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Study: What B2B buyers expect to see on vendor websites

Is it really still the phone number and the email address? Well, at least contact information should be easily accessible on B2B vendor websites. This is the main finding of a recent report from Dianna Huff and KoMarketing Associates.

The study, based on a survey of 175 B2B buyers, states that the majority of B2B buyers (68%) find the vendor’s address and contact information is mission critical information. Thus, 55% make clear they’ll leave the website if it isn’t accessible. For most B2B buyers (81%) want to contact vendors via email in the first place, phone comes in second place (58%). Furthermore, it is not only about accessibility. Credibility of a vendor’s website establishes for 51% of the respondents when contact or about information is displayed.

Huff:koMarketing 2014 - Content Assets Credibility

From a content perspective, 43% of buyers see pricing as a “must have” content on vendor websites. Having worked with different b2b vendors in the last years, we know that the challenge for them is the indirect sales when partners have different levels of pricing models that often cannot be displayed public; however separate logins can handle that challenge.

90% of buyers expect to see product/services information on vendor websites. They also want to see about/company information (61%), marketing collateral (37%), and testimonials (36%). Although social media becomes more impact in our daily business, only 24% try to find social media add-ons (24%) or look for blogs (22%).

Huff:koMarketing 2014 - Website Info People want to see

Spot On!
Although the contact form is the most common way to get in touch with the vendor, only 39% like to use it. This is critical as buyers usually do not take too much time to stay on vendor websites.

Especially when getting bored or when they click out of a website, buyers tend to leave. Another mismatch that makes people leave is when video or audio plays automatically (93%). Animated ads, like crawling banners or pop-ups are also a NoGo for 88%, and a bad positioning about company offers makes 83% move to the competitor sites.

Native Advertising: Will these brands turn the advertising industry around?

Last year, I had the pleasure to announce this gentleman for one of the main dmexco stage panels. And I can tell you, it was not fun to complement him to go off stage when their speaking time was up. Terence Kawaja is a funny character and great speaker, and he doesn’t like being stopped talking. Now, the investment banker and founder of LUMA Partners introduced his latest chart of the Lumascapes which will define a new status quo in the advertising industry.

After their numerous Lumascapes on search, display, video, mobile, social commerce, and so on, this time we get to see their perception world of native advertising. Although the definition on native advertising is still evolving and may seem some kind of “rough in barriers” and not very much detailed, it is making it’s way through the brand campaigns of companies. Not even the IAB playbook on native advertising gives us a clear definition on what exactly native advertising is, and how it differs from content marketing, branded content, or even how it can be located against approaches like story advertising.

To the guys of Business Insider, Kawaja said about his latest version…

“Given how consumers ignore banner ads, these new consumer – friendly formats are proving to be the engine for how marketers can engage audiences, especially in social and mobile contexts.”

Let’s hope he his right with his perception. I realized some brands of emerging companies are missing in the chart, maybe as it is an American view, maybe because we are often getting invites to the latest new start-up in this field, maybe as we see the world a bit different. Still, Kawaja and his team have done a good job again. Let’s hope he is joining dmexco 2014 again.

Lumascape Native Advertising

Tips & tricks on handling blogger advocates (Infographic)

Many marketers ask themselves (and often us) how to work with social influencers or blogger advocates. How can you get them to the some word-of-mouth promotion for your brand, how to spread the word about the company, or just to help on doing some nice networking. The team from SocialChorus gives some advice with their latest infographic on blogger advocates.

According to their opinion and advice, companies and brands should watch out that the blogger advocate of interest has got at least a social reach of 2,500-25,000 contacts on Twitter and a highly engaged audience. Furthermore, they should be “interested in brands that reflect his or her audience’s interests”. From a verticals point of view, the most popular verticals for blogger advocates come from parenting, women’s lifestyle and food. To be fairly honest,

I was a bit surprised that the tech industry was just getting some 4,8% of mentions as most of these people are in the social media platforms for quite a while, and usually these people are quite engaged. Seems this is not a big vertical when it comes to spreading the message about brands.

However, each vertical can also have some subcategories which means that it could be covered but under a different vertical like i.e. consumer interest. Not surprisingly, the typical women’s lifestyle blog is around beauty, fashion, and design/DIY, while the males’ one will focus more on auto, sports, tech or entertainment.

Spot On!
To be fair, I have to say that I doubt that the number of 2.500+ contacts qualifies for some great advocate impact (maybe more for an influencer), or whether it is not more the people behind those contacts that count. Marketers should also be careful with the “engaged audience” as sometimes people get followed as of their unique content. They get high figures in “automated response” but they might not be the most conversational, still fully respected people.

Hey, who said blogger advocacy was easy? Any further ideas on the topic, feel free to share…

Credits: SocialChorus

Credits: SocialChorus

Study: Why corporate newsrooms fail to meet journalists' needs

Credits: © momius - Fotolia.com

Credits: © momius – Fotolia.com

The value of corporate newsrooms has been discussed for years. Now, a recent Proactive Report survey by Sally Falkow, president of PRESSfeed: The Social Newsroom, gives insights into what the power of newsrooms could be and where journalists stand so far with them. The survey strikes the fact that the PR industry hasn’t adapt to the latest image- and video-based environment that users and journalists alike are looking for; especially videos and embedded codes which only one third of the newsrooms surveyed offered. The report makes clear that the majority of journalists (83%) sees images with content important, still just 38% of them add images to news content.

From Falkow’s perspective, many corporate newsrooms do not provide the content and links that journalists “are looking for, and things they think are important, and things that make their jobs easier for them, and that they would therefore use that content more readily.” The value of pictures for content could be seen when Twitter started displaying pictures in peoples’ feeds, so that users did not have to click the link connected with it, she states.

The main findings from the survey…
– Just 37% of online newsrooms provide videos and embedded codes compared to 82% of journalists asking for it
– 49% of online newsrooms fail to meet the standards of images for publications, only 39% of corporate newsrooms offer an image gallery
– 53% of journalists find video important with content, but only 13% of PR professionals are adding videos to their news, and only one third have a video gallery in their newsroom

So, the question is why companies fail with their newsrooms? Sally Falkow’s answer is as simple as it is obvious: “The No. 1 reason that they quote is lack of resources and, also very close behind, lack of skills. They don’t know how to do it.” Based on the knowledge of their 2013 newsroom study, Peter Ingman, founder of the newsroom technology platform Mynewsdesk, responded: “The power of images and videos have become central parts when coaching companies on how to set up newsrooms with our technology. Providing news and information to journalists has to be three things: simple, simple, simple! It has to be an easy process of uploading data for companies and easy to implement the appropriate content articles and posts for the media contacts. Journalists need to have or find the essential data for their reports and articles without challenging search activities. Come, find, implement – this is the key to successful newsrooms!”

Spot On!
The way journalists work has not changed drastically over the last decade in the way investigating for the news content works. Check the media, check Google, check the brands. Newsrooms offer new opportunities to journalists, social influencers and brand advocates to access data faster with an “everything-at-a-glance” perspective. The use of implemented analysis tools, clever SocialCRM technology, and by changing the way employees are allowed to speak for their brands via online channels, newsrooms foster brand and trust building. However, newsrooms can sometimes be of good and bad experience as the standard in companies newsrooms varies, apart from the different technologies that companies use, from self-developed platforms to personalized SaaS newsrooms.

Often enterprises have got newsrooms up and running already like Daimler, AUDI, ING or Costa Coffee. Still, most SMBs don’t even think about it as they are still relying on their traditional way of spreading news via content distribution platforms – an outdated way in terms of the value it provides for SEO, and even more (or less?) for journalists. Companies should start thinking about providing value with their newsroom in the form of video quotes or brief updates or blog posts alongside photos about the latest developments or news in the company or the market. Quick and simple information bites that come via tweets, Facebook updates or direct mail out of platforms straight to the editor, optimized according to their user behavior. It will make a massive impact on brand reputation and the way journalists will work with corporate newsrooms in the future.

From Content Marketing to Story Advertising?!

Managers around me get confused about the trend content marketing. What exactly is, and where does it start? A promoted tweet? A long branded status update? An advertorial? Promoted or sponsored content? A commercial that does story-telling? I have decided to discuss this a bit when I came across a great commercial yesterday as Pepsi turns the tables these days again.

But let’s start with another commercial that AUDI launched at Super Bowl this year called “Prom”. Watch it first, so you know what we are talking about. Cool commercial. Nice story. Well thought. No doubt…

Many digital experts defined this in posts or in their presentations at marketing events as content marketing. Somehow, they might have been right as it is telling a story with a beginning, a turning point and an end. And it is not just a well-produced commercial highlighting a product. It is not focused not on pure selling or promoting it.

Former commercials from Volkswagen “Star Wars”, Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” or Blendtec’s ongoing series of product tests on Youtube already went towards the content marketing direction. In their line of mention, they were evolving from a traditional commercial into some form of viral advertising series. These clearly differed from the AUDI commercial as their story-telling was neither epic, nor f(r)iction.

Now, Pepsi comes up with some really clever advertising approach in my eyes. And the question I would like to raise is: Is this content marketing or story advertising?

Most of us have seen the movie “Blues Brothers”. In that film, Elwood must reunite the old band and go on another “Mission from God”. Based on that plot, the Pepsi MAX commercial series gets their food.

After introducing Uncle Drew in the first commercial, the second series starts with a conversation between Uncle Drew and basket ball legend Bill Russell (well played by Morgan Freeman) who sends him on a mission “Get out there and get your team together again!” He shall teach the young boys how to “get buckets” – the claim of the series.

First Commercial

Second Commercial

The third commercial just recently came out and takes this form of story advertising to another level. Uncle Drew visits an underground jazz club in downtown Chicago to convince his old point guard “Lights” to re-live their glory days on the court. Although his wife disagrees, he gets his friend to go out again. What happens thereafter? Just watch it…

Obviously, players and spectators at the basketball courts in all three versions were told that they would be filmed for a “basketball documentary”. However, they enjoyed some special show of basketball magic by Kyrie Irving.

Spot On!
Story advertising could become a new form of content marketing. Pepsi MAX doesn’t even play a supporting actor in these films. It is a series around a brand, but the brand is not the star. It is there but just doing what it’s meant to do: Max taste – sugar-free. Pure enjoyment. By creating a series of commercials with main characters coming back, a real plot around a team reunion, and some really extraordinary testimonials doing what they can do best, consumers feel like being somewhere between the movies and the sports stadium. Illusions made real. They will be waiting for the next part to come out, and hope they become part of it. It’s branded content but not in a traditional way. It is like “24” or “Mad Men”, just in the commercials. It creates excitement for the next version, engages the audience to talk about basket ball (the sports that Pepsi MAX spends their marketing bucks “buckets” on), and will become viral. This is a new dimension. This is what I would call: Story Advertising.

PS: Maybe they could have left it open until the last version when the team is together again, how Pepsi did this human transition. But that is my view, how about yours…?

Big Data Opportunities (Infographic)

We discussed this topic in many panels at dmexco this year, and in the last couple of years I assume not many buzz words have made their way through so many blogs and articles: Big Data. Some see the value of it in measurement and analytics for marketing purposes. Others try to identify new potential and hire Corporate Data Scientists for their web strategy to leverage the potential of unstructured data. And some are still on their way to understand how their data can be embraced to exchange with the data of some partner or even their clients.

The topic Big Data will stay. Just look how much data is generated daily: 2,5 Exabyte. A number that doubles every year according to an infographic the guys from Elexio have put together. It illustrates the potential for companies and how Big Data might generate bigger opportunities in several sectors. Especially, in retail or e-commerce where Big Data let’s brands analyze customer behavior and deliver more personalized messages in order to create an exciting user experience, more engagement, and sure i the end more sales. However, sometimes you wonder if they are doing it right.

As Big Data also let’s us analyze offline data, some clever marketers might combine those with online data to get a clearer view of consumer activity. On the one hand, this might be good as it keeps them from delivering the wrong banner or engagement outdoor advertisement and content to the wrong customer. On the other hand, there might be people arguing that Big Data is still in its infancy as long as companies cannot extract critical and unstructured data from the valuable data that creates a new customer journey experience.

The main challenge will be how we bring Big Data and security together in the future. Consumers get stressed these days as they realize that promotion banners and branded content are following them across channels – with products and services which are often not wanted, or already bought. But how can companies deliver a seamless customer experience? How can they make use of Big Data that boosts their lead generation or sales numbers while still showing careful approach that consumers appreciate?

With all the social media sharing and curating of content via social networks and their buttons, does it really make sense talking about Big Data and security? Or, do we need organizations that audit how companies handle customer data? What rules do companies and brands need to obey to enable a social and secure shopping experience? Many questions that we will discuss on a panel at the ChapmanBlack “Future of Digital” event in Berlin next week. Sure, I will change those afterwards…

Please find the infographic of Elexio with latest insights into the new opportunities that Big Data can offer to brands and companies.

Big Data Infographic Cloud

Study Search Ranking: What makes your brand look good on Google

It is one of these questions that many brand marketers are asking themselves: What makes us reach the top search results on Google? A recent report based on Searchmetric data for 10,000 top Google search keywords sheds some light here. It was based on correlations and website characteristics of 300,000 URLs appearing in the top search result position in the US between March 2013 and June 2013.

The report shows that those websites tend to perform best that have a high social impact in terms of likes, shares, tweets and Google “+1″‘s. It also makes clear that there is a realationship between ranking high on Google and collecting Google+ links to achieve better ranking impact which the graphic below indicates.

Searchmetrics-Rank-Correlation-Facts-Social-2013

Despite common believe that fast website performance through intelligent on-page coding might create some benefit for the search ranking, the study shows that just not having it will let websites achieve lower rankings. This means that SEO basics like having H1 and H2 tags or providing brief descriptions now are seen as standards but won’t support any boost effect.

Searchmetrics-Rank-Correlation-Facts-2013

Still, content is king for Google. Good rankings were correlated always positively with good and unique content and had a bigger effect in 2013 than the year ago. As main ingredients of positive content can be named a clever internal link structure, a URL with a clear message and longer text plus a sensible number of integrated (audio)-visual files. This could be as of the fact that Google wants to boost their own pictures search sites and obviously Youtube.

Keywords keep up their impact on the rankings. On the page, they still need to placed in the title as close to the front as possible and in the text they need to be placed wisely as well. As of some algorithm changes compared to 2012, the importance of keywords in the domain name or the URL has lost its significance.

According to the report, websites of brands and other domains seem to play on different levels for Google. Obviously, brand websites seem to be superior to normal sites. The report states that it looks as if the search engine finds it normal for brands to generate more backlinks with the brand name appearing in referring content pieces alone.

The infographic provides some more information – and if this version is too small, just click here and download it
Search-Ranking-Factors-2013

Six Common Ecommerce SEO Mistakes

Search PlayerIncorporating a strong SEO strategy into the design of an ecommerce website can greatly improve its chances of success. For an online shop to succeed, customers must be able to easily find it using a search engine. Whether you’re using an expensive SEO consultant or simply relying on a subscription ecommerce platform, you’ll want to take heed of the following common mistakes made by ecommerce websites.

1. Not Including Product Descriptions
High quality photos are essential for ecommerce websites, but if there is no accompanying description the product stands a low chance of being picked up by search engines. Be sure to add descriptions to each product in order to help give each product page an SEO boost. In addition to the description itself, the navigation, text, sidebar, and footer all count towards the final word count. With unique, descriptive content you can help market your wares while becoming more visible by the search engines.

2. Duplicating Product Descriptions
One common mistake that ecommerce sites make is copying the manufacturer’s product description word-for-word, usually in an attempt to avoid making mistake #1. While this will give you an accurate product description, it can work against you in the end. If your site uses the same manufacturer description, there’s a high chance that other rivals are doing the same. This creates the problem of duplicate content. Either rewrite the description, or add your own editorial underneath it. The same rule goes for listing your products on 3rd party sites such as Amazon or eBay. If you use the same content that appears on your website, you’ll run into the problem of duplicate content.

3. Lack of Related Content
Product descriptions are a mainstay of any ecommerce website, but they are not the only facet of ecommerce SEO to pay attention to. Many buyers are interested in finding out more about your products and company. Include information about your business’s history, along with shipping and return policies. Keeping a business blog is an easy way to rejuvenate your site with fresh content, as is opening up the site to customer reviews.

4. Using Non-Targeted URLs
You may have beautifully written unique content on your ecommerce site, but what about your URLs? If these are a jumble of letters and numbers it can not only be confusing for visitors, but it misses out on a chance to incorporate keywords into a clean, descriptive URL.

5. Not Targeting Content to Keywords
As you work on revising your content, it’s helpful to keep the keywords that your customers are typing into search engines in mind. These can be easily followed using analytics tools and are important for promoting the right terms for your audience. Keywords and search terms can also be incorporated into your off page SEO strategy. When you create content that links back to your main website, if it includes these same keywords it will draw in the type of readers who would be interested in your shop.

6. Not Using Robots.txt
Using the robots.txt file gives ecommerce website owners a way to give instructions to search engine spiders. This helps you make sure that you have control over which pages you wish to be indexed and which you don’t. For example, you can use robots.txt to block areas of the website with duplicate content, such as tags or archives. Not using this can hinder your SEO presence.

By avoiding these six common mistakes, you can improve your ecommerce website’s chances of standing out from the crowd online.

Brand advocate or Influencer: Are you driving on the streets of loyalty?

In many seminars there is a common opinion: Brand advocates and social media influencers are cast in the same mold. They are not! They are completely different kind of personalities. However, this does not say that they cannot change their roles from brands to brands. Still, the question is whether they might suddenly become both in the future: influencer and advocate. We have shared our thoughts a while ago…

So, how can advocates and influencers be defined (backed up by an infographic from Zuberance and Convince and Convert below)?

Advocates are customers of brands. They are not heading for money or incentives that a brand or company might pay them for going out and holding up signs “I love this brand!”. In fact, it is just the other way round: They often pay brands more than they have to. Personal persuasion, individual enthusiasm and emotions the brand creates lead them to recommend products to their fellows, friends and fans without any reward. These people are just happy with a brand or product. The brand has satisfied their needs and desires which let’s them engage in discussion they are not really part of. These people are actually looking for engagement around the brand and might even start conversations that foster new brand approaches, or even design new product concepts.

Influencers were -well, in the days before social media- people that were wearing logos on shirts, were used as testimonials or stood in front of a camera and talked about a product or service as a client case (things they often had no clue about). Nowadays, there is a new type of influencers coming up that gets paid by blogging or social media monetization platforms, and in the end from brands and companies. These bloggers or social media active people write or talk online about brands predominantly as they get paid for promoting the brand or product. In most cases, these bloggers have a great community of people that build an attractive audience (whether as of reach or relevance) for the brand or company – maybe simply to increase the influencer base or to spread the word (word-of-mouth) around the brand.

The main difference between the two?

Advocacy goes deeper. Advocacy is emotion-driven. Advocacy is loyalty. Loyalty is commitment. Loyalty is passion. Loyalty let’s forget the rules of logic, of facts, of the rational. Advocates drive on the streets of loyalty and breath it’s air.

A recent study by Ogilvy claims that social media influencers don’t use these streets of advocacy and passion, the streets of the brands they follow. The study makes cleat that most “advocates” -in the above definition probably more influencers- mentioned product features and not emotions. Only 9% of brands were lucky to facing greater than 50% of brand advocacy. And, “advocacy” posts constituted only 15% of social mentions.

Marketers need to understand the value of brand advocacy. Advocats are the elite of your brand fans, and marketers that do not identify those advocates will leave out the opportunity to spend marketing budgets more wisely:

“Brands that do not generate substantial advocacy will need to pay more for reach and consequently have costs substantially higher than those brands that drive advocacy… this advantage could make the difference between a company with outstanding shareholder returns and one that fails to perform.”

zuberance-influencers-vs-brandadvocates

Hey marketers, just think about yourself: Would you tattoo yourself with the brand you love, like i.e. many Harley Davidson fans? Let us know…

Mobile & Responsive Design: Hype or Hope? (Infographic)

It is a dream for many people responsible in the developer field: Creating a mobile app once, without the need to amend it for any screen, any device or any audience. Responsive web design is said to be able to deliver just that – one size design fits all kind of a thing. But is it really true?

In days where more than 20% of all web traffic is generated via leading e-commerce websites coming from mobile devices, responsive web design is becoming an alternative many developers are thinking about. Not surprising, right?! The unique screen resolutions has been growing from 97 in 2010 to 232 in 2013. For those retailers that wanted to rise the number of online shoppers alongside with the growth of screens coming via not desktop resolutions, responsive design became a new and attractive option.

For the marketing and web optimization guys from Monetate, it seems there is only one real alternative if companies don’t believe in their customers to download their mobile app: responsive web design. Still, mobile shopping is not a hype anymore, it has become the real revenue driver in e-commerce. There is an expected $38.8 billion spend on smartphones and tablets according to eMarketer in America in 2013 which is forecasted to grow up to $108.6 billion by 2017.

However, brands might argue that the development is not cheap at all. If you see another alternative or have the proof that responsive design is not the only alternative, let us know…

Responsive-Web-Design-Infographic