The Evolution of Social Media and What It Means for B2B Marketers

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Social media has changed drastically over the past 5 years and yet so many B2B marketers seem to be stuck in the past when it comes to their social strategy. The evolution of social media is ever-changing, but there are several key trends that are here to stay.

The good news is, these features give social media the potential to be an extremely powerful tool for marketers – but only if you use them correctly. As social platforms continue to evolve, it’s crucial that B2B marketers evolve with them. This means adapting to a mobile-first audience, creating excellent video content, and utilizing social ads and AI tools to their full potential.

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

Social users no longer see updates organically, they’re served specially curated content by an algorithm. As the user engages with the platform, the algorithm learns the user’s interests and the content curation becomes even more precise.

This means that it’s more crucial than ever that you follow inbound content creation best practices. Creating niche content specific to the pain-points and goals of your buyer personas will ensure that the algorithm will serve your content to the right audience, thus promoting quality lead generation.

The same goes for your social advertising efforts; the more specific the content, the more qualified your leads will be. If your ads are targeted towards your B2B buyer personas, the advertising automation will have an easier time serving your ads to the right users, and in return, you will receive highly qualified leads.

Sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are quickly setting the standard for marketing and advertising automation, with no signs of slowing down. It’s up to savvy B2B marketers to use these technologies to their fullest advantage.

Download The Essential Guide to Developing a Content Strategy to learn how to  effectively drive high conversions.

Social Advertising

B2B marketers tend to be wary of social advertising methods, and rightfully so. It’s no secret that social ads don’t convert as well for B2B industries. But that’s all about to change. One social platform has rolled out an innovative new feature to make life easier for social users and B2B marketers alike. Facebook Lead Ads are here and they’re going to be revolutionary for B2B social media conversion.

As normal, users are served your ad where they can sign up for more info or request something from your business. But here’s where it gets exciting: Facebook has created a way to streamline the worst part about lead generation: filling out tedious forms.

By clicking your lead ad, users are taken to a form that has been auto-filled with information from their Facebook profile—like their name, number, or email. From here, the user simply hits “submit” to complete the form and become your newest lead. With Lead Ads, users can convert on your form in less than two clicks. Of course, you can customize your form and add fields as you’d like, but the essential contact information will be covered by Facebook, making the process a whole lot simpler for your new potential customer. Facebook has always been a pioneer when it comes to social media innovation but it’s only a matter of time before other platforms follow suit. 

Mobile Usage

No longer are consumers using their desktop computers to access social media. Now, browsing occurs predominantly from mobile devices, making B2B conversion seemingly impossible. Social media conversion rates for B2B industries are classically low to begin with, adding a mobile-first preference into the mix seems like a recipe for failure. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Apart from revolutionizing lead capture, Facebook Lead Ads will also enhance the mobile experience for social media users. No longer will mobile users have to fumble with cumbersome forms on their touchscreen devices. With auto-fill, submission on mobile social platforms is as simple as tapping “submit.” This increased usability could potentially skyrocket your mobile social conversion rates and allow you to easily reach users with a mobile-first preference.

Video

Social content is no longer limited to text or photo posts, users can easily stream high-quality video on any device, no matter where they are. With this increased accessibility to video content, it’s no surprise that social users overwhelmingly prefer to consume media in the form of video.

This poses a huge problem for marketers: good video is costly and time-consuming to produce. Not to mention, it’s pretty difficult to create quality content if your team isn’t seasoned in filming and editing. Even worse, low-quality video content is a negative reflection of your brand. Unlike with other forms of media, you can’t really get away with making mediocre video content. If you’re producing video, it’s essential to make sure you are following video production best practices. Don’t be afraid to outsource your video efforts if necessary. Paying to produce high-quality video will be well worth the money, especially considering the current social trends.

Social media can be a powerful B2B marketing tool, but only if you know how to effectively capitalize on emergent trends and features. To make the most of your time and resources, pay attention to the way social media continues to evolve and adjust your social strategy accordingly.

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How to Combine SEO and SEM for the Highest Returns

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You have two options for expanding your search program endeavors. One is paid search via Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, etc. The other is optimizing your content for SEO. Rarely do you see companies using both, together, well. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Your company can be different. You can use both paid and organic search to get a larger traffic boost than you’d see using one or the other.

The Benefits of SEM

Search Engine Marketing gives you the advantage of setting up ads and paying for views and visits. Creating well-researched ads with attractive text and the correct bids for target keywords will allow you to get in front of searchers and bring them to your website. As long as you create well-developed landing pages that relate well to your ad (via the Quality Score provided by Google AdWords) you can almost ensure a certain number of clicks on your ad (and consequently, visits to your site). When you begin a new campaign, investing in some ads for your new pages or landing pages related to that campaign can bring some solid conversions to your site.

Download our Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing to learn how to build a  successful, optimized strategy.

The Benefits of SEO

For SEO, we always recommend that you optimize each page you publish. You never know if a year or two from now you could be ranking for that keyword you optimized for way back when, and it could end up being one of your strongest landing pages for bringing in organic traffic. SEO does take time, however, so use it for the long-term gains as supposed to the quick wins you can get from pay-per-click efforts in SEM. As you consistently produce content that is optimized and targeted toward your personas’ search habits, you’ll start to bring in more and more organic traffic from these posts as the content ages.

To summarize: SEM is great for those quick wins and developing early traffic to your new pages, while SEO is a longer-term effort that involves some preliminary research to make sure you target and optimize around the right keywords. Using these programs separately can bring in decent amounts of traffic, but what if you were able to combine the two to bring in even more traffic? Now does that sound like something you might be interested in?

Combine SEO and SEM for Killer Results

Let’s start with examining how you could use SEO and SEM for a new campaign. You’re strategizing your new campaign and already have determined what topics/keywords you want to chase. Now when researching keywords to optimize your content, why don’t you hope over to Google AdWords Keyword Planner and look up the competition and search volume for your chosen keywords. If you really want to invest in new inbound best practices, each of these keywords will work under the Topic Cluster you’ve chosen. Once you’ve determined a few good keywords to chase from a SEM perspective, optimize your content for the chosen long-tail keyword and prep some ads to be released as soon as the content gets published.

So you’ve written your content, optimized it for your researched long-tail keyword, created ads that have good Quality Scores that lead to your new page, and you are ready to publish. Now you have to focus on tracking your ads and the traffic your new content is getting. Depending on how successful your ads are and how quickly your content climbs the SERP pages, you’ll want to start weaning the budget for your ads as your content gets into the top five pages. If you never reach that third page, it might be a good idea to keep a minimal budget associated with this ad, but focus more budget on your new content as you consistently publish more and more.

And there you have it! If you plan your content publishing schedule strategically, you’ll be creating content at the same time as you create with ads to go along with that content, and once you start reaching a good point from a SERP perspective, rinse and repeat.

Of course, you’re not quiiiiiite done. As marketers, we’re never done! You need to make sure you have correct tracking and reporting set up so when you are determining your next content strategy, you can look back and use these insights to inform your strategy going forward. If you can correctly structure this strategy, your content will be killing it from both a paid and an organic standpoint. Let us know your strategies in the comments or reach out on our social channels.

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Owning vs. Renting Content: Creating an Effective Inbound Promotional Strategy

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As marketers, we are constantly churning out content to promote our brands. The question is, what type of content should we create and how should we promote it?  Understanding the difference between “renting” and “owning” content is critical for creating an effective inbound promotional strategy.

“Rented” content is paid placement of your message, better known as advertising. Common examples of paid media are search engine or banner ads, boosted/sponsored social posts, television, radio, and print ads.

With rented media, you create the content, but you have little control over the placement of your message. Take banner ads for example: you create the images, write the copy, and choose the landing page, but you can’t completely control who the ad gets served to. In some cases, you can use audience targeting, but overall, the placement of your ad is up to the platform that is hosting your ad. Moreover, paid content only lasts as long as you are willing to pay for it.

“Owned” content is media you create and distribute on channels you control. Examples of owned media are any pieces of content you have created that are hosted on your blog, website, social platform, email, or any other channel you have control over.

Because these pieces of content exist on channels you own, you have much more control over the placement and audience of this messaging, especially if you are using HubSpot’s Smart Content feature. While creating these pieces of content may cost money, you are not paying an outside party to promote these pieces of content. Additionally, these pieces of content exist on your channels for as long as you would like them to.

Download The Essential Guide to Developing a Content Strategy to learn how to  effectively drive high conversions.

Why Owned Content is Top Priority

If you subscribe to the Inbound Marketing methodology, owned media is your most valuable asset and should always take priority over paid.

Quality owned media can be costly to produce, but once you’ve created it, you can host it for free on your platforms as long as you’d like. Owned media generates leads for as long as you let it whereas paid media only generates leads as long as you’re willing to pay for it. The quality of your owned media acts as an authentic reflection of your brand. If your content is high enough quality to generate leads on its own, it will enhance your brand equity.

It’s understandable why so many companies get caught up in paid. You can spend some money and gain leads almost immediately. It’s easy to become addicted to the instant gratification that comes with renting your content.

While you may be gaining leads fast and furiously from paid content, the quality of these leads likely won’t compare to those generated organically. Paid media may produce nearly immediate results, but in the end, inbound content will provide you the highest overall ROI.

Choosing When & Where to Use Paid Content

While owned content aligns strongly with the Inbound methodology, this isn’t to say there isn’t a time and place for paid content. If done correctly, paid content can enhance your owned content and drive lead generation. It is essential to remember that paid content should be supplementary to your best owned content, not to be used as a primary marketing tactic.

The key to effectively using rented content to amplify your owned content is to strike when the time is right. Using real-time marketing to create and promote content based on current events or trends is essential for establishing authority and thought-leadership. By promoting these “spur-of-the-moment” pieces of content through paid methods, you can further drive engagement and conversion while reinforcing your status as a key player in your industry.

Additionally, paid promotion can be useful for boosting your most successful pieces of organic content. Watch for closely for patterns and trends within your marketing and sales metrics to determine which pieces are best suited for paid promotion. Content with high conversion or click-through rates are most likely to produce the highest ROI.

While owned content should remain your most valuable asset, there are instances where paid content can be effective for generating leads and driving awareness. When it comes to choosing between rented or owned content, moderation and data-driven decision making are essential for creating an effective inbound promotional strategy. Use experimentation to figure out what ratio of owned to paid works best for your brand.

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