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Keep up to date with the latest content marketing tips and news.

30/Sep/2019
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Keeping up with the content demands of B2B consumers and partners is a major concern for decision-makers, according to a new study released last week by Episerver, which found that 84% believe that meeting digital expectations is now the single biggest “external” issue.

The ‘B2B Digital Experiences Report 2019: How Companies Are Meeting Rising Expectations’ explores the tactics and strategies being deployed by B2B companies to deliver consistent, high-quality campaigns and highlights a number of problems and challenges to overcome.

The need to provide excellent digital experiences was highlighted in a recent, separate report by Episerver, which acts a prelude to the latest exploratory research showing that 91% of B2B consumers believe that they have a better experience and think more fondly of a brand when the latter is able to publish personalised content that speaks to them.

Personalised, tailored content has been a key trend in marketing for a couple of years now, but it still remains a top priority for business-to-business organisations and will continue to shape the direction of campaigns during the next 12 months.

The study found that personalised content is the single website feature that B2Bs plan on adopting the most during the next year, with 36% saying that they plan to focus on personalisation, putting it ahead of mobile experience improvements (33%).

The emergence of cutting-edge technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) is making it easier for B2B brands to improve personalisation, and 82% revealed that they will use AI during the next three years to increase the quality of their digital experiences.

“Consumers expect more from our organizations every day,” Episerver’s senior director of content management strategy Deane Barker noted in a statement.

He added: “Unfortunately, the accounting department expects…well, less. Digital marketers are in a tug-of-war between rising expectations and dwindling budgets. With this report, we’ve looked at the factors pushing and pulling these teams toward their decision points. If you work in digital marketing, I promise you’ll see yourself somewhere in these results.”

Personalised content also fits neatly into the trend of one-click purchases on e-commerce sites as it helps to streamline a buyer’s journey by providing the information they need to take action and buy products and services without having to navigate elsewhere.

The previous ‘B2B Digital Experiences Report’ by Episerver found that the majority of B2B enterprises are at least using basic web personalisation but that there is significant room for improvement in terms of providing content that consumers crave to drive engagement and sales.

One in five B2Bs say that they see the growing number of digital channels they use as an opportunity for even better personalised customer experiences, and those able to act on this will see happier consumers who believe that companies actually care about their journeys with a brand.

Another report released last week by Uberflip and Heinz Marketing defined the new “marketing standard”, which is based around data and content.

It said: “The new standard is centered around a buyer experience that’s built around ease of access and discovery, frictionless consumption, personalized and relevant suggestions, and curated engagement paths – a buyer experience designed to delight, engage, enable, and empower better decisions.”


23/Sep/2019
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Making B2B buyers feel confident about their decision-making has been overlooked and is in fact a determining factor in the strength of relationships with customers, according to a new study released by Gartner.

The Elevating Marketing’s Role in B2B Account Growth report, which canvassed the opinions of 1,000 B2B customers, found that growth strategies centred on bringing about change in the behaviours and habits of target audiences in isolation are largely futile as they rarely have a positive impact.

Instead, B2B brands should aim to deliver content that makes customers more confident in their ability to assess a situation and make correct purchasing decisions, as Gartner found that this can lead to more purchases and greater brand loyalty over time.

“85% of commercial leaders report they are leaving significant amounts of growth on the table,” Gartner’s marketing practice managing vice president Martha Mathers said in a statement.

“There’s a clear disconnect here and an urgency to understand what marketing can do to truly help drive growth in existing accounts, particularly with signs of economic uncertainty in view.”

Gartner found that customers are 2.6 times more likely to purchase more products or services from a company if the latter can provide content and experiences that increase their ability and confidence to make crucial decisions.

This can be achieved via the distribution of ‘buyer enablement’ content, defined as the process of accelerating B2B sales by providing what buyers need to make quick and informed decisions.

Brands that are able to deliver articles, blogs, web copy, whitepapers and videos at the right time through the right channels can ease buyers through the critical phases of the purchase process and thus increase confidence by around 300%, which then leads to loyalty and greater sales.

“It’s about building customer confidence in themselves,” Mathers added.

“Marketing organizations that can build customer confidence in their ability to make decision change that’s good for their business will not only differentiate themselves from the competition, but will be better positioned to drive high-quality growth.”

Bringing about change through content and experiences is the best option for B2B brands as it gives customers a compelling reason to take action.

When supplemented with content outlining clear steps to an end goal, brands can increase decision confidence significantly.

Gartner recommends using content for an onboarding experience of sorts as guiding customers through the basics of new products and services can lead to higher adoption levels, which is especially important in sectors such as tech, business and finance.

Again, this integration support drives a 2.9 times increase in decision confidence.

Mathers said that marketing leaders now play a major role in expanding business (the study found that they now pursue the majority of all leads) through existing accounts and that marketing has the tools to drive substantial growth with the right strategies and campaigns.

Content marketing, in particular, can help customers to realise that they can force change and cope with all of the challenges that may arise from taking a bold course of action.   


16/Sep/2019
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The liberal use of marketing buzzwords is causing confusion for IT professionals and making it more difficult for both departments to communicate, collaborate and align objectives according to a new report released last week by CMS provider Magnolia.

The report, Straight Talking Content Management, incorporated a survey that polled 400 professionals evenly split between IT and marketing about the digital experience (DX), which is defined as the interactions between consumers and organisations facilitated by digital tech and the attitudes of the key players involved.

Buzzwords, such as SEO, micro-moments and algorithms, are now commonly used in marketing, but IT teams are struggling to keep up.

More than three-quarters say that they don’t understand the range of buzzwords marketers use, which leads to growing tensions between the two groups.

About 29% of the IT professionals surveyed believe that there are too many buzzwords being used, especially in relation to digital marketing and experiences.

Among the phrases that are causing problems include omnichannel, which 21% admit to not knowing, and call to action, a term that continues to stump 24% of respondents.

The disconnect may not appear to be a major problem in isolation, but the study found that 80% of marketers are collaborating with IT every week, while almost half are doing so every day.

With confusion often reigning in important interactions, both teams are finding it more challenging than necessary to achieve goals and objectives.

Magnolia CMO, Rasmus Skjoldan, said: “In order for brands to create great content, both IT teams and marketers must work together to understand each other’s unique pressures and objectives.

“Talking in technical jargon and marketing buzzwords isn’t helping, if anything it’s just causing more frustration for both groups.

“Too many CMS brands add to this problem, expanding rather than bridging the divide.

“As an industry we need to focus on developing straight-talking solutions that work for everyone across the business – from marketers, to developers, to customers and IT teams.”

However, the frustration is not just a one-way street, as the study, which was completed in June, also found that 84% of marketers do not fully grasp the complexities of IT and the work undertaken.

Meanwhile, 70% of IT professionals believe that they “should own the digital experience”, which suggests they do not look favourably on the interference of other departments.

A separate study released this week by Yext and Forbes found that brands are missing out on an opportunity to ‘differentiate themselves’ by providing verifiable and relevant information about products and services both on their websites and across the web, after a study that found consumers often find inaccurate information in searches.

More than half said that they prefer to navigate directly to a brand’s website rather than rely on a blurb in Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo, as they believe that they will get a better chance of finding complete and accurate information.

Yext CEO, Marc Ferrentino, added: “Our research shows that regardless of where they search for information, people expect the answers they find to be consistent and accurate – and they hold brands responsible to ensure this is the case.”


09/Sep/2019
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Keeping track of data has been cited as a common challenge for marketers in 2019, and a new study by Blis has revealed a new area of this vast undertaking that is causing problems – location tracking.

A quarter said that they are unable to make use of location-based data to inform content campaigns and other activities.

Titled Real-world intelligence: Mapping human behaviour to effective mobile marketing, the whitepaper canvassed the opinions of C-suite executives to find out whether cutting-edge tech and a growing mass of big data is being deployed effectively, primarily in advertising but also across general marketing.

Participating in the study were 150 chief marketing officers and agency directors in the Asia-Pacific area, and the findings suggest that location-tracking and data is a major pain point for digital brands.

Many admit to not having full knowledge of its capabilities, and 25% said that they could not apply it effectively to their brand.

Blis managing director, Nick Ballard, said that this issue needs to be addressed urgently, as a growing knowledge gap could be disastrous for enterprises during the next decade when location tracking takes on a more central role in determining the return on investment and supporting the creation of targeted personas in content marketing.

He added: “Despite location data technology advancing in leaps and bounds over the last few years, what is alarming is the significant knowledge gaps that remain within the industry, particularly when it comes to measuring location data, which, if not addressed, will start having a major toll on digital marketing revenues moving forward.”

Ballard believes that marketing leaders basically need to go back and learn the basics, which would involve establishing key metrics linked to location-based marketing.

Brands also need to take location into account when setting new KPIs and use the right tools to quantify the return on investment.

Being able to do this regularly could transform the effectiveness of campaigns and enable companies to deliver a step-change in the quality of their advertising and marketing methods.

The study also uncovered a few specific problem areas and constraints to better outcomes.

Almost half said that there is a lack of transparency in regards to finding the right data sources and methodologies, while 45% said that a dearth of established standards, metrics and guidelines is holding them back.

Confusion around GDPR also still reigns, which suggests that marketers have yet to take heed of consumers’ concerns about security and data privacy.

A third of respondents also said they are concerned about the quality of data.

Blis concluded by covering the ways real-world location data can improve various marketing strategies.

Tracking the return on spending for advertising is one of the basic uses, but it can also be used to influence shoppers directly via geofencing and to chart links between traffic and sales.

“Location-based data is the missing part of the puzzle for many marketers who want to focus on successfully understanding their consumers’ real-word habits,” Blis Asia Pacific head of marketing, Premanjali Gupta, concluded.


02/Sep/2019
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Brands using inbound marketing have reported a 72% increase in leads and a 55% hike in conversion rates, according to a new study by portfolio website Visual Objects that extolls the virtues of content marketing, SEO and other organic methods designed to deliver value to audiences.

Titled How Businesses Use Inbound Marketing, the study found that the technique of drawing customers to products via content is having a profound impact on tangible metrics, with just 15% of those surveyed saying that they have not seen any change in the number of leads after running a campaign.

Inbound marketing has become more popular in recent years as consumers are more averse to hard sells and targeted advertising, which are unlikely to take their own interests and needs into account.

Inbound output is the opposite, using high-quality content to inform, educate and entertain audiences via digital platforms, including social media.

More than three-quarters of enterprises based in North America are now using inbound marketing to promote their brand while also serving their customers in some way, and the vast majority have reported a surge in leads and conversions.

Content marketing is not only a viable alternative to outbound marketing but is arguably also the best method overall.

For those aiming to improve inbound strategies, the report offers a few tips and tactics backed up by the opinions of the 501 businesses surveyed.

Inbound marketing focuses on moving consumers through the sales funnel, and brands wanting to succeed must use content properly at the ‘awareness’, ‘interest’, ‘decision’ and ‘action’ phases.

Attracting leads takes place at the very top of the funnel, and more than half of the enterprises say that blog content is an excellent medium for driving awareness.

To achieve this goal, businesses are also creating visual content and investing in search engine optimisation.

Brands then turn to content promotion, including call-to-action hyperlinks within written blogs and articles and landing pages to push them along the sales funnel.

When used correctly, content can move consumers easily through the buying cycle, which provides incredible value in terms of sales and revenue.

The final cog in the inbound marketing machine is social media.

Nine in ten businesses say that they use social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, to support distribution and other areas of their strategies.

This is no surprise, as social media provides brands with the opportunity to reach almost 3.5 billion people globally.

However, those surveyed admitted that they might need outside help from an agency to make the most of social media and the practice of getting content in front of audiences at the right time.

The study also found that attracting leads and converting them will remain the top priority overall, ahead of increasing website traffic and building brand authority, although the content is also likely to help in this area.

Silverback Strategies vice president of creative, Ben Kirst, said in a statement: “To really run effective campaigns takes expertise.

“There’s a degree of impatience and unwillingness to really invest the time and resources needed to gain that level of expertise.

“We want results and we want them now.”


26/Aug/2019
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High-level executives are disconnected from the world of search engine optimisation (SEO) and, therefore, are not providing the support digital marketing professionals need to succeed in the search environment, according to a new industry survey by software provider SEOmonitor.

The study of professionals across SEO and digital marketing, which formed part of a wider Forecasting Nightmares whitepaper, looks at the challenges of planning and forecasting in SEO and what needs to be done to help SEOs to progress and complete their tasks effectively in an ever-evolving and demand business landscape.

The C-Suite is a common barrier to success, with one in five saying they don’t get enough support from higher-ups, which many believe is because senior targets and objectives do not align with SEO efforts.

The disconnect and lack of knowledge and comprehension across the business, and especially at the management level, has other downsides. A quarter said they are given unrealistic time frames to deliver results, and one in eight are pressured into making forecasts even though they may be false or unattainable.

Therefore, it is no surprise that 33% of professionals want greater support for their SEO forecasting efforts. Greater time and resource investment into SEO would go some way to solving pressing problems, but the report noted that a culture change could have the biggest impact.

The current state of affairs is not good for business or SEOs, as 26% of the respondents said they struggle to forecast accurately on a consistent basis, while 22% are unable to demonstrate the full value of search engine optimisation.

“By translating SEO goals such as keyword rankings or visibility into simple, clearly defined business metrics, forecasting makes an invaluable business case for SEO activity,” SEOmonitor CEO Cosmin Negrescu said. “However, for the field of forecasting and, indeed, SEO as a whole to reach its true potential, it’s clear that the industry needs more support than it currently receives.”

The lack of support means that many professionals are forced to use tools that are not suitable for daily processes. This is highlighted by the fact that 15% of respondents admit to using general applications, such as Microsoft Excel, to calculate the value of SEO. While the issues are wide-ranging, 37% said that more investment in specialist tools would go a long way to help them with accurate forecasting.

Additional training is another solution put forward by professionals, as 25% said that they have not been told how to forecast accurately, while one-sixth of all respondents revealed that they had not taken a single course or received any training about forecasting during their careers.

Cosmin concluded: “Simply enough, for search professionals to consistently forecast to the accuracy expected of them, greater buy-in and investment in the field is needed. However, the industry consensus is that this support is currently unlikely to come without business decision-makers first seeing the accurate forecasts it would facilitate. It’s high time this frustrating paradox, which continues to hinder the efforts of well-meaning search professionals the world over, changed.”


19/Aug/2019
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Paid search will “probably decline” during the final months of 2019, according to a new study by audience intelligence platform SparkToro that found the number of zero-click searches on Google soared to an all-time high in June.

The latest report found just 4.42% of searches ending with a paid search click. That number was dwarfed by the 45.25% of searches that result in an organic click and the 50.33% of searches leading to no discernible action by the end-user, more commonly known as zero-click searches.

SparkToro founder Rand Fishkin says zero-click searches have been tracking steadily higher for a while now and that the upward trend is unlikely to plateau or reverse soon. He believes that brands must factor this new behaviour into their SEO and content campaigns to achieve sustainable success moving forward.

Fishkin expects paid search click-through rates, which now take up just a small portion of overall activity, to drop off even further before 2020 and zero-click searches to grow even further. Zero-click searches are more prevalent on smartphones and other mobile devices and have increased steadily from 43.9% during the last three years.

“I think paid search CTR will probably decline over the next few months,” Fishkin said. “That’s because historically, each time Google changes how paid ads appear in the search results (like the late May shift to the black ‘Ad’ labels in mobile SERPs), ad CTR rises, then slowly declines as more searchers get familiar with the ad format and develop ad blindness.”

Google’s parent company Alphabet continues to be the dominant force in the search environment, as its properties now account for 94% of all searches made in the US. Fishkin believes this is now essentially a “monopoly”, and while zero-click searches are on the rise, Google has been able to deliver a regular stream of searchers to Alphabet-owned properties.

The predicted slump for paid ads means that organic content and SEO will take on even greater importance according to Fishkin, though he admits Google will be looking to new methods to prompt more searches to interact with ads in the coming months. He also believes that zero-click searches are an opportunity for marketers to advertisers to do something new to drive awareness and exposure.

Fishkin concludes: “Rich information appearing in Google’s results may be, like billboard ads or press mentions, harder to track than website traffic, but it’s still exposing your brand name to an audience, building familiarity, and sharing information. In my opinion, the brands that find ways to benefit from that type of SERP exposure, even without a click, will be the ones who win at this new form of on-SERP SEO.”

The rise of zero-click searches may be worrying for brands initially, as they may find it more challenging to push consumers along a traditional sales cycle of awareness and discovery to intent and purchase. The loss of traffic also means fewer marketing opportunities and a greater challenge to retain and develop audiences. However, the strength of organic clicks suggests the power of search is not waning.


12/Aug/2019
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Bringing marketing functions in-house usually leads to disappointment for corporations of all sizes, according to a new study by DMA and Mailjet that found creativity and productivity can crater without the expert guidance of agencies and other third parties.

Understanding In-Housing: Bringing Marketing Functions Home serves as a warning to brands that do not have the infrastructure, tools or personnel to support marketing internally. While B2C and B2B brands can struggle to manage tasks in-house, they also miss out on the added value derived from relationships when outsourcing.

For those trying to implement strategies in-house, four in ten respondents said they have run into trouble due to a limited budget, while more than a third are struggling to install and adapt to new technology. A lack of collaboration and communication is another bone of contention for marketers.

However, there is no widespread desire to go it alone fully, as nine in ten say they are committed to maintaining or increasing their current levels of investment in agencies. Content marketing agencies are well-placed to benefit from the need for outside assistance, as 39% said that “content and copywriting” works best when handled by a partner, while 46% said the same for “creative and design.”

However, certain functions do lend themselves more readily to internal management. Email marketing is the most popular in-house function, and the report noted that it is possible to get things up and running with relative ease but that many are still seeking guidance for outside training and monitoring for their programs.

“Looking at some of the biggest challenges companies face, it’s notable how many of these could be resolved by improved communication and collaboration internally and with external partners,” Mailjet Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, Judy Boniface-Chang, said in a statement.

She added: “To address this, companies should focus on choosing tools that enable them to effectively collaborate in the creation and execution of their campaigns, reducing the number of iterations and maintaining a high level of control over their brand.”

DMA Head of Insight, Tim Bond, believes brands do not have to make a binary choice when deciding whether to manage functions internally and externally and that a mixture of the two can work well. Therefore, the onus is on enterprises to identify their own strengths and weaknesses so that they can create the best in-house and outsourcing strategy.

He added: “It’s not either/or. Our research shows one in 12 organisations are using what we have called a ‘blended’ strategy – combining the two.”

Bond also says enterprises should invest in skills, talent and technology so they can increase the capabilities of their marketing and support agencies and partners in their efforts more effectively.

The report found that brands also look to agencies to provide a new perspective on topics and subjects, as 37% of respondents said they fear to create an “echo-chamber” by working alone. A similar number are also concerned about a lack of agency expertise in certain technical areas, such as search engine optimisation.


05/Aug/2019
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Automation in digital marketing campaigns can push audiences more readily through the sales funnel and address problems with the “murky middle” section, according to a new study of the “biggest pain points” for brands published by GetResponse and Demand Metric.

The two companies conducted the study of more than 280 B2B and B2C professional marketers between June and July of this year to identify the tactics and channels most capable of driving positive action during each stage of the sales cycle. These tactics included content marketing, video marketing, search and social media.

The sales funnel is usually broken down into four distinct sections, with awareness at the top followed by interest, decision and action. The study found that marketing usually works better for enterprises at the top of the funnel since it was rated as the best performing, while the middle section found the most resistance.

“Today’s marketers are smart, digitally savvy and have an unlimited number of ideas and tools to execute campaigns. Yet they often struggle with moving opportunities through the funnel,” Get Response director of marketing, Courtenay Worcester, said in a press release for the report.

She added: “By taking a closer look at the issues causing the most friction in the funnel, and enabling marketers to significantly reduce them, companies can realize stronger ROI and customer retention.”

Problems in the funnel also stem from marketers’ inability to determine the success of their investments. Just 30% of respondents said that they are currently capable of fully understanding the return on investment for their efforts across the marketing funnel, with the middle sections being a notable issue.

However, automation is helping to ease customers through the funnel more effectively. When tactics use some degree of automation, there is a 100% increase in performance, and perhaps more importantly, the notoriously difficult middle phase sees marked gains.

While the use of cutting-edge technology can address some of the challenges that marketers face, more than 80% admit to not to having implemented full automation for even one phase of the marketing cycle, which is undermining efforts to succeed on a regular basis.

Integrating marketing tactics also has a hugely positive impact on the performance of campaigns. When this is done successfully, both the top and middle sections can expect to see performance triple, while the bottom of the funnel sees performance double. Therefore, implementing more closely aligned strategies should be the focus for B2B and B2C professionals this year. 

However, brands also need to improve the quality of their marketing tactics during the flow from the top to the bottom of the funnel, as the study found their effectiveness decreases during the journey. Respondents used email marketing the most across the sales cycle, while content marketing, including case studies, was also popular.

Demand Metric co-founder. John Follett, concluded: “Marketers have long known that the middle section of the funnel presents the most challenges. What they didn’t always know was how to reduce that friction and convert more leads. The GetResponse/Demand Metric study proves the power of automation in digital marketing and its ability to drive at least a 3X improvement in the murky middle of the funnel.”


29/Jul/2019
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The fear of exhausting a consumer base haunts most of today’s competitive businesses, something that not only does happen but often takes place earlier than anyone expected. In the online world, modern businesses can attempt to keep existing customers by offering them loyalty schemes, discounts or special offers. Your own business can also innovate by using content marketing if you have noticed that purchases are often made by the same customers in the same neighbourhood over and over again and you can foresee a stagnation of your own consumer base.

According to a recent Zeentree.com study, 69% of marketers in the Middle East believe content marketing is crucial for their businesses, with 31% of those respondents claiming to give more than 50% of their marketing budget to the endeavour. Content marketing, which is intended to appeal to customers, may, therefore, be the next step your organisation must take. There are several ways you can make efficient use of content marketing to improve your customer outreach and, ultimately, your company’s overall sales and profits.

Your business probably already uses the tactics of praising your own product while trying to persuade your customers to make use of them via customer benefits because you know that other brands are delivering much the same product. This is often viewed by those customers not so much as subtle persuasion but as a form of bribery. In content marketing, you can focus on the common problems that potential customers may face because they do not have your product or if they have a version of it from another company that is not as up-to-date as your own. Whether you decide to make your content in the form of promotional videos, blog posts, podcasts or case studies, you should always remember that the average consumer must be able to relate to it. Regularly updating your marketing media will also make followers more likely to trust your company and product and could even cause beneficial word-of-mouth marketing.

It is also a good idea to make a generous investment in the creation of interactive content for potential consumers, depending on your target audience. In content marketing, it is less important to give general descriptions of the product you are selling and more important to provide practical reasons why consumers should keep up with your business and products. Those reasons may seem rather limited to you, but if you engage the services of a content marketing team, you are likely to be surprised at the number of dimensions they will find for you to explore.

A content marketing team may suggest that you partner with a complementary local business to gain a wider audience or to determine particular markets that likely can afford your offered services. A content marketing team can consist of outsourced institutes, filmmakers and writers that may already work in your business, full-time design employees or freelancers. Content marketing is overall a great way to solve the problem of tired marketing strategies while making full use of the online community’s potential.