Study shows, how B2B decision-makers consume vendor content

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Some weeks ago, we spoke about a study that described what B2B decision makers expect to read on vendor websites. Now, a new study of 352 buyers (predominantly large businesses) from The CMO Council and NetLine shows that the majority of organizations (94%) favors to curate and circulate relevant content in their organization before finally deciding to purchase B2B solutions and services. For years, marketers thought B2B buyers and influencers alike are simply using vendor-related content from time to time.

The study makes clear that there is no real sharing structure to be made out from company to company. However, there are three main patterns that the study highlights in their results:
From the Middle Out (35%): Execution-level executives search and find content about vendors/products and make the purchase. Senior management gets educated thorugh them why the decision was made.
From the Bottom Up (30%): Junior or mid-level employees find vendor-related content and share their discoveries with senior management. Then they make the final decision.
From the Top Down (29%): Senior managers find the content, then share it with lower-level managers for analysis and final purchase.

CMO Council Netline B2B content sharing

The same as with the sharing patterns, there are three key personas within the businesses who act according to their own behaviors, expectations and needs.
Researchers: Primarily focused on new industry reports/research to inform them of advancements in solutions, trends affecting the markets, and opportunities for improvement.
Influencers: Interested in both thought leadership found in trusted third-party channels and vendor-branded technology specifications, data sheets, and use cases. Their special interest is in summarized content, i.e. infographics, videos, and blog comments.
Decision-Makers: Want to stay informed through broad research reports and analyst commentary. However, they expect to have access to detailed data to enable better decision-making at the tail end of the purchasing funnel.

Spot On!
The study reveals some further interesting insights. The vendor selection is major to moderate influenced by online content, find 88% of the B2B buyers and more than a third (38%) find that online content provides strategic insights and shapes the purchase decision. The content that is valued the most is research reports and studies (65%), technical spec and data sheets (50%), analyst reports (46%), whitepapers (35%) and posts on trade publishing sites (30%). The power of Google and the vendor website comes out as well: When more than two third state they start their vendor-related content sourcing with search engines and portals, it shows that the best training the marketers is to read the two B2B studies and draw some conclusion out of it for the future of your own content, PR and marketing acitivites. And if you cannot find a solution, we are happy to help…

2014 Trends in Content Marketing [Infographic]

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The perspective of Uberflip “predicts” that there are some obvious trends coming up in content marketing.

Not surprisingly, a “director of content” might be the new team member in companies. This might be nothing new when compared with our job title predictions for web strategy at the beginning of 2013. Some other aspects of Uberflip include: higher quality of content, content curation, multiscreen marketing, and what every consultant will love: bigger budgets for hopefully better content.

“Brands will step up their game by integrating great journalism and storytelling into their strategies,” states Uberflip.

Let’s hope their predictions proof to become reality. Or maybe, you see some other development in the near future. Why not share it with us…?

Content-Marketing-2014-infographic

Study: Why corporate newsrooms fail to meet journalists’ needs

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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.

Infographic: How proximity & micro-location marketing offer new possibilities to marketers

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In a consumer world that is becoming more and more mobile technology driven, the outreach to customers depends on sending the right message at the right time in the right context with the right content impulse. Retail marketers need to be aware of how micro-location and proximity marketing will connect them with those early mobile adopters.

And just imagine how marketers can target their customers just when they are taking their purchase decision. Only as mobile technology and relevant data will let marketers know in which shopping experience the potential customer is.

Like a “look over the shoulder” of their customers, retail stores can now use mobile and targeting technology to better understand the purchase behavior of their customers. Sensors and Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons enable marketers to track and target those buyers in retail stores from the minute they walk in the door, and always send them relevant personal promotion content.

This infographic by MDG tells us that only 23% of marketers are using location-based data in their current mobile campaigns. Still, this technology will be changing the marketing approach in the future. As ore and more marketers are heading towards micro-location marketing (this marketing tactic is expected to reach $2.3 billion globally by 2016), it will depend on the customers whether they will accept this real-time marketing and hyper-targeting advertising formats.

infographic-future-of-proximity-and-micro-location-marketing

Screens & the future: Samsung sees a display centric world

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Every screen manufacturer seems to have their own vision on how the world will have some format of flat screens following us, pushing us and making our lives “better”. We have seen the screens of the future with 3D and Augmented Reality merging, the car rear screens by Toyota, Microsoft’s productivity vision of the future, or Corning’s Day Made of Glass.

Now, Samsung shows us a world where even cutting boards get their display. What is your view? Are they going too far? Or is this a future you can envision?

How mobility will change the future workplace

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When I am commuting to work in the morning, I can see more and more people checking their emails on notebooks at the train station, working on tablets on the train, or simply participating in conference calls in the business lounge at the airport. Furthermore, many coffee houses have realized the potential of giving away free WIFI hours with a coffee break. It enables the future workplace “anytime, anywhere, any place” – the new claim for modern business around the world.

Questions arise like: How much office space do we need in the future? Do we have to sit in our cubicles all day long? AND: How much time do we need to spend together in the office?Gartner published some data showing that 45% of workers in the US spend eight hours a week outside the office and away from their desks. And International Data Corporation (IDC) claims that there will be 1.3 billion mobile worker in approximately two years time (2015), making up 37.2% of the US workforce.

The main benefits of the future mobile workforce were illustrated in the following infographic by Cisco.
a) Reduced road travel by 91 billions miles per year.
b) Prevention of traffic injuries and deaths by 77,000.
c) Reduced greenhouse gases by 51 million tons per year.
d) Saved 281 million barrels of oil per year.
e) Gain almost 2 weeks of extra free time per year.

PS: As this infographic is interactive (and could be cut out larger), you might not see everything. Here is the link to the animated side.

The Anywhere Office

Interview: “Social influencers move prospects through the consideration cycle”

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Kevin BobowskiIn order to demystify the myth around social influencers, brand fans and brand advocates, we will discuss the topic in the future with different leading marketing specialist of emerging platforms and different cloud marketing providers.

In this first interview The Strategy Web spoke with Kevin Bobowski, Vice-President Marketing at Offerpop, about social influencers, their relevance for brand perception, and how he sees the future of brand advocates.

TSW: Will social influencers and brand fans ever play a role in the sales process of companies?

Kevin Bobowski: Brand advocates and social influencers already play a key role at every stage of the customer journey – often simultaneously. Through sharing branded content and recommending products, they build brand awareness, move prospects through the consideration cycle, and help convert those prospects into customers. Companies must do more to nurture the relationships with influencers and advocates, formalizing their involvement in the buy cycle.

TSW: Why is it so challenging for marketers to find and leverage real brand fans?

Kevin Bobowski: I think that most social marketers have a sense of who their real brand fans are. The challenge is in translating that knowledge into real business value. To do this, social marketers must break out of the “social silo” and play a bigger role in impacting marketing strategy. For example, they might work with email marketers to create campaigns that target brand advocates they’ve identified with exclusive rewards. Their ability to communicate their insights across marketing organizations will have a long-term impact on conversions.

TSW: What is a successful tactic to build a strong database of brand fans?

Kevin Bobowski: Marketers should run consistent, engaging social marketing campaigns. These campaigns build strong, active fan bases, and hit other key goals like email capture and sales. One standout tactic: hashtag campaigns. They incentivize fans to share user-generated content, which deepens their relationships with brands. Many brands promote them through traditional channels like TV, and encourage participation through multiple social networks. This grows their viral reach, leading to fan growth and engagement.

TSW: When is a brand fan converting into a superfans?

Kevin Bobowski: Our definition of a superfan is a customer who consistently shares your content, advocates your brand, and influences others to form relationships with your brand. Marketers should track the interactions, loyalty and influence of their fans, and use those insights to create more targeted, ROI-driven marketing efforts across every channel.

TSW: How does Offerpop help to boost the value of brand advocates?

Kevin Bobowski: Offerpop social campaigns help brands boost the value of brand advocates in a number of ways. Number one, we encourage fans to amplify brand messages (through retweeting, sharing, etc.) Number two, we help brands run campaigns that inspire engagement and brand affinity. Brands use our platform to capture rich data about their fan base, which enables them to cultivate relationships with them through multiple channels, like email, direct mail, etc. And they also help brands capture user-generated content, which brands can choose to showcase in a number of ways. All of these actions help brands deepen relationships with their advocates and increase the virality of their messaging.

TSW: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Kevin Bobowski leads all marketing efforts at the social marketing platform provider Offerpop including branding, product marketing, demand generation and digital marketing. Prior to Offerpop, Kevin was the Vice-President of Product & Solution Marketing at ExactTarget where he was responsible for the strategy and execution of ExactTarget’s go-to-market strategy, demand generation programs and product launches.

Study: Digital transformation still slow in companies. If there wasn’t the execution…

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It is one of the findings, we often experience in reality when we advice companies: The employees understand how the digital transformation works. However, the management -especially CEOs and executives- are not seeing the urgency in moving on with the digital transformation. In a recent study of more than 1500 executive people in 106 countries released by Capgemini Consulting in partnership with MIT Sloan Management Review these findings become clear again, although the study writers make clear that the common agreement is that the future is digital.

The results show that those company executive who have the digital transformation on their agenda almost four out of five executives (81%) believe that it will offer their company a competitive advantage. They also see that it will become a critical development to their organization within the next two years. Still, nearly two out of three (63%) see that the velocity of technology change in their organizations is not moving fast enough.

Not surprisingly, many employees are becoming more and more impatient with the development and progress compared to their upper managers. This stays against the fact that 53% of the CEOs think that the pace of the digital evolution inside their company is “right”, “fast” or “very fast”. Especially, the middle managers and staff employees think that the progress isn’t enough toward a digital realm. Just 25% of managers see the pace is right. One of the comments in the report blamed that the management was guilty of “complacency, [and] ignorance of modern technology”. And another one stated “Clueless management”.

The study’s authors categorized four different stages of digital transformation:
a. Beginners: Have been slow to adopt, or are skeptical of, more advanced digital technologies like social media and analytics.
b. Conservatives: Have deliberately hang back when it comes to new technologies.
c. Fashionista: Very aggressive in adopting new technologies, but do not coordinate well across departments.
d. Digiratis: Have the vision, and are willing to invest what it takes.

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

The reasons for the slow adaption for the modern digital challenge is made obvious: Time. When 53% of CEOs and executives say that the “don’t have time for this right now,” it sounds like a normal common excuse when things are not familiar or understood in the importance for the future development of companies. They (52%) simply don’t know how to do that, or are resistent to move on “this is the way we’ve always done it”.

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

Source: MIT Center for Digital Business & Capgemini Study 2013

Spot On!
When the study finds that 65% of organizations have just begun to step into the digital transformation process, it shows that most managers have not yet understood where the world of mobile and social media is getting us in the future. And when only 15% of respondenting CEOs and executives can be considered “mature” adopters of digital technologies, it reflects our view of how we experience the top management that comes to us and wants input on how to change the company towards the digital realm. And whent he study authors conclude that just some companies rank in the same category as a Starbucks or Intel, which are kind of top notch in digital transformation, we might still see potential for even them to become better. It is one thing, to have a chief digital officer at Starbucks that also enables customer mobile engagements. But it is another thing to make all employees follow the rules of the digital transformation. The challenge is on…!

PS: Study can be read here.

How Millenials and Baby Boomers can meet half way… or never.

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There are many rumors how the Baby Boomers might deal with Millenials (GenY) in the workplace. We have shared some serious advice based on different studies on how Baby Boomers have to see and understand them, what drives the millenial teenager, how they see the future workplace, and why they might cause a headache for IT decision-makers with their BYOD trend. And you might read a recent report from Georgia Institute of Technology and the International Telecommunication Union which illustrates that there a digital native not always is what he or she seems to be, although they love their smartphones and the digital chat.

Still, many managers ask us what they could do to make their workplace interesting for this mobile and networking generation. It is time that someone gives us some more clear and fresh advice, on how to deal with the Millenials in the workplace today. This training video might be of help for those that have not yet met the expectations of those young geeks.

However, reflections often turn rumors into reality. So, what are Baby Boomers doing when the GenY strikes back and gives some response with a “Guide to Baby Boomers”?

The easiest way to bridge the gap between these two generations is to bring them together at one table and let both sides give their real pitch on how they can meet half way. Just do it, and when you need advice on how to moderate it, just get in touch with us. We have done moderations between these parties in different projects.

PS: Don’t take these videos too serious. You might fail…!

Big Data Opportunities (Infographic)

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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

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