Have you heard the back and forth on how Data is marketing’s savior or how Data is way overvalued in Marketing?
On both sides of the debate, there are many opinions and strong feelings about how important it is to decision making, composition, design, user experience, etc.
Here’s the thing…
Seriously think about it.
Emotions, likes, dislikes, associations, beliefs, etc. are all crafted from experiences and historic data that form these things for you as a person or business.
You can take that data at face value or read in between the lines to solve problems, create efficiencies, innovate, become self-aware, understand an audience, etc.
This information is extraordinarily important as it concerns decision making or creation at all levels, in all environments across all mediums.
See how we use data in our approach to content marketing here.
It isn’t easy to find exceptional marketers and strategists, so when you do, you beg them to join your team and then turn them loose to kill it.
We are excited to have Zach Martin join us as we grow and dominate the marketplace!
Zach is a digital content marketing sorcerer who spent time on the high seas as a Mass Communication Specialist for the U.S. Navy before graduating from Southern Illinois University. Apart from his love of KPIs and the invention of the “Like”, good St. Louis ribs, and Cardinals baseball, he’s also got the greatest job in the world: being a dad.
For the 18 years that I (John Bracamontes) have done work online and in the digital marketing space, not once had I ever submitted work to be recognized as a job well done.
My opinion was that the work spoke for itself, because I drove leads, and leads meant new sales, and new sales meant higher revenue for my clients.
Is how I thought.
I’ve seen over the years other agencies share in the successes of their teams and genuinely promote how great their clients are, which began to soften my perspective on the benefit of awards and recognition for the work outside of its result.
I realized that uniting with a sense of pride on what you do for others, recognizing the value and celebrating together is massively powerful.
So this year, Acumen submitted one entry in the St. Louis Business Marketing Association’s B2B Marketing Excellence Awards.
That night the team was recognized for the work we did (and do), we had fun and celebrated together, celebrated with others and set a precedent for the future of the agency.
No longer will we hide our wins and pride for the value we bring to those who choose to work with us!
And Thanks to Kopytek.com for being such an amazing group to work with!
While many highly regulated organizations stay away from Social Media, others are moving ahead with the understanding that telling their story online is a must to drive visibility and growth.
To gain social proof that their audience wanted to consume their content online, the NASDAQ team started out channel by channel running content that they thought would be of interest to their customers.
As they gained new insight from their customers through behavioral observation and direct feedback they were able to craft a unique experience for each channel and they were able to take the direct feedback to their leadership and improve on already existing business practices.
NASDAQ created a thriving social media community around their brand that is actively consuming their content, reading posts, watching videos, commenting and ultimately investing.
They went from virtually no online presence to having over 1,000,000 likes and followers that they communicate and engage with every day.
NASDAQ Social Media Accounts
So in a world of regulation, you can still create engaging content and a robust community.
Check out more on social media for regulated industries here: Social Media Strategy for Banks
At this point you should already realize that social media isn’t just a place where friends and family connect, share photos and like posts.
Social has become a repository of knowledge, similar to the search engines, but more affinity driven by relationships and trusted sources.
If you want to know who to use for internet law, who can help you with an ESOP or what company is building quality apps, then social is a great place to get real feedback and reviews from people who have ACTUALLY used those services or know their work.
Understanding how your target customers are using social media is key to gaining visibility, providing education to and engaging with these targets.
A go to question asked by many business owners, executives, directors, buyers, managers, etc.
This is very powerful.
If an executive reaches out to their network asking for personal feedback on a company and one of their peers responds with good things to say, then you are on your way to landing new business.
While not every business will get a personal recommendation, if you have been marketing yourself well, then someone will at least know of you and respond with something like “I’ve seen this company and they look like they know what they are doing.”.
This is the next best thing, because you have built a small amount of social capital and trust with this target.
This stage of discovery is very important and completes the infinite loop of growth through marketing, which you can see clearly in our content marketing funnel (which is more of an hourglass), where past customers become salesmen for your business.
Once a customer has been made aware of your business, whether it was from a referral on social media or they got nothing on social and asked the wise search engine Google, they will absolutely look your company up on social media.
Again this is a critical B2B Social Media step.
While the majority of B2B product & services companies are served well on LinkedIn, it is important to understand that these same customer targets have social profiles on many platforms and will look to find you where they are at in the moment (this could be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest in addition to LinkedIn).
Plus, you will have a more diverse result in the search engines with a cross-platform social media presence. More results, Knowledgegraph inclusions, image results, Twitter feed, etc.
These customers will look to see if you are a legitimate business and size you up to see if you are a good fit.
Questions like “Are they too big?”, “Are they too small?”, “Do they think like I think?”, and many more. This is where being clear on your own brand and business is important, because it will qualify buyers for you in a very efficient way, driving better leads into your sales funnel.
At this point two main things will happen.
A customer will contact you via phone, form submission or email (they will find this info on your social profiles, if you have built them out completely).
Or the customer will educate themselves more on a specific product or service.
This is what most businesses think of as soon as they hear B2B Social Media or Social Media Strategy.
And rightfully so, because it is so critical.
Customers need to understand:
Social Media is a great place to get this clarifying, compelling and enlightening content in front of prospective buyers.
These customers are comparing you to your competitors and the more you can educate them, the better chance you have of winning that business.
While you will want this content to primarily live on your website, social is the channel you will distribute this educational material to ensure it gets seen and gets the buyer back to your site where you can convert them or reach back out and communicate in other ways.
Types of B2B Content for Social Media
Depending on your product or service the mix of B2B content types will differ and the tactical strategy for each channel can be tailored as well.
As with any marketing you should conduct research to identify key information to that will guide the marketing efforts. B2B Social Media is no different.
Our recommendation is to take the research beyond social as well by using Google search query data (the keywords) and pair it with social media research on your target customers social platforms, including the less thought about forums and groups such as Quora and LinkedIn groups.
Creating an inventory of who your target prospects is very important and taking this even further by identifying the stakeholders in those companies and engaging with their personal accounts on social will drive massive results.
This leads us to a few specific tactics that we recommend for a superior B2B Social Media Strategy.
Following and engaging with the business accounts of your prospective customers, the individual accounts of the decision makers of those businesses and the same for your current customers will create much-needed visibility, awareness, affinity and trust with the organizations that you want to do business with.
This exposes you to the businesses you want to work with and gets your customers talking about you more, while at the same time you are indirectly getting in front of other potential customers who also engage with the same companies you are targeting.
This works like a charm and very few businesses are doing this!
You can learn more about our approach to social media here: http://acumenstudio.com/social-media-marketing-agency/
To be 100% Honest, this isn’t easy for most businesses.
Tracking, monitoring, analyzing, measuring and reporting to identify an ROI on your B2B marketing and social media efforts takes using platforms that can help you measure impact, attribution, and sales.
Most businesses are not equipped to do this (as are most marketers!).
You will either need to educate yourself on using platform specific social media analytics, social media tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer, SproutSocial, etc. or hire an agency to help you with this.
What we can tell you is that social media for B2B companies Pays Off BIG!
Or, You can give us a call now at 866-357-7422 to talk.
Not really, a Creative Director will still be needed, just not in the same way it is today.
A recent article on AdAge.com spoke on how most ad & creative agencies are 5 – 10 years behind the current state of marketing’s capabilities. And the Creative Director works as it did back then where they create a few ideas, hand off the ideas and comps, then call it a day.
Guess what? That’s Dead!
Here’s the deal.
Whether creative agencies want to admit it or not, their decisions on what to create are driven by data. They ask the client questions and create something they feel meets the client’s expectations.
We get it, they want to please their client.
Here’s what’s missing, The Customer!
Best case scenario is that the client knows their customer so well that the data they give you is solid. Much of the time it needs to be supplemented with current customer behavioral & search data.
It is important to look at what customers are searching for online and find out where & how they qualify products or services they are looking to buy.
This will inform you on how to engage and what content to create for maximum exposure and conversion.
Not only will the Creative Director need 3rd party customer data to inform creative decisions, but they also need to consider more technical aspects of design such as UX and UI as it relates to a customer’s motivations, needs, use of the medium and conversion optimization.
Even more, this Director will need to be aware of how to integrate all 3rd party data into their design process.
For example, variables in ads that are dynamic and will modify based on weather conditions in any given geography. Imagine a Starbucks ad that changes once it starts raining in St. Louis to show someone having fun in the rain with a cool umbrella and holding their favorite venti-sized drink as they smile & splash a small puddle. But it is totally different when it is dry and overly windy.
I’m weeping as a write this at how beautiful this level of personalization is 😉
We are advocates of moving towards a more informed creative process (see our Digital Marketing Audit), do this ourselves and want everyone to follow suit.
Follow the leader (we like it at the front of the pack)!
*Ad Age Article Here: http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/creative-director-role-exist-10-years/305623/
In July 2016, Smartphone apps accounted for 50% of all U.S. digital media time!
This means that future months are going to be higher than 50% and solidifies the strength mobile has in the United States.
Another report showed the top 15 apps (by visits) in July 2016, which is another thing that really got us excited as Digital Marketers.
Check out the list below and we’ll explain why.
You’ll notice that Facebook, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Search, Gmail, Instagram, Snpachat and Pinterest are all listed.
Obviously, the high use of social media platforms is huge for marketers. Social is strong and continuing to grow.
But the app use of Google Search is massive for search & content marketing and Google Maps is huge for local search & optimization
YouTube remaining high on the list is a strong signal that video continues to be a huge preference for users across the U.S.
Pokemon Go is a little bit of an anomaly since it just launched and got so much PR hype, but still great news for mobile, marketers, apps and gaming.
Even more interesting is that these apps are platform gateways.
Few on the list are transactional or solely functional, they connect you to networks of people and information.
Very happy to see these numbers and as Digital Marketers we are very excited about the future of what we get to create and optimize!
Platform integration will be mandatory, user behavior will be easier to measure, interactions can be even more personalized and those same interactions can be created more intimately.
I recently read an article by John Rampton titled “Prepare for the Future being shaped by these 5 Critical Trends.”
He goes on to share these trends and his explanation of why they will have a significant impact on the future.
Some of it I agreed with while other parts I did not.
Here I am sharing both my opinions and ideas in comparison to Rampton’s.
Mobile usage is at an all-time high and shows no signs of slowing down. Consumers are using mobile for everything from buying products, to communicating with friends, to playing games, to finding local businesses.
Over the past couple of years, business owners have taken this trend to heart, optimizing their sites for mobile through the use of a responsive site design. And while this is a great first step, it may no longer be enough to future-proof your business.
Research shows that 89 percent of all mobile media time is now spent in apps, while only the remaining 11 percent is spent on the mobile web. This means that not having an app for your business is almost certainly costing you. If you don’t already have an app, now is the time to start planning for one.
While I agree with what most of Rampton is saying here, I cannot make the same absolute statement that All businesses will need a mobile app. I am a big supporting of the mobile web and responsive design.
The research that showcases 89% of mobile media time is spent in apps is skewed heavily toward consumers playing games, watching YouTube videos and messaging other consumers. So unless you are one of those types of companies, then there are larger questions to ask in determining your need for an app.
We have had many companies come to us with ideas for customer portals or app ideas that didn’t need to be an app.
In our opinion, a larger concern will be on integrating with other apps. Aggregators, Indexing and organizational apps will lead heavily in how we interact with our mobile devices, so getting cozy with these companies will be hugely beneficial.
We now know that 34 percent of the US workforce are freelancers. This works out to over 54 million freelancers in America who contribute $700 billion annually to the national economy.
It has also been predicted that by 2020 (that’s just four years away!), freelancers will make up 50 percent of the workforce. That will seriously impact how you do business!
There are many benefits to using freelancers to build and grow your business. However, one of the most important “future-proof” benefits is this: in the event of an economic downturn, using freelancers will make you and your business far more nimble. Not only will it allow you to find and hire the best global workers, you won’t need to pay costs like office space or employee benefits.
Definitely agree with Rampton here.
While again these numbers are skewed since many of these freelancers are also fully employed, it doesn’t negate the fact that they are still doing some work on a freelance basis.
Every study is showing that more and more people are moving to work in a freelance capacity, due to the freedom it can provide for their lifestyle.
Is this good for business, maybe, maybe not, but it is a fact that you will have to be a part of this trend.
The US workforce is undergoing some serious shifts in terms of demographics. In fact, according to the CDC, by 2020 one in every four workers will be over the age of 55.
As older workers begin retiring, companies will be left with openings in key leadership positions. To fill these gaps, businesses will need to consider whether to hire internally or externally. While smaller organizations may need to look almost exclusively to outside hires, the “world’s most admired companies” (WMAC’s) know that hiring internally is the wave of the future. According to Fortune, only 11 percent of WMAC’s anticipate hiring externally, while 81 percent say they’re preparing current employees to take over key positions.
Now is the time to begin identifying high-potential individuals within your organization. This will give you time to invest in training and development, ensuring they’re ready for their new roles when the time comes.
This is an interesting contradiction to the freelancer prediction in my opinion.
With an increase in people moving to freelance, you may find that key leadership roles will actually move outside of the company and be held by those who left.
I can definitely see a retirement package, being a consulting gig for the executive leaving their full time benefit laden gig with a more lean outlay for the company, but still very lucrative and more flexible for the now contracted retiree.
Another trend are SuperTemps, which are basically well educated consultants who work independent of any organization, but are just as good, if not better than those you would find at Deloitte, Bain, Booz, etc.
I can say that personally, we will look both internally and externally for our agency.
It’s ultimately about fit.
According to the Workforce 2020 Global Research report, one of the top concerns organizations have in terms of labor-market shifts is the rise in millennials entering the workforce. And while executives believe there key differences between how Millennials and other generational groups operate in the organization, most don’t fully understand exactly what these differences are.
Millennials are less bound by loyalty, and expect to have up to 9 employers over the course of their lifetime. In their report, Millennials At Work: Reshaping the Workplace, PricewaterhouseCoopers offers some important insights into the differences employers should consider, including:
I’ll be honest in saying that this is ridiculous to me in that we have to work hard to make these shifts.
These types of business building activities have progressed since the beginning of time.
Cultures change, behaviors change, rules change, technology changes, etc. and we have to CHANGE TOO!
We see this as being a communication issue with organizations.
Make the shifts like you’re going to have to anyway and convey the message that working with you is good for those reasons.
Who cares how the work gets done as long as it gets done.
And if you are communicating your values and beliefs correctly then you will attract the type of people you want in your organization and they will likely do the work in a similar style as you anyway.
While becoming socially and environmentally sustainable is currently not a requirement in most industries, it may become so in the future. Beginning the process of becoming a so-called “future-fit” business can help you start the process now, ensuring you continue to grow and thrive into the future, without doing harm to society or the environment. Millennials really care about both of these issues, so you may want to up your own game in both of these social issue areas.
Using the Future-Fit Business benchmark, businesses can define their own future-fit goals to ensure they’re on the path towards becoming sustainable. Businesses can aspire to a list of 21 goals, each with its own set of key fitness indicators (KFIs).
Be aware that pursuing this course can have significant impact on the way you do business. The report authors write, “We believe that when businesses see the gap between their current performance and the necessary future-fit level of environmental and social performance, they will abandon their incremental efforts and embrace innovative breakthrough efforts…Some companies may find that they need to redesign their business model to reach the benchmark and capture the benefits.”
Look I get it.
The environment is important to keep healthy, because if we don’t, then we die (or our kids, grand kids, great grand kids, etc.).
But social sustainability sounds a little off.
Our society changes a lot and our views change with it.
You could always argue that actions or inactions could positively or negatively affect society.
My opinion is to do what you think is right and value feedback.
As an example: A recent documentary I watched showed how the overwhelming charity given to areas in Africa has actually killed societies, due to the fact that they cannot sustain without these handouts, due to the fact that they get these handouts!
Food given to these African cities, kills the local food economy and puts farmers out of business, clothing given to the cities, kills the local textile manufacturers and clothiers. See what I’m saying.
So something you think is great for society could be really detrimental.
These statements also make me think that we are in some type of a bubble as well.
Needless to say, I like to give my two cents.
I thought there was great thought put into the article and wanted to share with you all as well.
If you want to talk to me about ideas like this then give me a call or send an email and I would love to talk shop with you. Especially if it’s in relation to content marketing or digital marketing audits!
*original source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/281097
It’s easy to find case studies on beautiful campaigns for consumer goods, restaurants, and car manufacturers, but when it comes to B2B Campaigns, many struggle to produce good examples of beautiful high performing B2B Marketing Campaigns.
We have for you a PDF download that contains 7 Inspiring B2B Marketing Campaigns that you could do for yourself.