Marketing automation tools are making their ways into the business world, not only for large enterprises but also for small companies some solutions have proven to be promising, and not only since IBM bought Silverpop. However, which tools are the right ones for your business? At least we get some advice now from TrustRadius‚ „Buyer’s Guide to Marketing Automation Software“. They did a report based on 400 in-depth reviews by authenticated end-users of marketing automation products combined with the results of more than 10,000 comparisons performed on the TrustRadius‘ website.
The report looked at software solutions that include various demand generation capabilities like email campaign management, landing pages,or even lead scoring. However, the analysis out those providers which just offer one aspect of marketing automation (i.e. only lead scoring). In their focus were those tools that „help to automate and scale repetitive marketing tasks and the analysis of those efforts.“
These were the findings they came up with…
Small Businesses (Up to 50 employees)
Small companies gave quite positive and high ratings with at least a 4 out of 5 (average was 4.3 out of 5 – better than the average in the midsize and enterprise companies). Then TrustRadius ranked the products via two factors: a) average user rating and b) how does the product serve the business segment (determined by the number of comparisons made by organizations of that size).
The leading 3 solutions were HubSpot (4.8, 69% of comparisons by small businesses), Act-On (4.7, 53%), plus Infusionsoft (4.3, 96%). Other solutions like Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, and Silverpop also got good ratings. Still, they ranked lower as they had a smaller proportion of small business comparisons.
SMB Businesses (From 51 to 500 employees)
The average rating in the midsize company category was 3.9 out of 5. The report shows that a higher demand goes alongside bigger companies and more complex requirements for marketing automation tools. Here, the trusted vendors are Marketo (4.2, 60% midsize category) and Pardot (4.0, 58%). Act-On, Eloqua, and HubSpot also got positive ratings.
Enterprise Businesses (500+ employees)
The average rating for enterprise marketing automation products was 3.8 out of 5. Eloqua showed up to be the top marketing automation software for enterprise companies (4.4, 59% enterprise focus). Act-On, HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot also performed well according to users, but they had a smaller proportion of comparisons from enterprise customers.
Tell us about your findings. Which tools do you use and what has proven to be successful for you? All insights can help other companies make faster decisions.
This is one of those secrets that is discussed in every single seminar we do: How does Google rank websites? Why does my website not rank higher than my competitors? What could be the best SEO strategy so that Google ranks us under the first three results?
The Google’s algorithm is one of the biggest secrets in the marketing world. The 200+ ranking features make it very challenging to find the right web strategy of your content and website structure. So, what’s the best way to develop a „Google-loves-us“ strategy?
Neil Patel has created a nice infographic that illustrates the main components of the Google algorithm. Let’s see what he comes up with…
The main challenge to drive more traffic via search lies in understanding the holistic approach of Google’s algorithm. Obviously, it is about the final user that works with the website, reads the content and shares it through their own social communication platforms. Over are those days when people though the „link-in-link-out“ game will solve the SEO war, when companies got paid for building link farms, and people got money to bring more links in. In the end, the user decides on what they need, and finally the Google Algorithm reflects that.
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.
Probably you have been one of those social media complainers in your career of tweets and status updates yourself already. If not, maybe you have heard of some of these types from your customer service unit or your sales team. Be aware: Complainers are everywhere, not only on your website or social hubs!
Some studies show that most big companies still do not take social media complains from the social web serious. Comments on brand’s blogs, Facebook or Twitter profiles stay uncommented, or are just a given option to calm the user down and then make them forget about their issue if it is not too complex. Most customers take this personal and just turn to competitors. The revenue of these customers gets lost.
But how can you differentiate between the types of complainers? How can you know who to take serious, and who not? Which typer of complainers should you respond, and how? The guys at ExactTarget have created a nice infographic that helps you structure complainers from
Many marketing, PR or product managers think about starting their own blogs when joining one of our inhouse or open seminars. And for most of them, it has become a challenge just finding the right topic that makes them outstanding with their product or service offering. This is not surprising, bearing in mind that there were already 74.874.233 WordPress websites out there when I wrote this post – and when you think about Blogger, Typepad, Tumblrs and all of those enterprise blogs, it becomes a mission impossible to find a niche that helps building brands.
Now, the guys at WhoIsHostingThis.com have published some helpful infographic which give us some quite good arguments on what matters when you start blogging.
There is no magazine without a smashing title. Ideally, you write about the topics you are an expert in. As people will want credible, meaningful and authentic blog posts, this is the only way to get your readers attention. Then, check out what readers do want, discuss and share on your topic via social media monitoring. This will make your content interesting and will prevent you from writing content that nobody reads.
Original or Curated?
If you have got the time to write original content, go for it. It’s the best for your reputation and shows your own mindset. And most importantly, Google likes original content which is more likely to rank better. Whenever, there are guest bloggers who want to contribute to your website, invite them.
However, the truth is that if you curate your competitor’s content or third party content from time to time (with a back link!), you jump into their fish-bowl. The easiest bit is if you use their infographics, webinars and branded industry blogs to expand their ideas and thoughts.
Find your style and stick with it. People want to feel „at home“ and comfortable. Figure out when most people share your updates, or when it’s better not to send them live. If you can afford it, stick to an editorial calendar as people love publishing source they can rely on finding the relevant set of information that stands out.
Good luck (and if you need help), we are here to advice…
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.
Some 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?
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.
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?
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.
It is one of these questions that many brand marketers are asking themselves: What makes us reach the top search results on Google? A recent report based on Searchmetric data for 10,000 top Google search keywords sheds some light here. It was based on correlations and website characteristics of 300,000 URLs appearing in the top search result position in the US between March 2013 and June 2013.
The report shows that those websites tend to perform best that have a high social impact in terms of likes, shares, tweets and Google „+1″‚s. It also makes clear that there is a realationship between ranking high on Google and collecting Google+ links to achieve better ranking impact which the graphic below indicates.
Despite common believe that fast website performance through intelligent on-page coding might create some benefit for the search ranking, the study shows that just not having it will let websites achieve lower rankings. This means that SEO basics like having H1 and H2 tags or providing brief descriptions now are seen as standards but won’t support any boost effect.
Still, content is king for Google. Good rankings were correlated always positively with good and unique content and had a bigger effect in 2013 than the year ago. As main ingredients of positive content can be named a clever internal link structure, a URL with a clear message and longer text plus a sensible number of integrated (audio)-visual files. This could be as of the fact that Google wants to boost their own pictures search sites and obviously Youtube.
Keywords keep up their impact on the rankings. On the page, they still need to placed in the title as close to the front as possible and in the text they need to be placed wisely as well. As of some algorithm changes compared to 2012, the importance of keywords in the domain name or the URL has lost its significance.
According to the report, websites of brands and other domains seem to play on different levels for Google. Obviously, brand websites seem to be superior to normal sites. The report states that it looks as if the search engine finds it normal for brands to generate more backlinks with the brand name appearing in referring content pieces alone.
The infographic provides some more information – and if this version is too small, just click here and download it…
When the MINI Paceman was first promoted at the Detroit Motor Show in 2011 as a concept car, I said and wrote to my fans, followers and friends: „This is gonna be my new car!“ To some of them, it came as no surprise. Some knew of my passion for the MINI brand. Some recalled my words from brand strategy workshops, from keynote speeches or marketing seminars. Some remembered pictures of me in front of my former white MINI Cooper, and they were surprised I am selling it. Some responded and asked questions about features of the new Paceman; even I could not answer those days. Today I can.
But… Many of them did not even know of the new concept, the new brand, the new design, the new small SUV category that MINI kind of invented, and so on. I did. I saw the potential. I just got infected by the brand. I wanted a new MINI Paceman. I loved the outlook: Getting the keys handed out for a MINI Paceman.
I have thought a long time about writing this post, or just forgetting about it. But I am a challenger…
Today, the IAA 2013 is opening their doors in Frankfurt. Car brands are proudly presenting their latest auto concepts. Managers posing in front of their new innovations in modern steel or carbon. They are shaking hands with those that make them look good. But who does really make them stand out? The technical suppliers? The revenue driving resellers? The social influencers? Or those who hold up a sign in the streets without being incentivized or getting cash saying: „I love this brand!“ Those who stand out, and those who make stand out: the brand advocates?
Maybe today is the right time to write a blog post and tell a story that to many of my fans, followers and friends sounds unbelievable – but MINI, I tell you, it is the absolute truth. I write it in the night when other people are sleeping. My clients tomorrow won’t care whether I had enough sleep, or not. I write this, when there is more important things on the desktop than leveraging a brand that does not listen, nor understand. Am I mad? Am I not clever? No, I am honest. I am what I am. I am a real MINI Paceman advocate.
Beginning of February 2013, I sat down with my MINI car sales representative and told him that I want to buy a Paceman. I wanted to be one of the first in Munich. I wanted to sign the contract. Now. And I asked whether he could open doors to the marketing, PR or social media department at MINI when an idea hit my brain just in the minutes when I sat there: Two of my clients have called me their „pacemaker“. The word transition from pacemaker to paceman was not too far off for me. So, some brilliant thought (at least in my mind) awoke in my head: Why not call yourself „Mr. Paceman“?
A concept created in a brain flash: Website domain. Web space. Web blog. Unique content published in a Paceman. The life of a Pacemaker in a Paceman. Lifestyle. Design. Speed. My life.
While the reseller configured my MINI Paceman, I bought the website domain, set up the blog with a little help of a friend and scribbled the whole concept on my smartphone. I told my MINI sales rep about the idea when I had signed the contract. He was enthusiastic about the concept and saw a lot of other potential cooperation opportunities.
I was ready to start publishing. Publishing about the pleasant participation for my MINI Paceman. The color. The design. The coffee holders. The changing interior lights. The engine. And so on. Publishing about the pace of my days, my experiences with the new Paceman, my life in a MINI Paceman nutshell. I wanted to share pictures of MINIs. I wanted to post design ideas of other MINI freaks, and find the first MINI Paceman pics, I might come across. And a lot more…
Now, obviously I knew about brand protection and brand rights. I knew that -before I started buying the domain- I should get in touch with some MINI brand contacts and get some formal permission to use the brand name. I thought: „Just do it!“
So, I wrote emails to MINI, their PR department, their marketing department, their social media people, and their agencies. I even contacted strategic partners from MINI. I wish I hadn’t done it. I felt like a little unloved kid being pushed from one corner to another in order not to cause any trouble for anyone, in order to shut up. MINI did not move. I continued. The answers I got where just some lines making clear that I am not allowed to use the brand for my purposes.
Hang on! My purposes? Is that the power of a big modern brand, is that arrogance, hubris or simply ignorance?
If I promote a brand I like, invest time, offer to wear their branded merchandising clothes and have even bought the brand product before (and maybe a far too expensive brand product), why should I not be allowed to do marketing and PR for that brand to my fellow peers? A target-group that MINI is chasing with banners, print ads, wallpapers, outdoor marketing, newsletter mailings and a lot more.
Doesn’t this mean, I am actually doing what MINI pays others for; marketing agencies, PR people and media houses with the old „quid-pro quo“ game: editorial coverage for advertising dollars? Those institutions that create corporate publishing products for brands which cost these brands a fortune?
Shall I then be happy and not get crazy, when I get the feedback: „We might consider that you are writing a guest post on our official MINI blog.“ Hurray! What an outcome of my activities! Sorry MINI, you missed the point! I am not just a buyer. I am not a normal influencer. I am more. I am a MINI Paceman brand advocate, if you know what this means MINI. If not, you might just read the study by Ogilvy)?!More than seven months later, the blog is still online – online without any content at MrPaceman.com. The case has been mentioned by me in at least 20 seminars and on several stage appearances at events. Events where even the BMW marketing departments or some of their agencies participated. I saw people shaking heads, heard their words asking how ignorant and un-clever brands can be, and read their tweets and updates trying to get reactions to this case from MINI. MINI did nothing. For seven months now, the MINI brand managers did nothing.
Yesterday, some silver surfers passed by my MINI Paceman. One of them, a man in his seventies approached me when I got out of my Paceman: „Great car. Cool design and colors. Is this new? Have never seen this car before…“ His wife replied: „This is one of these new SUV cars but just in a MINI format. Nice high access. Like it!“
Would this make up for a really cool advertisement? Now, just imagine, I had written about such stories, shared a picture with these older people and spread the word around the world about my life in the MINI Paceman. Don’t you think these stories, these emotions, these experiences might have made a difference in the way the MINI Paceman gets positioned, promoted and had pulled sales leads?
„Advocacy goes deeper. Advocacy is emotion-driven. Advocacy is loyalty. Loyalty is commitment. Loyalty is passion. Loyalty let’s forget the rules of logic, of facts, of the rational. Advocates drive on the streets of loyalty and breath it’s air.“ Martin Meyer-Gossner on brand advocacy, September 2013
Did I make the benefit of brand advocates clear to you, MINI? Ok, then get into the next MINI Paceman and drive to me. Let’s speak!
PS: All of you out there who think MINI should make a move towards brand advocacy, share this post and maybe that will make them clear what opportunity they might have missed. And let’s hope some other brands learn from this case…!