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

Customer Service Report: Phone support still top, Twitter comes before Facebook

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In an interesting report by Zendesk across the globe, it become sobvious that telephone is still the preferred way to the customer service of companies. The report shows insights based on actual customer service and support interactions from over 16,000 companies across 125 countries.

According to the Zendesk report, customer all over the world were most satisfied with customer support they received on the telephone. The insights done in Q3 2013 show that 91% of customers liked the way they got help on the phone. In the second place of the satisfaction ranking came Chat (85%), followed by Help Centers/Web Forums (83%). On the social networks side Twitter (81%) came in before Facebook (74%).

zendesk satisfaction cs channel 2013

Not surprisingly, the report also made clear that during normal business hours the support got the slowest first reply times (FRT) plus the lowest satisfaction scores. In the time period between 5-6pm local time -often when the service teams change or leave business for the day- companies have got the longest FRTs.

Interesting to see that Brasil and Canada received the highest customer satisfaction scores although there was no real indications on what the reasons could be. United Kingdom finished in position 6, US in 11 and Germany only in 14. From an industry perspective, the IT services and consultancy business, government and education achieved the highest customer satisfaction rankings.

zendesk industry cs 2013

Spot On!
Companies would be clever to combine these findings with their customer churn and growth rates to see the impact of customer servcie on the development of their customer base. Although many companies do custoemr servcie via Twitter and Facebook, which is steadily growing and improving since 2012 according to the report, we have experienced that social media in customer service if often just used to calm people down and get them engaged in a phone call to solve their issues. A trend that has shown the best customer service satisfaction results.

History of Hashtags (Infographic)

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Whether you use hashtags “#” or not, they have made their history since first introduced in 2007 by Twitter. They became the filter, not only for Twitter – also for special topics, for branding, for trends, and for what not.

Although many people ignored hashtags from the beginning on the social platform, they find more and more acceptance today, now that people know why they are in the world of social web communication. Their real increase in use cam with the year 2009, when the 140 character network decided automatically linking anything preceded by the pound sign.

Nowadays, if you want to get retweets, you better use hashtags as these tweets are 55% more likely to be shared than those without any #. Even Google+, Facebook, Instagram or Vine have started to accept the hashtag value. And Offerpop now introduced an interesting infographic which shows the history of the hashtag.

PS: Interesting to see that more people use hashtags on their mobiles than on their laptops or desktops. Mobile information is consumed in short time periods, so you better make sure people grab your information when they jump on the bus, the train or at a break at an event. Hashtags are the access keys!

History-of-Hashtags-Infographic

Ratings, Retweets, Repins & Likes: Automated response creators = killers of insight creation?

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twitterview-2Some years ago, I have written about the Retweet button being the “killer of positive blog comments”. Over the years in many seminars and speeches, I have stressed the point that the ROI of the social web is not about generating high quantity in “thumbs up” on Facebook or Retweets on Twitter, or anything automated that comes along with similar meaning.

Retweets, Repins & Co. are only of value for your business, if…
- you accept those automated response generators as the pillars of your ROI system.
- you are a marketer who builds their business on proving the capability of accelerating reach rather than relevance.
- you are a brand that struggles to understood the value of building a community-centric business.
Still: Are ratings as insightful as a written comment – be it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other community platform out there in the social web?

Yesterday, it became public through a post on TechCrunch that Facebook is testing out a system of openly displaying star-ratings on Pages. Will this be another killer of value creation?

I definitely agree that the Facebook “Like” has become confusing, and in some way worthless. Many users just click on the Like button out of a pure and immediate emotion, nothing sustainable, lasting or resilient. Some are expressing their solidarity with it. Some are missing the dislike button, and click the Like button.

Do those automated responses tell us what they really feel? Do they tell us what people really think? Do they help us to evaluate our position? Fair enough, these automated response creators are some word-of-mouth catalysts. Well, I admit by adding these five star ratings, there is at least some specification in the differentiation of generating feedback.

Obviously, the new rating system puts Facebook in a different position and moves it more to the likes of Foursquare, Yelp and traditional trend shop systems. Furthermore, it allows users to be more concrete in defining their opinions. Users might get better orientation in why a coffee shop or a business or restaurant deserves to be tested.

Spotted by TechCrunch

Spotted by TechCrunch

But does it really help us? What is a 4.2 with twelve votes compared to a 4.9 what two people have build up? Do we know who gave the votings, and if these people have the same interest and preferences that we have got? Doesn’t orientation get even more confusing? What will we book on travel websites when there are less and less reviews and recommendations?

Spot On!
The 3 Rs of the social customer (ratings, reviews and recommendations) might make our lives interesting and exciting for new stuff. But maybe there is too much new trends and products out there to get our heads around. Maybe a real review or recommendation will sometimes help (one positive and one negative like Amazon does it already). Still, automated feedbacks -be it stars, RTs, Likes, etc.- are the least valuable insight creation generators on a relevance scale that helps defining internal and external social web ROI.

PS: If your managers are still happy when your numbers of Likes go up, be happy and tell them nothing about this post. If not, let’s discuss further how social networks should constitute in order to deliver deeper insights in the mindset of our customers.

2014: 20 Marketing Statistics and Predictions (Infographic)

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The time is now. When Q4 is heading towards December many companies, analysts, experts and specialists start their forecasting for the next year, and what will drive the business. So, what happens in 2014? The first infographic just came out by the guys of WebDAM. The company provides a digital asset management software and just recently aggregated some interesting data in order to illustrate 20 key trends for marketers which will become important to meet the demand of their own business targets.

Five key findings in brief that we think companies should watch out for…

- Email with social sharing increases click-through rates by more than 150%
- CPM is out: Pay Per Click budgets will increase to over 70%
- More than 50% of marketers found customers on Facebook (40% LinkedIn)
- Video landing pages increase conversions by almost 90%
- Client testimonials are most effective as content marketing format

20-Captivating-Marketing-Statistics

From Content Marketing to Story Advertising?!

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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…?

Come on, it’s a game! Get some entrepreneurship badges. (Infographic)

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When Foursquare started their business some four years ago, no-one has had any idea of what “gamification” and “Badge hunting” could be like in 2013. Today, marketers have adapted the new trend in their marketing-mix and started awarding people for coming in their hotels, having more coffee in a shop, or even use it to illustrate how the LEGO product might look like when it is build. Some people might think, they don’t have time for wasting minutes checkin-in at some restaurants or bars. But what if you are an entrepreneur and get awarded for your achievements in setting up a company, or if you don’t work on a major holiday.

Check out the badges you can earn, or better… will earn.

Entrepreneurship-The-Game

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…!

Rise of Social Media as a Profession (Infographic)

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When I started my blog some years ago, people in my industry were shaking their heads and wondered what the benefit was to be a “social media professional”. Some asked why I was wasting time on social networks like Twitter, Facebook & Co., and what the ROI is in writing blog posts and then sharing them. Some wondered how I managed to stay on top of the main trends and developments in the “social web” world. Well, time is passing by and people start to be getting answers.

In the last years, many companies have thought about hiring a social media specialist, or have even given it a proper job description. Still last year, we went into companies and found some young interim or part-time freelancer being responsible for the feedback on the 3R’s (ratings, reviews and recommendations!) of their own social customer. Often these people earned nothing but a smile from their colleagues.

These days seem to change. Can it be that companies understand the value of engaging with their customers on the social web – the place where they not only spend a lot of their spare time? They actually do marketing, sales, customer service, employer branding and much more for companies and brands. Some companies still have not understood though…

Now, the social marketing platform Offerpop has created a nice infographic based on data from LinkedIn that shows a staggering 1,357% increase in social media jobs posted on LinkedIn in the last three years.

Rise-of-Social-Media-Profession

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