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content-marketing

Content Marketing Priorities for B2B & B2C in 2022

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A recent study by parse.ly shows how businesses plan to increase content creation and distribution in 2022.

Content is king, but heavy is the head that wears the crown as businesses ramp up content generation but lack the know-how to determine effectiveness.

Competition is fierce for both B2B and B2C companies as they increase budgets and dive into new content formats in 2022.

Parse.ly recently completed a study using more than 800 content marketers to determine their content efforts for 2022 and beyond.

According to results of the study, these are the top priorities for content marketers.

More Money, Bigger Teams

Google and other search engines have long placed content at the top of their optimization lists through EAT and other efforts. Despite this, businesses of all sizes kept writing teams small and concentrated on blogs and other written content.

B2B and B2C companies have small in-house teams or use a bevy of freelancers or content agencies to create content, so they can focus on running the business.

Among those surveyed by Parse.ly, nearly 80 percent had content teams of 10 or fewer.

Companies are creating more content than ever, but they recognize the need to create even more new and diverse content:

  • 52 percent planning to increase their number of content creators.
  • 66 percent planning to increase their content output.

Budgets increase as well with most of the new money going to more creators, instead of programs and platforms, to make creating content more efficient.

B2B And B2C Content Priorities

Content-savvy companies use content throughout the buyers’ journey from top-of-funnel processes to past checkout.

In the B2B spectrum:

  • 91 percent use content for brand awareness
  • 85 percent to generate demand and leads
  • 81 percent to build credibility
  • 79 percent to educate the audience
  • 68 percent to nurture leads
  • 64 percent to generate sales

In the B2C space

  • 84 percent use content for brand awareness
  • 78 percent to educate the audience
  • 73 percent to build credibility
  • 60 percent to generate leads
  • 60 percent to build loyalty
  • 56 percent to generate sales

The most digestible and searchable content for companies to create are blogs with 91 percent of respondents creating that content.

Engaging audiences through social media was a priority for 88 percent followed by the tried-and-true marketing tool, email newsletters, at 78 percent.

Long form content works great to help improve authority and expertise for search engines, as well as for consumers, with 58 percent using content for case studies, 53 percent for events and webinars, 52 percent for eBooks, and 38 percent for white papers.

Despite having some of the best engagement, only 69 percent were using content for videos.

Getting The Word Out

Businesses can create amazing content, but it isn’t worth much unless it getsseen by the target audience.

Owned channels, such as company websites and social media, are the most popular methods of distribution with 90 percent and 83 percent of respondents.

Emails to listed customers were the third most popular with 77 percent of businesses, followed by paid social media and search ads at 62 percent and 49 percent, respectively.

Both B2C’s and B2B’s first choice for social media platforms was LinkedIn, which according to Parse.ly, brings in about 1 percent of overall social media traffic to a website.

Facebook was the second most popular method of paid and organic distribution and brought in 89 percent of traffic from social media sites.

Popular social media sites such as Instagram and Tik Tok were near the bottom of the list in both paid and organic for business’s preferred platforms.

B2B And B2C Wish List

The most common and easily created content is written, such as blogs and social media posts.

They successfully engage audiences, and blogs do well in search engines, but both B2C and B2B companies wanted to invest in video and longer form content if they had the resources.

Video on YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms whether organic or paid has high engagement.

Many companies balk at the cost of video production and editing. This leads to a more guerilla-style approach to video using live streams, smartphones, and handheld cameras.

Businesses already have these resources available and use them to promote sales, assets, and events. The report outlines the desire for businesses to expand beyond their existing content and into new avenues such as video, eBooks, and infographics.

What’s Working And What’s Not

Expanding content is great, but only if companies have the analytics to know what’s working and what’s not.

One of the biggest pitfalls to existing content strategies is understanding the return on investment. According to the report, 51 percent of companies track and understand metrics, while 49 percent don’t understand how their content performs.

The biggest metric used to determine performance is page views, which many get from Google Analytics. Businesses may keep an eye on page views, but don’t track how content impacts sales, revenues, conversions, or the buyer’s journey.

This leads to content that may bring in traffic to your site but doesn’t necessarily lead to conversions.

The Outlook For 2022 And Beyond

According to the Parse.ly report, 2022 is a big year for expanding content teams and variety, but the existing legacy tools aren’t equipped to handle the intricacies of content metrics.

It’s exciting to see the ramp-up of content and creators, but a successful marketing plan isn’t just about creating but understanding how that content relates to the success of the business and satisfaction of the customers.

If you are interested in original article by Brock Cooper, you can find it here

Search for the sweet spot between optimism and realism

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Marketers aiming to be entrepreneurial mustn’t be too ambitious or too negative, but instead be a ‘spotist’, who sees both the opportunities and challenges without being overwhelmed by either.

It is always easy to be wise after the event and easier still to be cynical. So it proves with the recent demise of the challenger energy company Bulb. Commentators have moved on from observing that management may have been naïve in underestimating risks inherent in the wholesale pricing system to pillorying the startup’s overzealous drive, intense internal culture and non-corporate corporate language.

In a Times piece on 23 April, you could almost see the smile of cynicism as it was revealed that employees were known as ‘Bulberinos’, that bosses talked of “shaking up a stale industry” and that offices were covered wall-to-wall in expensive plants to symbolise the brand’s ‘green’ promise.

Is that cultish optimism, so characteristic of startups, the reason it went down? If so, the Times was not prescient enough to warn us beforehand. The reasons for failure here, as almost always, can be summed up in a single word: multifactorial. Optimism may, just, have blindsided managers to external risks, but if the business had not got unlucky and had kept up its stellar growth, we would now be feting them as visionaries.

Perhaps realists – those who are only too aware of the potential downsides, of everything, always – would have sidestepped Bulb’s terminal errors. But they would not have got the business going in the first place. A startup’s primary customers are not consumers, or other buyers, but investors. And whether large or small, they need to be knocked out not just by the prospect of the concept in front of them but by the track record and passion of those proposing it.

Yes, it’s daft to talk about “punching a hole in the universe”, but who is going to invest in a team that mumbles: “Well, we think there might just be something in this… There are lots of problems, and it’s by no means clear that all are solvable, but we’ll try.”

If you had two teams in front of you and one expansively talked “moonshots” and the other vowed earnestly to “give it our best shot”, who would get your funds?

Moonshots and marketers

As a marketer, most probably working in a solid, safe corporation, none of this need trouble you. Or perhaps on second thoughts it should. Because, as you may have noticed, CEOs are increasingly apt to call for their marketing teams to “be entrepreneurial” and to “think like a startup”.

They should be careful what they wish for. Are they ready to accept internally the 90% failure rate of actual startups? Are they comfortable with the pitiless cash burn, and the need for constant rounds of funding, without a break-even date in sight? Or are these injunctions merely exaggerated pleas for their marketers to be not quite so stick-in-the-mud?

A ‘spotist’ sees the opportunity but is not blinded by it.

In my experience, few marketers take the call seriously. But some do. And when they do, it is unfortunately not the brilliant things about startup mentality that they copy: resourcefulness, flexibility, iconoclasm or the creative courage to pivot and go again when the sheer desperation of running out of money kicks in.

What they tend to copy instead is the vaunting optimism and the language that goes with it. That may not go as far as punching galactic holes but will at the very least embrace “busting category norms”. These, often sketchy, ambitions will be backed up by nothing more substantial than declarations of passionate belief.

Internal optimists do not want realists anywhere near them. Up to a point, that is understandable. Self-declared realists are capable of sucking all the energy out of the room with their gloomy “we tried that once, we know it doesn’t work” prognostications, or their sly ‘devil’s advocate’ negativity.

Hitting the sweet spot

I suggest there is room for a different breed in the genuinely entrepreneurial corporate culture – one that could be handy in Bulb-type startups, too. This is the person who accomplishes that most difficult of human challenges: to move away from either extreme and bestride the ground somewhere in the middle without turning into a walking compromise. People who, between the optimist and realist outliers, manage to locate the sweet spot.

I will call them ‘spotists’. And here’s what makes them valuable.

A spotist sees the opportunity but is not blinded by it. Likewise, they see some of the difficulties – and actively probe for others – without either downplaying them or being immediately defeated by them. They are doers, with a practical sense of the need for resolution.

Spotists believe that growth is great, but know that profit, at least inside a corporation, needs to be factored in too. They will not expect endless rounds of shareholder munificence, and will at the very least make a credible plan for future profitability.

A spotist will sometimes be persuaded by an inner belief – or hunch – that a concept will work, but knows better than to offer that to colleagues as the sole reason for resource investment. They are capable of back-analysing their instincts and understanding why they take them in the direction they do. They are also aware that they might not always be right.

A spotist knows how to sell an idea – they have the vocabulary and the passion – but they also know the wisdom of putting in the greatest work on the least sexy part of any proposal.

If you are an entrepreneurially inclined marketer, spotists are great to have around. But they are a rare breed. If you spot one inside the corporate tent, get to know them, have coffee. Start something.

And when you succeed, if you do, it will be a moment to punch a hole in the cynicism of commentators who have never had the courage to start anything big, brave and bold in their lives.

If you are interested in full article by Helen Edwards you can find it here

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digitalmarketing850

5 Digital Marketing Trends to Know for the Decade

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The things we thought we knew about the digital landscape have proven to be the tip of the iceberg.

The past two years have shown a major increase in the amount of money allocated to digital marketing and communications, which has created challenges for senior-level marketers who have not been able to keep up with the changing times. The speed at which new techniques in digital advertising, social media marketing and SEO are growing and changing is faster than it has ever been.

People who have worked in marketing and communications for twenty years or more need to check their skills and knowledge. Don’t let practices you learned a decade ago become a weakness as you fight to be heard in an electronic community nearing four billion users.

Marketing in 2010

Remember MySpace? Friendster? These were just a couple of social platforms that were “out” by 2010. Facebook and Twitter were on the rise and YouTube was creating video game stars. Google AdWords was being used by some, but the world of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising was still developing.

In 2010, we advised our clients to set up Facebook pages and Twitter accounts if they felt comfortable doing so. Some individually branded businesses and people in the arts were not comfortable “putting themselves out there” in a giant global picture book or communicating in 140 characters or less.

Just posting regularly was considered effective on social platforms. Facebook was a couple of times a week and Twitter was three to five times a week. What a difference ten years make.

When 2020 took an unpredictable turn, I decided it was an opportunity to find out what is current in digital marketing by enrolling in a master’s program in business school. Here are some things I’ve learned about how digital has affected marketing in the 2020s.

Job roles and teams in a digital world

1. Roles have changed so that there are more demands on marketing departments to share some of their work with the public relations teams and vice versa. When I was working in a corporate environment, there was a clear division between marketing, public relations and design. Separate these key components today and it is difficult to get anything accomplished.

2. Digital marketing and design thinking have created opportunities for businesses to conduct strategy meetings and prepare plans for launching new products more thoughtfully. Now, it should be a standard practice to have representatives from all departments in a room. Bring your post-its in multiple colors to keep track of all the great ideas your diverse team will conceive.

3. It takes a village to launch a product. When I started, most marketing departments had designers, copywriters, ad planners and researchers. A digital marketing team needs writers for long-form content and copywriters. You need a search engine marketing person, web designers (who understand search engine optimization), analysts to pull data from the social media and web platforms, researchers, PR people to manage messaging and the brand, content schedulers, real-time social monitors who engage in real time, designers and producers who can edit video and audio.

Consistent planning and rapid growth

4. Decide on a plan and stick to it until you have a chance to see how it is working. Too often, I see digital marketers shift tactics and direction because a client or manager expresses concern or has a new idea. Without a plan and some data about the progress to review, digital marketing is like playing whack-a-mole.

5. Growth is great if it is sustainable. There are new businesses that take off quickly and generate nice profits in the first five years. This is especially true in a marketing environment where word-of-mouth takes place in seconds. However, if you do not have a marketing plan for the long term, you will not continue to do well. As fast as you might grow, there are a dozen other products right behind you that are researching and planning their attack.

There is much to know about digital marketing and not a lot of time to learn. It is an exciting time in the field of marketing and communications, but continued learning is key to being effective.

You can find original article by Claire McKinney here

weechat

Why China’s Version of Email Marketing Is So Effective

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When it comes to ecommerce, last year in China often means this year (or next) in the U.S. Numerous online shopping trends have swept China before landing stateside one or two years later. This is happening now with super apps (e.g., WeChat and Doordash), meaning platforms that customers initially use for one purpose (like ordering food delivery) and then end up using for other types of transactions too (like ordering flowers or dog food). I’ve also written about the impending arrival of live shopping, aka shopatainment, which has proven to be extremely disruptive to China’s retail landscape. We’re starting to see live shopping surface in the U.S., especially as social platforms integrate shopping — but the trend is only in its early days and nowhere near as pervasive as it is in China.

Another Chinese trend I’m studying closely, which I believe could be on the horizon for American ecommerce, is called private traffic. It’s a customer relationship management (CRM) strategy that emphasizes direct communication between brands and customers. Unlike with super apps and shopatainment, I suspect the American version of private traffic will look very different from China’s for two reasons: Western marketers still rely heavily on email, and our communication methods are fragmented across different channels (e.g., email, SMS, WhatsApp, and DM).

In the U.S., email marketing is the default way for brands to initiate and maintain relationships with customers, and it has been for years. But email isn’t popular in China — a lot of people use WeChat for all of their messaging needs, including for business. Private traffic is basically what Chinese brands came up with as an email-free equivalent of email marketing, and it seems to be an even better engagement tool. Why? Because private traffic enables two-way conversations. Customers expect a real back and forth whenever they communicate with brands, and in some cases interact not only with other brands but also with other customers. In fact, some of the most popular private-traffic strategies could double as a crash course in how to incorporate community into the product experience — something that’s become a priority, and a challenge, for many American brands.

Imagine being an American brand in 2022 and not having the option of using email to reach customers to promote new products, announce big sales, or send order and shipping confirmations. That was the scenario in China, where mobile phone users check their email 22% less than global users on the whole, according to Deloitte’s 2018 China Mobile Consumer Survey. A 2017 WeChat behavior report found that about 88% of the 20,000 respondents surveyed used WeChat daily for work, compared to 22.6% using email. Low email penetration, combined with data privacy practices, forced Chinese brands to find an alternative engagement strategy.

The solution was private traffic, an umbrella term for various forms of digital brand outreach that are much more personalized than the one-to-many, one-way email marketing model we’re used to. The traffic is “private” because brands fully own the channels where they communicate with customers and can contact those customers anytime, as opposed to conversations transpiring on third-party sites (like Instagram and TikTok). Popular forms include customer group chats; one-on-one messaging chats; shopping groups on the retail marketplace Taobao; a brand’s own store, website, or app; and brand mini-programs, which are third-party app-like experiences that live inside WeChat and don’t require customers to download anything.

Here’s one example of how private traffic might work: Let’s say you go to a store to buy a barbecue set. The sales rep might make a recommendation for a specific grill and say, “Hey, after you purchase this, why don’t you add me as a contact? You can message me if you have any questions about installation, or any aspect of using your grill. If I come across cool barbecue recipes, or accessories for your barbecue set, I’m going to send them your way.”

ou agree, allowing the store rep to start a one-on-one chat with you. What’s the impact? You’re more likely to buy the barbecue set because you have the store sales rep’s personal support, and you’re less likely to return it because you now have a direct connection with them. This kind of private, two-way conversation also helps brands understand their customer better, which in turn helps breed deeper customer loyalty.

Taking customer relationship-building a step further, Chinese brands also experimented with group chats. Here’s an example I wrote about previously, which illustrates the power of this channel: Ctrip, the biggest travel company in China, started something new a couple years ago. If you booked an international flight for a week-long vacation, you’d have the option of joining a group chat with other travelers who booked tickets to the same destination, around the same time. There would also be a customer sales rep in the chat to act as a travel concierge before and during the trip. They’d answer questions about anything from what to do about a lost passport to which type of outlet converter to bring. But the best part is, once your vacation starts, you’re not only asking the customer sales rep questions — often, you’re talking to other group-chat members too. You might ask how long the line at an amusement park is, or see who has sightseeing recommendations, or even invite people to meet up for dinner. Essentially, the group of strangers becomes a community.

Two-way interaction is what enables Chinese brands to bring community into the product experience. While you probably wouldn’t respond to a promotional email from a mattress brand and expect a real back-and-forth conversation, that’s exactly what happens with private traffic. Whether a Chinese customer is in a group chat with a sunglasses sales rep, or asking a swimwear brand about sizing through the brand’s app, the assumption is that they’ll get a timely response to their question. In many ways, this is a natural evolution of the commerce experience in China.

For many years now, Alibaba has put chat front and center in their flagship commerce platforms Taobao and TMall, making fast responses from sellers a standard consumer expectation. Customers can even chat with sellers to negotiate things like bulk discounts or check in on delivery timelines — the opportunities to connect with customers are endless. Chinese brands use messaging to expand the boundaries of marketing because email isn’t an option. And, to me, it’s the reason many young brands in China can quickly create a loyal community. In the U.S., we talk a lot about building community with our buyers. But unless there’s true, direct interaction between the brand and a customer — or, better yet, between customers — those customers aren’t your community.

Private traffic isn’t solely an online shopping trend. For household goods and clothing, the most common way to join or even hear about a brand’s private traffic is through shopping in physical stores. That means sales reps and cashiers are the ones who introduce customers to the communities or one-on-one chats where they can learn more about their new purchases, or get deals or coupons on other products. Imagine being able to join a moderated group chat with other first-time parents or first-time dog owners in your zip code. In the U.S., older generations might use Facebook for this purpose. But what will Gen Z use?

In the last couple years, the retail industry has been thinking a lot about how to make brands and products more accessible to customers. A lot of Western brands have interpreted more accessible to mean more relatable, and leaned into the idea of making people think we’re just like them. Even if this strategy isn’t a slam dunk in every case, it’s worked well for plenty of brands. Dove’s “real beauty” ad campaign, a pioneer in this approach, has anchored the brand for 18 years. More recently, Gen Z-focused brands such as Aerie and Glossier have embraced a similar ethos in selling lingerie and makeup, respectively. In contrast, many Chinese marketers came away with a different interpretation of accessibility. They seized on the literal definition of the term, using technology to make it easier for customers to reach brands and vice versa.

Now the question is: What will private traffic look like in the U.S.? I don’t know the answer yet because email marketing is still so prevalent. (And, yes, at least it works great.) But I do know that one-way blasts can’t compete with real-time, two-way messaging, especially when Gen Z’s on one end of the conversation.

Full article by Connie Chan can be found here