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Why does effective B2B SEO need killer content?

Why does effective B2B SEO need killer content?

When B2B sector professionals start a procurement programme or searching for information on the Internet, they generally know exactly what they’re looking for and will apply very precise search terms to find what they’re looking for.

And for you to rank highly in their B2B search returns, your website needs to be pin-sharp in terms of on-page SEO-focused content. That means your content needs to be written by someone wearing two hats: SEO specialist and subject matter expert (SME).

Are you seen as an authority?

This critical need for clear, concise content will make the difference between visibility and complete obscurity, and of equal importance a clear display of sector knowledge in your website content will set you apart from your competitors as an industry authority.

So industry focused content makes you not only visible to searchers, but also demonstrates know-how and industry expertise that will lead to engagement and through careful dialogue, conversion and sales.

Saving money or wasting time?

The fact is that all too often marketers think they can write on-page SEO content that will deliver visibility. From my experience this is not the case. Because while most marketers understand their company’s products or services, they generally only think they understand SEO.

And conversely, the vast majority of SEO specialists won’t have a decent grip on client enterprise subject matter, so won’t readily deliver the effective on-page SEO that will deliver the level of search returns you need for the SEO work to be meaningful or valuable.

Economical with the truth?

Yes, as a marketer it’s easy to fool yourself you’re saving money by creating content yourself, when in reality you’re just wasting your time. It’s also easy to blind yourself to the small and seemingly insignificant inaccuracies in your SEO specialist’s content.

But the competitive landscape your business faces out there is actually a jungle. And like all jungles, there are competitive predators just waiting for you to make the slightest mistake so they can wipe you out, and make you invisible.

What is the true value of content?

So SEO, visibility and authority are critical to your online survival. Savvy B2B marketers understand this and focus closely on developing robust web content that improves visibility sufficiently to allow for the authority needed to compete in today’s markets.

After all, just calculate what 30x more visitors to your website would mean to your revenue, associated margin and your bottom line, and I think you’ll see how important visibility, authority, engagement and sales closure can be.

This critical need for clear, concise content will make the difference between visibility and complete obscurity, and of equal importance a clear display of sector knowledge in your website content will set you apart from your competitors as an industry authority.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Business to person marketing in the business to business space: does it work?

Business to person marketing in the business to business space: does it work?

The business to business (B2B) marketing community often claims that it’s a harder market to work than the business to consumer (B2C) space. Personally, I’ve never quite bought into this point of view, because in both cases there’s a common denominator: humanity.

That is to say, whether you’re communicating with a B2B or B2C audience, they’re all human beings and I’m sure would like to be treated that way. And if you follow the smart money, I think you’ll find the B2B focus is now on a very personalised business to person (B2P) approach.

The B2C-B2B crossover

If you look at the more advanced B2C digital marketing models, they have evolved to focus on their target audiences in a much more personalised way, because prospects and customers now don’t just hope for service with transparency, they expect it from brands.

And this B2B audience aren’t simply B2B prospects, because in their leisure time they are also B2C consumers who are used to being treated as valued, known customers whose wants and needs are understood and catered for in every B2C communication they receive. That’s B2P.

B2P and personalisation: how does it work?

B2P marketers spend a lot of time creating a clear profile of their prospects and customers (buyer personas) and developing websites with highly structured analytics systems, designed to report precisely what these personas search for and look at when they visit.

This process continually builds on and modifies these personas so that they always reflect the very latest prospect buying trends and behaviours so that all email communications, website landing pages and all other prospect communications are hyper-personalised.

This is what B2C customers get through B2P, so why can’t B2B marketing deliver this to customers too?

B2P: how can it work in the B2B space?

OK, so B2B marketers are not selling shampoo and at least if they are, it will be in industrial quantities. But does that mean B2B marketing has to be equally industrial, non-personalised and detached from B2B prospect and customer needs?

It doesn’t. By using the same techniques B2C marketers use to build buyer personas and website development processes to deliver accurate analytical data, B2B marketers can achieve the same level of marketing and sales success B2C marketers expect with B2P.

Remember, before they got into work this morning, your B2B target customer was actually a B2C consumer, being treated like a human being, probably through B2P, on a sophisticated B2C brand website; so to succeed, all you need to do is do the same.

Fast track to success

There’s only one difference that needs careful awareness when taking this B2P route in B2B marketing: you really aren’t selling shampoo, but something that may be of high value and high technology, and may require specialist marketing content to deliver sales using B2P.

But if you have an agile, open-minded digital agency, who truly understand your products, technologies and marketplace, switching channels from slow-burn B2B to fast-track B2P will deliver marketing return on investment (MROI) with loyal, engaged B2B customers, sooner.

This process continually builds on and modifies these personas so that they always reflect the very latest prospect buying trends and behaviours so that all email communications, website landing pages and all other prospect communications are hyper-personalised.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

GDPR: what is it and why should you care?

GDPR: what is it and why should you care?

In recent years data breaches, hacking, data theft and online fraud have emerged as massive issues at both the corporate and governmental level, exposing targets to extreme financial instability and nation states to political or defence vulnerabilities.

Anthem Insurance, Home Depot, Adobe and the UK NHS have all been hacked or even had data physically stolen and whichever way, the impact on data privacy is significant as sensitive personal data is released into the public domain.

Data security: how big is the issue?

Over the past year, the UK has suffered the greatest number of data breach incidents in the EU, with 63 by end-Q2 2015; way above Germany with 8, and the Netherlands with 6.

Interestingly, in these breaches 8.3 million records were exposed, which is only 3.4% of the global total of 246 million: the US accounted for 49% of all records compromised, with Turkey at 26%.

The first half of 2015 also shows a 10% increase in data breaches on the same period a year previously, while the number of records stolen reduced by 41%. This may be due to a smaller number of mega-breaches but very likely indicates varying regional security and data protection compliance.

Cohesive trans-EU protection

The current EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC is about twenty years old, and is from a very different time.

As technological evolution accelerates exponentially so security gaps, critical issues such as trans-national operation, developments in social networks and cloud computing have evolved and are not covered in a legally cohesive and meaningful way.

The new EU-wide General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will transcend any local data privacy laws and will be designed to provide a more comprehensive and wide-ranging legal framework, which will deliver much tougher personal data privacy legislation.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is a Regulation with which the European Commission intends to strengthen and unify data protection within the European Union (EU), and is designed to also address the export of personal data outside the EU.

The Commission’s primary objective with GDPR is to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU, and unlike a Directive, it does not require legislation to be passed by governments.

What GDPR means to you

The proposed new EU GDPR data security programme expands the scope of EU data protection law to all non-EU companies processing the data of EU residents. It synchronises data protection regulations throughout the EU, making it much simpler for non-European enterprises to comply with these regulations.

While the precise wording of GDPR and financial penalties for transgression have yet to be finalised, GDPR has a very stringent data protection compliance administration with severe and rigorously imposed financial penalties of up to 4% of global gross revenue or €20,000,000 – whichever is greater – for non-compliance.

What about your external vendors?

While this EU-wide regulation relates to the data owner – the entity legally accountable for the data -laws relating to data management, processing and security will also impact on your enterprise if there are contraventions by third party vendors, such as your digital marketing agency.

This means that you, and your enterprise must be confident that such third party vendors have the required legal know-how and competency in current EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC as well as upcoming GDPR.

The most resilient verification of this is that your agency has ISO 9001 certification for data management and very importantly, ISO 27001 data security certification.

Where do you seek assistance

Surprisingly, help is very scarce. My agency, Novacom, has both of these critical certifications so I was surprised to learn that according to ISO’s own statistics, only 0.06% of registered UK organisations (that covers everything from government departments to banks) were ISO 27001 certified.

And it’s even less prevalent in the US, one of the EU’s top trading partners, at 0.0036% of all registered companies. Given that trade often means data transfer, transferring data to a potentially unregulated destination could prove to have very serious legal and financial impacts on you and your EU-based enterprise.

Action points

The current EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC legislation is generally little understood in many areas of the EU, and in many respects quite poorly enforced. But with the recent growing number of data breaches, and GDPR coming soon, this situation will change very quickly.

GDPR and rapidly increasing cybercrime incidents mean companies must start taking data security seriously to mitigate security risks much more effectively.

This means not only auditing current internal security and data privacy procedures, but now ensuring your third party vendors offer the same high level of security.

Over the past year, the UK has suffered the greatest number of data breach incidents in the EU, with 63 by end-Q2 2015; way above Germany with 8, and the Netherlands with 6.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Multi-website management: how to maximise Internet revenue and profitability

Multi-website management: how to maximise Internet revenue and profitability

Multiple, multi-brand or product-dedicated websites can offer a greater Internet presence than single sites, and it can be argued that discrete websites linked as multisite entities offer greater flexibility, clarity and focus.

Often, these multisite groups have evolved through different global locations and administrative and marketing centres over periods of time and as such, often do not correlate content or offer navigation to synergistic inter-company products and services.

Website complexity reduces revenue

The main – and critical business development – issue with multisites that do not navigate or even indicate the possible presence of other group websites, is that visitors tend to move away from them when they do not offer a complete range of brands, products or services.

Visitors do this believing your extended brands, product ranges or services are unavailable or non-existent as they are not visible, losing you a potential customer while handing the commercial advantage to your competitors.

Controlling multisite management reduces deficits

This continuous loss of revenue is often invisible because it doesn’t fit within conventional financial metrics, even though it can amount to a large financial deficit, and can be compounded by possible continual erosion of commercial positioning.

In most cases, while the misalignments in multisite development may be apparent to an enterprise’s leadership, the actual financial obstacles may only be visible at first sight.

The business case for change

This means there is little or no business case for multisite audit and commercial remediation – accept among visionary and far sighted marketing management.

Calling these issues out, carrying out a proficient web audit and indicating financial improvements is generally welcomed by senior management, and savings are normally ploughed straight back into marketing budgets.

Multisite audit and performance review

But before you commission a review of your enterprise’s multiple websites, take a look at the website structure and what links to where. Most of this will be common sense, so if it all links up and works seamlessly, and you can navigate across all of your web presences there is no issue.

If however you know there are significant disconnects, or you discover that areas of your multisite presence are standalone and disconnected, then you will need to have a competent and specialist digital marketing agency conduct a thorough audit and review.

Creating company-wide opportunities

Working with a competent digital agency, this process will uncover all potential deficiencies in your enterprise’s multisite architecture and point to all the roadblocks to inter-website navigation, and through this, financial improvements can be planned.

But be sure your agency provides you with a clear hierarchical infographic for both current and future state structures as you will need this to communicate the performance benefits of this work to other sections within your enterprise, both locally and in-region.

This is because these changes in web hierarchy will offer a great opportunity for commercial development between different areas of your business and if shared and discussed, it will at the very least allow for cross- and up-selling across brands, products and services.

Building multisite value

And if this review is conducted with a specialist agency, not only will a new and efficient web hierarchy be proposed but as part of this, projected sales revenue uplift can be calculated and predicted.

So, from the outset, make sure that the digital agency specialists you are talking to are not going to deliver a formulaic approach and they’re confident enough to tell you what you need to know to improve sales, rather than telling you what they think you want to hear.

Be sure also that they have ISO 9001 certification for digital marketing quality management, giving you in turn the confidence to trust in the proposal and solutions you are offered in this quest to optimise website performance and maximise revenue generation.

Visitors do this believing your extended brands, product ranges or services are unavailable or non-existent as they are not visible, losing you a potential customer while handing the commercial advantage to your competitors.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

B2B social media and social marketing: really an effective business tool?

B2B social media and social marketing: really an effective business tool?

Many b2b marketers still perceive social media and social marketing as purely the domain of consumer marketing programmes and dismiss them as (probably) an ineffective business communications channel.

And this is interesting, because in the b2b space, prospects and customers may be up to 57% of the way through their purchase decision process 1 before ever contacting your sales team. So where does that leave you?

Reaching out further, faster

This means that while reliance on a well search optimised website with skilful on-page key phrase placement is good practice and will certainly provide visibility, a huge inbound volume opportunity is being overlooked.

Let’s look at some hard statistics:

40% of B2B buyers say LinkedIn is important in researching technologies and services for purchase; 19% say the same for Twitter 2

45% of B2B marketers have gained customers through LinkedIn 3

43% of B2B companies acquired customers from Facebook 4

Don’t wait to be found

What social marketing will do is start creating awareness of your enterprises’ products or services long before these prospects and customers visit your website. Why? Because through the use of social media, you have reached out to them, rather than waiting for them to find you.

And this is where many B2B marketers lose the plot. There is for some reason, a perception that any social media presence must be light-hearted and fun. Well, it can be; but it really doesn’t have to be; and your social media presence can be as business-like as you wish.

Creating relevant messaging

B2B social marketing doesn’t have to have offers; gimmicks or funny cat videos – it just needs to guide prospects and customers – through the delivery of relevant messaging – to your website or marketing automation (MA) system.

If you believe social media and social marketing requires a different communications strategy to web content, then you’re right. The difference with social is the narrative is constantly moving forward, so needs to be treated a bit like storytelling.

That is to say, in social, your story is being revealed piece by piece in a blog or post – revealing one fact at a time – and therefore requires careful strategic planning. The trick is, using that one fact approach to point readers to web content that builds out that message.

Planning makes perfect

To extend your reach, and reach out to potential customers beyond your competitors and before they even find you, sound planning and the development of a solid communications strategy is essential. And this strategy has to fully align will your marketing plan.

Because using social channels – whichever they may be – will require you to roll out an engaging, regular and episodic story – single fact, by single fact, that aligns with your communications strategy and may run over many weeks or months.

Feeding the funnel

This regular, episodic storytelling guides prospects to your website where marketing content takes up and embellishes the story, guiding the visitor along their sales journey and towards the sales funnel and a transaction.

In B2B marketing where high value transactions are common, the sales journey is often a long one, as decision-making takes place, with many divergences and digressions as B2B procurement teams and other decision-makers would expect.

Using social media, you will have got to B2B prospects earlier than most not using these channels, and if you are using an MA system, no matter how basic, you’ll be able to interact with these prospects in exactly the way they would anticipate ahead of a transaction.

So, maybe social marketing is much more appropriate to B2B marketing than it might look to the uninitiated first-timer.

1 CEB best practice insight and technology
2 Social Media Today
3 Social Media Today
4 HubSpot: State of Inbound Marketing

B2B social marketing doesn’t have to have offers; gimmicks or funny cat videos – it just needs to guide prospects and customers – through the delivery of relevant messaging – to your website or marketing automation (MA) system.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Personalisation: engaging with your customers and creating long-term loyalty

Personalisation: engaging with your customers and creating long-term loyalty

When many marketers think of personalisation their eyes become misty with nostalgia, as they recall the heady days of personalised digital print – and being able to print the recipient’s name in the salutation line on direct mail shots.

But in the intervening years, not only has the digital space emerged, but big data can also now be structured to interact with your website visitors in a way that provides a truly personal, tailored relationship.

Technology-driven user engagement

Personalisation requires the development of a clear profile of each customer who visits your website and this profile then interacts with data layering technology and low latency interactive systems to create a seamless, personalised user experience.

But what are these things, and what do they do?

Well, it’s a fair question with a simple answer: these technologies are designed to deliver a personalised user experience that helps users feel engaged, guided and above all, valued as they browse your website.

For example, data layering simply means data is stored in a series of layers. Each specific layer of this data will interact with the user in a way that is appropriate to the user’s actions, such as offering guidance, or alternative or comparable products as the user moves around the page.

How does it feel?

This behind-the-scenes layered data is backed by low latency technology, which is simply there to give customers a perception of real time responses, where interactivity is instant, helpful and personal.

So what does this feel like for the user?

Well, if you visit a target site through natural search terms, and start comparing prices there, then you will most likely receive an offer of something like free gift wrap or similar to mitigate your perceived price consciousness.

Or imagine the site you are browsing detects that you don’t understand how to navigate it effectively or place an order, so points you to a site map to help find what you want, or FAQs for the checkout and sale procedure.

And this technology can also detect users who are hesitant, due to online buying inexperience or advanced age, and can offer alternative sales channels, such as offering a hard copy direct mail catalogue or bricks and mortar (B&M) outlet locations.

The way personalisation interacts with your online customers is as flexible as you need it to be. It’s practically limitless.

Look in the direction of travel

This highly interactive personalisation is great for customer engagement and long-term loyalty. It can increase sales significantly and optimise revenue streams across your desktop, mobile and tablet channels.

But without a clear and cohesive marketing strategy, personalisation is pointless.

To achieve optimum performance from a personalisation programme, you must plan your communications strategy carefully.

That is to say, you need to know what you want to say before you start, because once you start, there’s no turning back. You are committed.

A strategy for success

Building a personalisation strategy will mean understanding exactly what your customers – whether B2C or B2B – want. There are a number of ways to do this but robust, accurate insights into customer needs and behaviours are critical to prevent sub-optimal engagement outcomes.

In most cases, incentivised website user surveys are the best option, and these can be supplemented by commercially available research reports. These two routes, combined with your own website user analysis almost invariably offers a very clear insight.

And if you use these insights to develop a cohesive personalisation strategy, and tie this in with a fully integrated marketing automation programme, your customer engagement performance will deliver revenue uplift with robust, long-term loyalty.

To achieve optimum performance from a personalisation programme, you must plan your communications strategy carefully.