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Date posted: February 1, 2017

While you’re out there looking for new customers, here’s a reminder that keeping your current ones is pretty important. Here’s what an article in the Harvard Business Review had to say:

Depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. It makes sense: you don’t have to spend time and resources going out and finding a new client — you just have to keep the one you have happy. If you’re not convinced that retaining customers is so valuable, consider research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) that shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

Those are some pretty arresting figures, which were used as a jump-off point for a recent column by Pam Neely in the Act-On blog that put forth a baker’s dozen of best practices to keep customers loyal. Of those, we selected the ten we thought were most cogent to those who subscribe to this blog:

  • Coordinate across departments
    Existing customers interact with several departments in your company. They need a coordinated, consistently positive experience if you want them to be loyal to you. Because of this, it’s critical your different departments are willing to bridge any gaps between the different services they offer.
  • Measure what matters
    Neely points to three metrics to track for customer loyalty: one, repeat customer rate; two, customer lifetime value; and three, net promoter score (how likely a customer is to recommend you to a friend or colleague).
  • Be loyal to your customers
    According to research from KiteWheel,“73% of consumers feel loyalty programs ‘should be a way for brands to show how loyal they are to them as a customer.’ However marketing executives disagree; 66% believe loyalty programs are still a way for consumers to show how loyal they are to their business.“ Look at loyalty from the customer perspective as well.
  • Be clear about what you expect from a loyalty program

Define which specific actions you want your program to shape. Consider picking just one thing you’d want to change about your customers’ behavior.

  • Let people help themselves
    Different people have different learning styles. Different ways they take in information. Some are video enthusiasts (see our earlier post). Others prefer text. Keep this in mind as you consider budgeting for an online help center. Not everyone will want to use it; but for those that do, they’ll expect it to be good.
  • Let people get help, too
    Not everyone wants to figure things out with an online help center. Some of your customers want to be able to dial a number and talk to someone. Give them this option.
  • Embrace complaints
    Embrace them. Angry customers are a treasure if you understand them correctly, and if you can engage them correctly. View this as an opportunity, not a threat. For more ideas on how to do this, read Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer.
  • Be better than what customers expect
    Good surprises can build up an enormous amount of goodwill. They appeal to our emotions more than our pocketbooks. But keep in mind it can work another way. Like if your company makes a pretty big mistake, and then offers a cheap apology or money back. Customers can take this as an outright insult, and it can do almost more harm to their loyalty than if you did nothing at all.
  • Create content for existing clients
    Think post-sales as well as sales. Upselling, cross-selling, and retention should be factored in to how you calculate the return on your content marketing. You might also want to create content that’s only available to existing clients. Market research could be particularly enticing.
  • Back off on the selling in content
    Be useful, or entertaining, or both. That’s the sort of content people will come back to. They get enough of advertising (overt and covert) everywhere else.

 

 

Date posted: January 30, 2017

As we have produced both e-books and video scripts for our clients, we noted with interest a recent column on the B2B Lead Blog titled “Will Video Kill E-Books?”  We don’t think it will, but the post pointed to a number of things that augur well for video as a rising component of content marketing programs:

  • Video is changing how people learn.
    Research by eMarketer shows that U.S. consumers spent 5.5 hours a day watching digital video in 2015, an increase of 34 minutes over the behavior in 2011. This upward trend is likely to increase, and as Linda West, director of digital marketing at Act-On Software notes in the piece, “Video is a big part of how most people absorb stories.” B2B marketers have figured this out. West notes from her own clients that the number of people who go to live webinars is declining— while there is a rise in numbers of people watching on-demand webinars (i.e., video).
  • Video works.
    An Aberdeen study notes that marketers using video are growing 49% faster than those who don’t use video.
  • Video is increasingly less expensive to produce.
    The cost for tools for creating videos has dropped dramatically in recent years, a development accelerated by the rise of video recording on smartphones. West notes how easy it was for her company to jump into video production: ““We built a recording studio in what was a broom closet. We covered it in sound foam and bought a green screen on Amazon. We shot our first video with an iPhone. We hacked it together. And it worked.” (Act-On now does 90% of their video work in-house.)

While video is understandably taking a bigger part in content marketing programs, the fact is that successful programs will continue to have a diversified portfolio of content techniques to address customers and potential customers throughout the sales lifecycle. Traditional lead-generators like e-Books, case studies and blog posts will still be a part of the mix.

Two key factors that cross all techniques: the quality of writing and understanding of the business/product being marketed. When companies look outside to help their marketing efforts, those two factors should be at the top of their checklist.

 

 

Date posted: January 26, 2017

According to a post on the Marketing Insider Group, about 70% of internet users are now social network users— a figure expected to grow. As the roles of social networks and mobile devices grow side-by-side, they increasingly come into the purview of B2B marketers, particularly as new features and functions roll out at astonishing speed. The fact is that a B2B marketing strategy that doesn’t take social media into consideration is lacking an essential component.

A post on Webbiquity points to three practical tips for using social media in B2B marketing; they’re worth reviewing here:

  1. Employ someone who knows social media, not just your business.
    When making hiring decisions, it often makes the most sense to employ someone who is either already familiar with your business itself or at least knows your industry. While this is helpful for many of the other positions you need to fill, this is not always the best approach to achieving social media success. Because social media is such a unique area, it often makes sense to step outside traditional comfort zones and hire someone who’s a social media expert, even if they come from outside your industry. It will be much easier for someone to quickly learn the ins and outs of your business or market than to understand how to find success using social media.
  2. Use social media as a content springboard.
    Social media is good for far more than just sharing cat videos and witty comments about trendy topics. To set yourself up for B2B social media success, consider that social media is really the perfect platform to help you launch content in a whole new arena, According to Olsy Sorokina, a contributor to hootsuite.com, using social media as a form of content promotion can get your topic in front of people who wouldn’t otherwise find your website. And keep in mind that this doesn’t only pertain to blogs, although creating a blog for your business and using social media to showcase that blog within the right communities is a great strategy. You can also create any number of content assets, like videos or infographics, that may work better for your industry and the professionals within it.
  3. Understand that using social media is for more than just personal connections.
    Some B2B businesses are hesitant to fully utilize social media for marketing because they view social media as mainly used for making personal connections. While this is definitely one of the benefits of social media, Allen Narcisse, a contributor to the Content Marketing Institute, shares that professionals also use social media to get their news, keep pace with the market, and learn about new developments in their specific fields. The right social media channels could be the ideal place for your business to market and advertise, even if you’re not looking to reach millennial consumers.

 

 

Date posted: January 24, 2017

 

Spear Marketing Group recently published an infographic on the top types of demand generation content that caught our eye. A key point: there’s no one type of content indicated for every demand generation situation, so it’s good to have a portfolio to draw from to play specialized roles, depending on the audience and objective. This is underscored by the fact that 60% of B2B marketers cite producing engaging content as their biggest challenge.

Here are the top ten types of content according to the infographic:

  1. Infographics
    These are great for engagement— eye catching, easy-to-share— but typically are ungated, so they’re better employed when views are more important than leads.
  2. Free Trials
    Because they require a higher level of commitment than other offers, response rates to free trials will typically be lower, but the respondents tend to be serious prospects. This makes free trials ideal for late-stage offers or situations where lead quality is critical.
  3. Free Consultations
    Designed to create dialogue between your sales team and prospects, free consultations are also likely only to appeal to serious or committed prospects, so may be best utilized as secondary or optional content offers.
  4. White Papers/eBooks
    Ideal for establishing thought leadership or providing information to a very specific part of the sales cycle, these are versatile demand generation tools. Nearly 60% of B2B marketers say they are their top lead generators.
  5. Webinars
    Ideal as “next step” offers designed to re-engage existing leads and move them forward, webinars tend to produce fewer, but more qualified, leads than similar downloadable content. As they can be re-purposed for viewing on demand, they have a long shelf life. Today more than 60% of B2B marketers are employing webinars are part of their content strategy.
  6. Case Studies
    Ideal as mid-to-late stage content offers, case studies can powerfully illustrate a product or service’s real-life value. They’re the only content type B2B marketers rate highly for both popularity and effectiveness.
  7. Videos
    The fast riser in B2B content, videos are best used to engage early-stage leads or increase “stickiness” on landing pages and websites. Some studies now name video as the content most essential to B2B marketers.
  8. Surveys
    Surveys generate engagement at the same time they produce data that can be leveraged for other content.
  9. Buyer’s Guides
    A powerful late-stage tool, these guides appeal to prospects actively evaluating products in a specific category, as well as existing leads looking to take the next step in the process.
  10. ROI Calculators
    These provide the hard data and business case to move forward with your product— and as such, appeal to qualified late stage prospects.

One type of content not listed in the infographic that we believe is important is Blog Posts. These posts both retain a prospects interest over time, and also provide the B2B marketer a good means to stay “on-topic” with his or her product or market as changing forces (e.g., technology, politics, etc.) impact the business environment. And to the extent that the blog is well written, readership tends to come from prospects at all stages.

What do you think? What are your top choices for demand generation content? We’d love to hear from you.