Posts Tagged ‘white papers’

B2B marketing should focus more on building relationships through trustworthy content and less on sales messaging

May 14, 2012

B2B organisations should focus more on the value of their offering and less on product specifications when they run content marketing campaigns. That’s according to a new Content Preferences Survey conducted by DemandGen, an e-media publication which specialises in B2B sales strategies and solutions.

As Contented Marketer recently reported, more than 90% of B2B purchase decisions are now triggered by exposure to some form of content marketing. DemandGen’s latest study set out to examine the shifting content preferences of B2B buyers.

The survey found that 75% of respondents wanted B2B solution providers to “curb the sales messaging” in their content.

Other key findings included:

MESSAGING: 55% of respondents said providers should focus less on product details and more on making sure sales prospects understand the value of the product to their businesses, rather than resorting to “obtrusive, ineffective sales speak”.

SHARING: While email is the primary sharing mechanism, the survey found that more than half (53%) of the executives surveyed now share content using LinkedIn.

FORMATS: 88% of respondents pointed to white papers as their top form of content for researching a business topic or solution. Visual formats – such as webinars (72%), videos (44%), and infographics (38%) – were also cited as emerging formats for research.

TECHNOLOGY: Nearly half of the respondents (40%) said they now access content via their mobile phone more often than they used to, while 23% now use a tablet device for research.

“This survey illuminated interesting trends in the world of content marketing,” said Amanda Batista, author of the Content Preferences Survey and managing editor of DemandGen Report. “Solution providers, now more than ever, need to demonstrate a clear understanding of their prospects’ challenges, market trends and objectives.

“They also need to cultivate a greater role in content sharing by providing trustworthy content that establishes relationships with prospects.”

She added: “Research shows that nine in ten buyers now connect with a solution provider via some form of content, regardless of company size or industry, and navigating this trend is an evolving process.” 

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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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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

 

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

 

Rapid growth of content marketing means we’re ALL publishers now

February 19, 2012

Why every company is now a media owner and a self-publisher …

by Brian Oliver

“The medium is the message” wrote Marshal McLuhan, the Canadian communication theorist, in his famous 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.

McLuhan believed that the form of a medium embeds itself in the content it carries, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium actually influences how the message is received.

Historically, the medium (and therefore the message) was always controlled by somebody else: usually the powerful media owners who ran national newspapers, influential magazines, TV channels and radio stations.

As a result, companies had to rely on buying advertising space (‘paid media’) or gaining editorial coverage (‘earned media’) in order to spread the word about their products or services and engage with their target audience.

In the case of ‘earned media’, this meant continually having to compete for a limited amount of editorial space via print or broadcast media – without having any control over how (or if) a brand story was used.

But all that is changing.

CONTROL HAS SHIFTED

The Web (which McLuhan predicted almost 30 years before it was invented) has completely revolutionised the way in which companies can communicate with their clients, customers, investors, and other stakeholders.

The medium may still be the message, but control of the medium has shifted dramatically. Thanks to the Internet, it is now firmly in the hands of companies and brands themselves. And that includes yours.

With the help of content marketing specialists and skilled brand journalists, any size of company can now be a media owner. Any brand can now be a self-publisher, with absolute control over its own medium … and therefore its own messages.

BRANDS ARE THE NEW MEDIA OWNERS

If your company hosts the occasional case study, blog post, press release, or white paper on a domain you control and own, you’re already employing some of the basic publishing, programming, and delivery concepts that media publishers have been using for years.

Content marketing simply takes this form of self-publishing to a more strategic level, with the content itself carefully planned and sustained. 

Brand-owned media can now range from customer-focused blogs, themed magazine-style microsites and social media content … to targeted eNewsletters, interactive digital magazines, videos, podcasts, webinars, white papers, eBooks and eGuides.

As well as hosting videos and podcasts on your own website, you can now even set up your own branded TV channel and radio station using platforms such as YouTube and SoundCloud.

Brand-owned media and self-published content can now be marketed holistically across other networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. 

There are now more tools for sharing content than ever before. And quality content that is engaging, relevant, informative and entertaining will continue to be shared for years to come.

DIRECT LINK BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR CUSTOMER

Building a platform of compelling and original content can have a positive effect on your business. It can help build brand loyalty, establish real thought leadership, boost sales, and gain valuable permission to market to potential new customers (because they have chosen to ‘opt in’ to your content).

Most importantly, though, being a self-publisher provides a unique opportunity to develop a direct link between you and your customer. No more middlemen. No more relying on media companies for coverage.

But to succeed as a self-publisher you can’t just produce content at random.

You have to take time to understand your target readership (i.e. your customers) and identify the themes that matter to them. You need a ‘readership’ acquisition strategy based on defined company goals, and a long-term vision of the kind of stories you want to tell in order to influence your audience.

In other words, when developing a content strategy you have to start thinking like a publisher too … 

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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

Content marketing agencies set to replace traditional ad agencies?

February 2, 2012

by Brian Oliver

The content marketing agency is replacing the traditional ad agency for many companies, insists Jon Wuebben, CEO of ContentLaunch, in his latest book Content Is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web & Mobile (Nicholas Brealey Publishing).

“In the process,” says Wuebben, “these firms are savings thousands of dollars and reaching thousands more as a result.

Content marketing is the lynchpin of all successful online business endeavours.”

Even Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest marketer, seems to have finally woken up to the growing power of content-led marketing.

According to Jim Edwards of BusinessInsider.com, P&G’s CEO Robert McDonald recently told Wall Street analysts that he would have to “moderate” the company’s $10 billion advertising budget because Facebook and Google can be “more efficient” than the traditional media that usually account for the lion’s share of P&G’s ad spend.

In Content Is Currency, Jon Wuebben explains why … and how.

He describes the fine art of content development and shows how customer-grabbing content can tell the story of a product or a business.

He looks at how to optimise content for search and social media so that it gets noticed, and provides an insider’s view on the ever-expanding technology and content marketing landscape. The book also includes a suggested “road map to online marketing success”.

Content Is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web & Mobile is available on Amazon in all major formats.

More information is available at http://www.contentiscurrency.com where Chapter 1 can be downloaded for free. 

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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

Google updates are making quality content the dominant factor in SEO

February 2, 2012

by Brian Oliver

More marketers are finding that Google’s recent changes and updates to its ranking system are now making quality content the key driver in search engine optimisation (SEO).

At the same time, the changes are shrinking the importance of technical SEO tactics led by mathematicians rather than genuine information providers.

This dramatic change in SEO presents an enormous opportunity for content marketers to gain a competitive advantage over rival brands – especially if their competitors are not yet using content-led solutions, such as customer-focused blogs, social media, targeted eNewsletters, videos, eBooks, white papers and eGuides.

MARKETING OPPORTUNITY

Now more than ever, the consistent use of high-quality, keyword-driven content, such as that provided by Focus Content Marketing, can elevate your website to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) … and keep you there.

That’s why content marketing is now seen as one of the most effective online marketing techniques available to marketing managers – and why many observers are tipping content-led marketing to explode in 2012.

IMPACT OF GOOGLE CHANGES

Last year saw some of the biggest and most important changes to Google’s algorithm, including the controversial Panda update which reportedly knocked the wind out of the sails of several high-ranking sites.

Ever conscious of the need to keep improving its service to users, Google introduced these algorithm changes because it recognised that some websites with top Google rankings were simply high-traffic, low-quality content sites stuffed with keywords.

It set out to limit the visibility of poorly-written filler material created by content ‘farmers’ in favour of sites boasting better-quality authoritative content.

HIGHER RANKINGS

Google now uses quantifiable social engagement metrics and recorded data (such as the length of time people spend on a page) to determine how valuable a page is to everyone who lands there.

When people spend longer browsing certain pages, Google assumes the content has been read and the user obtained the information they were looking for. The search engines consequently give those pages a higher ranking.

If your content is well-written, informative and puts the reader first, it is more likely to keep your potential customer on the page – and Google will recognise this. In other words, if you publish content that keeps your readers happy, Google will be happy too.

Similarly, quality content with higher incoming links will also be displayed at the top of the search results.

MORE CUSTOMERS

Most importantly, though, delivering trustworthy, problem-solving content will not only elevate you in the search rankings, it will also show potential customers or clients how you can help them. It will enable you to gain their trust … and potentially lead to a positive purchasing decision!

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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

Focus Content Marketing offers customer-focused blogs, eNewsletters, eBooks, digital magazines, videos, social media … and more

January 23, 2012

 

Focus Content Marketing is a London-based online news and content agency that provides integrated content marketing services – and helps companies of all sizes to implement a customer-focused content strategy.

Our keyword-driven content marketing solutions include the strategic planning, creation, distribution and curation of:

Customer-focused blogs

Social media content

 Website content

Tightly-targeted eNewsletters

Interactive digital magazines

Videos

eBooks

White papers

eGuides

 

Journalist-led

We provide tailor-made original content – written by experienced journalists – that provides an efficient, low-cost method of ‘educating’ customers and building awareness of your products or services.

We cost effectively connect companies to customers at all stages of the buying process by telling engaging, relevant, informative and entertaining stories that audiences want to hear.

As a sister company to Focus Marketing Communications, we combine many years of experience in business journalism with a B2B communications consultancy that has been providing creative solutions and strategic advice for more than 25 years.

Customers need objective advice

A 2011 McKinsey & Co. report* highlighted customers’ growing “thirst for objective advice” and showed how a premium is now being placed on problem-solving and strategic-thinking skills.

That’s why we create trustworthy content designed to show your customers or clients how you can help solve their problems.

By giving them the information they’re seeking, you can interact with them on a much more personal level … building trust, and keeping you front-of-mind.

 

Communicating with customers is changing

In today’s ‘opt-in’ culture, telling interesting well-written stories is a more cost-effective way of attracting attention than traditional ‘interruption marketing’, such as advertising or direct mail.

As a result, more companies are now putting journalistic-quality content at the heart of their SEO and social media marketing strategies.

Customers who opt-in to your content are, in effect, giving you permission to market to them.

 

Google updates have pushed content to the fore

Google’s recent updates to its ranking system have pushed quality content to the forefront, while shrinking the importance of technical SEO tactics.

Now more than ever, the consistent use of high-quality, keyword-driven content can elevate your website to the top of search results … and keep you there.

 

Interested in working with us?

We’d like to hear about what you’re doing and how we can help. Just give us a call on 020 8641 8614, or email us at Focus Content Marketing.  

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*We’re All Marketers Now, McKinsey & Company, July 2011

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CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing.