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Marketing Strategies

How B2B businesses are going digital during the coronavirus pandemic

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As marketers, we’ve been conditioned to be prepared for any changes or disruptions that come our way. Being in such a fast-moving industry, we have no choice but to be proactive and embrace the pace.

The unfortunate spread of the coronavirus is no exception, and marketers everywhere are starting to review their strategies in an effort to adapt and overcome.

One of the most impactful effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on businesses is the forced cancellation or postponement of large in-person events.

Tradeshows, conferences, festivals, sporting events, and concerts have all had to either reschedule or cancel completely. (Which means no, I’m not going to the Daughtry concert this week.)

PredictHQ revealed that in February alone, concerns about the coronavirus led to a 500% surge in cancellations and postponements. Most notably, Mobile World Congress (MWC), which was set to take place February 24th – 27th in Barcelona, was canceled due to concerns over the virus.

The number of events to be canceled this month is expected to be even higher than that, with the cost of cancellations estimated at billions of dollars.

We at IMPACT even had to postpone our own event, Digital Sales & Marketing World, which was originally supposed to take place in Hartford, CT, from April 5th – April 7th.

As a result, it will now be hosted from November 30th – December 2nd.

What’s happening to organizations’ marketing budgets?

A lot of businesses still rely heavily on tradeshows and traditional marketing that requires people to be in-person; for some, that’s where the largest chunk of their marketing budget is applied.

Because of this, some B2B organizations are cutting back on their marketing budget.

According to Michael Nathanson, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, with companies widely expected to slash marketing budgets, the ad industry could see nearly $26 billion in lost revenue, or a 10.6% decline.

Amidst this shift are companies reallocating their marketing budget to digital efforts.

For the companies that are going digital, they’re quickly realizing that because they spend so much money on traditional marketing or advertising, they now have a large amount to spend elsewhere.

Even if they put a portion of that budget to online efforts, they’re likely to see productive growth of their web presence, especially if they’re quicker to react than their competitors.

By capitalizing on their current digital efforts or — for some — finally making the move to a more modern-day marketing style, companies can not only continue to push through the hard times and stay relevant, but they can also measure the success of their work.

Reporting on your return on investment (ROI) is something that is harder to do with traditional marketing. By using digital methods, you can gain more insight into metrics like unique monthly visitors, cost per acquisition, return on ad spend, cost per lead, and more.

And, if you’re an organization that has been embracing digital tactics for a while, now could be a great time to review and potentially refocus your strategy to adapt to the current events taking place.

5 tips to get the most out of your digital strategy during the pandemic

If you’re wondering what you can do or how you can pivot to keep your organization afloat and maintain your competitive edge, you’re not alone.

Many companies across the world (including IMPACT) have buckled down and started to come up with creative ways to break through the noise and remain a leader in their industry through digital outlets.

1. Host an online event or webinar

If your organization had an event that was affected by the outbreak, that doesn’t mean you can’t get people together and still deliver the value they were looking forward to.

At IMPACT, we took Digital Sales & Marketing World’s postponement as an opportunity to introduce Digital Sales & Marketing Day, a full-day virtual conference taking place on April 6th.

We’ll be talking about how sales and marketing leaders can future-proof their businesses with a customer-focused, budget-conscious sales and marketing strategy. (Interested? You can register here.)

Even if you weren’t planning an in-person event, hosting an online webinar or interactive workshop can prove to be extremely helpful and beneficial for your audience in tough times like these.

2. Optimize your website content for users and search engines

Because recent buying behaviors have been forced to change, the way people are searching for things online may also have changed.

Ensure you’re staying up to speed on the most highly searched keywords relevant to your product or service, and brainstorm ways that you can tweak your website content to align.

Also, make sure that your calls-to-action still make sense as the best next step for the user to take.

3. Create content pieces around what’s happening

In addition to optimizing your current content, it’s important that you also create unique pieces around newly targeted search queries. In a time like this, consumers are looking to learn as much as they can about how coronavirus might be affecting their everyday routines and business plans.

Use this as an opportunity to generate new ideas for blog posts or put together a weekly newsletter for your prospects and customers to show them you’re just as concerned as they are, and as a result, you’re going to keep them updated on everything important.

If it makes sense, you can also write a press release to inform the media and a broader audience on a specific topic of importance.

4. Engage with your audience on social media

Did you know that 79% of the population in the United States has at least one social media profile, and 62% of adults use social media to catch up on trending news?

As you begin creating new content or decide to host an online event or webinar to engage with your audience, sharing this material on your social media platforms can have a huge effect on your digital reach.

5. Dive into video

Video content has boomed in the last couple years, and creating a video right from your computer is easier than ever.

According to IMPACT’s Director of Video Strategy Zach Basner, “video is the only type of content that allows people to see us, to hear us, and to know us. This is why video makes a difference.”

Because of the more personal feel that video offers, it can be used in a multitude of ways as more companies begin to embrace the remote culture.

If you can’t meet for an in-person sales dinner, meet over a Zoom call. If you’re not able to have that in-person team meeting, use Skype to make sure everyone feels included and productive. Or, if you need to get a one-on-one message out to a team member or a client, try Vidyard’s GoVideo feature.

Video can also be used to replace or supplement written content that you share on your website and social media platforms. Considering 78% of people watch online videos every week, and 55% view online videos every day, why would you not incorporate video into your marketing strategy?

Get the most out of your digital marketing efforts

Knowing all that’s happened and will happen, it’s extremely important that your business is quick to adapt and overcome any obstacles.

If you’ve been given the opportunity to reallocate your marketing budget, consider getting ahead of your competitors and implementing more digital tactics like online webinars, live or recorded video content, and written content that matches what your audience is searching for.

In the end, any amount of time spent on strategizing and optimizing your digital strategy will be fruitful, as the overall results you accrue will far outlast the coronavirus.





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Marketing Strategies

Integrations: The Newest Addition to Your Marketing Ops

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Marketing isn’t just about campaigns, content, and creativity. There’s a whole lot of “getting things done” that needs to happen behind the scenes for campaigns to roll out on time and performance to scale.

This is where marketing operations comes in. Also called marketing ops or MOps, marketing operations is how a marketing team is run. It’s the processes, technology, data, and people that power a marketing strategy.

Of these key pillars of marketing operations, data sounds like the most abstract one. But getting the data right in your marketing ops is crucial.

How do you do this? By cleaning, organizing, and enriching the data in every app as well as integrating data between your apps.

An increasingly important role for any team or Marketing Operation Manager is maintaining data quality and connectedness. This not only includes marketing apps but also bridges to other departments in the organization.

Let’s dig into how to make this happen so you can scale the impact of your marketing ops.

What Are Integrations?

Integration brings different pieces of software together and enables their data to interact.

When done well, integrations enable your marketing team to:

  • Create the most holistic marketing ops strategy across your software ecosystem.
  • Allow data to seamlessly flow between key platforms and enrich each one.
  • Automate more tasks and free up time.
  • Provide stronger customer experiences with more accessible and insightful data.
  • Remove data silos and other barriers to collaboration.
  • Deliver accurate insights, reporting, and decision making.

As an example of a valuable integration, think of your CRM and email marketing app. A good email list is a marketer’s most treasured possession, but for your email marketing to be successful, you need accurate and in-depth insights into each contact’s interests, behavior, and communication preferences. You can solve this by integrating data from your CRM.

The integrations that matter most to your marketing operations depend on your organization and industry.

That said, there are certain integration best practices that businesses with strong marketing operations follow. Let’s explore those.

1. Understand the Ecosystem Your Marketing Data Lives in

A strong marketing stack that your team loves using is a pivotal part of your marketing operations management.

This can include an all-in-one marketing platform or individual systems for:

  • Content management
  • Marketing automation
  • Lead Generation
  • Email marketing
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Project management
  • Communication

One of the first steps to perfect your marketing ops is understanding the ecosystem your marketing data lives in. Some valuable questions to ask are:

  • What data are we collecting in each app?
  • How should data interact with other apps?
  • How can we sync apps to enrich the data in each one?

With answers to these questions in mind, you can decide how best to integrate your apps and allow data to flow between them.

2. Ensure Clean, Up-to-date Data in Every App

To get the best results from integrations, you need high-quality data in every app. Dirty data in one app is bad, but the negative impact is multiplied for every new app it enters.

To prevent this, clean up the data in every app before adding new integrations. This includes:

  • Duplicate contacts
  • Inaccurate contact data
  • Unsubscribes
  • Bounced email addresses

With clean data in every app, you can seamlessly integrate your marketing platforms and create the most streamlined and effective marketing ops.

3. Make Your CRM the Heart of Your Marketing Ops

There’s a high chance your sales team is already using a CRM to store all of the key insights about your customers and their interactions with your business. That’s because centralizing your data in your CRM is one of the best things you can do for strong contact management.

One way to test the strength of your CRM is by checking if anyone in your business can answer questions about a contact and their interactions with your business – whether in sales, support, marketing, or billing – just by glancing at their contact record.

To make this happen, you can use integration to bring data from other apps into your CRM. The inverse is also valuable: syncing your CRM data with your marketing apps to enrich the data in those places.

Alongside syncing names and emails, you can choose which other information makes sense to have available in your other marketing apps. This could include:

  • Lead status/stage
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Customer Success Owner
  • Business size
  • Communication preferences

4. Use Contact Segmentation

Segmenting your contacts using lists, tags, and properties is a fantastic way to deliver the most personalized customer experience. But it’s also a key ingredient for effective integrations.

With an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) solution like PieSync, you can create customized workflows and sync data based on specific conditions. That way, you maintain the segmentation of your database across tools. These specific conditions could be configured according to If-this-then-that rules. For instance:

  • IF a contact’s Lifecycle Stage is ‘Lead’
  • THEN sync the contact to your email marketing tool and add to the list ‘List of leads’

If the contact stops being a customer, you can automatically reflect that in your email marketing app, remove the ‘Customer’ tag, and no longer send relevant communications.

To create powerful if-this-then-that rules, first segment data in individual apps, and then create connections across your ecosystem.

5. Create Strong Alignment With Sales Via Integrations

Your marketing operations strategy isn’t just about marketing. It’s essential to look at the other teams in your organization and understand how to create the strongest alignment.

The most important bridge for marketers to maintain is with sales. By working collaboratively instead of in silos, marketers can deliver the perfect leads for sales and both teams can share what’s working as well as opportunities.

To optimize your bridge with sales, you can integrate your marketing software with sales apps such as:

  • Sales CRM
  • Contact Management
  • Live chat software
  • Sales automation software
  • Integrations between your marketing apps and customer support software

With your marketing and sales apps in sync, both teams are in the best position to exchange data, deliver unified reporting, and do their best work both independently and together.

6. Integrate Customer Data with Your Marketing Apps

Although marketing usually has the strongest alignment with sales, make sure not to forget about your service team.

If your data is siloed, you run the risk of the nightmare scenario of sending a promotion offer to a customer who subscribed a week ago at full price.

With integrated apps and data, you can keep your customers in mind for every marketing campaign and create personalizations based on the products, services, and upgrades that are most relevant to them.

You can align your Marketing and Service team with either:

A good starting point is to make sure that all customer interactions and support requests are synced with your CRM. Marketers can then easily use this information to personalize campaigns and workflows.

How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Integrations

You can measure the impact of integrations in your marketing operations strategy by asking if:

  • Your data is accurate, enriched, and reliable in every app.
  • You have a centralized contact database that quickly gives you a 360-degree view of each contact.
  • Your marketing team is aligned with sales and can quickly collaborate.
  • You have removed all data silos.
  • You can personalize marketing campaigns for customers or exclude them from certain messaging.
  • You have clear marketing reporting that brings together data from all channels and apps and highlights key areas for optimization.

As you optimize your marketing operations, remember to look at the holistic view of your marketing stack and the individual pieces of the puzzle. By paying attention to the two in tandem, you can understand where to connect the dots for the best overall outcomes in your marketing team and throughout your organization.





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Marketing Strategies

Now Is The Time To Find And Correct Your Digital Strategy Pitfalls

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/

/Every brand or enterprise is crafting and refining their digital strategy on a daily basis. However, especially in the world of B2B, companies fall into many of the same mistakes. 

According to a 2019 Forrester report, “44% of B2B buyers expect to do more than half of their work-related purchasing online in the next three years.” In the wake of COVID-19, that figure is probably even higher. It is crucial that marketers create engaging digital content, leveraging every digital touchpoint as an opportunity to build trust and strengthen relationships.

Marketers have access to more target audience research and data than ever before, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to avoid pitfalls. Let’s consider the consequential B2B marketing mistakes that companies are making, and demonstrate why a digital strategy audit is the solution.

Your Content Shouldn’t Reflect Your Organization Chart

 Too often, companies — particularly B2B enterprises — build their websites and digital assets around their internal organization structure rather than a customer’s needs. As an example, imagine you are a customer looking for a mop. You surf to a company’s website to buy a complete cleaning solution, but they have separate pages for mop handles and mop heads because they operate as separate divisions. Now you have to research the parts separately, figure out what you need and ensure they are compatible with one another. That’s not a huge ask for a mop, but imagine you are purchasing a complicated business system with hardware, software and a consultative service component.

Your Messaging Should Focus On The Customer, Not The Product

Companies often lead with the news of the capability or product they just launched, but prospects don’t come to your website for product announcements. They visit because they have a question or a problem. Your messaging should show people you understand that problem. This is a best practice for all marketers, but it is especially true for those marketing to developers, engineers and the C-suite. These audiences are highly skeptical of “marketing speak” and an overly product-forward content strategy will turn them off. Plus, leading with product makes your company seem uninterested in building strong audience bonds.

Don’t Overload One Area Of The Buyer Journey With Content But Neglect Others

Another mistake that is easy to overlook when you are inside the organization is creating content around some areas of the buyer journey, but not others. If your organization doesn’t have a healthy mix of content formats, you may be making this error. For example, you might have multiple white papers and blog articles that are relevant to a prospect comparing competitive solutions, but no video to share on social media to create brand awareness.

It is also common to create content for one audience segment but forget about other personas, or simply run out of time and resources. B2B purchasing decisions involve multiple decision-makers with different priorities and needs. A complete digital strategy needs to encompass all of them, which is part of what makes B2B marketing so challenging.

Don’t Overuse Jargon

Your existing customers know your lingo, but new ones may not. It is important that your messaging and content use natural language, rather than jargon, so it resonates with your audience. This may sound like a simple one, but it can be hard to catch yourself because you are accustomed to the company’s lexicon.

Why Now Is The Time For A Digital Assessment

The first step in fixing mistakes is finding them. Your company may have slowed or even stopped marketing initiatives in response to COVID-19, so use this time to audit your digital strategy.

There isn’t an industry on the planet that hasn’t been upended by the pandemic. Buying processes have changed overnight, so even if your company has managed to avoid these marketing traps, you still need to audit your strategy and update it to reflect the new normal.

A comprehensive review should include:

  • A content audit and effectiveness assessment;
  • A website CX health assessment;
  • A channel audit and effectiveness assessment;
  • A brand message assessment; and
  • An event strategy assessment.

The good news is an audit will likely uncover low-hanging fruit — low-effort/high-impact actions you can take to drive fast results for your company. Next, you can devise a plan for tackling the bigger initiatives.

Remember, as a B2B marketer, your goal is to build relationships with prospects and to lead them through their consideration journey, fostering trust every step of the way. The missteps above compromise your ability to do so. An audit kicks off the process of doing this right.


Greg Harbinson is the Senior Strategy Director at Centerline Digital, where he focuses his time on helping companies create messaging and experiences to better communicate with their customers. His work includes building messaging frameworks, defining the information architecture for websites, designing customer experience programs and helping companies understand the best ways to solve communication problems.



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Marketing Strategies

Tips and tools to combine content marketing and PPC

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30-second summary:

  • Many businesses opt for content marketing because organic traffic is free. But, this strategy makes them miss a great opportunity to grow fast because combining SEO-optimized content with PPC speeds up the lead generation process.
  • Online businesses need to know specific use cases for content marketing and PPC to assess the value of the strategy.
  • Less than half of small businesses (45%) invest in PPC.
  • PPC and SEO content marketing can bring in more leads by capturing more quality traffic with more effective keyword optimization of blog content, lead magnets, and landing pages.
  • To get the most value from content marketing and PPC, businesses need to master keyword research, searcher intent, and the consistency between the landing page and ad optimization.

As someone who primarily engaged in SEO and content writing for small businesses, I didn’t really care about PPC advertising.  

Maybe because of people like me, only 45% of small businesses invest in PPC 

I thought that the best way to bring high-quality leads was with super optimized content, so paid advertising was the realm of bigger companies. That’s the mindset of many small business owners. With teeny tiny marketing budgets, they have to choose between SEO/content and PPC. 

SEO/content often becomes their choice, especially of those with interest in content creation and a lack of real marketing experience.  

SEO was my preferred choice, too, and I saw PPC as something secondary. 

Boy, was I wrong about this!

After a couple of projects involving PPC promotion, my view of the strategy completely changed. No, they didn’t change how I thought about SEO, but they showed how amazing the results could be if you combine the power of both strategies. 

To all SEO specialists still not using PPC and the other way around, here’s what you’re missing.  

1. More effective content thanks to PPC-tested keywords

Developing a content strategy is one of the most complex and important tasks for any SEO specialist. They use keyword research tools, PPC tools, Google Search Console results, and other methods to find those precious keywords used by customers.  

When they find the keywords they think are good for targeting SEO/content marketing, they begin a slow process of creating content. I wrote oh-so-many blog articles, eBooks, checklists, reports, and other content to find out the keywords that attracted the most conversions.  

All of this takes a lot of time.  

In fact, to write a super effective blog post, you need more than six hours 

Source: OrbitMedia 

When you’re done with writing the draft, there’s also proofreading, editing, making visuals, and keyword optimization. To cut a long story short, you might need a few days to complete a good article that can bring quality organic traffic.  

But that’s not the end of that road.  

Google, too, needs some time to index the article and rank it. In fact, it might take between two and six months to rank in the top 10.  

That’s a bit much, agree? 

To top it all off, the keywords you’ve chosen for your content might not the best ones to target. If you make this mistake, you’ll have to learn your mistakes and start all over again (welcome to the world of SEO content writing, folks). 

Is there a way to speed this time-consuming process up? Yes. It’s PPC.  

It can get you in front of the audience and allow you to test your keyword ideas much faster. If you have content to test, use PPC ads, and equip them with the keywords.  

Get them out there and see what people respond to best. You can have some great results as early as a few days, which is pretty much impossible with SEO/content marketing.  

Another great news is that you can run A/B testing. This means running ads featuring different keywords for the same content piece. If one performs much better than the other, update the content with the more popular keywords.  

So, the takeaway here is that running PPC campaigns for content is a much faster way to test keywords. Start by finding keywords with research tools and make some ads, and you’ll be more likely to discover how your customers look for businesses like yours.  

Related:  

2. More leads from lead magnets

In content SEO, we often create lead magnets 

They are content pieces like reports, white papers, eBooks, webinars, videos, and other valuable content that people need to sign up to access.  

You’ve seen tons of them before. A common example is a banner promoting an industry report with an irresistible CTA on a blog. It says that you need to provide your email address and name to access it instantly.  

Click on that CTA, and you’ll go to a landing page with the lead capture form.  

Like this “The Ultimate Agency Guide to Video Marketing” landing page, where everyone can download a guide with helpful tips on video marketing.

Example of lead magnets landing pages

As you can see, the content is offered in exchange for some data. Not a bad deal of a guide packed with useful instructions for businesses.  

Unsurprisingly, many content producers often turn to lead magnets for quick lead generation.  

Ozan Gobert, a senior content writer at Best Writers Online said, 

“Lead magnets work well for both B2B and B2C businesses aslong as they have some value for customers. You can generate some high-quality leads with them, as they typically attract those interested in insights and tips inside.” 

If a blog has thousands of visitors every week, then there might not be a need for PPC promoting lead magnets. But is that true for your blog? 

Many people think they can manage without the ads (I was one of them). Basically, it’s because they think that great content will “sell” itself. 

Despite what they might think, not so many blogs are that successful in attracting visitors. In fact, more than 90% of web pages don’t get any organic search traffic from Google.

Ahrefs stats on PPC and content marketing

As you can see, only about 1.3 percent of web pages out there get decent traffic. Just for that tiny share, promoting a lead magnet with PPC advertising might not be necessary every time. 

Obviously, the situation is very different for the rest.  

If your website doesn’t have a lot of visitors, too, then creating lead magnets might be pointless. They’ll just sit there only to be discovered by a few people per week.

Not good because you need more leads.  

If you wish that there was a way to get more people to pay attention to, there is actually a way.

And it’s PPC, of course. To get some emails, you need a well-crafted PPC campaign that leads people to the landing page where they can sign up to receive the content.  

You can try to bring people with keyword-based ads promoting the lead magnet. If you choose the right keywords, the ads have a much greater chance to attract leads than SEO alone.  

This is how it works: PPC does the job bringing in visitors, the content converts them into leads by having them complete the capture form.  

To increase the chance of people signing up, the value of content is critical. But, the visual appeal is also a major consideration. You need tools for creating visual content like images, graphics, and infographics to add to your lead magnets.  

3. Better marketing campaign performance thanks to a smart keyword use

Many businesses out there don’t realize they can bring much more quality traffic to their websites if they focus on best-performing keywords in both SEO, content marketing and PPC.  

Much more traffic.  

When an SEO/content marketing specialist and a PPC marketer share a list of relevant keywords, they can decide how to divide them to: 

  • Target the most promising keywords together to bring the most traffic 
  • Identify the keywords that are the most difficult for SEO and target them with PPC and the other way around
  • Define which search queries to focus on with each lead acquisition strategy

Ultimately, the cooperation between the PPC and SEO teams can result in a much more effective keyword strategy. In turn, this strategy could attract more traffic to your websites. 

Important note

To make content keyword optimization work, you need to master searcher intent or purchase intentPut simply, searcher intent is the reason behind a search query.  

For example, the query “Samsung a10 review” implies that the searcher is looking to do some research but has not made the decision yet. If they search Google for “buy Samsung a10 cheap”, then they might be ready to buy.  

Each intent defines how you should create content. It matters a lot for SEO because Google’s goal is to provide its users with the most relevant results.  

Dive Deeper: Tapping into Google’s Algorithm for Searcher Intent. 

4. Create landing pages that convert more visitors

A landing page is the heart of any PPC marketing.  

But, in many cases, PPC specialists aren’t the best persons to write the copy for it. By engaging content and SEO specialists and having them work with PPC folks, you can create a keyword optimized copy that also appeals to the readers.  

For example, PPC specialists can provide keywords and ideas for optimized headings and subheadings for attracting traffic. In turn, content writers contribute by creating a copy that’s easy to read and entices the visitors to act.  

So, the collaboration of PPC and SEO/content teams can result in campaign landing pages that generate clicks and converts.  

A good way to start doing PPC campaign landing pages is to create a checklist to cover all bases. This checklist can include images, copy, sign up options, etc. 

Know more: Studying the anatomy of a successful high-conversion landing page

SEO and PPC: Two are better than one

I’m not exaggerating when I say that SEO and PPC are a marriage made in heaven. I am positive that these points described in this article prove that.

Don’t make a mistake I made by neglecting the power of PPC advertising. Combined with SEO and quality content, you can greatly increase the quality of your traffic.

If you’d like to try them together, feel free to start by doing PPC ads for your best-performing blog articles. The results you’ll see will definitely impress and inspire you to try more. Thanks to this article, you’ll know your next steps.

Ana Mayer is a project manager with 3+ years of experience. She likes to read and create expert academic materials for the Online Writers Rating writing review website.

The post Tips and tools to combine content marketing and PPC appeared first on Search Engine Watch.



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