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.
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.
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…
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.
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%).
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.
The findings of a study by Demand Metric and Netbase sound positive – but not on a second glance. Although most marketers seem to have understood why they need to work with social media analytics tools, they still haven’t figured out how it helps them to find the social ROI. At least, 61% of responding marketers use social media analytics tools, and of those 53% started working with the tools in the last two years.
The study based on 125 marketers (70% B2B-focused, 13% B2C and 17% split) shows that marketers find social analytics tools most valuable for helping with campaign tracking, brand analysis, and competitive intelligence. 60% of the reponsing people use social media analytics tools for campaign tracking, brand analysis (48%), competitive intelligence (40%), customer care (36%), product launches (32%), and influencer ranking (27%).
It still surprises me that the majority of respondents (66%) states that social media analytics tools are most valuable to help assess and quantify the degree of engagement. Is there more in it like understanding where engagement of the company is needed, leveraging content for production and curation, spoting the mentality and value of influencers, identifying engaged communities or platforms, or detecting features and traffic of personal brand advocacy? Obviously, most marketers are still far behind in understanding how to use and leverage social media analytics tools.
Although most marketers see the opportunities to leverage the social ROI, most are still in their infancy in converting data in findings, and leveraging social media in their daily business. The findings show that most of those marketers (70%) still cannot quantify their social media ROI. The question is why they cannot do so? Do you have any ideas or experience where the main challenges are? Is it a problem of resources, of technology misunderstanding, or simply not clear which social KPIs make sense to meet the overall business targets? Let us know what you think…
It is one of these questions, we always get asked in meetings and seminars. How much is social media growing, or is growth already declining? Search Engine Journal provides some good overview on the topic of growth and use in an infographic just recently released.
The most popular sites -in terms of how they are used by marketers- are still Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Same as in the study from Global Web Index in 2013, Twitter still shows the fastest growth in social networks from an active user perspective, especially in the 55-64 age group.
In the time period from June 2012 to March 2013, Google+ increased their active user base by 33%. The age group of 45-54 years showed the fastest adaption growth in Google+ with a 56% increase.
And Facebook? Although they showed a 23% increase, especially the age group of 45-54 years is adapting the fast moving “Likes and Hypes” network.
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!”
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.
Another year, Edelman is offering us insights into the trust in companies, officials and their leaders with their Edelman Trust Barometer. This year’s version sampled 27,000 general population respondents with an oversample of 6,000 informed publics ages 25-64 across 27 countries. The study makes clear what the main trust building attributes are.
It also shows that CEOs are regaining trust (43%) since low of 31% in 2009. And there are easy ways to improve the trust scale for CEOs and their companies by communicating clearly and transparently (82%), telling the (sometimes unpopular) truth (81%) and engaging regularly with employees (80%).
The downside of the CEO results is that CEOs still rank second to last out of the most credible spokesperson framework. Those more credible were academics (67%), technical experts (66%), “person(s) like yourself” (62%) and employees (52%).
“CEOs must continue to lead, but to do it effectively they now have to inform and empower employees and academics. So whether it’s discussing possible regulation, supply chain management or the reaction to a crisis, CEOs must work in concert with those who are viewed as being more credible.” Alan VanderMolen, vice chairman, DJE Holdings
The report illustrates also that the trust rust in media decreased by 5% globally to 52% this year. When almost 80% of the responding countries state that the trust in media is down compared to 2013, this speaks a clear language. Although this sounds quite negative, some media sources like online search engines (65 percent), traditional media (65%), hybrid media (54%), social media (47%) and owned media (45%) see some improvement to last year.
The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer is always a good indicator to how much people trust in business and government. And when we see the largest ever gap (14 points) between trust in government and business this year, the leadership teams should try to figure out quickly what the reason for it might be. Although it seems that trust in business leadership improves as it stabalized compared to 2013, it shows that businesses seem to lead government and don’t necessarily need to partner with them in order to gain trust as much as in earlier decades. Thus, it is not surprising that most respondents (84%) think business can pursue its self-interest while helping society. Furthermore, 74% even believe business could be part of the process of formulating regulation in the energy and food industries.
PS: My message to leaders…
Maybe leaders should engage with their employees more and understand what my favorite leaders quote means. “Lead by the power of your employees’ imagination and insights, not the challenges you were given”.
Are you planning your lead generation programs at the moment? Well, you better be quick then. Why? The conversion rates for B2B online lead campaigns generate the best results when the year starts – so now! The reasons are quite obvious: Budget are fresh or renewed. Funds are starting. Conversion falls below average in the Christmas month, probably as of intense planning activity and budget cuts. Not surprisingly, the summer months show a significant decrease in conversion activity.
The findings are coming from some recent analysis by Software Advice, based on data generated from over six million visitors to the Software Advice website in the last 5 years. Although this might be some very detailed experience for the B2B software industry, it is still valid and applicable for the whole b2b industry if they do lead generation programs.
The report shows that B2B buyers were most active on the Software Advice website Tuesday through Thursday, with Tuesday being the most active day and Wednesday driving the highest conversion rates.
Interestingly enough, traffic peaks in the first half of the day, and especially around lunch time. 53% more unique visitors showed up during work hours when compared with Software Advice’s unique visitor traffic.
Comparing this with other engagement studies from the social media world (here and here), we see that the time around midday seems to be best to get people engaged in content marketing, social media and lead generation. Speaking from our own experience with silicon.de over ten years, I can say that the morning hours when people get their first coffee were also successful in lead and demand generation.
Obviously, all marketers are ROI-driven – or made to think that way. Not surprising then, the top priority in digital marketing comes to be increasing the conversion rates (47%), followed by increasing/improving brand awareness (46%) and collecting/measuring/using behavior-based data (29%). This is the outcome of the latest study by ExactTarget entitled “2014 State of Marketing”. The report, conducted between October and November 2013, gives insights from over 2,600 global marketers.
Although I would have expected from our conversations with clients that demand generation comes in as one of the top priorities, only 28% of the marketers said acquiring new subscribers, improving channels (24%) and leveraging actionable data is among their main challenges for 2014.
The good sign for publishers, consultants, advertising platforms and marketing service providers is that 98% of responding marketers plan to increase or maintain their digital marketing budgets. The rise in digital marketing spends goes primarily to data and analytics (61%), marketing automation (61%), email marketing (58%), social media marketing (57%), and content management (57%).
It would actually be interesting to have a study that asks marketers what they define as social media marketing. Why? Interestingly enough, only 34% of those marketers find ROI in social media marketing. As of a lack of definition, we cannot argue whether there is a misunderstanding in the definition or in the company’s approach to social media. Still, only 52% think their social media activities will actually pay out in ROI. But when Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are cited as the most popular social channels for the respondents, I doubt that their social media approach is properly understood. At least there are positive signs when the repondents see that Google+ gets more impact with 18% planning to start in 2014.
The study shows that most business leaders own a mobile device (90%), live and like the mobile business and are agreeing that life is “easier” (68%). Even more, 64% see their lives becoming more productive and enjoyable. Apple is still leading with 44% owning an iPhone versus Android users with 35%. Obviously tablets are on the rise as well with almost. The merging worlds of private and business becomes clear with the fact that 72% (up 39% from 2011) use their tablets for both work and leisure.
Not surprisingly, two thirds value tablets “useful business tools”. Also second screen usage is big among the business elite: 75% watch TV at the same time as using their tablet. The engagement effect of the tablet is striking with nine in 10 of these consumers taking some form of action on their tablet as a result of seeing TV content. And when the study shows that a third of the business executives are responding to TV advertising, marketers should think about ow to implement clever brand and lead generation campaigns in their TV spots. And when marketers want to reach the business elite, they are best in sending out their messages in the evening and at weekends (tablet usage). Smartphones are always-on, so no special advice here.
“This study shows the huge influence mobile technology has on our lives. Europe’s elite are keeping up with technological change, owning more devices than ever and using each in different ways. In the area of social media and its value in business, the jury is still out and it will be interesting to see where this leads next year.” Mike Jeanes, Director of Research, EMEA, CNBC.
Top content for tablets…
– business and financial information (72%)
– web browsing (70%)
– news updates (70%)
– email (69%)
– reading newspapers/magazines (69%).
Top content for mobiles…
– email (79%)
– business and finance (72%)
– web browsing (70%)
– news updates (70%)
– GPS (69%)
Despite some common disagreement that the business elite is not on social networks, the study makes clear that 85% are a member of at least one network with 61% on Facebook, 58% on LinkedIn, and 43% on Twitter. It is important to note that 40% (up from 19% in 2011) of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter users are now connected to all three social networks. Furthermore, 58% of the business decision makers use social media for business (still private use is the standard for 75%). It could be that private and business worlds are really not kept as separate any longer. The commercial impact of social media is seen critical. When 46% see social media “neither useful nor essential” (compare study 2012), it shows that most business decision makers had either the wrong advice or the wrong expectation raised by consultants. One of the reasons why we are always very critical in analyzing the benefit of social media for a company or brand, and trying to show the realistic benefit for companies.
A recent survey from Wildfire by Google and AdAge asked 500 executives from large companies how they budget, staff and measure their social media business. Over half (50,7%) of the surveyed managers work for businesses with $1 billion or more in annual revenue. It shows that marketers in enterprises are increasingly investing in people for this business topic. 46,5% of companies with revenues over $1 billion have a team of 50 or more employees looking after the social business.
Furthermore, they are not afraid of asking for help when needed: 65,5% use a mixture of agencies and in-house personell to manage social media. This is different to smaller companies with revenues of less than $1 billion a year. These companies tend to have one to five employees for social challenges, and almost two out of three use 62,4% use own resources, and not agencies.
From all respondents, 45,6% of respondents see their social media spendings rising by 10% next year; 15,9% see even an increase by 11% to 30%. Just 29,1% of the managers have a “pure” social media budget. Others managers seem to be getting their budgets from other marketing budgets like traditional media – 23.9% said their budgets are coming from print, television, and radio.
Keeping up the high level of audience engagement is the main issue for marketers. However, most managers are quite confident today about brand damage due to negative postings. This came in last in the concern list. This could have two reasons: Either shitstorms are not as problematic as some social media consultants define or describe them. Or all managers have a strategy in place how to handle these conversation issues.
Not surprisingly for us, finding tactics to effectively measure social media conversations is the second biggest concern for managers. Maintaining a consistent brand message came in third place probably as many companies have challenges in establishing a streamlined culture of social engagement in their company which we realize as one of the main management topics from top level management to “normal” employee.
Retailers managers also see metrics tied to ROI more important than other managers. Still, most companies (58,4%) are tracking content shares as their “most important or important” metric for measuring the ROI of social media. Counting followers comes in second (55,8%), number of page impressions (54,7%) finished third.
It is interesting to see that companies are still quite likely to put social media spendings under general brand marketing or digital media budgets. This obviously gives them more flexibility to shift budgets when needed. However, it also shows that the ROI in social media is not really proven in some companies. Predominantly retailers, followed by technology, media and entertainment companies, seem to be confident that there is a reason for social media budgets and have already dedicated budgets just for social.