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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.”


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.


22/Jul/2019
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Paid search and digital advertising continue to be hit or miss for brands targeting growth and increased brand awareness due to an inability to fully leverage audience data and meet volume targets, a new study by Marin Software has found.

The State of Digital Advertising 2019 is an all-encompassing study of how B2B and B2C marketers are dealing with their quests to address challenges and take advantage of new opportunities now that six months of the year are over. The study canvassed 450 marketers in the US and the UK for their views on a variety of topics.

Paid methods are often used to complement organic content marketing to amplify reach and engagement, but the study found that brands face “constant challenges” due to the growing threat of data privacy and the need to use analytics effectively to target the right consumers at the right time.

Paid search remains the most popular digital ad channel, as it commands more than a third of total budgets on average. However, paid advertising in social media is on the rise, and activities on Instagram, Facebook and other platforms now make up 18% of budgets, putting it in second place overall, just ahead of display ads (16%).

It is perhaps no surprise to see brands increasing their ad spends on Instagram due to the photo and video-sharing service’s growing popularity, especially with younger generations, but the study found that Facebook is not losing ground. More than two-thirds said that their advertising spends on Instagram will come via incremental budgeting as opposed to pivoting away from Facebook entirely.

Amazon is also making waves in the ad industry, and 60% of respondents said they plan to increase their investment in the e-commerce platform during the next 12 months. More than half view Amazon as a primary growth opportunity, and around 25% want to use it to drive more purchases at the bottom of the sales funnel.

However, it’s not all good news for Amazon, as 23% believe its reporting tools are not as sophisticated as those on Google and Facebook, which is a problem in today’s world of tracking metrics to determine ROI. Three in ten also say they have not yet got to grips with the ad environment on Amazon.

Google remains the most trusted published overall with an impressive score of 4.5 out of 5 on the trust index, and all but 2% of respondents rated the search giant as either 4 or 5. Many are also looking forward to using Google’s updated Search Ads format to improve their paid search campaigns.

“This year’s report shows a shift in advertising spend as marketers explore alternative channels and emerging ad formats,” Marin Software’s SVP of Marketing, Wes MacLaggan, said in a statement.

He added: “The digital advertising landscape continues to evolve, with advertisers struggling to close the skills gap as publishers innovate. At Marin, we’re seeing a greater emphasis on video and new ad formats like Responsive Search Ads and Shoppable Images to gain mindshare and drive growth. The eCommerce landscape is a hotbed of innovation, presenting retail brands with many opportunities and some challenges to navigate.”


15/Jul/2019
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An insights-driven approach to marketing can transform the quality of campaigns. However, the majority are still struggling to overcome several problems, including data silos and inflexible budgets, to implement analytics successfully, according to a new report released by 4C and Forrester Consulting.

The Mature Your Video Marketing to Drive Business Value study addresses the growing importance of video as it becomes a primary tool for engaging with specific subsets of audiences across a plethora of connected platforms. More than 500 marketing decision-makers in the US and the UK took part in the study earlier this year.

It found that 75% of the respondents believe that video has evolved from a medium designed mainly to reach people en masse to one that can meet customer demands for personalisation and hyper-targeting. More than three-quarters said that content is a cornerstone of their content targeting efforts, while 70% believe it can drive better performance when used effectively.

The business case for video usage is strong, but marketers are finding it difficult to fulfil the potential the medium offers due to a variety of challenges. Six in ten say they struggle to leverage data due to it being stuck in outdated silos, and two-thirds believe they are unable to scale their creative efforts or budgets to optimise campaigns based on the insights they uncover.

The absence of a documented strategy from the top down is also a problem, as 65% admit to not having access to centralised technology that would enable them to deploy and manage campaigns across several different channels. Therefore, it is no surprise that the majority say better cross-channel attribution and better self-service technology should be the focus for investment this year.

Those that can achieve these objectives are enjoying better performance and ROI, as the study noted that “mature” video marketers see higher conversion rates and brand advocacy compared to less-sophisticated counterparts.

4C believes marketers need to evolve and overhaul their approaches to marketing by taking a step back and analysing their current state before setting out a clear plan based on how their target audiences consume content. 4C also recommended that marketers should benchmark their budgets.

“Success for brands is dependent on the ability to understand customers across every touchpoint and immediately activate insights through holistic marketing and targeted media,” 4C Chief Marketing Officer, Aaron Goldman said in a press release for the study.

He added: “We think this research shows that there are challenges that need to be addressed for marketers to be more insights driven, which can be alleviated through deeper investments in self-service, cross-channel video advertising platforms.”

The annual Salary Guide released by Hays last week also highlights the importance of data and measurements. It revealed that the most sought-after employees are now content specialists and digital marketing managers who can use data and present evidence to support decision making across the business. Nine in ten employers said that they expect to pay marketing staff more in 2019 and 2020 due to their importance.


08/Jul/2019
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Content marketing, SEO and paid search need to work in unison to be effective, according to Saf Chowdhury and Mez Homayunfard from Online Marketing Gurus (OMG). The duo spoke about the ever-growing importance of web copy, articles and videos at the recent Mumbrella360 event.

Homayunfard, who is OMG’s co-founder, believes that organic content now takes on a greater role in the general marketing mix as the costs of paid media have skyrocketed during the last five years. He said that content is the best means for generating organic traffic and that, when supplemented by SEO, it is a hugely powerful tool for brands to leverage.

Speaking at the event on 30 June, Homayunfard used a case study involving a popular fashion retailer to highlight how search performance can collapse entirely during web migrations and without a carefully managed strategy. The drop-off forced the company to turn to OMG to rebuild its online presence.

Homayunfard noted: “This client had seen a very sharp drop in rankings – the business lost 86% of its visibility. Fashion is also a fragmented and splintered space and we were competing against a lot of pure-play online retailers. It was not a fun place to start a project.”

Content marketing was one of three activities, along with SEO and PPC, that enabled the company to recover lost ground, and it did so within just a few months. In the medium term, it drove $2m in incremental growth and campaigns centred on content to give it a platform to thrive in the long term without worries about a repeat performance slump.

A combination of content marketing and SEO are now preferable for Homayunfard and Chowdhury due to the rising costs of paid media, which make it difficult to sustain and use consistently as part of marketing and advertising strategies. The pair revealed that paid media now requires 35% more investment compared to three years ago.

As content marketing has matured, brands have turned to the practice to support cost-effective, agile and scalable campaigns. Homayunfard adds: “When we started the business six or seven years ago there was a heavy focus on paid search because SEO was a bit of a sort of Pandora’s Box. There wasn’t much transparency.”

Chowdhury believes content is now “super important” and advised businesses to double down on shorter, sharper and snappier forms of content rather than overlong pieces, though he admitted there is still a wide range of views in the industry about what is the right length of content for each situation.

“No one really wants to be shopping for dresses and then read an essay on the same page,” he said. “You need to look at content differently. You should think of reviews, and frequently asked questions.”

The two gurus finished their speech by saying that their client has been able to rank at the top of SERPS and enjoy significant revenue growth on a monthly basis and with the knowledge that it is a “repeatable process” that will continue to pay dividends.