No, because a real story is about change. A character faces conflict and changes as a result.
If there's change and/or conflict in your announcement, there's your hook – you probably have a story. If you can't find any change or conflict, then you have an announcement. You may still generate some coverage, but if you can come up with a real story, you'll probably find greater success with your campaign.
B2B companies are still relatively new to internet marketing. But even an entrenched, traditional firm can successfully implement an internet marketing strategy with dramatic results.
But where do you start? Optimize your website? Launch a paid search campaign? Try your hand at blogging, article writing, social media? The choices are overwhelming.
Here’s a great springboard: Add valuable content to your website. Don’t just slice & dice your sales literature -- I’m talking about high quality pages, white papers, tools and other content that’s meaningful and relevant for your prospects and customers.
Quality website content can help you take advantage of this trend and deliver three big benefits: 1. Lure visitors and prospects, 2. Qualify & engage your audience, and 3. Build your brand.
1. Lure visitors and prospectsMany B2B companies think of their website as a static brochure -- home page, product page, services page, about us, and maybe a news center. And if people are searching specifically for your company or product name, they should find you.
But what about the prospects who have never heard of you? What will they search for? They’ll use a keyword or phrase that describes their problem, their pain or a general category of solution.
When your site is inwardly-focused, it’s virtually impossible to rank highly in search engine results for broad terms unless you pay for it. Why? Because you need GOOD content that’s relevant for those general descriptions people are using.
Search engine spiders need contentSearch engine spiders scour the entire web about once a month. They “read” as much of your site as they can and then decide 1. what it’s about and 2. whether it’s important.
When you give the spiders more rich, relevant content about your area of expertise, you’re improving the likelihood that they’ll say yes, this is important and deserves to be ranked highly in search results.
Spiders also prefer content that’s updated regularly. In fact, when you update regularly they’ll visit you more frequently. That gives you a chance to get your new content in the search engine results more quickly and can help your Google PageRank.
Generate more inbound linksWhen you offer more quality content on your site, you’re creating more reasons for other sites to link to you. This activity delivers two benefits:
- People will click through from other sites.
- Search engines will reward you. Spiders say, hey, this content must be valuable or other quality sites wouldn’t link to it. And when they’re deciding what sites are the most valuable, these “votes” are a critical variable.
2. Qualify and engage your audienceYou’re probably painfully familiar with this vicious cycle: Marketing generates leads but sales doesn’t follow up; salespeople complain that leads aren’t qualified and not worth followup.
This morning I wasted 45 minutes of a sales rep’s time (and my own) because I misunderstood his service. I had done a Google search, looked at a bunch of websites, and contacted a few that I thought were the best fit. However, I wasn’t the ideal client for his company.
He could have shortened that call to 10 minutes if he had asked more qualifying questions. Better yet, his website could have done it.
You can cover much of the early sales process with strategic website content. Spend more time educating your prospects and your leads will be more qualified.
3. Build your brandYour website is often the first interaction your prospects have with you. What does it say about you? Does it create trust? Does it make prospects want to do business with you?
If your site is a standard brochure-type site with an inward focus, you’re missing an opportunity to build your brand (and B2B brands are important just like onsumer brands).
Instead, create more content that communicates your brand promise. Speak directly to your audience and their pain. Build value and make them want to work with you.
ConclusionIt isn’t easy to write good content for the web, but a great copywriter can help you develop the strategy and create these valuable assets that can help you drive traffic, leads and revenue. And consider creating content for different market segments or buyer personas, too.
Once you have solid content on your site, you can start adding social networking tools and campaigns to leverage that content. But you have to start somewhere … and that means creating content first.
If you haven't seen it already, check out Dan Zarella's new book The Social Media Marketing Book. This is a good read if you want to get familiar with social media marketing. In this book Dan covers:
||If you are responsible for B2B lead generation, you probably have a hungry sales team to feed. But do you know how many leads you will need to meet sales targets? If you don’t know, you’re less likely to hit your goals.|
- The # of impressions you’ll need
- The number of leads you need
- Whether or not your are on track to hit your goals
Here’s how: First, calculate the number of customers you’ll need to generate.
HubSpot published this great video on how to create a Facebook fan page for your business. If you don't already have one, watch this video and then get started. Facebook is only getting bigger and it's not just for college students anymore. Expand your reach and communicate with your target audience through social media marketing on Facebook.
In addition to its announcement that it will include Twitter streams in its search results, Google announced its release of real-time streaming search. Will this be an area of the search results pages ripe with spam? Or will this be the next step to integrating information, time & location in relevant context? Either way, it highlights the need for businesses to incorporate social media and a steady stream of content into their inbound marketing strategies. Google provides a short video demo of this capability below: