Posts Tagged ‘Customer-focused blogs’

More than 90% of B2B buyers influenced by content marketing

April 7, 2012

by Brian Oliver

A new study by DemandGen, an emedia publication that focuses on B2B sales strategies and solutions, has found that more than 90% of B2B purchase decisions start with exposure to some form of content marketing material.

The report also found that over 40% of B2B buyers often learn about a supplier’s products or services for the first time by downloading content from their website.

This highlights the growing importance of a content strategy that includes the provision of helpful downloadable material – such as white papers, case studies and eGuides – to demonstrate the value of a company’s products or services.

CRITICAL TOOL

The study’s findings show that optimised content-led marketing is becoming an increasingly critical tool for many B2B companies. It suggests that companies that guide prospects through the ‘conversion funnel’ with engaging and relevant content are more likely to be successful in generating qualified sales leads.

This is in line with a recent study by integrated marketing solutions company HubSpot which found that some 25% of businesses that use content marketing now find it essential.

“Research has shown that engaging content is critical to supporting an inbound marketing strategy and helping companies get found,” says Jeanne Hopkins, director of marketing at HubSpot.

She adds: “Progressive marketers are realising that content also plays a key role in advancing prospects from the middle of the funnel to closed deals by nurturing and educating buyers with information that speaks directly to their needs at different stages.”

GROWTH OF CONTENT MARKETING AGENCIES

The DemandGen Report also recognised that B2B companies often find it difficult to create and sustain effective content without outside help, such as independent content writing services.

“As these trends emerge, B2B marketers continue to struggle to keep pace with content development, content marketing strategies and how to utilise content to drive demand,” says DemandGen Report editor Andrew Gaffney.

Industry expert Jon Wuebben, CEO of ContentLaunch, believes this is one reason why we’re seeing the growth of agencies that specialise in the strategic planning, creation, distribution and curation of customer-focused content. In his latest book, Content Is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web & Mobile, Wuebben insists that the content marketing agency is now replacing the traditional ad agency for many companies.

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications.

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CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

 

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Consumers trust branded website content more than ads, says Nielsen report

March 28, 2012

The growing importance of using quality content to attract potential customers to your company website is highlighted by a new study which found that consumers trust branded website content more than TV ads, paid search advertising, online video ads, or ads on social networks.

According to Nielsen’s new Digital Consumer Report, 52% of the people surveyed said they trust companies’ official websites when they find them through search engine results or other methods. But only 36% of respondents said they were willing to put their faith in PPC ads served up in this way.

The report underlines the fact that consumers are more likely to be drawn to a website containing well-written articles designed to inform or ‘educate’ rather than content that is simply trying to sell them something.

Consumers also have much greater confidence in content on branded websites than television advertising, the report found. Only 46% of those surveyed felt TV ads could be trusted.

According to the report, only 32% said they trust social media ad campaigns and online video advertising. Less than three in 10 felt they could rely on online banner ads, display ads on mobile devices, and SMS ads on mobile phones.

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Image courtesy of Gadgety

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CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

 

Frequent publishing helps to improve ROI in content marketing

March 17, 2012

by Brian Oliver

Publishing quality content on a regular basis is a key factor in increasing companies’ return on investment (ROI) in content marketing campaigns – that’s according to a new report from internet marketing company HubSpot.

The percentage of companies that gain new business from content marketing decreases as publishing becomes less frequent, says Hubspot.

The company’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing report discovered that 92% of businesses that publish multiple articles every day tend to acquire more customers directly through their blogs and have a higher rate of sales conversions.

However, the study found that just 10% of companies actually publish new material every day. The majority of users of content marketing only post new articles on a weekly basis.

BENEFITS OF FREQUENT UPDATES

The report found that a content strategy that includes frequent updates has several overall benefits. New content brings search crawlers back to index more pages which, in turn, helps with search standing. And a regular helping of recent content attracts a more positive response from Google’s new ‘fresh factor’ algorithm.

Potential customers are also more likely to see your website as a more trustworthy authority when you consistently publish valuable content.

COMPANY BLOGS BECOMING MORE IMPORTANT

According to Hubspot, another key takeaway from the new study is that businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the value of a well-written blog that delivers quality content. Some 81% of companies described their blog as “useful”, “important” or “critical” – with 25% rating their company blog as “critical” to their business.

In addition, 62% of the companies surveyed said social media had become more important to them as a source of leads in the past six months.

Significantly, the study also found that content marketing campaigns can attract new sales leads at a much lower cost per lead than outbound marketing activities … typically about 61% lower, according to Hubspot.

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications.

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CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

Bing, Yahoo and Ask growing, but Google still dominates UK search market

March 11, 2012

by Brian Oliver

UK content marketing campaigns should continue to focus on achieving high rankings on Google’s search engine results pages, according to the latest UK figures released by digital intelligence service Experian Hitwise.

While search engines such as Bing, Yahoo and Ask managed to marginally boost their share of UK search volume in the four-week period ending 4 February 2012, Google remained the clear market leader.

The Experian Hitwise figures show that Google.com and Google.co.uk achieved a combined total of 90.84% of the 2.3 billion visits to search engines made by UK internet users during this period. However, Google’s share slipped slightly – down 1.11% from a total of 91.75% in December 2011.

Meanwhile, Bing received 3.78% of UK search volume (up 0.14%), Yahoo 2.31% (up 0.09%), and Ask 1.83% (up 0.09%).

UK visits to search engines were 4.5% higher in January 2012, according to Experian Hitwise, with nearly 100 million more visits than in January 2011.

Some 89% of buyers now turn to Google, Bing or other search engines to find information on products, services or businesses before making a purchasing decision – that’s according to a February study by strategic communications firm Fleishman-Hillard and market research company Harris Interactive.

The study underlined the importance of creating high search engine results by implementing an integrated content marketing strategy – publishing high-quality original content that provides sales prospects with useful and valuable information when they conduct searches.

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications.

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CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

How content marketers’ interest in Pinterest is growing almost as fast as the site itself

March 6, 2012

Following in the footsteps of Facebook, Twitter and Google+, another social media site, Pinterest, is fast emerging as a valuable distribution platform for content marketing – especially if you’re targeting a female audience. More than 87 percent of Pinterest users are women.

Pinterest is a visually-driven social network where users create virtual bulletin boards and fill them with their favourite images from around the web. People share images by ‘pinning’ them on pinboards in a range of categories such as fashion, cooking, and crafts. Other Pinterest users pass them on by ‘repinning’ them to their own pinboards.

Launched in 2010, Pinterest has grown from 1.6 million unique visitors in September 2011 to an amazing 11.7 million users last month. It is now driving more traffic to company websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined, according to a recent report from content-sharing site Shareaholic.

As the fastest-growing social site, Pinterest is becoming an increasingly important content marketing tool. Many of the images being ‘pinned’ and ‘repinned’ are actually marketing materials for brands.

The ‘pinned’ images allow companies to promote their products and brands in a highly sharable forum. Most importantly, the marketing images retain their source links and can therefore help to drive traffic to brand websites and encourage brand adoption among the fast-growing Pinterest community.

For a closer look at how Pinterest is becoming such a major marketing tool, take a look at this excellent infographic created by MDG Advertising

Marketer's Guide To Pinterest: Pin It To Win It [infographic by MDG Advertising]

Infographic by MDG Advertising

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CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

Majority of UK companies intend to increase marketing budgets this year, survey reveals

March 3, 2012

Some firms now investing 25 percent of marketing spend in content marketing.

by Brian Oliver

The majority of UK companies are planning to increase their marketing budgets this year, according to MindMetre Research’s latest forward-looking survey of British business.

After canvassing more than 2,000 large and small British companies, the annual MindMetre Marketing Barometer, published at the end of February, found that some 57 percent of firms plan to boost their marketing budget in 2012. Only 18 percent intend to cut their marketing spend.

A similar survey 12 months ago showed no net increase in marketing spend – suggesting that there has been a marked surge in optimism among British businesses after a timid 2011.

“These forward-looking survey results augur well for 2012,” said MindMetre’s managing director Paul Lindsell. “If marketing budget trends are taken as a forward indicator of overall business sentiment, it may herald the beginnings of a true upturn for Britain Ltd. Unlike other studies, which only track the activities of Britain’s very largest businesses, this study embraces representation from the full range of company sizes.”

INCREASING INVESTMENT IN CONTENT MARKETING

At the same time, other surveys have found that companies are planning to boost their investment in content marketing this year after recognising that high-quality original content can play a key role in moving customers through the buying process.

Some firms are now spending a quarter of their marketing budget on content marketing, according to a study by the Content Marketing Institute.

The importance of implementing an integrated content marketing strategy was underlined by a February report from strategic communications firm Fleishman-Hillard and market research company Harris Interactive. The report found that 89 percent of buyers now turn to Google, Bing or other search engines to find information on products, services or businesses before making a purchasing decision.

Fleishman-Hillard’s findings support the idea that creating original online content aimed at providing relevant and valuable information to consumers or B2B buyers – without using pushy sales language – will help businesses appeal to new prospects.

ADOPTING NEW TECHNIQUES

Lisa Turner, marketing director at the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing, said she was encouraged to find “solid research” backing up anecdotal evidence and the Institute’s own findings.

“These are exciting times for marketers,” she said. “Difficult economic conditions taught us to be agile, flexible, adopt new techniques and to make every marketing penny count. Now that confidence appears to have returned, it’s that ability to embrace change and to prove marketing’s worth that will bring the greatest rewards going forward.”

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications

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CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

Foster’s sees the funny side of content marketing with Fast Show videos

February 25, 2012

Foster’s showed how comedy can be a powerful platform for content marketing when the Australian lager brand teamed up with The Fast Show creators Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse to launch six new online-only episodes of the classic TV sketch show last November.

It was the first time the original cast had come together again for more than 10 years.

The specially-written sketches – exclusive to the Foster’s website – featured some of The Fast Show’s best loved characters from the 1990s, including Swiss Toni, Ted and Ralph, the ‘Suit You’ tailors, Brilliant Kid, and Colin Hunt.

Now, a further six weekly episodes are being shown exclusively on the Foster’s Funny website.

Foster’s Funny was launched as an innovative new platform for the brand’s comedy-centric approach to content marketing in the UK.

Foster’s is encouraging viewers to share the Fast Show clips by rewarding them with extra unseen material if they share the branded content within an hour of each episode going live.

Take a look at this week’s episode …

 

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CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

Digital content marketing up by 22%, says Mintel report

February 23, 2012

Julia Hutchison, COO, APA

by Brian Oliver

The use of digital content marketing formats – such as branded websites, digital magazines, e-mail, mobile applications and video – has increased by 22 per cent since 2007, according to the latest market intelligence from Mintel.

Commissioned by the Association of Publishing Agencies (APA), the December 2011 report confirms that digital reach is now extensive in the UK – with a user total of 41.2 million, averaging 1.1 million visits per digital title per month.

Digital now accounts for 37 per cent of all content marketing activity, says the report, and is likely to overtake print formats (such as customer magazines and newsletters) by 2013. This growth is expected to be driven by the expansion of smartphone formats and apps.

Print currently accounts for 52 per cent of all content developed – a figure that has fallen significantly since the last APA/Mintel study in 2007. At that time, print accounted for 71 per cent of total content marketing activity (compared with 90 per cent in 2005).

MORE B2B USERS

The report also notes that B2B use of digital content has risen by 13 per cent (from four per cent to 17 per cent) over the past four years.

The most common e-zine frequency is three to five times per year, says the report, while a third of website-based content is now updated daily – indicating marketers’ commitment to keeping content fresh and up-to-date. This also reflects findings from APA-commissioned YouGov research in 2010 which showed that consumers wanted new content daily from their favourite brands.

The report says the rapid growth of content marketing is attributed to a number of factors, including the flexibility and cost effectiveness of the channel and growing demand from consumers for branded content as an added-value exchange for their custom.

GROWING AWARENESS OF BENEFITS

Julia Hutchison (pictured), APA’s COO, says: “Having worked through five years of recession coupled with fast evolving communications, the report shows that the [content marketing] industry is now better equipped to create more effective content solutions for clients.

“Client-side marketers are becoming even more aware of the benefits of a content marketing strategy.”

She adds: “The ever increasing levels of convergence have played strongly to content marketing’s strengths and we are seeing more clients choose to supplement their offerings with multi-channel content.” 

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications

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CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

 

Are you ready for the Content Marketing explosion?

February 11, 2012

by Brian Oliver

As businesses of all sizes continue to find it hard to generate sales leads in the current economic climate, more companies are recognising that integrated content marketing can play a vital role in building relationships with potential customers and moving them through the buying process.

Key content marketing tools include: customer-focused blogs, magazine-style brand microsites, social media content, eNewsletters, digital magazines, videos, infographics, eBooks, and ‘how-to’ eGuides.

A recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute found that some 60 per cent of B2B companies intend to increase their investment in content-led marketing in 2012.

Of course, content marketing has been around for a while. It’s a ‘pull’ mechanism designed to hook potential customers and reel them in. It’s all about engaging with them, and getting them to trust you, by creating and sharing content that is helpful and informative. In other words, promoting your company or brand without actually ‘selling’.

MORE TOOLS FOR SHARING CONTENT

What has dramatically changed the content marketing landscape, though, is the fact that there are now more tools for sharing content than ever before.

This means what used to be regarded as a ‘soft’ tool that took ages to make anything happen has now emerged as a powerful weapon capable of delivering impressive results pretty quickly.

As a result, even global companies like Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble are now putting a much greater emphasis on developing an integrated content strategy – creating and distributing original content that is relevant, valuable, informative and entertaining … and shareable.

The great appeal of content marketing is that it can be employed just as effectively by small start-ups and SMEs. You don’t need loads of money to spend on ‘old-school’ techniques such as advertising and direct mail in order to attract customers.

INFOGRAPHIC

To illustrate the growing importance of content marketing, BlueGlass Interactive – a leading Internet marketing specialist based in Tampa, Florida – has created an excellent infographic called The Content Marketing Explosion.

TAKE A LOOK …

Created by BlueGlass Interactive

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications

________________________________________________________

CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

Over-50s baby boomers increasingly important target for content marketing

February 6, 2012

Content-hungry baby boomers are becoming an increasingly important target audience for content marketers in many different product sectors.

Key content marketing tools for engaging with this audience include: customer-focused blogs, magazine-style brand microsites, social media content, eNewsletters, digital magazines, videos, and ‘how-to’ eGuides.

The over-50s are not only spending more and more time browsing the Internet (at least 85 minutes a day, according to Neilsen), they are also accounting for a growing share of the total UK online audience.

Figures produced by the UK Online Measurement Company (UKOM) show that so-called ‘silver surfers’ now make up just over 31 per cent of the 39 million people who have access to the Internet in the UK. Victor Meldrew they are not…

OVER-50s WEBSITES

Popular websites include Saga, RealAge, video site Flixxy, and the new online music site SH-BOOM! which is aimed at older music fans who grew up during the “rock ‘n’ roll years” of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

“The internet is getting older in more ways than one,” said UKOM’s Alex Burmaster. “Not only is the medium itself maturing but the audience is shifting towards older age groups. There is a still a perception that the net is youth-centric but this is clearly not the reality.”

BABY BOOMERS DOMINATE CONSUMER SPENDING

There are now more than 21 million people aged over 50 in the UK, and the over-65s already outnumber those aged 16 and under. These ‘grey’ consumers currently control around 40 per cent of consumer spending and 80 per cent of the country’s wealth.

The number of over-50s is set to grow by 20 per cent over the next six years, and half of the UK’s adults will be aged 50 or over by the year 2020.

Many computer companies have recognised the unique needs of these older consumers and are creating new products that cater for their requirements. SimplicITy Computers, for example, has developed stripped-down PCs that are easier for older people to use.

Initiatives such as these are giving a growing number of older consumers the confidence to go online and search for content that will inform or entertain them.

FASTEST-GROWING GROUP

People over 50 are the Internet’s fastest-growing group, according to Neilsen. They spend more time online than anyone else, and research by SilverPoll has found that more of them own digital readers than 16-24 year olds.

The over-50s already account for more than a quarter of Facebook’s audience, and some 40 per cent of UK internet users in this age group are involved in a social network of some kind.

These older age groups are notoriously difficult to reach through traditional media. When they were teenagers, they were the people who created the ‘consumer society’ in the first place – so they’re marketing-savvy and less likely to be influenced by old-style ‘interruption marketing’ techniques.

For businesses targeting mature audiences, online content marketing can therefore provide an important channel for engaging with these customers.

CONTENT MUST BE TAILORED

But the over-50s are not a single homogenous group. They’re made up of people with many different kinds of life experiences and each age-group has very different values, beliefs and attitudes.

This means content has to be carefully tailored to reflect these differences.

Many older people say they use the Internet to “seek experiences and have fun”. So it is essential to understand the kinds of information they are likely to want at each step of the purchase process – and then engage with them by telling compelling, relevant, informative and entertaining stories that baby boomers want to hear.

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CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing