Top 5 Factors Influencing B2B Sales Lead Generation Online

Generating sales leads online for B2B products and services can seem counter intuitive at first. After all, those business deals tend to rely on personal relationships developed over years of networking and sales prospecting. In fact, I know a few B2B salespeople who tend to avoid doing any of their networking online. They claim, “not enough time,” “not efficient,” “not how I work.” That is, until I explain the top 5 factors influencing B2B sales lead generation.

Once sales leaders understand the connection between these critical B2B marketing factors and revenue, ears perk up. Funny how that works. (more…)

The One Weird Thing the Best B2B Content Marketers Do

I’m going to make a confession I never would have before: I’m starting to really, really love reports. I was never a numbers girl; I’ve always emulated the best B2B content marketers happy to highlight the benefits and beauty of words over numbers (forgive me, math people! numbers are beautiful too!). But now, I can’t get enough of numbers, percentages and graphs!

So it was with… unusual joy that I perused a new report, the B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends–North America by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. Following the recent publication of Hubspot’s State of Inbound, I thought this report provided a great counterpoint and some interesting supplementary data.

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Top 5 Takeaways from HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing 2014

Whenever a report like Hubspot’s State of Inbound comes out, I get all excited. Some data! Some stats! New things to learn! Benchmarks to compare my work with!

And this year’s report did not disappoint, either. With 54 pages of data gleaned from thousands of respondents in marketing and sales, Hubspot once again gives us a good overview of the world of inbound marketing, from budgeting to planning to measuring.

And since not everyone has the time to read all 54 pages of the report, I’ve pulled my top 5 takeaways to share with you.

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10 Brilliant Landing Page Call To Action Insights

Mastering the art of the call to action is essential to inbound marketing success. After all, you want visitors to click on your gated content downloads or to try your product or service. But getting the copy just right can be quite a challenge–I must admit I’ve been grappling with finding the right copy for some of our own calls to action

So I’ve been looking around at what experts are saying about the best landing page call to action techniques and best practices to help me craft better buttons and graphics for us and our clients. Here are 10 insights I gleaned from my readings all across the web. (more…)

5 Skills Marketing Students Must Master To Succeed

After a summer full of sun, fun and maybe summer work for some students, it’s now time to head back to the classroom and hit the books. There’s little I personally like more than the back-to-school time of year, despite the fact that I’m no longer a student. I love the warm sweaters, new books, changing leaves and especially learning new things.

So this year, I would like to share some of my knowledge and wisdom for business and marketing students beginning their degree or returning for another year. You may learn lots of information and skills in university, but if you don’t master these 5 basic skills, you will have a hard time succeeding in today’s fast-paced marketing world. (more…)

10 Signs You’re Dealing With Sleazy Marketing Consultants

Marketing, as a field, doesn’t have the best of reputations. Despite being an essential function in any business, trust in marketers is kind of low; according to a recent survey of CEOs across the world, 80% of them don’t trust marketers.

I must say to my personal defense that most marketers I know (including us!) really, really want to help produce demand for your product or service. We’re interested and involved in our clients’ success, and we do our best to help them achieve their goals. (more…)

5 Types of B2B Content That Work Like A Charm

5 types of B2B content that work like a charmOne of the challenges of B2B is finding the right type of content that will interest your audience and get them to consider you as a potential provider of products or services. It’s easy to see content from a B2C perspective: consumers like to get helpful information and get to trust a brand before making a purchase. But why should it be any different for B2B? After all, they are still buyers with needs, challenges and objections; they’re just buying for a company rather than for themselves.

With this in mind, it’s not difficult to start thinking up some content types that would work well with B2B buyers. They are a bit different from B2C, but they can still be effectively reached through inbound marketing. (more…)

5 Facts About Millennials Every Marketer Should Know

5 facts about millennials every marketer should know

The leading edge of the Millennial generation, born in 1980, is turning 34 this year. But don’t be fooled by their age; Millennials are actually very different from their 35+ counterparts, especially when it comes to media consumption and technology.

Experian’s Millennials come of age report highlights the major demographic, psychographic, attitudinal and behavioural trends of this generation. Here are 5 facts from this report that every marketer should know if he or she wants to succeed at reaching them. (more…)

5 Smart Ways To Build Social Proof For Marketing

Testimonials are a tried-and-true marketing technique that can help overcome objections and convince people to buy your product or service. They’re used everywhere: on TV, in advertorials, even on the web. (We have ours too!) They’re especially useful for more expensive products or services, where the investment is significant and potential customers need some reassurance that it will perform as expected. However, testimonials can be tricky; especially on the internet, they can be made up or paid, and it’s really difficult to verify their truthfulness. (more…)

5 Secrets For Insanely Effective Landing Pages

Effective landing pages

I’ll be honest right from the start: landing pages, these essential elements of inbound marketing, are difficult to get right, at least in the beginning. You’re used to filling them up yourself when you see a great offer on the internet, but when it comes to doing it for your business, it’s really not that simple. However, the new rules of digital marketing say that landing pages are one of the foundations of effective inbound marketing, so if you do inbound, landing pages are a must.

Landing pages need a special recipe to convert clicks into leads… but what are the secret ingredients? (more…)

How To Make “Post To Page” More Visible On Your Facebook Page

Say your goodbyes: it’s now impossible to make “post by others” show on your Facebook business page timeline. We have a super popular post about how to make that possible, but it dates from a few years, and Facebook business pages have changed a lot since then.

However, we still receive questions and comments about why the advice in that post doesn’t work anymore; it’s because you simply cannot do it anymore. The new Facebook business page has a completely different structure. (more…)

The Marketing Anatomy Of A Homepage

The marketing anatomy of a homepage

Your homepage is your internet storefront. You only have a few seconds (no more than 5, actually) to impress your visitors and keep them from bouncing away.

From a digital marketing standpoint, your homepage is one of the most important elements. You have to strategize it, polish it and kep it updated. In other words, your homepage has to be perfect.

Let’s have a closer look at some great home pages and take them apart to understand how they work. (more…)

Do You Have The Personality To Be An Online Marketer?

There are certain personality types that characterize a great number of online marketers. It’s important to clarify that ‘online marketing’ is a category of work that involves an extremely wide range of skills. There are the esoteric analytical stats gazers, the flamboyant social managers and the idiosyncratic content maestros. (more…)

Good Web Design = Marketing Success

We don’t often get to talk about websites and web design on the Stikky Media blog. These subjects are covered on the North Studio blog (which I also manage and write for). But the other day I was having a discussion with Marcus, our digital marketer, about the link between good web design and successful online marketing. In fact, few people realize how much your website influences your marketing results, especially when it comes to SEO. (more…)

Boobs Don’t Convert: Why Using Sexy Pictures Doesn’t Increase Your Online Business Unless You Sell Sexy Pictures

Don’t worry, there won’t be any “not safe for work” photos in this post. But one day or other, we have to talk about this rather controversial topic: the use of sexy pictures to sell stuff on the internet.

It’s almost cliché to say that sex sells. Brands and companies have used sexualized pictures to sell all sorts of things, from cars to shoes to handbags to ties, to name just a few. And of course, the internet isn’t immune to this. I’ve seen ads with scantily-clad women to advertise things as diverse as online games, content milling companies and even post-secondary education programs. No joke, I swear! (more…)

I’m a Content Strategist Now… What Does That Mean?

What’s content strategy? What does it do? Why does it matter? If you’ve been bathing in the world of web content for a few years, like me, these questions have obvious answers. But if you’ve only dipped a toe in digital marketing, it might sound like just another buzzword, more “marketese” that doesn’t really mean anything to you or your business.

Well, my first task as Stikky’s new Content Strategist is to convince you that content (and content strategy) is a very real, very significant and very effective part of any digital marketing campaign. (more…)

Kick-Start Your Digital Marketing In 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you're a digital veteran or an online newbie, every business nowadays needs to have some kind of digital strategy (if you don't have one yet, consult our article on why you need a digital strategy). Every year, it becomes increasingly clear that if your potential clients cannot find you online, you might as well not exist. How do you ensure that you can grow your business with the power of the web? With a good digital strategy that's adapted to the times, of course.

For our first post of 2014, we would like to give you some ideas on how to review, reassess and adapt your current digital strategy to a field that changes faster than most people can keep up with (that's why we're here!). If you don't have an online strategy yet, consider this a basic guide to building one for 2014.

Strategy basics: Look at your goals

A good digital strategy uses your business goals as a starting point. Without clear business goals, you can't really come up with good digital goals that support your business in the way you want it to go. Here are some examples of goals and how digital strategies can help.

Increase traffic to your brick-and-mortar business

If you have a business with an actual storefront, one of your goals probably is to increase the amount of people who walk into the door. You can do this in many ways: a more attractive storefront, street signs and traditional publicity. But the digital realm can also be useful to you. Just think of Yelp recommendations, UrbanSpoon reviews and TripAdvisor comments and how these influence whether people are going to visit your store or not. Ignoring these review sites can come at a big cost to your reputation, both online and offline.

A good digital strategy for this goal includes regular monitoring of review sites and answering promptly to comments and complaints. It also, of course, requires you to have a website of your own (get one if you don't) where people can look up more information about your business and your products or services. It may also involve keeping a good presence on social media as well as paid advertising on appropriate online channels.

Increase traffic to your website

If your business is exclusively or mostly online, then the equivalent of more traffic through your doors is more traffic to your website. Digital marketing provides many tools to increase traffic: paid advertisements, an informative and well-maintained blog, guest posting and a good presence on social media. Cutting through the noise of the web gets more and more complex every year, but there are tried and true ways to cut through the noise: good engagement with visitors, content with great value, an e-book or speaking at conferences.

Exploding your website traffic requires a perfect storm of social media engagement, interest from influencers and having a strong, original message. How are you going to achieve this in 2014?

Increase online sales

This goal is often related to increasing traffic to a website–but increased traffic doesn't always mean increased sales. Sometimes a website may have many visitors who give up because the buying process is too complex, or the calls to action are not clear, or your payment process does not seem secure enough. Here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  • Is it easy to buy something on my website? Can someone buy a product with a few clicks or does it require a long process that might discourage new customers? Try buying one of your products and assess the process.
  • Are visitors asked to take action early in the process? After they are on your website, can they clearly know what you have to sell? What are my calls to action and where do they appear in the buying process?
  • Does my website seem trustworthy? Would someone who has no prior knowledge of the company or the product feel safe buying from me?

These are only a few ideas, but these should get you thinking about your sales process and how it might affect your overall performance.

Launch a new product or service

If your goal for 2014 is to launch a new product or service, the most important thing to do is to reach and attract the people who are most likely to buy it. In this case, building a buyer persona and developing an outreach strategy will help you find the right audience for your new product or service. Add to this the basic strategic points mentioned above, and you have everything you need to attract clients and sell your products, both online and off.

New online tactics: go where the people are

There are millions of websites on the web. How do yo get people to come to yours? Here are some tactics to adopt to get the most out of the new trends in digital marketing.

  • Get a Twitter account and monitor it closely. People who contact businesses on Twitter expect a near-instant response. Never leave your Twitter followers hanging.
  • Get on Pinterest. One in three American women are now on Pinterest. That's not counting men, or other countries. Getting on Pinterest is becoming as essential as a Facebook page.
  • Change your Facebook approach. As Facebook changes, so must you. Facebook now rewards a high number of social reactions–likes, comments and shares. Make content that provoques reactions to take full advantage of these new parameters.
  • Write more. Content is the uncontested driver of traffic. Writing more, and on various outlets (guest blogging, Medium, Huffington Post, etc.) in addition to your own blog will help bring more eyeballs to your website. If you don't have time to write more, we offer copywriting services.
  • Send newsletters. Email newsletters are still the best way to contact customers. The strength of a business (especially online) is not evaluated by the number of visitors but by the number of email subscribers. If you don't have a newsletter yet, it's the right time to start one.

These are a few tactics to adopt for the coming year–things change fast and a new channel can appear, but these are basic techniques to help maximize the return on your digital efforts.

Online tracking: hunt for data

Tracking specialists would tell you that this is the age of data. Although we wouldn't necessarily want to live in a world that's all data all the time, it's important to keep an eye on your traffic and sales data to make the most of your digital strategy in 2014. Here are some basic tips to get you acquainted with data this year.

  • Get to know Google Analytics. Google Analytics is your friend. It has tons of interesting data on your website traffic and visitors. If you're not sure where to start, consult Google's guide or contact us for some one-on-one training.
  • Keep social media statistics. Most social media channels will provide some stats for their users, but there are more sophisticated tools out there that can help you track follows, likes, shares, tweets and pins. 
  • Set goals. It's not everything to know how to read data: you must decide what data is important and what numbers you want to see change. Setting specific traffic or data goals can help focus your online marketing efforts.

Once you know your way around the graphs and tables provided by Google and other online tracking tools, it's easy to get a glimpse of how your business is doing. You cannot effectively implement a digital strategy without keeping an eye on the numbers. If you're not too good with that stuff, we can also keep track of your numbers for you.

Is 2014 your best online year yet?

With these ideas and tips, you're well on your way to making 2014 your best online year yet. Focus your efforts towards specific goals and see your online marketing objectives met–and even surpassed! If you need help with any part of your strategy, don't hesitate to contact us for expert digital marketing advice. 

What are your business goals for 2014? How do you integrate digital marketing in your general strategy to help reach these goals? Share your ideas, thoughts and tips in the comments!

Image by Sean MacEntee

Digital Marketing Resources

digital marketing

 

The great thing about digital marketing is that everything is available at the touch of a mouse, even the help for doing it well. There are many resources online that can help you with your digital marketing. I have listed a few below that I believe are of great quality and can help your business conduct effective digital marketing whether it be creating content or understanding and using your analytics.

Digital marketing resources:

Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik: An excellent analytics blog written by Avinash Kaushik who is an author, digital marketer, Google Evangelist, and a Co-founder of Market Motive.

Google Webmaster Tools: This site provided by Google will help you to optimize your website so that is easily searchable when using the Google search engine.

Smart Insights: Smart Insights is a great resource for when you’re ready to take action. They “share actionable marketing advice to help develop your business and personal marketing skills.”There are free downloads available on their website that take you through step by step processes to help obtain your digital marketing goals.

Convince and Convert by Jay Baer: They call themselves “social and content accelerators”. This blog is a great support tool for social media and creating great content for your own company. Convince and Convert is ranked as the world’s #1 content marketing resource. Jay Baer, the president of Convince and Convert has been involved in digital marketing since 1994 and was named one of America’s top social media consultants by Fast Company magazine.

 

I hope you find these resources as helpful as I do!

 

Image attribution: DigitalRalph

eCommerce for the Holidays

The Target Corporation released a beta website this week called Target Awesome Shop. This website is just that –awesome – with its stunning images and ease of navigation. The website is run by Pinterest, displaying the most popular items of that day. This makes for an easy way to find the deals and best value.

An image-friendly, easy-to-navigate website is what people want this holiday season. Many customers are turning to the internet to research the products they are interested in, and more often than not, to purchase these products online if the option is available.  You may have to spend a little in shipping fees, it does save you the gas to the store and the stressful rushing around from shop to shop looking for that specific item.

While I prefer the great cardio burn from going to the mall, I cannot disagree with the tack the online component of Target stores is taking. ECommerce is becoming more popular for everyday shopping and it’s the visuals that are making this possible. Target may be a multi-million dollar business with many resources on hand, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t reasonable ways to share images to get people excited about your product or service.

 

Suggestions for making products gift-worthy online:

  • Create a Pinterest account. Curate your products and create boards with themes. Display items to show why it would be worth it to buy two or three of your products rather than one (Ex. An image that shows just how useful the case is to hold those top of the line drawing pencils).
  • Create an Instagram account. Use photos and video clips to show the product/service in use.
  • Utilise Twitter and Facebook to create special online promotions (Ex. free shipping on a $25 item if you share this link on your page and get 150 likes).
  • Post how-to videos on your website so people can easily see how the product works.
  • Have easy, understandable landing pages for purchasing.

One thing to remember about the social websites is to make sure they link back to your website where the customer can purchase the product. Incorporate your URL in posts often and create hashtags that include your company name. It’s the season of giving so give customers a reason to give your product!

Image attribution: FutUndBiedl

Buyer Personas – You Need Them

Buyer Personas – You Need Them

Imagine this: you are the owner of a company with an amazing product you are passionate about. You just got it selling in 3 major stores as well as selling the product on your website. It’s doing well but how do you maintain this growth and differentiate yourself from your competition?

The answer is to engage your customers in your brand and inspire them to purchase it. People are becoming more and more fluent in social media and blogging—your company needs to be aware of this and take advantage of the different online mediums to reach your target audience. And not only do you want to reach them, but even better, you want to connect with them.

Connect and Engage with Your Customer

Dr. Seuss says “A person’s a person” because after all, we are humans and emotions are what drives our decisions. A consistent story will ensure the company’s true personality shines through. After you have cemented who the company is you need to cement who your purchasers are. The best starting point is to create your buyer personas.

What is a buyer persona you ask?

A buyer persona is a profile of the type of person who is interested in purchasing your product or service. You may have more than one buyer persona so you need to make sure you are connecting with them all effectively.

The buyer persona will help you to focus and identify personality traits and behavioural information to ensure the story you want to tell will resonate.  To get started on creating your buyer personas you can:

  • Interview current customers
  • Poll your followers through your various social media channels to learn both the behaviours and demographic of the people who already take interest in your brand
  • Draw on existing knowledge of your customers.

Persona outline example (from StikkyMedia and Q College)

The main goal is to maintain clarity throughout all of your branding including blogging, social media, clothing, and any other messaging/swag your company might have or need. By knowing your customer, you can speak to them and inspire them to purchase your brand. Check out this handy buyer persona template with examples.

Now go get started on your buyer personas!

If you need help creating buyer personas or any other aspect of digital marketing ranging from SEO through paid search, we’re here to help. Contact us today.

Google Places for Business Changes

Has your Google places dashboard changed recently? Google constantly introduces new ‘products’, but tends to remove and change them just as fast. If you're a local business and don't know about Google Places, we have some useful information for you as well.

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Are You Putting Your Internet Marketing Efforts In the Right Place?

Every year, Mary Meeker of KPCB publishes a report about trends in the internet world. Not only is it always a highly anticipated event, but the resulting presentation is usually chock-full of really useful information for those who use the internet to market their products and services.

With a hefty 117 slides, it would take a long time to go over everything in detail, and not all of it is useful to marketers. However, we found some very useful tidbits that we think will be useful for future internet marketing planning. Here's what we found:

1. Mobile attention is growing–but not mobile advertising

According to this graph, despite getting 12% of people's attention, mobile devices only get 3% of the advertising money.

On the other end, look at what's happening in print. Advertisers are still spending 23% of their budget on print advertising, while the amount of time spent on print media is very low indeed. 

As this graph shows, Internet and mobile are still developing areas for advertisers. Mobile is especially fertile ground, since advertising noise is quite minimal for now.

2. Facebook is in decline

They'd like you to think that it's not, but in global numbers, Facebook is actually in decline. Not by much, but it definitely shows a trend, which is possibly caused by consumer fatigue (or young people flocking away from Facebook because their parents are on it more and more.)

As you can see, it's not a very big drop–more than 90% of users are still on Facebook. But YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr show interesting potential, especially for marketers. It's time to diversify your strategies!

3. People feel good about mobile

There's one thing that marketers wish they could do every day: know how consumers feel about their products. This kind of information is difficult to quantify, but Meeker's report provides us with interesting insights:

Smartphones make people feel connected, excited, curious and productive. Depending on your product or service, using one of these attitudes to build your message can be the element that makes your campaign a success.

4. The rise of tablets is astounding

In just three years, tablets have become more popular than both desktop and notebook PCs. Just look.

Think you can get away with a website that doesn't quite work with tablets? Think again. Soon enough, people will use their tablets more than other non-phone devices (if that's not already happening). Responsive design is a great solution, but so are apps, depending on your needs. 

Give the report a look and let us know what you found interesting or useful! What kind of strategies are you looking for when it comes to your digital and mobile future?

 

What is Growth Hacking?

Simply put, growth hacking is a passion to grow. Grow users, grow subscriptions, grow community. One part marketing and one part technology, it’s a new way for startups to take their business from zero to success with little or no traditional marketing.

Sound too good to be true? Take a look at Hotmail.

When it launched in 1996, Hotmail was just a fledgling email service with awkward capitalization. But when investor Timothy Draper had the brainwave to add “PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail” to the bottom of each email, the service finally took off.

This simple growth hack led to a viral adoption of Hotmail, with an average of 3000 new users a day. Within 6 months Hotmail was up to 1 million users, and 5 weeks later they officially hit the 2 million user mark.

At one point during this phenomenal growth, co-founder Sabeer Bhatia sent a single email to India. Within 3 weeks, Hotmail had 300,000 users there.

No advertising, no cash. Just a sneaky two-liner thrown in at an opportune moment.
 

Other famous growth hacks:

Dropbox: Used an incentive-based referral program (tell a friend, receive a 500MB increase) to increase signups by 60%.

Airbnb: Finagled their way through Craigslist's closed API and built an automatic “post to Craigslist” function, tapping into a worldwide channel with millions of users.

Wall Street Journal: Offered free Wi-Fi in high-traffic areas of New York, and sent users to a special landing page that captured email addresses and job titles—perfect for future targeted email marketing—followed by an email containing a free 4-week subscription offer.

As you can see, growth hacking isn’t a set-in-stone strategy. It’s a mindset, not a toolset, that requires flexibility, creativity and opportunism. Because each product is unique, growth hackers must find equally unique solutions to achieve the desired growth. It could be as simple as improving your site’s load times, or as complex as engineering content sharing widgets.

And because all growth hacking articles end with a disclaimer that goes something like “Growth hacking is nothing without a great product,” I’ll throw that in as well. Because it’s true.

Hack all you want, but if your product or service isn't awesome, you won't succeed.
 

This is Why Your QR Code Campaign is Failing

QR codes are deceptively simple. They can be created for free in a matter of seconds and they provide an instant connection between the physical and virtual worlds, but that doesn’t mean you can just slap a code on a wall and call it a campaign. No, like any good marketing campaign, QR codes require creativity, nurturing and planning.

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4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Google+ Business Page

If you haven’t yet created a Google+ page for your business or brand, now is the time to hop on board. With over 250 million users and counting, Google+ is another great way for your company to connect with customers and the fans who love you.

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Astroturfing: Fake Reviews Aren’t Always Greener

AstroTurf. Once famous for being the Brady Bunch’s lawn of choice, the term now refers to the endless stream of opinion spam that litters websites around the globe.

You know what I’m talking about—those so-called “consumer reviews” that are stuffed with exclamation points, superlatives and robotic phrases like “Great rooms and service! Highly recommended!”

My fake-o-metre is also set off by:

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