Tag Archives: B2B

​ All I Need to Know About Marketing Optimization I Learned In a Singles Bar

Reposted with the consent of the author.

Optimization is a hot topic for BtoB marketers. Developing well-crafted, relevant and engaging emails, websites and landing pages will ce

rtainly help you get closer to the ultimate sale. But optimization is about more than having the right text and visuals on a page– it’s about building better relationships.

One thing we sometimes forget is that, despite new tools and automation, the underlying principle remains: people buy from people, not websites or emails. Establishing and then nurturing a connection between the marketer and the prospect is critical if there’s any hope of a sale and long-term customer relationship.

With this in mind, it behooves marketers to:

  • first, find a motivated prospect – someone who’s going to be interested in the product or service you have to offer
  • second, prove that you can deliver unique value
  • and third, properly overcome resistance from your prospect.

The key is engaging at the right level and speed – not moving too fast, while staying keenly aware of signals from the prospect that indicate interest.

The dating game.
To tell the truth (and with appropriate props to our friends at MarketingExperiments for pointing this out) it’s not unlike the dating ritual we’ve all been a part of at some point in our lives.

Imagine meeting someone for the first time at a social event. Like it or not, a conversation usually begins with some type of scripted overture (sometimes also known as a pick-up line). In our (admittedly limited) experience, cleverness coupled with friendly sincerity usually wins out over the bold, overly aggressive approach. Handle the introduction correctly and you’re on your way to a deeper conversation.

During that conversation, you have the opportunity to do two things: identify the motivation of the other party (are they looking for something long-term or just out for an evening out with friends?) and deliver your unique “value proposition.” If both parties share the same motivation and values, you could be on your way to a relationship.

Once kicked off, most relationships progress cautiously through a series of interactions during which you monitor your new acquaintance’s reaction for signs they are responding positively. For example, engaging someone during a first meeting with a line like “would you like to move in with me? I have a big house on the beach…” is unlikely to lead to a positive outcome (even assuming you do have that beachfront property). Engaging in true two-way conversation — listening and responding to signals from the other party — is much more effective.

Relationship building in action.
There’s much to learn from this approach when building email, landing page and website messaging. Optimize content to favor relationship building: the headline needs to be engaging without being too pushy, relevant to the prospect’s specific motivation and inviting in a way that encourages the prospect to learn more.

Landing page copy needs to connect with the ad or email link that was clicked so the prospect feels you are carrying on the same conversation. Dropping a paid search prospect onto a generic landing page or homepage is like abruptly changing the topic of a conversation. It usually leads to confusion and diminished interest.

If the long-term goal is to create a relationship with the prospect, it’s best to limit each step in the process to a single focus – amplifying the previous step and offering them an opportunity and reason for deeper engagement.

Headlines need to “sell” the opening paragraph of a landing page, landing page copy needs to deliver a clear value proposition and sell the benefits of the specific offer being made, and the offer must be relevant to the prospect’s immediate need.

If the prospect balks at any point, you’re moving too fast, like an over-eager teenager. You may need to slow the engagement process, or even move on to the next candidate. Resist the urge to push the prospect forward with increasingly aggressive message points – what didn’t work in the singles bar won’t work here either.

Getting a commitment.
Remember, you need a motivated prospect for your efforts to be successful, overcoming resistance by providing incentives, reassurances and value. Your prospect needs to clearly understand what he or she is expected to do at each stage of the “conversation,” whether it is subscribing to your email updates, downloading your latest white paper or signing up for your webinar series. The call-to-action must be relevant, delivered with clarity and without distraction, and every element should support the value proposition.

Find a motivated prospect, engage in a conversation, deliver value, and gently but firmly overcome resistance… and you will find commitment. And after all, isn’t that what everybody wants: a lasting commitment?

Micky Long is Vice President at Arketi Group, a public relations and digital marketing firm that helps business-to-business technology organizations accelerate growth through intelligent strategy, public relations, messaging, branding and demand generation. Consistently recognized by BtoB magazine as one of the nation’s “Top BtoB Agencies,” Arketi helps its clients use marketing to generate revenue. To view all company blogs visit here, and for more information call 404-929-0091 ext. 202.

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The “Big Three” of Content

This post was originally published by Jon DiPietro on his inbound marketing blog, Domesticating IT.
content #like

Inbound marketing begins and ends with content. But it can’t be any kind of content in order to be effective. In order for it to be all it can be, there are three specific traits it needs to have.

Remarkable Content

Dictionary.com defines “remarkable” as “worthy of notice or attention.” In other words, remarkable content is something that people want to, er, remark about. There are a few different ways you can create content that has that effect on readers.

  • They learn something from it.
    One of the most effective and common forms of remarkable content is informational. It’s intended to let readers know something important that they didn’t already know. But important to whom? To them, of course! By way of example, nobody would care about a blog post in which I bragged about how just landed a new client who wants to better understand how to create remarkable content. Too many companies publish “press release content” that they think is important but hardly anyone else does. Make sure it’s important to the audience.
  • They are inspired by it.
    Sometimes content can be important because it motivates us to take action on something we already knew. Maybe it’s a case study about how a company improved its conversion rates by 50% through landing page optimization. You’ve been reading about it for months and now this story finally inspires you to implement some A/B testing on your own site.
  • They need it.
    This is a wide category that covers a number of possibilities. In some cases, the information in the content is timely. For example, the first article written about the Stuxnet virus is going to be considered much more remarkable than the fifth. Another possibility is that the content is exclusive. Often, this is the case with original data from research, polling or your own customer database.
  • They’re entertained by it.
    Sometimes (most of the time, actually), we could just use a good laugh. I’m a big fan of corporate blogs letting their hair down once in a while and showing their humanity. Humor is a great way to do that and is consistently among the most shared content on the web.

Readable Content

Content confusionIf your informative, inspirational, exclusive and entertaining content is unreadable, what good is it? If an article appears in the forrest and nobody is there to read it, does it really exist? Here’s my definition of readable:

Short words, in short sentences, in short paragraphs with lots of white space, clear/compelling headlines and bullets.

Let’s talk about the first part of that definition; all the short stuff. I think there’s a common misperception (especially in the B2B world) that content writing must be erudite and formal. However, when you’re competing for attention from readers facing an infinite number of online distractions, the more quickly your content can be consumed, the better. There are some tools you can use to actually measure how complicated your writing is. One of the most common is the Flesch Reading Ease score. The higher the score, the easier something is to read. According to Wikipedia, “Reader’s Digest magazine has a readability index of about 65, Time magazine scores about 52, an average 6th grade student’s (an 11-year-old) written assignment has a readability test of 60–70 (and a reading grade level of 6–7), and the Harvard Law Review has a general readability score in the low 30s.” This article – by the way – scores a 63.

Now, what about the white space, headings and bullets? The problem with that approach is that Internet users don’t read; they browse. Visitors will check your content first to see how long it is. Next, they will scan it to perform an instant cost/benefit analysis. “Will spending the next five minutes of my life be worth the payoff I’ll get from reading this?” White space reduces stress levels when someone is trying to scan your content and perform their risk/benefit analysis. It also makes the headings and other indicators pop out a little more. The headings are crucial. They are mini-titles that allow readers to scan quickly in order to build a quick and dirty outline of your content.

The easier you can make it for readers to scan and consume, the better your chances that it will be read.

Shareable Content

content sharingYes, I know “shareable” isn’t a real word. But I think it should be. Our entire goal with inbound marketing is to spread our ideas and attract qualified visitors. Therefore, why not make it as simple as possible for readers to share your content if they are so inclined? While the situation is improving quickly, I’m still shocked at the number of web pages and blogs I encounter that don’t have Tweet, share or like buttons!

Hopefully this article is readable enough that you’ve finished it and found it remarkable enough to share with your friends and colleagues.

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What is Web 2.0 and Why Should it Change the Way I Do Business?

As a buzz word, you’ve probably heard the term “Web 2.0″ thrown around before. You may even have a good idea about why this is important or how it has helped you engage with B2C companies outside of the workplace. How, then, is this relevant to your business in the industrial sector? You have a company website, isn’t that enough?

Tim O’Reilly first coined the term Web 2.0 at a conference back in 2004. He defined it as a way to ‘harness collective intelligence’ and ‘the wisdom of the crowds’.

Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as:

“A site [which] allows its users to interact with each other as contributors to the website’s content, in contrast to websites where users are limited to the passive viewing of information that is provided to them.”

Web 2.0 technologies enable a new generation of interaction on the Internet. Product reviews, forums, social networking sites, and blogs offer communication and collaboration on a new level not previously afforded to online users.

In a world where what we do, where we do it, and who we do it with is so often influenced by those around us, we can now network with peers around the world without leaving our computer. User-generated content means we can step around corporate sales pitches and draw on the opinions of others to help us make decisions instead.

Chris Jones explains the importance of such meaningful engagement:

“Many still don’t realize that the new internet – call it Web 2.0 – offers a radically different proposition: collaborating with others via an open, multi-party exchange.”

Amazon is a great example of this. Not only does the online shopping giant invite you to review items you’ve purchased through the site, but it also allows you to join relevant communities and create your own lists of recommendations for others to view.

The danger is, in our efforts not to step outside the box, we risk being left behind. Web 2.0 is not going to disappear. The Internet increasingly revolves around users and how they share information. Those online no longer solely rely on brands to feed them the information they need.

Businesses which refuse to acknowledge the Web 2.0 era of Internet technologies risk distancing themselves from those they most want to talk to. By not reaching out and affording people an online platform for their voice, companies could end up sending the message that they simply don’t care about the questions, problems, or opinions of their customers.

Using LinkedIn and Twitter, I asked how Web 2.0 and the new culture of participation have improved peoples’ experiences with businesses as consumers or otherwise. Here are some of the responses I received:

LinkedIn responses

There are lessons here for the B2B sector. Online tools which cultivate an open exchange culture enhance dialogue between companies and customers. Businesses should no longer be pushing their wares onto potentially interested parties. Instead, they must take a step back and offer the tools for people to make their own decisions.

1. Start small

Consider how you could encourage visitors to engage with the information you currently provide online. For example, could you have your website developer implement software to facilitate product reviews?

Alternatively, where are people already talking about you? Could you start a Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook account and join the conversations there?

What about niche industry forums? Don’t jump in and start pushing your product or service. Take the time to ingratiate yourself into the community by offering advice to others instead. Be honest about who you work for.

2. Consider new ways to prompt feedback

Could you start (and maintain) a company blog with comments enabled? What about a forum for your customers to discuss problems or questions? Think outside the box. What are your competitors doing? More importantly, what aren’t they doing? Be innovative.

3. Help, don’t sell

Think in terms of helping people. If you only focus on the bottom line, you’ll miss opportunities to network and engage customers and those who may, one day, become customers.

4. Be prepared for negative feedback

Realize not all the feedback you receive will be positive. Don’t be afraid of this; use it to your advantage. Don’t delete comments from frustrated customers, however tempting. Allow others to see you acknowledge you have room to improve and are doing everything in your power to do so. Be transparent. A good example of this is Domino’s ‘Pizza turnaround’ and how the company used negative feedback to improve both its product and reputation.

5. You can’t stifle the conversation

Don’t forget, whatever you do, people are talking about you anyway. They could be talking about you both offline to their peers, and online – via forums, communities, social networking sites, social bookmarking sites, blogs, and other third party websites. If you can think of ways to embrace these conversations online, you can help position yourself as a trusted source.

The question is: how much do you value what your customers have to say? And are you giving them the tools to say it? Because if you don’t, you can be sure that someone else will.

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