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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

Content marketing: 5 ways to win B2B hearts and minds

Content marketing: 5 ways to win B2B hearts and minds

B2B content marketing sounds like a rather self important label for old-school copywriting, and in fact many content marketers were at one time copywriters. So, what has changed, and is content marketing really any different from copywriting?

The answer is yes it is, and today it really has to be.

Because to ensure your website stays visible on an overcrowded Internet, with any guarantee of your marketing communications being read, and to create customer trust, engagement and loyalty, your content needs to work very hard indeed.

The reality is that today, prospects and existing customers don’t have the time to read lengthy copy; they want information quickly, and in these crowded and unreliable markets, where anecdotes often pass as facts, they need to have complete trust in your brand before they’ll even consider buying from your enterprise.

Here’s five steps you can take to win over these elusive B2B prospects, and convert them to loyal customers.

1. Understanding your audience

Where old-school copywriting and content marketing vary most is in the level of understanding content marketers must have of your target audience in order to communicate with them effectively.

That is because unlike ‘static’ copywriting, content marketing is not the beginning of a one-sided monologue; it’s the start of a real conversation which will grow and become ever-more personal as engagement develops, so knowing what your targets want to hear is critical to success.

This level of insight requires careful research which will allow you to create a profile of your ideal customer, known as a buyer persona. This profile or persona is the very target you will need to engage with and convert to make a sale, and the process is as relevant to B2C as it is to B2B marketing

2. Building engagement

To build engagement with your prospects and existing customers, B2B marketing content must be proactive and be served not only on your website but across different platforms such as email marketing or, more effectively, via a marketing automation (MA) programme.

This proactive approach means that you can reach out to prospects through email in a way that starts to build value into the conversation as recipients begin to recognise that you are thinking about what they want and drawing them back to your website to offer them more information.

3. Personalising the conversation

As this communications programme progresses, so your understanding of prospect and customer buyer personas will grow, and your marketing content in both email and website content will become ever-more closely targeted to each individual recipient’s needs.

As you analyse recipient feedback and continue to build on your buyer personas, this personalisation process develops further as email and web marketing content guide your target audience through the sales journey, to conversion and sales.

A sale in the B2C space may be as simple as a mouse click, but in B2B, this conversion point is most likely to be a call to a meeting, because while your B2B prospect may have already decided on your product or service, high value transactions will normally be concluded face to face.

4. Creating trust

While this email and web marketing content will be guiding prospects and existing customers on the buying journey, to ensure these individuals convert and buy from you, there has to be a strong element of trust in both your enterprise and your products.

This is where good content marketers, and great marketing content win out over static content, as it is the interactive nature of dynamic communications that create an understanding of your company, its products and ultimately develops trust in your offer

5. Sustaining long-term loyalty

If your content marketers understand the buyer personas they are talking to, and can resonate with them throughout the buying journey, your target recipients will learn to trust your company and at the end of the journey, buy from you or set up a meeting to close a B2B deal.

Having built a level of trust through content marketing interactivity, this relationship can be sustained and grown over time through light-touch nurturing emails, guiding recipients to new products on your website, or even third-party websites with published comparative reviews between your products and others in the marketplace.

This light-touch nurturing, and the ongoing offer of relevant information will help build the long-term relationship you need to sustain loyalty, and place your company front of mind when your audience thinks about the type of products you offer.

And that’s the true difference between static, one-hit copy and dynamic, interactive marketing content. Marketing content is produced by skilled content marketers who work to learn how your customers think and know how to develop a conversation with them that ultimately engages and converts prospects to loyal brand advocates for you and what you have to offer them.

If your content marketers understand the buyer personas they are talking to, and can resonate with them throughout the buying journey, your target recipients will learn to trust your company and at the end of the journey, buy from you or set up a meeting to close a B2B deal.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Content marketing: five ways to deliver customer engagement

Content marketing: five ways to deliver customer engagement

Marketing today is almost completely data-driven, meaning that when it comes to content marketing, measurement of open rates, click-through statistics and website page visits data is seen as critical to marketing performance indicators.

These statistical indicators are key to delivering marketing success, but can however also create distractions, moving the focal point away from your original marketing message and emotional prospect and customer engagement to one of pure data analysis.

And while we at Novacom live for data-driven performance statistics – we’re even ISO 9001 certified and only one of a small handful of EU agencies holding ISO 27001 – we believe strategic content marketing is what engages and builds loyalty in customers, not data.

So, here are five basic strategic elements for content marketing that will help deliver customer attention, engagement and long-term loyalty.

Research and differentiation

Effective marketing is about taking care of the basics. And the start-point has to be knowing your target marketplace, understanding buyer personas and positioning and differentiating your products or services in a way that makes them visible.

Within this, and through focused market research, you will know what your target buyer is looking for and if, using this information, you start to reflect and communicate this in your marketing content across appropriate channels, you will begin to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Value proposition and increased visibility

This differentiation will increase your visibility, but this visibility needs to be backed by a solid value proposition, meaning using your market research and analysing buyer personas and their needs, you can channel content on multiple and highly specific customer demands.

Continually communicating these multiple and known value propositions and targeting these strategically across appropriate communications channels will build a growing prospect and customer awareness of your proposition, ensuring engagement as the sales journey progresses.

Engagement and the sales journey

Careful and detailed data analysis will help you and your digital marketing agency to stay on track in optimising engagement as you will know how your marketing content is impacting on prospect and customer behaviour.

At this point in the marketing journey, the research done initially, your close understanding of your prospect and customer behaviour and your continued drive for engagement will now have created clear target audience interactivity.

This interactivity will be as close to a human conversation as it is possible to get in the digital space.

Conversion and building on success

If your analytical data has been properly managed throughout the journey, it will have been pretty clear for you to see who among your prospects and existing customers was likely to buy from you as the journey progressed.

This ability to (albeit causally) predict these outcomes will be a clear indication of the quality of your initial work in research, buyer persona development, and the resultant communications strategy driving the campaign.

This means that on an intuitive level you had the communications right. However, the quality of this work will also be informed by the conversion rate performance which tells you that the overall strategy was also right.

Loyalty building

But this is not the end of the road. These customers are valuable assets, and as such should be nurtured for subsequent sales, building brand loyalty by feeding them intelligent and useful information between sales events.

Modern marketing is all about relationship building through the thoughtful delivery of helpful information – content – designed to guide prospects and customers in your sphere of interest.

If you do this, you are creating emotional, loyal bonds with your audience, rather than treating them as cold, hard targets. And while statistical data is key in measuring marketing performance, it is only an analytical tool, not an end in itself: it’s content that delivers customers.

And while we at Novacom live for data-driven performance statistics – we’re even ISO 9001 certified and only one of a small handful of EU agencies holding ISO 27001

Five tips on digital marketing agency search and selection

Five tips on digital marketing agency search and selection

Digital communications (the transmission of marketing communications by digital means) covers a wide range of marketing platforms and a spectrum of channels and for client-side marketers, deciding on what is the best-fit for your enterprise is a complex equation.

And to compound this best-fit identification issue, actually seeing beyond the hot technology offers or the hype and such claims as ‘we’re the largest’ or the ‘only EU’ and so on, and to get a solid understanding of actual agency capabilities is a tough assignment for any marketer.

Platform or channel: what’s the difference?

Today, many digital marketing agencies will offer information on expertise such as marketing automation (MA) platform capabilities. Others will offer expertise in social media (SM) or pay-per-click (PPC) or online display advertising.

But while agency promotion of these platforms or channels is useful, what it is not telling you is what specific expertise they have in delivering marketing prospects or sales leads – the very thing you need to build your sales, profitability and long-term customer loyalty.

So, where does this leave you?

End-to-end approach

As can be seen, many of these communications elements are either delivery platforms or communications channels and while critical for targeted communication, they are certainly not the strategic marketing message in themselves.

So, cutting to the chase, working through all the platform and channel offers, to discriminate between pure platform or channel provision and those who offer platform or channel provision with truly solid strategic communication skill and associated marketing communication capabilities is a critical starting point in your search.

Conspicuous by its absence

Most of these digital marketing agencies will aim to provide content marketing as a part of their offer. This is key, but the quality of this content, its power to engage with your prospects and ability to deliver marketing qualified sales leads that actually buy from you is the ultimate criteria.

Remember, marketing platform and channel experience are key, but to achieve sustained growth and loyal customer acquisition, you critically need focused content marketing that drives these platforms and channels to success. Here are five points to consider in order of relevance.

Research and strategic market planning

Any long-term and sustainable marketing campaign will require careful strategic planning. This not only helps to optimise prospect engagement, but also to ensure that brand visibility is gained and maintained throughout the campaign.

Always explore a prospective agency’s strategic market planning capabilities when you open discussions. A good way for the prospect agency to demonstrate strategic planning capabilities is through the provision of current client case studies.

Integrated multi-channel digital communication specialisms

To develop successful digital marketing strategies, your agency will need to provide a multi-channel communications strategy, and this will require a number of integrated communications platforms, delivering communications across several marketing channels simultaneously.

This means you need to satisfy yourself that any potential agency has not only proven expertise in all required platforms and the marketing channels through which they will deliver, but can fully demonstrate how this will work in line with initial – pre-proposal – strategic plans.

Sector-specific marketing experience

Again, as with the points above, in order to identify precisely which marketing communications platform or channel is appropriate at which particular point in the marketing journey and at which point a channel will need to close the sale requires critical expertise.

To optimise communications performance in this marketing-to-sale journey, it is vitally important that the proposed agency has a deep understanding of your marketplace, target prospect behaviours and how to engage with them. In short, sector experience counts.

Content marketing and search optimisation expertise

In many respects, and like the point above, long-term experience and close market sector expertise are very important in achieving optimum prospect engagement through understanding and delivering what it is potential and existing customers want from your enterprise.

This means selecting an agency that has proven experience in your market sector. That is not to say you should exclude marketers from closely related sectors, but you need to be sure they can demonstrate a very clear understanding of your target audience, and their needs.

You will know your market, so make completely sure your agency does too, because if they talk your prospect’s language they will raise your brand and campaign profile and visibility through powerful search engine optimisation (SEO).

Performance analytics and management

The final piece is for you to understand the marketing return on investment (MROI) your agency is delivering across the campaigns you will be working on together.

You will already know what your required marketing performance metrics are, and you therefore need to ask your prospective agency to formulate and demonstrate performance analytics to closely mirror these requirements.

It has to be said, agency capabilities in the area of performance analytics is variable, but a good agency with a competent analytics team should be able to offer all of what you are likely to need.

Content expertise drives success

As can be seen, technology in the form of marketing platforms or communications channels, and the expertise in utilising these is a very important element in digital marketing communications.

But what really counts when selecting a new digital marketing agency is confidence in knowing that they not only understand marketing technology, but understand what emotional and aspirational marketing content to load into it to make it work successfully.

Remember, marketing platform and channel experience are key, but to achieve sustained growth and loyal customer acquisition, you critically need focused content marketing that drives these platforms and channels to success.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

B2B native advertising: delivering powerful brand credibility

B2B native advertising: delivering powerful brand credibility

Business-to-business (B2B) traditional online advertising has always been a powerful and effective channel for targeted and focused B2B marketing communications, when delivered contextually, and through appropriate channels.

However this effective traditional route to business communication is now threatened by ad blocking systems, mainly deployed by those B2B website users who are weary of being bombarded by irrelevant and untargeted advertising during professional searches.

Maintaining B2B engagement

To my mind, whatever else we hope for, ad blocking will continue to grow and has increased by 41% globally in the last 12 months1. There are now 198 million ad-blocker users across the world2 so B2B marketers with an important story to tell will need to find another more visible channel.

And there is such a channel, where advertising cannot appear unless a website owner or web-publisher has vetted the content, and approved it as suitable for display ahead of website inclusion: native advertising.

Native builds advertising credibility

Native gives Internet site owners and publishers the opportunity to shine. That is because native material needs to be embedded (physically included by those in control of the website), allowing them to properly assess and vet carefully the content they serve.

This screening and selection process pharmacies raises the editorial bar, and adds a perception of editorial and therefore advertising quality to a website and helps build an improved reputational perspective in relation to editorial integrity.

Reflected integrity

From a B2B marketers’ point of view this is great news, because these site owners and publishers will now serve only credible advertising messages that have been assessed and judged to meet their elevated editorial reputational aspirations, creating an exclusive communications environment.

With this, native advertising then attains a similar level of credibility and by extension your brand becomes more trusted, and viewers will not, and cannot, block these messages.

Native, useful and valuable

It is also a great opportunity for agencies to create helpful, related and highly relevant advertising that far from distracting B2B visitors, actually helps them in their decision making on the buying journey.

This new elevated web environment not only adds to both the reputation of the website B2B visitors are now using, but your native advertising will be an inherent part of this reputational perception, making your messaging more credible and compelling.

Native credibility and helpfulness equal power

But there is one more important step to take to deliver the credibility and reputational power this situation can deliver: content. Credible and useful related content is critical in achieving the potential level of integrity native can offer in this exclusive situation, and you need to work for it.

And that means creating content that helps and guides visitors, improving their industry sector knowledge and informing them in order to help facilitate in their decision processes. This is not a quick sale, it’s building on trusted brand perceptions.

Successful native is long-haul

What this means is that using native advertising, and now in an exclusive environment, you have the opportunity to nurture your brand through this prospect/brand collaboration, creating engagement away from any flash-in-the-pan advertising distractions.

By taking this exclusive native advertising route and providing host website-related advertising content, you not only extricate yourself from the noisy world of irrelevant traditional advertising.

But from the start, if working with a digital agency who understands your market and can deliver targeted and synergistic content, you are building trust in your brand that will, over time, deliver customers.

1,2 PageFair

There are now 198 million ad-blocker users across the world2 so B2B marketers with an important story to tell will need to find another more visible channel.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Content marketing: ten tips for B2B prospect engagement

Content marketing: ten tips for B2B prospect engagement

With research indicating that only 60% of any marketing content is read before prospects or customers abandon it, client side marketers are then faced with an important question: what went wrong?

Of course, most marketers are in their own right pretty skilled copywriters, but today the savvy ones know copywriting and engaging marketing content – particularly if it also forms on-page search marketing content optimisation – SEO – is a different ball-game.

Seeking structured prospect engagement

But a careful analysis of your marketing content and it’s engagement performance statistics will normally inform on a number of rapid remedial steps that can be taken to optimise the situation and help put an effective communications structure in place.

And the starting point as always is ensuring that the digital agency you are working with fully understand not only your products but also your company culture; your target market audiences, what they think, and how to communicate with that thinking.

Keep it simple

We will leave alone SEO techniques as they are covered here, and we’ll put multi-language content – critical though it is – to one side as we need to focus on the fundamentals, and not cloud the question, as the issue here to is learn how to get prospects to engage with you.

I will therefore confine this purely to ten points on what to look for in your agency’s approach to marketing content and prospect engagement, as successful marketing communications – or content marketing – revolves around structure:

1. Whatever else, marketing content must be written from an interesting perspective, and this means engaging an experienced and expert agency who are subject matter experts (SMEs) and truly understand your products, services and communication with your marketplace.

The notion of carefully briefing your (inexperienced) existing agency to become SMEs to a point where they are highly proficient in successfully communicating with your prospects and converting them to customers, is probably a daydream.

2. An agency who are SMEs in your sector, will deliver marketing communications – whether banners or email links in a confident and professional manner with messaging inferring that engagement will lead to B2B professional success.

Outbound communications of this type, along with website marketing content and other inbound communications will – through SME involvement – be perceived as thought leadership communication and quickly develop a target prospect following and engagement.

3. Talk to your agency about developing a specific, brand-centric marketing communications perspective, as this will allow for a focused, discrete and distinctly unique approach to the target prospect’s perception of your brand.

This is a critical point, as if you have commissioned a new digital agency who are proven SMEs in your sector, your agency contact there may be more SME than strategic marketer – so remember you’ll need SME input as well as strategic marketing expertise to succeed in crowded marketplaces.

4. Humour, emotion, and aspiration are – to my mind – closely linked in that mild humour strengthens recipient engagement and the need to understand what subject-specific content is communicating – and that can be an emotional element around your product or a service.

Marketing content that produces an emotional response, captures readers’ attention and creates a higher level of engagement with the – now expertly-produced – subject matter, elevating interest to enthusiasm.

5. When briefing your agency on complex or highly technical aspects of your marketing communications objectives, description through product or service analogies can be a useful tool in conveying concepts to ensure they are fully understood.

Similarly, analogies can be used to great effect in marketing content, and where this is ineffective in the delivery of complex concepts, video can deliver fast communication on subjects otherwise difficult to access.

6. Keeping it brief. We know that reader drop-out is high and that only 60% of content is likely to be read unless it is highly engaging. So there’s an argument for writing 40% less and making it stunning.

Yes, recipients are time poor and can also suffer from Internet-induced attention deficit, but that is no excuse for reader drop-out. Get your agency to keep content brief, focused and fascinating in a way that keeps readers engaged, and returning.

7. An important part of skilled communication is to draw people toward the message, and this means making the message easy to approach visually.

The use of short sentences, short paragraphs, with plenty of informative sub-headings to maintain pace and interest is critical to engaging with readers, and ensuring they not only understand the message but want to learn more as they read.

8. Every picture tells a story. Breaking up textual content with images, be they photographic or infographics, will draw readers to content, when they see it is not just slabs of potentially dry, uninspiring drivel, and visual content will introduce another layer of information and interest in another form.

In this context, visual information can significantly augment marketing content effectiveness, greatly adding to reader’s positive perceptions, and level of engagement with your marketing story.

9. Recognition, aspiration and interaction with some of your other prospects and customers will help both your outbound recipients and visitor prospects gain a closer understanding of what it is like to work in partnership with you.

Here the use of podcasts, interviews, moderated webinar group discussions, and of course social media can build great interactivity and engagement with prospects through the aspirational effects of group dialogue.

10. Court controversy. Telling it like it really is, is my job: I can’t take people’s money for nothing, and what I have noticed when I do tell it as I see it, often clients seem to appreciate my viewpoint more, and in the case of this blog, read more.

So, don’t be afraid to court an little controversy. Life is a complete spectrum of differing perspectives and preferences, so to have an objective standpoint – an opinion – may just make you seem more approachable and trustworthy, and therefore, a better bet.

With research indicating that only 60% of any marketing content is read before prospects or customers abandon it, client side marketers are then faced with an important question: what went wrong?

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom