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The New Core of Business: B2B Marketing & Social

IDG Connect

B2B Marketing Budgets to Increase in 2015

More than half of B2B marketers plan to increase their marketing budgets this year, with the average budget increasing by 6%, according to a new report by Forrester Research.

The survey based on 132 B2B marketers found that 51% of marketers plan to increase budgets this year, 30% plan to keep budgets the same as last year, while 8% plan to decrease budgets. However, it looks like the confidence in marketing has increased compared to last year’s findings. The same report delivered last year found only 32% of B2B marketers expected to raise their marketing budgets, 45% planned to keep budgets the same, and 22% said they planned to cut their budgets.

The research also found that marketing budgets will make up 7% of revenue on average, compared with last year’s average of only 4%. While the marketing programs that will be allocated the largest budget are in-person events (14%), followed by digital marketing (10%) and content marketing (9%). These represent a decline from last year findings. With events share declining by 6%, and digital marketing and content marketing decreasing by 3%.

It could be considered this decline demonstrates marketers spreading their budgets across more marketing programs to strengthen their efforts. But the overall increase shows a promising future for the B2B marketing landscape.

Marketers Believe Mobile is the Core to Their Business

If you haven’t started introducing mobile, it’s looking like 2015 is the last call to get started as more marketers are seeing its importance. According to Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing report marketers (71%) view mobile marketing as the core to their business.

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3 Easy Ways to Put Mobile First in B2B Marketing

ClickZ

The world is increasingly mobile, but many B2B brands are lagging behind. Here are three steps to take your business mobile-first.

The Radicati Group predicts that by 2018, 80 percent of email users will access their email accounts via a mobile device — and this goes for all email, not just B2C email. B2C brands already understand the rise in mobility within their user base, and mobile-first strategies are proving to be big winners. In fact, Savings.com, a B2C website, reported a 1000 percent increase in revenue by adopting a mobile-first marketing strategy. But this mobile-centric strategy still evades many B2B brands, often because B2B brands feel their demographic isn’t engaging on mobile devices.

Russell Glass, head of marketing products for LinkedIn, says, “Mobile is becoming increasingly important to B2B marketers because they recognize the captivating nature of that experience. We’ve seen this phenomenon on our own platform with 47 percent of our traffic now coming through mobile.” Meeting your customers where they are is the best way to provide a better experience, and gives you the highest probability for engagement.

Many B2B brands may have forgone a mobile-first strategy because they may not fully understand what “mobile-first” really means. In these three easy steps, any B2B brand can put mobile first in their 2015 marketing strategies, and easily provide a better marketing product — and a better experience — for their customers.

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Software Marketers Blaze Trails in Data-Driven Marketing

IDG Connect 0811 Software Marketers Blaze Trails in Data Driven Marketing

Technology is changing marketing in a hurry, and some CMOs have acknowledged that the unrelenting pace of the transformation intimidates them.

In a survey conducted by Forrester Research and Erickson Research, 85% of 117 CMOs surveyed said their responsibilities had changed significantly in the past few years. Amazingly, 97% of respondents only expected the pace of change to accelerate. The change is coming so fast and so furious, in fact, that 34% of the CMOs in this survey described the changes as “overwhelming.”

There’s one group of CMOs, however, that seems undaunted by the pace of change, and that’s software marketing executives. Because of their comfort with the world of technology, software and tech marketers, in fact, are far ahead in embracing marketing technology and the data-driven, customer focus this technology enables.

A study we conducted last year at my company, Bizo, before it was acquired by LinkedIn, provided some insight into just how far software marketers are ahead of their peers. Software companies have long been pioneers in B2B digital marketing. They were among the first to build websites back in the early days of the World Wide Web in the mid-1990s. They blazed trails with display advertising and were among the first to see the value in search advertising, content marketing, and social media. Even when they made missteps, such as jumping on the MySpace bandwagon, the experience of these early adopters allowed them to quickly grasp the significance of other social media launches, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

The Bizo special report, “The Data-Driven Marketer,” indicated software marketers are also leading the way in adopting data-driven marketing practices. In The Data-Driven Marketer survey, Bizo queried more than 850 marketers. The responses showed that the subset of software marketers is far ahead of all respondents in virtually every aspect of data-driven marketing.

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5 B2B lead nurturing mistakes and how to fix them

Bizo

In the business-to-business (B2B) marketing landscape, sales don’t come easily. Before customers sign on, your marketing and sales teams must collaborate to build brand awareness and trust, demonstrate value, and help prospects make an informed decision.

That’s a challenge — especially in the digital age, when prospects have instant access to huge amounts of conflicting information and reviews from multiple sources. Today’s prospects are often reluctant to reach out to your sales team until they’ve completed a significant amount of independent research.

To maximize potential sales opportunities, your marketing team needs to master the lead nurturing process. Here are five common mistakes that many B2B companies make during the lead nurturing process—and practical tips for how to avoid them.

MISTAKE #1

WAITING FOR YOUR TARGET PROSPECT TO REACH OUT TO YOU
If you wait for customers to find you, you could be waiting forever. A recent
Forrester survey found that prospects are now as much as 90% of the way
through their buying journey before they ever reach out to a sales rep—so if
you’re not making an active effort to generate and nurture leads, you’ll likely see
them slip away to your competitors.

THE BIG FIX: Engage prospects earlier in their journey. To fill your marketing
funnel with new qualified leads, you’ll need to focus on generating awareness
among a wide pool of targets. To that end, invest in broadly targeted display
advertising campaigns, which are paired with thought leadership content offers
designed to appeal to each segment group you’re targeting. As viewers fill out
forms for white papers, webinars, or free trials, you’ll be able to nurture these
new leads through your marketing funnel.

Download the lead nurturing marketing guide now…

2014 B2B Content Marketing Report

 2014 B2B Content Marketing Report

IDG Enterprise partnered with the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn to conduct the annual B2B Content Marketing Survey to better understand the current state of content marketing and to identify new trends, and key challenges as well as best practices.

Key findings include:

  • Lead generation is by far the number one goal of content marketing, followed by thought leadership and market education. Brand awareness is now the third most mentioned goal, taking the place of last year’s number three goal: customer acquisition. (Click to Tweet)
  • Companies with a documented content strategy are much more likely to be effective than those without a strategy. Only 30 percent of companies have a formally documented content strategy. (Click to Tweet)
  • The most mentioned content marketing challenge is finding enough time and resources to create content. The next biggest content marketing challenge is producing enough content, followed by producing truly engaging content to serve the needs of marketing programs. (Click to Tweet)
  • Content marketing ROI remains difficult to measure. Only a minority of respondents consider themselves at least somewhat successful at tracking ROI. (Click to Tweet)
  • LinkedIn tops the list of the most effective social media platforms for distributing content marketing. The runner ups are Twitter (moving up one rank compared to last year) and YouTube (moving down from second to third place). (Click to Tweet)

This new Content Marketing Report is based on over 600 survey responses from marketing professionals.

View the slides now… 

2014 Tech Insights To Prepare For 2015

 2014 Tech Insights To Prepare For 2015

The 2014 ITworld Tech Insights research was completed with the goal of showcasing the IT spending priorities and influence of the ITworld audience.

Highlights include:

  • 64% of organizations expect spending to increase over the next 12 months.
  • IT leaders remain in charge of much of the purchase process for technology products and services, but when it comes to the role of evaluating technology for purchase, it’s all hands on deck.
  • IT buyers trust those they know when it comes to advice on upcoming technology product and service purchases and continue to most likely look to their peers/colleagues for guidance. They typically consult peers in their professional network on a weekly basis.

Download the research now… 

Or, click here to view slides…

Meet the Virtual Sales Rep

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 Meet the Virtual Sales Rep

By, Kathleen Schaub

Air%2BTraffic%2BControl Meet the Virtual Sales Rep

Robert sits in an office near Provo, Utah at what looks like the console of an air traffic controller. But instead of directing jets through the airspace, he’s using Twitter to guide a software company’s buyer through her decision-journey. Part marketer, part sales, part tech service, Robert is one of an emerging breed of “virtual” sales reps. Could this be the dream team that B2B has been waiting for?

The B2B “Genius Bar”® as a Role Model

The “virtual” sales rep role in its ideal form provides the personalized, anticipatory, service of a five-star hotel. Think of it as the B2B version of an Apple Genius Bar – using virtual tools. The Apple executive team modeled the Genius Bar after Ritz-Carlton’s customer service. Hallmarks of this exemplary concierge service include a personal touch; a warm, friendly, attitude; and attention to satisfying customer needs at every step. Sales expert Anneke Seley says the “virtual” sales rep culture is a far-cry from the historical “me and my quota” rep.

Sales teams are finally coming to grips with digital age facts. The culture shift recognizes that engagement must be sensitive to the appropriate stage of the buyer’s decision-journey. “Buyers aren’t ready to buy until they are ready to buy”. Marketers all know by now that buyers prefer self-sufficiency and they avoid talking to sales people until the decision-journey is substantially complete.  IDC research shows that for tech products averages this distance averages about 50%. Now sales is also starting to appreciate that buyers are alienated when by placed prematurely into the arena. At the same time sales leaders don’t want to waste an expensive sales resource on someone who isn’t ready to buy.

Digital May Not be Enough

Content marketing is what companies must do to fill the gap when buyers won’t talk to traditional sales people.  Content marketing is a hugely important communication strategy and companies will not be successful without mastering it.

Yet, for B2B companies, a completely digital engagement solution may not ever be the right answer. For one thing, content marketing capabilities in most companies is still ramping. Even when content marketing becomes excellent, digital may never be personal enough. Some B2B solutions are so complex, customized, or require so much trust that a human must intervene for the buyer to be truly served.  It may also be in the vendor’s best interest to involve a good sales person early. One tech CMO told me that although the company could offer eCommerce, a human touch tripled the size of the deal.

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B2B Buyers Purchasing Online

MediaPost

According to the Acquity Group’s annual State of B2B Procurement study of corporate business procurement professionals in the U.S. with annual purchasing budgets in excess of $100,000, 68% of B2B buyers now purchase goods online, up from 57% in 2013.

Additionally, business buyers’ purchasing habits and preferences included in the report show that:

  • The number of respondents who spent 90% or more of their budgets online in the last year doubled from 2013, increasing from nine to 18%
  • 44% of respondents have researched company products on a smartphone or tablet in the past year, compared with 41% in 2013
  • 30% of B2B buyers report they research at least 90% of products online before purchasing, up from 22% in 2013

Although buyers are researching and spending more online, suppliers are not capturing a large enough share of the market, says the report. 57% of business buyers have made an online purchase of $5,000 or more in the last year, and 66% of business buyers say they make a major purchase of $5,000 or more (online or via print, or telephone) at least once per month. But only 48% of respondents purchase goods online directly from suppliers, opting instead for third-party websites and other purchasing channels.

17% of B2B buyers use Amazon Supply, the most popular third-party website from which to make a business purchase regularly, and 38% of B2B buyers make a purchase using the service at least once per quarter.

The B2B Procurement study uncovered massive growth in online research and spending by B2B buyers across multiple devices. Study highlights include:

Electronic Purchasing Platforms In Which Users Participated

Platform

% of Respondents

Supplier’s website

48.2%

Sap

13.4%

Oracle procurement

7.4%

Amazon supply

16.6%

Do not purchase online

31.6%

Other

9.4%

Source: AquityGroup, October 2014

B2B organizations are undergoing a major shift in customer behavior, marked by a steady increase in online research and browsing across multiple sources before purchasing. Overall, 94% of B2B buyers report that they conduct some form of online research before purchasing a business product, while 55% of B2B buyers conduct online research for at least half of their corporate purchases.

Additionally, procurement teams are spending more time researching products and comparing prices online for goods at all price points. 40% of buyers research more than half of goods under $10,000 online. 31% of buyers research more than half of goods costing $100,000 or more online. For larger corporate purchases of $5,000 or more, 34% spend more than three hours researching products.

Most Popular Online Sources Used To Make A Purchase Decisions (% Using)

Online Source

% of Respondents

Google search

77%

Supplier’s website

83.4%

3rd party website

34%

Userreview of products

41.8%

Blogs

10.8%

Social media

8.6%

Do not participate

6.4%

Other

7.4%

Source: AquityGroup, October 2014

Although, according to 83% of respondents, supplier websites are the most popular channels for conducting research online, only 37% of B2B buyers who conduct research through a supplier’s website said it was the most helpful channel for this purpose.

According to the report, these findings reveal a significant gap between the information procurement officers want and the content that B2B websites currently provide, despite the fact that many suppliers appear to be adapting to changing preferences among B2B buyers.

71% of respondents prefer to conduct research and purchase on their own with access to a sales representative via the phone or online chat when needed, demonstrating the importance of a highly integrated, omni-channel eBusiness approach to sales and marketing. Respondents reported:

31.6% said Research and purchase on my own online, but would like phone support with any issues

  • 16.2% want to speak to someone directly via telephone to discuss options and walk through the entire process
  • 15.8% research and purchase on their own online, but would like live chat support with any issues
  • 13.4% like to do their own research, but talk through purchasing on the phone
  • 12.4% would like to speak with someone directly in person to discuss options and walk me through the entire process
  • 10.5% research and purchase on their own online, no sales person necessary

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Yahoo In Talks To Buy Video Ad Platform BrightRoll For Around $700M

TechCrunch

Yahoo has been building up its video and video advertising content, and we have heard that it may make another key acquisition in the area to further raise its game. The company is in talks to acquire BrightRoll, the cross-platform digital video advertising service.

TechCrunch has heard that term sheets have been signed, and that the price, if the deal is completed, could be anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion, but looks likely to be in the region of $700 million – $725 million.

Yahoo is currently under pressure from activist investor Starboard Value to consider a breakup and/or sale of the company. This could potentially have an impact on negotiations. Tim Armstrong, the CEO of AOL — Starboard’s target for a merger — earlier today said that a Yahoo sale does not figure as part of AOL’s future plans.

Were a BrightRoll acquisition to go through, you can see Yahoo’s logic: BrightRoll is a strong competitor against the likes of Google and its leading online video property YouTube when it comes to video ad volumes and attracting publishers and advertisers.

BrightRoll’s platform — which works across web, mobile and connected TV devices — acts as an intermediary and service for both advertisers and publishers. Advertisers plan, target, optimise and report digital video ad campaigns, while publishers plug BrightRoll ad inventory into their content.

Its platform is one of the biggest of its kind: “#1 in ads served and largest reach to unique video viewers,” according to comScore in June 2014, and as pointed out by BrightRoll itself. The company works with 25 of the top 50 publishers, and 85 of the top 100 advertisers.

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IDG’s Social Media Marketing Success Story

Media Shepard

IDG worked with Samsung late last year to promote the company’s 10.1 Galaxy Note tablet. For Samsung, the goals were clear: promote the product during the holiday season in order to reach the campaign’s target business audience. IDG’s job was to leverage its industry contacts and brand following to create awareness and engagement.

That job fell to Colin Browning, marketing services director at IDG, who heads the Performance Marketing group within IDG Strategic Marketing Services. Browning’s team is responsible for the implementation, management, analysis, and optimization of social media and lead generation programs for clients.

mediaShepherd asked Browning to explain how IDG designed and implemented an effective B2B social media campaign: platforms used, specific approaches, goals, strategies and results.

mediaShepherd: What were the goals of the campaign? How were you defining “success” both for your client and IDG?

Colin Browning: The overall campaign goal was to increase the IT leadership’s awareness of Samsung’s new 10.1 inch tablet as a superior device for use in the workplace. For the social component we wanted to get the target audience discussing the broader advantages and flexibility of tablets while including Samsung’s messaging.

mS: There is often a fine line between promotional and valuable content, especially with custom marketing campaigns. How did you ensure that you would be pushing out valuable content to your audiences to facilitate real engagement? (Did the survey(s) you conducted play a role in this?)

CB: The program content, including the Twitter chat topics, were designed to be thought leadership based. While these are all informative pieces and conversations, they were also aligned to the key value propositions of the Samsung Tablet. This enabled us to have broader audience conversations about the use of the tablet in the workplace and what IT’s needs are, without coming across as overly promotional.

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