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B2B Marketing: Where Are We Now?

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 B2B Marketing: Where Are We Now?

Often, the more you read, hear and write a word the less it begins to mean. Its cadence and calligraphy repeated ad infinitum become little more than shapes and white noise. The word ‘digital’ has dogged the marketing profession for the last few years, used in every event, article and plan to complete exhaustion. However despite its repetition, it seems we’re still only just unpacking what ‘digital’ will mean for the B2B marketing community. In fact, according to the 2014 Marketing Perspectives report, 9 out of 10 marketers believe the digital revolution is still gearing up – when it’s actually already here.

Over the next year marketers expect to see even more disruption from a younger generation, completely at home with on-demand technology, dominating the buying market. This disruption will grant even more power to those making purchase decisions as they obtain more information and make more knowledgeable choices. This empowered consumer is set against the challenge of an increasingly fragmented audience as the volume of marketing channels continues to grow.

However, there are two sides to the digital coin and this proliferation of channels and digitally savvy consumers provides marketers with an unprecedented opportunity to know their customer. With increasingly diverse demographics, marketers need data analytics to better understand the behaviour of the digital native, or ‘millennials’, as well as an ageing population and everyone else in between. Marketers are able to use the real-time insights from a huge range of digital channels to their advantage.

It’s no surprise then that web and customer analytics have been identified as the most important disciplines for marketers to master. The ability to mine data for crucial customer insight is a skill set that businesses prize, not just in the marketing function. But despite this, many marketers lack the competence and skills in data analytics that would help them incorporate insights from digital and mobile channels into their overall marketing mix.

Despite the recognition that mobile and on-demand media is changing the marketing landscape, marketers are still not confident with developing mobile strategies and activating mobile-ready campaigns. In fact, 1 in 3 marketers say their organisation’s mobile competence is below average or poor. This needs to change quickly if the brand wants to capture the attention of a mobile driven marketplace.

The Marketing Perspectives report by SAS and Marketing Week reveals that B2B marketers are more digitally inclined than their consumer focused counterparts, reporting more use of social, location based and mobile marketing. Thirty-five per cent of B2B marketers fell into the ‘SoMoLo Maven’ category (those who invest more, have greater skill and confidence in social, mobile and location marketing) compared to 19% of B2C marketers. However, with empowered buyers and digital natives driving change, the requirement for real-time data analytics skills is only set to grow. And yet, many still struggle with it.

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The New Breed of Marketers: the Digital Native

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 The New Breed of Marketers: the Digital Native

The rise of the digital native and empowered consumers is transforming the marketing landscape, and marketers are responding to this change in very different ways. Many marketers lack the digital skills to fully adapt to this rapidly burgeoning breed of consumer and its always-on culture. They can build websites and design banners for example, but are they able to optimise the design and improve targeting? First generation digital marketing may have been achieved, but they now need to accomplish digital marketing 2.0.

Under pressure to deliver ROI against limited budgets, many tend to choose channels or approaches that have been tried and tested before. Whilst this gives them confidence to generate results, it prevents them from truly engaging with a millennial generation moving fast into the social and mobile arena.

But, as a new breed of consumer takes centre stage, so too does a new breed of marketer need to emerge. As millennials take up position on both sides of the buyer- supplier relationship, the current and future marketer needs to learn new skills and master a different set of tools. Understanding data analytics will be the key to success.

The behaviour of the millennial demographic is distinctly different from its predecessors in many respects. A strong relationship with technology, social media and a willingness to impart personal information in exchange for better services, are some of the most defining traits. Digital natives expect to converse, interact and purchase as, when and via the channel that they choose. In return they expect marketers to remember their likes and preferences; to understand them. Understanding and assimilating these differences and the behaviours that accompany them is crucial if marketers are to survive the digital revolution.

The always-connected nature of the millennial generation is a behavioural gold-mine for marketers – providing both the means to engage and a source of information to guide that engagement.

Assailed with marketing messages from an early age, these empowered buyers are experts at filtering out irrelevant, poorly timed or boring marketing campaigns. Social and location data is providing the means for marketers to connect with millennials in a way that is instantaneous, personal and relevant.

Effective digital marketing relies on big data analytics and real-time decision-making. These twin pillars help businesses to identify, understand, hone in on and engage their customers by providing them with crucial and timely customer insight. Coincidentally, they are also two of the weakest areas amongst marketers today according to research of nearly 600 marketers, which is why many are struggling to engage their customer in a digitally driven world.

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The Value Of Video For Social Advertising

MediaPost

The value of video in digital marketing is growing as video consumption continues to rise across channels and connected devices. In the first half of 2014, the Interactive Advertising Bureau reported digital video ad spending increased by 24% compared to the first half of 2013.

While TV is not dead — consumers still watch on average 4.5 hours of TV per day — users are spending significant amounts of more time viewing video content on other devices like desktop, smartphone and tablet. Mobile now accounts for 22% of overall digital video consumption, expected to rise in 2015 with ad spending in social expected to exceed $26 billion dollars globally.

Enter Social Media: A Channel Capable of Widespread Impact

As marketers, we need to stop thinking in silos and start media planning with complete storytelling in mind. Using video content and social channels together to tell a cohesive, engaging narrative that leverages the mind-set of the user, based on the screen and platform they are viewing, should be the norm.

Once content creators begin to develop video based on channel and device, engagement and video completion rates skyrocket. Adding videos to landing pages can increase conversions by nearly 90 percent—especially across the ever-increasing landscape of social platforms, where video has become a strategic way to break through the daily clutter of 58 million tweets, 4.75 billion pieces of Facebook content, and 60 million Instagram posts.

Few advertising channels outside of social allow a brand to maximize distribution of short- and long-form content and get users to watch nearly an entire video clip. Video is a tool to help change perception and sentiment among a brand’s target audience, while leveraging established advocates to relay influential opinions to their peers across multiple channels.

Given the usage of social platforms, high engagement with content and the ability to target audiences on a one-to-one level, it’s surprising that video and social are so commonly planned separately. As marketers, isn’t it our job to find the right user and deliver the right message to them at the right time? If so, why are we not planning video strategies on Facebook and Twitter in conjunction with our broader video buys? It is time to tear down the channel walls and start building smarter media plans inclusive of social user behavior and each platform’s unique capabilities.

Video-based social media offerings are becoming more advanced and marketers should continue to adjust their strategy accordingly. Recent research from SocialBakers found that more marketers are opting for Facebook video over YouTube, and Twitter’s native Video Card outperforms YouTube links — emphasizing the huge opportunity for brands to develop engaging content that resonates with each social network’s unique audience and format.

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Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling

Harvard Business Review

It is quiet and dark. The theater is hushed. James Bond skirts along the edge of a building as his enemy takes aim. Here in the audience, heart rates increase and palms sweat.  I know this to be true because instead of enjoying the movie myself, I am measuring the brain activity of a dozen viewers. For me, excitement has a different source: I am watching an amazing neural ballet in which a story line changes the activity of people’s brains.

Many business people have already discovered the power of storytelling in a practical sense – they have observed how compelling a well-constructed narrative can be. But recent scientific work is putting a much finer point on just how stories change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

As social creatures, we depend on others for our survival and happiness. A decade ago, my lab discovered that a neurochemical called oxytocin is a key “it’s safe to approach others” signal in the brain. Oxytocin is produced when we are trusted or shown a kindness, and it motivates cooperation with others. It does this by enhancing the sense of empathy, our ability to experience others’ emotions. Empathy is important for social creatures because it allows us to understand how others are likely to react to a situation, including those with whom we work.

More recently my lab wondered if we could “hack” the oxytocin system to motivate people to engage in cooperative behaviors. To do this, we tested if narratives shot on video, rather than face-to-face interactions, would cause the brain to make oxytocin. By taking blood draws before and after the narrative, we found that character-driven stories do consistently cause oxytocin synthesis. Further, the amount of oxytocin released by the brain predicted how much people were willing to help others; for example, donating money to a charity associated with the narrative.

In subsequent studies we have been able to deepen our understanding of why stories motivate voluntary cooperation. (This research was given a boost when, with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, we developed ways to measure oxytocin release noninvasively at up to one thousand times per second.) We discovered that, in order to motivate a desire to help others, a story must first sustain attention – a scarce resource in the brain – by developing tension during the narrative. If the story is able to create that tension then it is likely that attentive viewers/listeners will come to share the emotions of the characters in it, and after it ends, likely to continue mimicking the feelings and behaviors of those characters. This explains the feeling of dominance you have after James Bond saves the world, and your motivation to work out after watching the Spartans fight in 300.

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Google News: still a major traffic driver

Digiday

Publishers may increasingly focus their traffic growth on optimizing their content for social networks, but the Google News’ influence on traffic is still hard — and foolish — to deny.

On Thursday, Axel Springer, Germany’s biggest news publisher, said that it’s rolling back its two-week experiment that prevented Google from using excerpts of its content within Google News listings. While many European publishers have bristled at Google’s ability to freely use their content on its own sites, CEO Mathias Doepfner said preventing Google from indexing its content was tanking its traffic numbers: Traffic from Google dropped 40 percent during the experiment, and 80 percent from Google News.

The continued influence of Google News on publishers’ traffic might come as a surprise considering all the attention paid to the traffic coming from social channels like Facebook, Twitter and, most recently, Pinterest. Publishers today are spending far more time trying to get social readers to click and share than they are on landing Google searchers or Google News visitors.

“I’ve heard people call SEO dead literally since I started writing about it in 1996 — no joke. It’s sure taking its time dying,” said Danny Sullivan, founding editor of SearchEngineLand.

But it wasn’t always this way. The 2002 birth of Google News also launched a cottage industry of tactics and techniques aimed at helping publishers land the site’s top spots. Publishers knew that scoring a single story on Google News could help drive more traffic than any story could get organically. But Google News has always been a black box, and while publishers did their best to get in Google’s good graces, it was never a sure thing that Google would respond the way they wanted.

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Video blogs, podcasts help marketers reach niche audiences on mobile

Mobile Marketer

NEW YORK – Video blogging and podcasting are experiencing rapid growth, with many consumers being reached via mobile, said a panel of podcasters and video bloggers at the ad:tech New York conference.

Because the mobile and Web video industry has seen a significant rise in the last several years, marketers and brands can effectively use those kinds of platforms to reach niche audiences. Videos and podcasts offer consumers control, which makes marketing appear more natural.

“Consumption has really gone mobile,” said Rob Walch, vice president of Podcaster Relations, Libsyn, Pittsburgh, PA. “More people are consuming now on mobile devices, and the media has become more aware of it.

“Podcasting is about consumers being able to consume the podcast when they want, how they want. Podcasting is the antithesis of streaming – you are in control.”

Tips for engagement
The way in which podcasts are being consumed has changed drastically in the past two years, with large numbers coming from mobile, said Mr. Walch. Video podcasts have decreased, with audio leading the way in building up listeners.

“Consumption has switched over to audio from the podcast side, and a lot of that has to do with people streaming from smartphones,” Mr. Walch said.

However, podcasters and video bloggers must be cognizant about which devices they are marketing towards. The iOS platform has over 500 million devices that have native-built podcast mobile applications, but Android does not.

“On the mobile side, it really is still an Apple world,” Mr. Walch said. “For podcasters, Apple is your friend. Google is not.”

Marketers seeking to use the podcast or video platforms should also make sure to keep the URLs simple, but unique for each show within the campaign.

Relevant marketing
Podcasters seeking to build a substantial fan base should ensure to focus on gaining listeners and followers rather than number of listens. Subscribers are also directly related to return on investment.

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9 New Terms Modern Marketers will want to Know

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 9 New Terms Modern Marketers will want to Know

New practices need new language to describe them. When IDC’s smart, experienced, forward-looking, clients and special guests got together at our recent Marketing Leadership board meeting in New York, I jotted down these terms they used as particularly useful for describing their challenges and ideas.

Product%2BSelfie 9 New Terms Modern Marketers will want to Know
  1. Product selfie: A type of content where it’s all about the product and nothing about the buyer/user (Guidance: Keep to a minimum – you know why.)
  2. Snackable content: Short-form, easy-to-consume, desirable, content (Guidance: As attention spans get shorter, you’ll need more of this.)
  3. Brand-as-a-Service: Offering beneficial, free, and minimally-self-serving, customer service that extends your brand promise. Examples: USAA offering car-buying services, Pantene offering tips for creating celebrity hair-styles during an Academy Awards social media campaign; (Guidance: Powerful! Find yours.)
  4. Budget slush fund: Holding back 5-15% of your budget so that you can respond with agility to unexpected opportunities such as a social media fire or an idea from a regional marketer that is worth testing. (Guidance: Great strategy to you get beyond the same-old, same-old, but you’ll need a seeking and vetting process to make sure this doesn’t go to waste)
  5. Off-domain: Use of non-owned capabilities such as content syndication, outside point-of-view, 3rd-party voices; curated content, and community/social/partner media or events  (Guidance: This fast growing practice will require a different mind-set than the traditional “owned and ads first”  Start with some pilots now and plan to expand.)

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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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5 Infographics to Teach You How to Easily Create Infographics in PowerPoint [+ TEMPLATES]

Hubspot

These days, visual content is all the rage. And considering the fact that people are naturally drawn to pictures, images, and other visuals, it’s no wonder it’s become such a dominant force in the marketing world. Just think about how much more prominently visuals get featured in social networks like Facebook and Google+. And what about the rise of visual-focused networks like Pinterest, Instagram, and Vine? There’s no denying it — visual content is here to stay, and marketers who can learn how to master it will have a leg up on competitors who can’t.

When most marketers hear the term “visual content,” the first type that comes to mind is usually the infographic. But how can those who don’t necessarily have a design background — or budget to commission an agency, hire a dedicated in-house designer, or purchase expensive design software — create professional-looking infographics that enable them to leverage the power of visual content? We’re so glad you asked! Here’s a little secret: You can do it right within software you likely already have loaded on your computer. That’s right!PowerPoint can be your best friend when it comes to visual content creation. And to help you get started, we’ve created five fabulous infographic templates you can download for free and use to customize your own infographics right within PowerPoint — as well as some helpful tips and tricks to help you learn how to use PowerPoint to its full potential.

In this post, we’ll highlight some PowerPoint infographic creation basics as well as four of the infographic templates from the download that explain how to easily create infographics in PowerPoint (how meta, right?). Just be sure to download the PowerPoint templates for yourself so you can easily customize the designs you see here!

 

Why Every Media Website Redesign Looks the Same

Mashable

If web design is art, we may be entering its minimalist phase.

Website redesigns from some of the most-visited media destinations on the Internet may be leaving users with a bit of déjà vu since many are sporting the same visual elements.

“It’s sort of the same way that all cars look more or less the same. There’s only so many ways you can design a doorknob to where it’s going to be effective,” said Brad Frost, a web designer that has worked on the websites for TechCrunch and Entertainment Weekly.

Cars and doorknobs serve a purpose under certain constraints, just like websites. But unlike those everyday items, the demands on websites have changed drastically as audiences have taken to different devices.

Time.com (pictured below) is a prime example: Clean lines, big pictures and defined columns dominate. The site launched its redesign in March.

Time1 640x359 Why Every Media Website Redesign Looks the Same

 

The homepage of Time.com goes with the three-column design and a sticky header menu.

IMAGE: TIME.COM

Time.com is also “responsive,” a relatively new concept that combines development and design to allow websites to conform to a wide variety of screen sizes while still providing a useful experience. The rise of responsive design has been driven by steadily rising mobile traffic combined with the introduction of a wide range of devices.

Mobile was this crisis that woke us up from this shared delusion that the web was this fixed width,” said Josh Clark, a web designer and developer.

“To a certain degree, websites always look the same. Design is fashion and it follows trends. We’re in the middle of a trend of big and clunky, not just because of responsive design but also because of touch,” Clark added. “As touch has spread from small screens to laptops and desktops, all desktop designs have to be touch-friendly, and that has influenced the aesthetic, too.”

Numerous major media sites have shifted to responsive design with similar results — multi-column, boxy and flat designs that look almost strangely similar. NBC News has its main column on the left, but the similarities are apparent.

Continue reading…