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17/Sep/2018
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According to a new study published by Dun & Bradstreet, the vast majority of B2B marketers believe data and analytics play a major role in personalising content and driving sales, but around half are still not confident about the quality of data they have at their disposal.

The annual B2B Marketing Data Report shows a growing recognition that data underpins marketing strategies and campaigns, with 89% believing that data quality is a key driver for content marketing and sales. This is a 15% increase from the previous study, and that figure has steadily tracked upward for several years.

Data is now a crucial business asset for several reasons, according to B2B marketers. The top activities that data underscores are campaign execution and personalised content. In a world where brands are serving up more materials across social media and corporate websites, data is now viewed as a tool to help them cut through the noise and connect with target audiences effectively.

In addition to optimising content campaigns, data is also being used to generate customer insights via analytics. This also feeds into content strategies and improves decision making throughout the marketing pipeline. Other top activities centred around data include sales prospecting, sales closing, and lead qualification and scoring. Basically, data is now an essential part of marketing, from the first stage to the last.

While data has become more important during the last 12 months, B2B enterprises are more hesitant about the quality of data they have. This lack of confidence is making it more difficult to manage content marketing initiatives at a time when these efforts have never been so crucial to driving awareness, engagement and sales.

“B2B companies are currently at a crossroads,” Dun & Bradstreet Global Head of Marketing, Josh Mueller, noted. “They overwhelmingly understand the value of data to their organizations, but have not yet figured out how to collect, integrate and apply that data in insightful ways to help make business decisions. Organizations that have established a solid data foundation as core to their sales and marketing programs can improve performance over their counterparts that don’t have that data foundation.”

One other issue that is holding B2B marketers back is a lack of data integration with the wider business. A sizeable 90% of the 250 marketers surveyed said they find it challenging to line up marketing data with sales and other activities when attempting to execute campaigns across a plethora of channels. Just a third said they can make sense of a buyer’s journey. These blind spots subsequently make it more difficult to serve up the right content at the right time. Integrating data with CRM is another common problem.

“By using data to connect sales and marketing activities, businesses can better identify new opportunities, focus on the right audience with the right message, arm sellers with the right intelligence, and provide learnings that enable them to continually improve their strategy,” Mueller added. “When done right, this is the winning formula for more personalized, efficient, and impactful marketing at scale.”


10/Sep/2018
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Podcasts have traditionally been consumed by men, but a new study released by Westwood One last week found that brands are tapping into the world of creative sound to engage with more women who are eager to listen on smart speakers and other connected devices.

Podcasts are still unlikely to be the cornerstone of content marketing campaigns, as the new study noted that “very little research” has been conducted about ads within these soundscapes. However, more than two-thirds of key decision makers have broached the subject of marketing in podcasts with fellow employees.

That is not a surprise, considering that podcast ad revenue in the US soared to $314m (£243) last year, an 86% uptick compared to the previous year. According to data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the rate of growth is set to quicken and will surpass $650m (£503) by the end of the decade. Digital ad revenue within digital audio now accounts for more than $1.6bn (£1.2).

Westwood One polled 600 people who regularly listen to podcasts to uncover key trends and interesting insights. Most podcast listeners are still male, but women are catching up, as they consume 5.5 hours of this medium every week, a 20% increase year-on-year.

“The 2018 year will be remembered as podcasting’s year of the women,” Cumulus Media executive and Westwood One president, Suzanne Grimes, said. “There’s an encouraging trend of compelling and diverse new content for women. While male audiences stabilize, the growth rate of the female podcast audience is soaring.”

For brands eager to tap into the wants and needs of a female audience, podcasts may offer a viable outlet and can complement more traditional content marketing campaigns centred around blogs, articles, infographics and video. One reason why podcasts are becoming more popular is the proliferation of connected devices in the home. More than a quarter are tuning in using connected entertainment systems in cars, while a similar number are using smart speakers.

Young people consume the most podcasts, as 64% of Millennials said they were “heavy listeners.” However, it is not just a medium for 18- to 34-year olds, as 15% of the Baby Boomer generation said they now listen to podcasts via a smart speaker. Also, 20% of women are consuming content in this way, an increase over the 12% that said so last year.

Heavy listeners are defined as those that consume more than six hours of podcasts every week, and this group represents 43% of the 600 people surveyed. Heavy listeners are increasing, but people who listen to three to five hours and less than three hours saw a slight decrease in the latest study.

Podcast audiences are changing, and marketers should use the new trends and insights to optimise strategies and campaigns and potentially diversify their efforts to tap into audiences that want more sound-related content each week. The study found that the use of promotional codes in podcasts is particularly effective at driving engagement.


03/Sep/2018
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According to the latest biannual CMO Survey, Marketing spending on social media has hit record levels during the last year even though many brands are still unable to determine their return on investment and prove its real impact.

Marketers now invest 13.8% of their total budgets on social media, which is a 4% increase from the figure reported 12 months ago. It also represents the fastest rate of growth and suggests that while Facebook has recently tweaked algorithms to reduce the visibility of brand content in news feeds, other platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat, may be picking up the slack.

While spending has increased, just a quarter of respondents said they can quantitatively prove the impact of its social marketing campaigns. More worryingly, 39.3% said they had no idea about its impact at all. Therefore. knowledge gaps still exist, but the situation is improving. Last year, 45% could not determine the impact of their social marketing, while only 16.3% could.

Rising social spending agrees with the findings from a separate study released by BuzzSumo and Buffer last week. It found that there were 8.1 million pieces of content posted on Facebook during the second quarter of 2018, which is an increase of 1.1 million pieces over the figure from the first quarter. On average, brands are now creating 90,000 posts every day.

While quantity is soaring, brands are seeing a slowdown in organic engagement, either due to the emergence of other social platforms or of the algorithm change noted earlier. There were more than 29 million interactions on Facebook in Q1 2017, but this number has decreased sharply and stood at just 12.8 million for the latest quarter.

Engagement is a challenge for brands, but the CMO Survey found that marketers are still committed to increasing social media spending. They expect to allocate 16.3% of their budgets to the practice during the next year, and this amount will increase to 22.9% by 2023.

Third-party agencies are also playing a more pivotal role in the social marketing mix, as 21.7% of a brand’s activity on these networks are now handled by agencies, a marked increase over the 18.7% figure from last year. These agencies are usually adept at managing a range of content output, from editorial articles and blogs to engaging infographics and video.

Finally, the CMO Survey also shined a light on the changing role of marketing and how it has broadened over the last five years. The clear majority of marketers now lead their company’s brand activity, social media presence and PR. However, there has been a slight decrease in marketers taking the reins for ad campaigns and promotions.

Political issues are a difficult subject for brands to parse, as 67.8% believe having a say on public affairs can limit their ability to interact and engage with a wide audience and retain current customers. Six in ten also believe that incorporating politics into content and messages could make them stand out in the wrong way.


24/Aug/2018
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According to a new annual report published by Clutch, four out of five consumers have purchased a product after reading a high-quality piece of content marketing from a brand online.

Content has long been a key driver for awareness, sales and revenue, but it is particularly impactful during the search stage when pushing potential customers along the sales cycle is so important. Serving up engaging content at the right time can make it much easier to convert interested buyers into paying consumers.

Editorial articles, blogs, videos and infographics can do this in several ways according to the study. Half of the respondents said they would be more likely to conduct research about a company and take a closer look at their line of services and products after consuming content, while 53% said it would drive them to return to a brand’s corporate website.

The big takeaway for brands is that content makes consumers more motivated to engage with them. Just over two-thirds said content marketing campaigns add value and are useful, while the majority prefer editorial and high-quality content in the form of articles and videos capable of addressing their own wants, needs and concerns.

“Readers are aware that [online business content] is created for marketing purposes, but appreciate brands that provide honest, reliable, high-quality content,” Rebrandy executive Louisa McGrath said in the report. “This builds trust and awareness for a brand, which is invaluable and of growing importance.”

Clutch noted that consumers now expect certain hallmarks in content to deem it to be high quality. These include “originality,” in the sense of providing a new slant on an already established topic with deeper analysis, new information or unique points, and a “narrative”. People are now eager for storylines, themes and case studies to be included.

Brands should also look to discuss issues that may be relevant to their audience and customers, provide actionable tips to help them and built trust, and back up what they are saying with authoritative, trustworthy sources.

Consumers are now also more aware of the content marketing campaigns deployed by brands, but this is not seen as a negative development, as audiences want to read and view messages that are relevant and valuable in a convenient manner. In fact, more people want content to be served up across a variety of platforms to meet their consumption demands.

“Current technology allows people to consume content in all hours of the day across different devices,” Lead to Conversion executive Andrew Travers said. “Providing content in multiple formats allows marketers to put their message in front of target audiences in a way that’s most convenient for them.”

For those interested in steering away from some of the tell-tale signs that a piece is content marketing, 27% of respondents said that being published on the company’s website is the primary giveaway. This was followed by having links to the company’s website, an author biography linked to the company and a discussion of products and services that the company provides.


20/Aug/2018
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Personalisation is all the rage as a major new trend for content marketers to improve campaigns, but a new study by video platform VidMob has found that the traditional means of doing so may longer be relevant for younger audiences.

The new survey polled the opinions of 2,000 16-to-34-year-olds, evenly distributed between Gen Z (16 to 24) and Millennials (25 to 34), about how they act online when consuming content to uncover interesting behaviours and trends in regard to social media and video ads.

Taste and style appear to be the top priorities for young adults when engaging with content, as 55% are more likely to interact with an ad if they believe it reflects these factors. Ads with celebrities (45%) also resonate, but ads with people the same age (29%) are less likely to do so.

Brands often use traditional personalisation that puts audiences into distinct categories according to age, gender or ethnicity, but it appears young people don’t fit as neatly into these long-standing methods. However, the study did find subtle variances between age groups.

For example, just 32% of Millennials responded positively to ads with a visually beautiful theme, but this figure increase to 41% for Gen Z. The latter also takes umbrage at ads that are overly repetitive, which supports an established trend that teens and younger audiences are more likely to be turned off by a brand if they are too repetitive in their messaging.

Viewing an ad several times does not reinforce a message for Gen Z, and VidMob Chief Marketing Officer Stephanie Bohn revealed that just 25% in this age group says multiple viewings help them to remember what a brand is advertising. However, Millennials appreciate brevity more, as 48% said shorter clips are preferable, while Gen Z places a greater focus on the quality of music.

Social media habits among younger audiences continue to shift, but 42% say they are spending more time on these platforms compared to last year. Stories are particularly popular right now, as a considerable 70% of 16-to-24-year-olds say they watch this format on a regular basis on both Instagram and Snapchat. YouTube has also seen a bigger spike in user growth in this age group year-over-year compared to Millennials.

“Social users are bombarded with content, and it’s harder than ever for advertisers to capture attention, particularly the attention of Gen Z,” said Bohn, who urged brands to focus on serving up content “with style” to drive engagement. “This report has implications for marketers looking to connect with younger audiences. Demographics and the celebrity factor also influence likability, but sense of style is the leading factor.”

She added: “What we glean from these findings is that younger consumers respond better to ads that offer a reflection of themselves, or their aspirational selves. Celebrity status seems to be less influential than personal style but certainly nothing to dismiss, especially when trying to reach Gen Z.”


13/Aug/2018
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According to a new report by Times Internet, content is now king in India as the marketing strategy surged in popularity last year and replaced social media as the most popular format.

The new study, titled The State of Indian Digital Marketing – a CMO Perspective 2017-18, takes a closer look at marketing investment trends and strategies in several sectors, including pharmaceuticals, automotive and real estate. The study authors polled 150 brand marketers working for companies in these sectors, and the results indicate that many have pivoted strongly towards content during the last 12 months.

Social media marketing was the most widely used strategy in the previous study, but it has seen a significant 30% decline year-over-year as marketers look elsewhere for better results and return on investment (ROI). Many appear to have found that content marketing provides both better results and ROI, as it became increasingly popular during that time.

Six out of ten respondents said content has now displaced social media as the industry’s top strategy. While high-quality articles and videos are helping brands drive engagement, marketers still face challenges on several fronts to get the most from their activities.

Securing a large enough budget to support creative and other digital marketing endeavours is the biggest problem right now, closely following by measuring ROI effectively. Overall, the report shows that marketing campaigns and strategies are maturing and that brands are doing better at serving up the content that consumers want to watch and read.

“As we move forward at full throttle toward a more digitally inclined audience, marketers need to have a keen ear to the ground, to identify the trends and evolved mediums that their customers prefer,” Times Internet Limited CEO, Gautam Sinha, said: “Our report goes on to capture the finer nuances that have been shaping how this environment is changing.”

DMAasia worked with Times Internet to conduct the second edition of the annual report, and its CEO, Vatsal Asher, said the rise of content marketing promises “exciting times ahead” for brands as they look to drive growth and revenue and “enhance” the customer experience.

A separate study by Kantar Media has found that advertisers are doing a better job of posting content that resonates with audiences. Almost two-thirds of Americans believe that advertisers have improved in this area recently, while a quarter are confident that advertising is now evolving and becoming better.

While ads are finally providing value for end users, 72% of consumers still say they see the same ads too frequently, and more than half view content for products and services that they have already purchased. An additional 63% want more control over the ads they see when visiting web pages and watching videos.

However, targeted content appears to be working, as 40% now say they are seeing more relevant ads. This finding will boost marketers, who are increasingly eager to personalise and tailor content for different audiences. Finally, younger people aged 18 to 34 find that ads are more than appealing than other age groups.


06/Aug/2018
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Content marketing will be a primary focus for brands during the next 12 months, as 60% expect to spend more on digital resources and ads during that time, according to a new report released by Dentsu Aegis Network.

Titled Brands Win in the Digital Economy: CMO Survey 2018, the report found that content marketing is now ubiquitous across the whole business spectrum but that larger organisations are really doubling down on these activities. Almost half said their budgets will increase by 5% or more, and only one in 20 said they envisage content spend falling during the next year.

Confidence is high among chief marketing officers (CMOs) in the financial, technology and automotive sectors, as all expect to drive great returns for marketing strategies. However, there remain a few key challenges as CMOs attempt to leverage new tech to identify opportunities and make sense of big data and the wider digital economy.

The main concern for CMOs is the lack of control they have over digital investments or new programs that their company is focusing on, as this can often make it more difficult to deliver successful marketing campaigns. Linking different channels and elements to aid the customer’s experience is another concern.

Data will be a prized asset for CMOs during the next two to three years, as 71% say it provides the biggest strategic opportunity, especially when attempting to reach and engage with real people. However, 68% claim extracting insights from growing data sets is harder.

“Content is king” is now a well-worn mantra, but it still rings true for marketers, as 72% of respondents said high-quality content will be a top priority during the next year.

A separate study by Havas has again highlighted the key role content plays in making a brand “meaningful” to consumers. The Meaningful Brands study found that 60% of the content that brands produce does not provide any added value to end users. Therefore, working with the right partner, such as an expert third-party agency, can make a difference to ROI and engagement.

Havas analytics officer Maria Garrido says brands that fail to step up and deliver the content consumers need risk disappearing entirely and claims that the number of brands that will do so will “be worse” year-on-year as customer expectations increase.

Therefore, brands must think about their dispensability and consider how to reboot content to create meaningful and lasting bonds with audiences. Garrido believes content needs varying by brand, category and consumer and that marketers must know how to serve up articles, blogs, videos and infographics that end users really want to engage with.

She adds: “If you take the healthcare sector, consumers have an expectation that first and foremost, the content should be about helping them. And the second thing is it should be about informing them.” Garrido concludes that content must reinforce and fulfil consumer expectations but urged brands to use a mix of entertaining, informative and educational resources to get the job done.”


30/Jul/2018
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Optimising content for search engines is a crucial process for B2B brands, as 87% of their audiences say they find relevant articles, blogs and news using Google, Bing and other leading search platforms.

That is the primary takeaway from a new study released by Clutch earlier this week. Content has long been seen a prime outlet for B2B enterprises to push thought leadership pieces and engaging prose, but the findings suggest SEO services are particularly important for amplifying the power of these messages and ensuring they are visible to the right people, at the right time.

The study noted that search engines can support a sort of snowball effect, as featuring on the first page of Google listings can then lead to more people clicking through to a corporate website and then making a purchase of a product or service or developing a lucrative relationship with a client.

“SEO remains an important way for B2B audiences to find content,” Content Marketing Institute, vice president, Kim Moustos said. “Don’t forget, though, that it involves optimizing content not just for search engines, but also for the people behind the queries.”

In 2018, optimising for search is very much centred around serving up content that provides value to the end user rather than merely checking boxes in the hope of it performing well in SERPs. However, search is just one aspect of the content mix, as 85% said they find business content via social media.

An additional 75% said they go to a company’s website for this content. How well a B2B brand can link these channels and put its content front and centre will play a major role in the success of digital marketing efforts.

“We produce a wide range of content, whether it be social media or content for our own website,” Digital Third Coast digital marketing manager, Mike Theodore said. “The goal is to drive organic traffic to our company and our service offerings, to be seen and heard as industry leaders, and to build a level of credibility with prospective employees, clients, and strategic partners.”

Blogs or articles are the most popular content formats for B2B audiences, but the study found that a broad, diverse content portfolio is best in today’s multi-device, multi-platform world. In terms of topics, tech leads the consumption stakes, ahead of small business and workplace/personnel.

Content consumption habits are also centred around the sale funnel and what an end user needs at a specific point in time. For example, during the awareness phase, almost half read blogs and articles, while product descriptions are more popular for those in the interest stage.

Theodore added: “We’re very conscious of the content we produce for our clients based on their different stages of purchasing. We’re always conscious to write to the best ‘persona.’” The good news continues for B2B brands, as audiences now engage with at least one piece of content every week, though Theodore believes the actual numbers could be even higher.


23/Jul/2018
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Four out of five brands are now confident that their digital marketing efforts are working, according to a new survey from B2B research enterprise Clutch. The belief is driven, in part, by the growing desire among consumers to read, watch and view content on their smartphones.

83% of businesses say they are effectively achieving their goals through digital marketing. The connected device revolution has been crucial in this growing confidence, as brands say it has given them more of a direct line of communication, making it easier to engage with audiences regularly compared to traditional marketing and ads.

“That number is high because digital marketing is where customers are,” said Flynn Zaiger, CEO of digital marketing agency Online Optimism. “Walking down the street, people aren’t looking at billboards or checking newspapers – they’re staring at their phones.”

It is no surprise that social media is the most popular form of digital marketing, as this allows brands to get in touch with millions of people across various platforms every day. Websites are the second most popular, ahead of email, which still takes a prominent role in the marketing mix.

More than half say content marketing will be a top channel in 2018, and a similar number said the same for mobile apps and display and banner ads. Respondents believe content and other digital channels are an excellent outlet for pushing evolving brand stories and messages, something other mediums struggle to support.

“People are responsive when you have the ability to tell your brand story, whether it’s on social media, your website, or email,” Jeremy Greenberg, founder of web design agency 97 Switch, said. “With other mediums, there’s not as much ability to tell your story.”

While content and social media reign supreme, SEO is falling out of favour among brands, as they believe it requires too much effort to get right. This appears to be a major blind spot for marketers, as a failure to invest in SEO can make it more difficult to drive maximum ROI from digital channels and corporate websites.

“Businesses have a harder time with SEO,” Jon Borg Breen, co-founder of B2B agency Symbiont Group said. “It’s not as immediately impactful as having a brand-new design on your website that people can say, ‘Wow, that looks cool.'” Experts still state that SEO is an essential component in the marketing mix and that while it may not deliver immediate returns, it will elevate channels in the long term.

Finally, when asked why they continue to invest in digital marketing, almost a third said it was primarily used to drive profits. Many brands still use digital content to push consumers along the sales cycle more effectively. However, the survey also found that small to medium-sized enterprises are leveraging digital marketing to improve brand awareness, while large organisations use it to stand out from competitors.

Online Optimism CEO Flynn Zaiger added: “Using your digital marketing to help differentiate yourself will get you more leads and increase your close rate, an essential growth strategy for larger companies.”


16/Jul/2018
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A new study by Walker Sands Communications has found that marketers are struggling to keep pace with ongoing advances in technology, as just 28% believe they can leverage its full potential in strategies and content campaigns.

The study, titled Maximizing the Value of Martech Innovations, takes an in-depth look at the role of tech in marketing and attempts to determine whether brands are keeping pace with the ever-quickening march of new innovations and changes. The major takeaway is that it continues to be a major challenge.

While tech is a source of frustration, marketers are not shying away from investment, as 65% said they will spend more on martech during the next 12 months, while only 5% expected their budgets in this area to contract during that time. Three in ten say their budgets will remain steady.

Content marketing continues to be one of the most popular tech outlets for brands as 48% said news, blogs, videos and other creative resources were at the core of their martech solutions. Email marketing was also popular, while CRM and analytics are quickly gaining ground.

Making better use of data to inform content decisions has been a key trend this year, so it is no surprise that marketers are turning to AI, automation and machine learning to improve strategies. There is less experimentation in email marketing, where best-of-breed solutions appear to be slightly less important.

The move to AI implementation has started, but it is not widespread just yet. Just 11% believe they are fully capable of leveraging AI and machine learning, but a similar number are part of the way there, with an additional 17% only just getting these digital-focused initiatives off the ground.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the growing variety of connected devices have been more of a focus for marketers with 26% revealing they have implemented IoT effectively. All the tech links in some way to data, and this will continue to be an important area for brands moving forward.

Top marketers from a selection of the world’s biggest brands, including Coca-Cola and Lazada, recently met up to discuss the critical role that data is now playing in making smart decisions and the need to track and analyse metrics to support brand safety and a wider transparent media landscape.

Digital-savvy marketers are better placed to make use of data to power decisions, but many of those present admitted that there are additional hurdles that are preventing brands from maximising their return on investment. Relevant topics, such as ad fraud and viewability errors, were discussed.

Meanwhile, Fonterra’s director of creative and media, Graham Woodall, said brands that have yet to truly embrace digital transformation schemes may be able to use this hesitancy to their advantage, as they will be able to approach new tech in a better way.

He said: “We’re at quite an early stage when it comes to doing anything interesting with digital. I look at that as a real positive in a funny way. Yes, it is sad that we are years behind a lot of the other contemporary brands, but the good news is that you can actually look at what’s out there and decide what you want to be. I think that’s a real advantage.”