Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing – ebook B2B case studies

The interest in my new 440 page ebook Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing (co-authored with Dave Chaffey) and now available from Amazon for Kindle and Kindle apps, has been overwhelming and I’m thrilled to be able to answer questions.

One of the recurring questions is around the companies and case studies profiled in the book. As Amazon’s Look Inside feature doesn’t really help here (and because B2B covers a very broad spectrum of companies), I figured I’d pull together a quick list of the companies included so you can make your own decision to purchase.

(in rough chapter order – websites, search engine optimisation, content, social, CRM and email and integrated campaigns, evaluation)

The Engineer, Blackberry, BOC, UPS, Oliver Valves, Acer, Dell, Barclaycard, Skanska, Mint, Github, Ocean Spray ITG, RS Components, Salesforce, Atlas Copco, Mettler Toledo, BASF, Smart Insights, Nokia Siemens Networks, Espresso, BrightTalk, William Reed, Tata Steel, GE, Eloqua, HML, Packworld, Corning, Knauf, 3M, BDB, o2, PWC, Ingersoll Rand, Cisco, Saint Gobain, tna, The Construction Network, Gorvins Solicitors, Meltwater, Tyco, Claremont Interiors Group, Anglian, Google, Egan Reid, Hubspot, Experian, Active Profile, Perkin Elmer, Adobe, MarketBright, Marketo, Yahoo!, ThreeUK, Klout, Litmus.

I hope this convinces you this really is a true B2B digital marketing publication and not one looking at the B2B arm of predominantly consumer brands and businesses.

Get your copy of the book now by clicking here.

Why B2B digital marketing requires a new approach

There has been a very good reason why this blog has been left unloved for much of 2012. I started the year musing on the lack of credible B2B digital marketing texts available to modern marketers – so decided to write one.

In this blog post I lay out why it’s needed and what you can hope to get from it. Much more on B2B digital marketing to come over the weeks and months.

Marketing in complexity

Understanding, interpreting and delivering on customer needs has been the foundation of marketing for over one hundred years. Many business­-to-business (B2B) organisations are already successfully using digital marketing in specialist sectors like financial and professional services, IT and software, manufacturing, engineering or science.

Businesses have been buying and selling products to one another for hundreds of years. But, don’t let anyone tell you that B2B marketing isn’t different from marketing products to consumers. It is. B2B marketing often involves communicating challenging and niche product benefits to hard to reach and hard to engage B2B decision makers, through a complex purchase cycle taking them from unaware to purchase.

B2B requires a specialised skill-set and understanding of the psychology, the gestation period, differing information needs and complex operating environment in which specifers, influencers and decision makers work together to procure products and services on behalf of their companies.

Scarcity of advice

Yet, for business marketers, there is a limited amount of good quality, specific advice and best practice available to draw upon for the unique challenges and opportunities available from digital media.

Visibility in Internet search for B2B marketers is key. Companies that follow a stepped approach that creates touch-points, positive first impressions and a tangible interest to customers will see a return on digital marketing investment.

Up until now, there have been surprisingly few books or guides which address the unique challenges of promoting business products and services online, whether these are for companies which don’t sell online who are focused on lead generation and customer communications or online B2B retailers.

B2B marketers can still learn something from the many texts that focus on how global super brands like Apple, Starbucks, Coca Cola and Unilever build and promote their portfolios. Yet, it is often hard to relate what they do with their multi­million dollar budgets and unrivalled resource relevant to B2B campaigns.

Until now.

In my new (and first) full colour, 400+ page case-study and best practice packed Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing (published in association with Dr Dave Chaffey and Smart Insights), you’ll learn how to create a plan or simply work through all the issues you need to think about to make online B2B marketing more effective.

Available now from Amazon for Kindle and for all Kindle apps across a wide variety of PC, Mac and smartphone devices (check your app store, it will be free) it covers all the areas you need to review to take your online marketing to the next level if you market to other businesses.

These include:-

– creating a strategy and setting measurable goals

– building effective, high impact relevant websites

– optimising digital marketing for search

– using content and inbound marketing

– harnessing the most appropriate social media tools to engage target audiences

– developing deeper calls to action and eCRM

– using analytics to improve digital marketing

I hope it helps you to determine a clear pathway to improved digital marketing for your business and one that gives you the success you demand. Do please feedback, either here, on Twitter copying me @renepower using the hashtag #BrilliantB2B, via Linkedin.

And if you want to leave a review on Amazon, please feel free – nice ones may qualify for a kickback of some kind in 2013.

7 steps to brilliant b2b digital marketing; Preview at On the Edge, 10 October 2012

The blogging has been slow through 2012 because I’ve been working on a major project – a book dedicated to be b2b digital marketing. This work, published by Dave Chaffey’s Smart Insights website looks at a robust 7 step approach to digital marketing for b2b companies taking in strategy, websites, search, inbound content marketing, social media, lead generation and CRM and analytics and evaluation.

I’m very excited to say the book will soon be available from Amazon and iTunes (late October 2012) and for a limited time only it is available to Expert Members of the Smart Insights website. Visit http://www.smartinsights.com/guides/brilliant-b2b-digital-marketing-ebook/ to join the site and get the book early, and hundreds of other digital marketing resources for the next 12 months.

The first step of pre-promotion of the book took place in Manchester this week where I chaired and opened the On the Edge digital marketing event. The slides below give a flavour of the thought process under pinning the book and why it should be so useful to so many people.


There is nothing like this book for b2b marketers in the market right now. It has been been a labour of love and contains hundreds of best practice tips and dozens of b2b specific companies including 3M, Atlas Copco, BOC, BASF, Blackberry, Ingersoll Rand, Knauf, Nokia Siemens, Oliver Valves, Saint Gobain, Salesforce, Skanska, UPS and many more.

I’m thrilled to almost be at the point of release. Expect much more from me over the coming weeks on this exciting project and how can get involved in it.

Going beyond the status update – content marketing for b2b marketers

So this is my first blog post in a while since migrating the blog in it’s entirety from wordpress.com to a self hosted platform.

I wanted to share my presentation from the recent B2B Marketing Summit, in London on 14 June 2012. At this multi stream event, 150 b2b marketers had the opportunity to attend conference presentation across 4 streams including content marketing, social media, data and lead nurture and generation.

In opening up the day in the content marketing stream, I talked around an eight step approach to get people thinking more strategically about content – focusing on audience and their information needs at different stages of the buying process.


Please share the presentation if you agree with the central proposition and offer a comment or two on your own b2b content marketing challenges below.

Why content marketing starts with your ‘sign up button’

Whilst much of the talk about content marketing strategy focuses on the creation, packaging and presentation of information that might encourage your target customer to interact and transact with you, the reality doesn’t need to be so complicated.

Committing to the setting up and writing of a blog, developing thought provoking white papers, producing video, webinars or hosting slides and documents is a serious undertaking and not for every business.

But what is within the reach of all businesses are a number of little fixes that can be made throughout your website, your email marketing and advertising to give your marketing the best chance of conversion.

A focus on headings, action buttons and supporting copy can make a significant impact on click-through, lead generation and conversion.

Changing an action button from ‘Register’ which may be an obstacle in the mind of prospective customer to ‘Start now’ alters the perception from being a task to becoming a desirable, benefit enabled action. In this example from a natural wellbeing site, Start Now is softer and less prescriptive.

Hubspot is a masterful example in the art of content marketing. Everything they do is aimed at developing deeper relationship, evolving to product trial. Free Demo buttons stand out on every page throughout the site, which uses its multiple daily blog posts and free webinars, white papers and ebooks to drive traffic.

Joe Browns clothing and accessories, below, help the browsing process by colouring their search button and using the words ‘make it easy – search sale by size’ to help customers get straight to what they want. Simple. Effective.

Expedia simplify site browsing, whilst personalising it, with the use of the copy ‘Find your deal’. Great copy which implies you’ll be able to locate a holiday that’s relevant for you at a price you’ll be happy with. Pretty powerful stuff when you analyse it.

Even the banks are getting creative with their action buttons as this example from First Direct illustrates. From  the core ‘Apply Today’ button to the standout buttons to the right offering online security, partner offers and free software, they are making the most of their real estate and trying to drive traffic to key transactional areas of the site.

What can you be doing better to help your visitors and customers along?

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My Twitter Week (we 25 March 2011)

In the week the iPad 2 went on sale in the UK, here are links below to some of the content that engaged, intrigued and even enraged me over the last seven days.

What have you been reading that you want to share with the world?

Monday: I stumbled across (using StumbleUpon) a smart site called  http://www.futureme.org/ where I fairly promptly wrote myself a letter that will be emailed to me in a year’s time. I went for the short term but you work a lot further into the future. It will be interesting to see what has developed, changed, improved.

Tuesday: I was alarmed to read on Social Media Examiner that an Alterian survey claimed that most marketers are clueless about social media conversations. Surely not knowing what is being said you, your brand and your company is increasingly about as neglectful as it gets!

Wednesday: Two bits of ‘big number’ news on Wednesday. First that Linkedin hit 100m users followed swiftly by news that The BBC has received over 50,000 applications for 500 positions in Manchester. Maybe they need to fast track some HR appointments to help start the sifting process.

Thursday: I spent the day at Social Media Academy’s Manchester conference, where I gave a talk on social media for b2b marketers. My slides are here, a blog post covering all the day’s presentations is here.

Friday: The ever readable Seth Godin mused on whether businesses and individuals try to get away with less rather than trying to do more. Which camp do you fall into?

More next week!

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The future of selling

I’ve stumbled across another interesting presentation deck on Slideshare.

This one from Ogilvy explores how the sales function in most companies needs to step up and embrace new marketing, new technology and the new world of communication, collaboration and engagement. There are also some great examples of joined up integrated thinking.

I do think there is still a place for traditional techniques in sales but we have to realise that customers are smarter, more discerning and invariably look to the Internet before shortlisting suppliers or making key capital purchases.

It needs a shift rather than a complete change in mindset, but a willingness to adapt nonetheless.


Why just dipping your toe online doesn’t work

Time and time again we see companies making a hash of their online presence and the opportunities afforded to them by the Internet. To some it can be a place to make a quick buck, to others it is a terrifying place only entered with extreme caution. To others it represents an incredible opportunity to reach and engage with likeminded individuals.

From a business perspective, you are doing your company’s future success online more harm than good if you are just dipping your toe and using the latest in-vogue digital marketing tools rather than joining them up strategically.

Limiting your reach and exposure to a single website, the odd profile on a social networking site or a couple of banner ads on key industry portals really inhibits your ability to shine online and draw customers to you.

A term that is already in use in digital marketing circles is ‘social media optimisation’. This takes the notion of search engine optimisation one stage further and in using high traffic social media sites to in essence provide a backlink to a nominated web page, means you are optimising your site through social media.

As a weekend challenge, visit the website namechk and enter your vanity url to see whether it is already being used. You might find in some instances it has already gone. If not, I really recommend reserving it on the following so it is yours for the future if not right now: Linkedin, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Vimeo and Foursquare.

And if you want to really go to town, you should also consider reserving your vanity url on Delicious, Digg, Disqus, Reddit, StumbleUpon and bag yourself a WordPress blog handle too.

All these tools will help you not only create durable profiles and content, they can host and distribute your content, driving inbound enquiries to your business. Which ultimately makes it easier for prospects to find you on platforms they prefer to use.

Summary: A strategic approach to using everything the web has to offer (just like any other approach in marketing) might be more protracted but keeps you focused and pays dividends in the end.

Image: My China Connection

Why I love Google tools, RSS and Google Reader

Waiting for a daily email newsletter to arrive or remembering to check any number of websites for updates can leave you ‘behind the curve’ on client and market developments. It can also be time consuming and things can disrupt the regular supply of emails.

You might use some Google tools but here are some quick ways to help cut through your information overload.

1. Setting up a Google account

Dead easy. If you haven’t got one head to www.google.co.uk and select Sign in top right. Create an account, verify it from your email, sign in, and you’ll be able to access a range of Google services for free.

2. Google Alerts

Activating a Google Alerts account means you can get information related to keywords, clients and brands you are interested in, delivered to your inbox as frequently as you want them. Google Alerts scour the internet taking in news, blogs, video, image, YouTube, books and lots more. You can set them to occur more or less frequently than I have below and can check in and run an update at any time.

3. RSS Feeds When you see this icon on a web page, it means you can be updated every time something new appears on that page. There are two ways to take regular, ‘live’ feeds from a webpage into Google, using the personalised home page or Google Reader, more below.

(You can, if you prefer, bypass all this and set up RSS feeds into Microsoft Outlook too but that restricts use to your work computer whereas with Google, you can access services anywhere and on any computer in the world).

 

Click ‘Subscribe now’ and you should see this screen, which gives you two options, outlined below.

4. iGoogle Home Page

Using the iGoogle setting rather than Classic (see the top right corner in the screen grab below) means you can personalise your internet browsing desktop and have your most important news feeds available at a touch of a button. The advantage of using this is that every time you refresh, each feed refreshes so you get the very latest published content from that site on your Internet home page.

And you don’t need to set up another email account as had previously been the case. (All my Google activity runs through my Yahoo! Ymail account).

 

5. Google Reader

There are several options on ‘readers’ but I personally prefer the Google Reader service which lists all ‘feeds’ in one place. Here you can group all your favourite sites, blogs and RSS feeds and flick through them easily. The latest content published on a site you take a feed from is always displayed at the top in bold.

The whole thing is designed to save time and effort but keep you up to date with the information and the sites you need to stay updated about. It isn’t necessarily a substitute for those daily/weekly emails which have a value and contain additional content, but for news that could provide an opportunity to respond on if done quickly, it is extremely useful.

The screen grabs below show various list views and expanded views. Depending on the feed, some articles can be read in their entirety in Reader, whilst others will give an introduction to the article but still require you to click through.

 

Different story displays:

 

I open up Google Reader first thing in the morning and check in a few times a day. Helps me keep up with the game, if not ahead of it.

How storytelling can enhance your brand

With a greater focus on content and context driving long term engagement with brands, I found this Slideshare by StoryBeats to be timely and relevant to the debate.

What I particularly like about it is the way they have drawn creative inspiration from a range of sources – in this example films and games – but have also fused some interesting b2c case studies into the presentation too.

Indeed, using strong characters, plots and scenarios to help create a point of connection with your customers – some common ground – is a powerful first step in developing a relationship.

I think using stories and values to position companies and their brands have never been in sharper focus. Companies that continue to differentiate themselves in this way will stand out from the pack.

Be interested to see what you think.