New talk: Bootcamp – The role of PR in digital marketing, 5th November (Manchester)

PR & blogging

Join me on the 5th November at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, (All Saints Campus, Oxford Road) as I deliver some new content aimed at closing up the gap between PR and digital marketing. 

Session details:

The huge focus on social media marketing may have overshadowed the key principles and best practice of PR as a discipline. In this bootcamp we review the critical role of traditional PR techniques in the digital marketing context with leading exponents of the art of PR in digital marketing. Learning key tips, advice and best practice to apply in your own role with the author of Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing and some special guests.

The session will cover:

• Managing a crisis online
• How to measure and evaluate your PR activity
• Is conventional media still relevant in the social media age?
• How to make your organisation’s blog more effective, drive more traffic to it, and make it work from an SEO point of view

 

Registration is from 09:00; the event starts at 09:30 and finishes at 13:30. Click here for more information and booking details.

New talk: Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing, MADE, Sheffield 21st October 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 08.22.11If you’ve been waiting for a B2B digital marketing focused event to come to Sheffield THIS IS IT! 

I’m bringing an updated and super practical Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing presentation to approx. 300 people at the Memorial Hall on 21st October, the night before MADE.

Session details:

Most businesses in the UK are established to sell products and services to each other. But outside the major multinationals and technology brands, there is a dearth of useful B2B marketing advice for grass roots marketers to draw upon.

Part of the MADE Festival of Entrepreneurship, I’ll be taking delegates through my seven step B2B digital marketing approach.

Honed from a career working in, and with, a range of diverse B2B companies, it’s going to be an example packed session, delivered to inspire, so show how to use digital tools to raise profile, drive engagement and generate business leads.

You’ll leave brimming with ideas to kick start your business marketing in areas including digital strategy, websites, search, content marketing, social media, conversion rate optimisation and measurement.

Delegates also have a chance to get an exclusive PDF copy of Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing 220 page e-book, created in conjunction with Dave Chaffey’s Smart Insights.

Registration is from 18:00; the event starts at 18:30 and finishes at 20:00. Click here for more information and to book your seat.

 

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New speaking event: Content marketing for SMEs

Thrilled to announce the first of several speaking events, where I’ll be previewing some new material.

Tues 15th April, 2014: 5:30 – 8.00pm

In conjunction with One Circle Communications, I’ll be taking up residence at Virgin Lounge, 92 King Street, Manchester to discuss Cost (and Time) Effective Content Marketing for SME’s.

Limited ticket availability. Booking link here.

Customers have got wise to interruption product led promotion. They don’t want to be sold to. They have problems that need resolving. All the experts say using content to position yourself as a problem solver for customers is the new best way to market. But with time, budget and resource limitations, how can you hope to do this effectively?

This event is ideal for small business owners, soloprenuers and those looking to build an effective business online using the latest digital marketing techniques.

I’ll take you through a number of ways to build profile, influence and reach online using some very specific and often overlooked tools and tricks.
It’s a capped event so book early to avoid missing out.

 

Ten ways to breathe new life into your B2B marketing blog

An infinitely credible approach to driving customer engagement with your brand is through repackaging your expertise as helpful advice. This blog post looks at ways to re-energise your blogging and content marketing.

For me, the intricacies of the B2B decision making process coupled with the often long gestation period demand an integrated approach.

Carefully crafting a blog that regular provides useful insight and advice sits at the heart of the modern B2B marketing agenda. Great blog content provides for social and CRM rocket fuel and can be packaged at the end of the month and delivered to opted in subscribers as a newsletter and used for press release purposes.

Sometimes we can’t get started. Sometimes we can’t maintain momentum. Sometimes we need a jump start. Whatever the reason, it’s useful to have an agreed number of topics or styles to pull off the shelf in order to avoid writers block and to continue to deliver.

Here are ten things you could plan to do over the next week or so to give your blog fresh impetus. Do let me know how you progress – keep in mind the twin aims of delivering help and advice in a way that keeps visiting audiences interested.

1. Repurpose a piece of existing content into a new format – press release to blog, upload a presentation, create a manual/data sheet download.

2. Comment on a news story affecting your industry – even better if you can find an industry watering hole in which to do it.

3. Comment on a current piece of research or data.

4. Write a round up and publish at the end of the week.

5. Provide an industry resource list – this could in fact be a great evergreen piece of content that with incoming links could return traffic to your site for years.

6. Report on an event, conference, trade show or seminar.

7. Write up a customer case study.

8. Diagnose and solve an industry problem.

9. Offer a distinguished industry voice a guest post opportunity (and reciprocate).

10. If all else fails, take a provocative stance on something that needs to change.

Image: http://www.nothingtoblogabout.net/

Help – I’m a content marketer!

It may well have passed you by, but there are two revolutions taking place that will have a devastating effect on your ability to effectively market your business.

The first is the rise of citizen journalism. The era of 24-7 real time news has meant that everyone now sees themselves as a journalist and commentator on the news as it happens. How often do we see news stories break with a whirlwind of comment, hyperbole and analysis before the facts of the story come through confining all previous activity around the story to the bin?

The second is the reality that everyone (and every business) can and should become a publisher. Adopting a publisher mindset in how you being to redefine your relationships with customers and prospects brings enlightenment as you focus more specifically on their needs than your own. Media owners, by definition, have to provide their audiences with what they want or they go elsewhere – and the title into terminal decline.

Content marketing, as I taked about at length at the recent On the Edge digital marketing conference in Birmingham, is the method by which we repackage our expertise and counsel in a way to make what we do truly helpful to the people we want to serve.

It’s a hot topic as everyone is reading, writing, talking and thinking about it. But examples of people doing it well across a wide variety of sectors are few and far between.

If you’re a content marketer and don’t know where to start, my slides [and video] should help.

I’ll be posting a lot more on content marketing over the coming weeks, but for now consider these five steps to getting an effective content led inbound marketing campaign off the ground.

1. Assign a managing editor to own and determine tone, messaging, platforms, topics, calendar. Impossible for the new graduate arrival to have the gravitas to do this and engage the necessary stakeholders.

2. Research what customers want/need by visiting industry watering holes – trade media, Linkedin groups, trade press and events.

3. Review what assets you have in the business and repackage them. Go back twelve months if you need to. Press releases, presentations, news, brochures, video can all be repackaged to power a blog, email outreach and social media accounts.

4. Curate industry news, information, insights, research and use it to drive your content programme.

5. Above all, focus on customer problems and helping them. Does your content add value by informing, educating, inspiring, entertaining?

How do you go about structuring, informing and implementing your content marketing efforts?

Digital marketing trends in mobile, social content and search [infographic]

Posted originally on visual.ly by DCI, I thought this infographic updating us on the latest trends in mobile, social, content and search was worth a share.

Whether you’re a digital native or a digital newbie, it offers some interesting statistics (admittedly most US based) on the “key tools and technologies that will define the digital marketing landscape this year”.

The infographic looks at overall use across B2B and B2C and how tools are being used to help ensure marketers make the most of mobile marketing, social media, content marketing and author rank, to deliver high quality content across a range of platforms and devices.

I think, for one, modern marketers are dead in the water if they don’t start embracing responsive design and really building user experience into their marketing.

What do you think?

 

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Delivering a brilliant B2B website user experience

A positive and consistent user experience can make or break your business online. Does your website keep customers coming back for more?

Delivering a brilliant and compelling user experience means combining creative and functional design with speed, usability, accessibility, content architecture and contingency design.

It is important to recognise that user experience is a key part of branding. This can be simple and effective signposting like that exemplified by the Dell UK site which gets visitors to the content they want quickly. This, in turn, increases conversion rates by generating trust and encourages both loyalty from existing users and new traffic from viral referrals.

Feel the need for speed

Design with speed in mind. Slow loading pages, graphics and rich media can have a hugely negative impact on your bounce rate as visitors refuse to wait for content to load. Employ a three-click journey rule to any page within your website. Factor in simple navigation, using accepted terms and structure to make it as easy as possible for people to find what they’re looking for.

Accessibility

Web accessibility is about reaching the broadest group of people irrespective of disabilities including sight, hearing and speech; physical, cognitive and some neurological disorders.

And as technology continues to innovate at a pace, websites and other web-based applications can draw on advances in areas such as screen readers, Braille displays, magnification and voice- recognition to facilitate access to digital content. Consider them if you are specifically targeting specific groups. International standards such as W3C help set benchmarks that good web designers should abide by.

Content architecture

On large websites it can be worthwhile considering how information is grouped and collated for customer benefit. Conducting exercises offline can help identify trends in browsing behaviour and provide a useful psychological insight into how different individuals search, collate and interact with content. This can play into how the site’s navigation is designed and displayed.

The website for Swedish construction and project management company Skanska, adopts a number of simple but effective navigation techniques that help to manage the presentation of content to site users. It uses top and bottom navigation effectively deployed, as well as ‘breadcrumbs’ throughout the home page. These are additional carefully selected navigation devices that help signpost effectively to interesting content deeper in the site – namely company information, press activity, publications and upcoming events. The site also makes use of a carousel to convey key messages.

Above ‘home’ page, below ‘about us’ page.

The reality in information architecture and navigation is that people will give up quickly if they can’t find what they want, so make sure you are using industry standard definitions and not your own unique vocabulary. Use colour and tabs to help people identify where they are (side navigation bars on inner pages work well for this) and keep the clickable drill down into deeper content to no more than three levels.

Contingency design

There will always be situations where a user makes a request that the system is unable to answer or performs an action that goes against how the system was designed to work.

Leaving form fields blank, requesting a page that doesn’t exist, making a spelling mistake when performing a search or trying to buy a product that is out of stock are all examples of how users could challenge a system.

By predicting these challenges and proposing solutions to either prevent or deal with the problem – by answering the ‘what if…?’ questions – it is possible to find solutions that add value to failure and maintain a positive user experience.

Creative use of the 404 error message that typically displays when a link is broken or a page is removed from a website is a great example of predicting potential short-comings but dealing with them in a way that doesn’t unduly affect the user experience.

What other ways can you deliver brilliant user experience on your website?

Get more on B2B websites, SEO, social media and more with my new ebook Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing.

Are large B2B companies any better at digital marketing?

A blog post this week looking at how the top 500 Fortune B2B companies approach digital marketing made for interesting reading.

Featured on Clickz.com Matthew Sweezey’s research painted a detailed picture of poor execution when it comes to critical areas like data capture, conversion and follow up. Only 25% of companies were routinely using forms within their content to stimulate engagement and discussion, most used forms for general conversion but asked way too many unnecessary questions creating a barrier to conversion. And, only 55% followed up a web based enquiry within 48 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of us don’t work for Fortune 500 or FTSE 100 companies. But this data is relevant because it highlights the golden opportunity for us in smaller enterprises, and how a little technical know-how and application could go a long way in improving outbound marketing, lead generation, conversion and customer service.

As most of us are not the leader in our chosen field, we have to be nimble and agile to take advantage of opportunities that come our way. It’s encouraging that larger companies, it seems, are not always so responsive and attentive to customer needs.

Perhaps you can see one or two things in this that you can use to your benefit as you market yourself, your business, your products and services over the coming months. It’s certainly given me something to ponder on.

Do you work for a large company? Is the digital marketing better/worse/easier/harder?

 

Why information matters in B2B marketing

UK entertainment chain HMV is the latest big name UK retail casualty to the Internet. HMV failed because it took its eye off the ball when faced with the twin threat of Apple’s iTunes (creating a mass download market) and Amazon (delivering cheaper physical products). Customers migrated online and researched their options. HMV failed to adapt and was left behind.

Buyers seek reassurance

Many B2B companies run the risk of suffering a similar fate because buyers are using the Internet to inform, rationalise and justify their decisions as they seek reassurance that they have made good decisions on behalf of their companies and stakeholders.

In order to make well balanced business decisions, business buyers look for information. They need to be able to benchmark different solutions in order to categorise, rate and select the ones that best suit their needs. Across different stages of the buying and decision making process, companies are researching, shortlisting and awarding business based on their needs and the information they come into contact with.

Modern marketing

As a business trying to be front of mind when it matters, you need to market accordingly. Traditional promotional techniques are not working as well as they used to. Advertising is seen as interruptive and counter productive. The needs of niche customer segments means that mass market propositions do not engage or entice them.

For you, the modern B2B marketer, this creates a number of problems not least in selecting the right channels of promotion. Marketing needs to be measurable and needs to work right across a variety of audiences and their differing needs.

How and where you provide the information that customers need when they need it is diverging. But thinking through what your customers are looking for and where they go looking for it can have a significant impact on your marketing communications activity.

Visibility

Increasingly, in a wide variety of B2B sectors, this is happening online. So being visible, promoting that visibility and talking in terms that are helpful, relevant and engaging mark out the genuinely more customer focused businesses from those looking to make a fast return.

Focus on getting your primary online environment – website, Facebook page or other hub – populated and optimised correctly before promoting and advertising it to your target audience.

For guidance, I encourage you to look inside Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing today and check out the free first chapter.

Image credit: Chameleon

B2B Digital Marketing Priorities 2013 – my webinar and slides!

This past Friday (11 January) I joined Dave Chaffey for the Smart Insights Marketing Priorities conference on Bright Talk – where we and seven other leading digital illuminaries  offered our assessments on important digital elements marketers should consider for the coming year.

I encouraged B2B marketers to master the basics using a seven step approach to effective and meaningful B2B digital marketing – acting as a teaser for my new ebook “Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing” published exclusively on Amazon in December.

I used the analogy of being more owl like and less magpie like in terms of being seduced by shiny new digital things – instead following a robust goal based digital strategy.

The presentation focused on the importance of getting websites and SEO right before investing in any form of online promotion.

The webinar is embedded below. Or feel free to use this link to launch it at Bright Talk (you may well have to log in). The slides are also available separately on Slideshare here – and have been updated to reflect the feedback from the three votes as well as increasing the size and resolution of all the case studies.
A BrightTALK Channel
This was my first webinar so you can see we lost some time towards the end because of the questions and polls.  Do leave feedback and any questions below and I’ll be happy to moderate.

What are your B2B digital marketing priorities in 2013? Share below.