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Why Poor Results From Social Media Marketing Aren’t The End of the World, Part 2

So with your new grasp of how digital marketing needs to encompass more than just siloed sections, you’re probably wondering just where social fits in.

You’re also probably wondering why poor social media results aren’t the end of the world, since I made it pretty clear in my previous post that social is a major way you can encourage prospects to find your business.

Let’s dive into that, shall we?

No results? Don’t panic – yet.

So I may have been a bit misleading in that the lack of results isn’t a bad thing.  You do, eventually, want results.

But it’ll take time to see anything significant from social, if you ever see anything directly attributable at all.

When I say no results, I mean when you view Google Analytics, you see minimal traffic that comes to you from a social channel.  Facebook, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Twitter, any of these count as social media traffic.

If you’re not currently tracking, and measuring your site traffic, where it comes from, and which sources generate the most conversions on your website, you need to start – now.  To help you, download my free metrics template, linked for you here.

Many times, lack of results is actually lack of data.

If you don’t have data going back a year or more on the historical performance of all sources of traffic, it’ll be hard to know how you’re doing compared to the same time last year.  Comparing month to month is acceptable, especially if you’re just kicking off a real digital marketing strategy, but sometimes there’s seasonal fluctuations that you won’t know about without historical data.

Your takeaway is that even if you’re not implementing a social or other type of marketing campaign, you should still be tracking your metrics.  Set up event monitoring, goals, and other types of information gathering now, ahead of time, so you can see the impact of your efforts later on.

social media marketing for b2b

How social fits in to the bigger puzzle.

Let me make this as crystal clear as possible.

Social media marketing is not a stand alone endeavor. 

You will not see results if all you do is implement some postings on a handful of the social media networks most recommended for B2B.  It’s actually why I won’t take on clients who only want social, without blogging or some other form of content generation.

Without something that leads people back to your website (and encourages them to visit again and again), there’s little to no reason to be active on social at all. 

Think about it.

Sure, you could (and should) be sharing curated content.  But that shouldn’t ever be the only thing you share.

When you only share curated content, you’re losing out on the main reason to be active on social media in the first place: to get people to your website.

If someone lands on a page and only sees content from other sources, those sources are what get the traffic when they click through.  It also does nothing to lift the brand recognition for the page sharing that information, since there’s little to nothing about the brand itself being shared.

You can get around this, to a certain extent, by adding your own commentary to the curated content being shared.  This works well on LinkedIn, especially in the groups, because adding your own comment encourages discussion.

But alone, curated content is, at best, going to attract a lot of fans and visitors that want to see you continue to share other people’s content.  Even news aggregation sites have moved towards hosting the content they steal – er, share – from other people on their own site (i.e. Buzzfeed).

On the other extreme (and the more common end of the business social media spectrum) is the companies that share nothing but their own content.

Press releases, blogs, new hires – these are all great to share mixed in with curated content.  That’s ideal, actually.

But sharing nothing but your own content is detrimental, because it’s self centered and overly promotional.  If you’re lucky, you’ll get that one prospect who’s the guy who always types in ALL CAPS and couldn’t figure out how to get out of Facebook and over to Google to search for you.

It’s that idea that I touched on in the last blog – just because you published something doesn’t mean you automatically deserve the attention of the audience you want to attract.

Social media fits in to what you’re doing by turning into one of many channels where you demonstrate your value to the buyer, as well as your thought leadership within your industry. 

Those are super jargony phrases, so to put it plainer: social media is how you increase the reach of the personal networking you already do.

It’s the public display of what your company is.

social media marketing for b2b

Let’s talk metaphors.

Think of it this way.  Just about all of us have encountered this guy.  The guy standing on a boardwalk by the beach, yelling at the people who walk by to buy his mixtape.  You walk by as fast as possible, doing everything you can to avoid eye contact, because once your eyes meet his, you’re doomed to hear his pitch and worm your way out of paying $5 for the burned CD in his hand.

On the other hand, there’s tons of musicians who offer their music for free, or for $1, on the various streaming sites out there.  You can learn about them organically, through the algorithms on those sites, or by searching, or through a suggestion from a friend of a friend of a friend.  These underground artists that become successful don’t shove themselves at you, and often offer some (or all) of their songs for free – letting you choose to donate if you want.

“Jen, that’s great for a musician, but I’m a business.  I can’t offer my products or services for free, and no one’s hunting for the next big B2B thing on Facebook.”

That’s fine.

Think about it another way.

Who are you more likely to stop and talk to, and remember after a trade show?

The booth where there’s a pack of sales guys, hungrily staring at the people walking by, waiting for someone to make eye contact so they can walk up and force a business card in their hand?

Or the booth with staff looking relaxed and pleasant, with information easily available, who happily spend time with you answering questions and helping you decide if they’re even a fit?  They may not even give you a business card, or instead, they politely ask for yours, and whether it’s alright for them to followup with you after the show.

Chances are, it’s that second booth that you’d be much more comfortable talking to when the show is over.

Social media marketing should feel like that helpful, informative guy you were happy to meet at a trade show.

Social media should be an extension of your company culture, whether that’s a professional, formal feel, or a more casual, informal way of doing business.

Companies that do this well include Sprout Social, Hootsuite, or Buffer – all social media tools with exceptional customer service on social media, as well as information-packed blogs that are useful whether or not you’re a customer of theirs.

Companies that aren’t in the social media space that do this well include Jim Keenan, of A Sales Guy consulting – as a sales consultant, you’d expect him to know what it takes to attract and convert potential clients.  Spoiler alert: he combines curated content with his own. 

TreeHouse, a company that offers training for coding, web design, and more, shares a ton of various resources on their social media channels.  They also retweet successes from those who tag them as a helpful resource, showing social proof that their programs work.

TopTal is a network of tech talent for helping companies scale up, and while they share more content related to themselves than curated content, they’re still a helpful resource.  They also retweet and share content from their audience that mentions how helpful they were to a success, or just a win for one of their partners.  Social proof can be a powerful tool!

At a certain size, businesses become enough of a brand in and of themselves that sharing nothing but their own content is acceptable – because they’re large enough that people care what they have to say.  That being said, your business probably isn’t a Salesforce, Glassdoor, or Amazon Web Services size company.

If you’re not that big, you need to utilize a different strategy.

That’s where the whole concept of being helpful, friendly, and part of the larger community within your industry comes into play.

entire business involved with social

Get your entire team involved in social.

The best way to prevent the social media marketing part of your strategy from becoming a siloed endeavor is to include everyone at your company in the process.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone posts to the company accounts, or that you need to coerce everyone into starting a Twitter account.

Rather, it’s better to treat social like a company-wide effort to improve their daily workload, too.

Embrace using the folks behind the scenes as a way to generate content.  Set up a web call or record a casual interview with one of your designers, coders, or developers, and let them talk you through their pet project.  This is one of my favorite methods of getting content to turn into a blog without having to spend hours researching – they know all about what they specialize in, why not let them tell you about it?

Their investment in what you’ve created encourages them to take an interest in the content, and you can provide them with links to share on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter (if they’re so inclined).

Or talk to your customer service team, and find out the most common questions or complaints they receive.  You can set them up with access to your preferred social media management tool, and they can start using any social media network as a first line of support for users reaching out that way.

Turn those common questions or complaints into an article or blog they can easily share with the customers they’re helping.  A bonus result from doing that is anyone else who’s not a customer, searching for help with that same issue, will find your blog and appreciate the resource.

Your sales team should be heavily involved with social.  More than just a way to promote your business, it allows them to research prospects and target them more effectively than through purchased lists or searching through the Inc 1000 companies.  Through LinkedIn groups, they can build up knowledge of who’s active on social media, and who is likely to refer business to them.

Naturally, this all takes time – but it’s possible (and effective) if you stick with it.

social media impact on site traffic

The lift effect of social media (and why those “poor results” aren’t so bad):

All that activity you do with social, the curated content, your own content, the team being active and engaging with your company’s content as well as sharing it themselves – that all adds up to an interesting effect.

Namely, the more activity that your combined social media efforts get, the more website traffic you’ll start to see.

It’s an effect I see correlated with increased blogging + social, being the most pronounced with regular, consistent blogging.  Without both new content being created, and an active social media presence, the lift from one or the other is minimal at best.

You might think one or the other is better – or why bother with social if you’re going to blog, since after all, that’ll give you the best results for increasing site traffic, right?  This thought is especially prevalent when there’s only a dozen or so directly attributed clicks from social media, which is hardly anything when organic or direct traffic numbers in the hundreds.

When you track site traffic against social media performance, you may see trends start to arise.

social media impact on lead generation

This busy graph maps the effect of Twitter and LinkedIn (bar graph) against site performance (green stacked area), and the resulting clicks on social media statuses (line).

This client has had an inconsistent blog posting schedule, which has resulted in varied performance.  You can see significant dips in pageviews (dark green line on top) that correspond to major holidays, but other traffic results correspond to blog posting.

Where you see the bars indicating Twitter posts begin is when I began working with the company, and when social media was incorporated into their marketing strategy.

They were posting blogs at about the same frequency before I began, but it wasn’t until social was added that they began seeing site traffic rise, and a corresponding rise in contact requests – which were, primarily, demo requests.

The graph isn’t a perfect exponential curve, but it does show growth, even with inconsistent blogging.  Their site traffic increased, and their lead generation increased.

Worth noting as well is that the social media traffic, as a part of the greater whole of site traffic, is minimal.  Out of thousands of visits a month, they only see a few dozen from social media.

But without social media, they weren’t seeing an increase in site traffic at all.

Food for thought.

What a Day of Inbound Marketing Looks Like

With recommended marketing budgets for many industries increasing this year across the board, with most companies expected to spend between 7 and 12% of total revenue on marketing, it’s important to know how that money is being spent.

Rising immensely in popularity, especially among B2B, is the concept of inbound marketing – that is, using marketing to attract prospects, rather than hunting them down through outbound marketing or sales tactics.

What is an average day like for someone who specializes in inbound marketing – particularly for B2B companies?

That’s what I’m here to tell you!   Read on for an average day as I manage inbound marketing strategies for my clients, and glean tips and tricks to make your own marketing efforts more efficient.

inbound marketing daily activities

Starting the day: 8 am

I spend the first hour of my day catching up on the latest marketing news.  I eat breakfast, have some coffee, and spend the first half hour looking for the latest information on marketing as a whole.  I’m a fast reader, so this usually means I skim through 4 or 5 articles, and deep read at least 1 or 2.  If I find any worth reading again, or spending more time reviewing, I save them for later using the Pocket browser extension, and read them as I have spare time during other activities.

The second half hour is spent reading up on news articles and blogs related to my clients’ industries.  I have Google Alerts set up for key phrases or terms related to their industries, and take the time to scroll through and see what the latest happenings are for each client.  I do this all in a single Chrome browser, keeping up any blogs or articles that seem worth sharing for the client.

Getting into the Groove: 9 – 11 am

After I’ve caught up on the latest news, I start scheduling any relevant blogs or articles I found when I was reading earlier.  Since all of my current clients utilize Hubspot, I use the Chrome extension to schedule directly from the link, which saves me about half an hour each day due to not needing to log in and schedule within each network (if it’s even possible per network).  Because this is so streamlined, after I’ve found the content, it only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to schedule all posts for each client.

Once I’ve scheduled curated content, I log in to each client portal, and review the social inbox for new messages on each network we have connected.  I reply to anyone who’s messaged the client, and spend 10 – 15 minutes liking tweets, retweeting, and replying to related tweets.

I also review their monitoring streams for new prospects or potential contacts to reach out to, and check their contact lists for new contacts added since the previous day.

This is a blend of social media management and contact list maintenance, ensuring that insights gleaned from social media activity is added in to contact notes.  I review new contacts and confirm with clients that the sales team has followed up, where appropriate, or I check that the funnels to purchase are working as they should.

inbound marketing daily activities

12 pm – 1 pm: Working Lunch

I tend to eat and work, using this time to review ad performance.  I focus on one client for the entire hour, cycling through them over the course of the week.

With Adwords, I check that the search terms are the right topics, and correspond correctly to the landing page being used for each ad set.  I update negative keywords, ad copy, or keywords associated with each ad.

For some clients, the focus of Adwords is on promoting blogs, letting the blog call to actions act as the focus for conversions.  For these clients, I review which blogs are still getting clicks, which ones are beginning to lose their “punch”, and add new ads for new blogs when needed.

Afternoon work – writing.  1 pm to 3 or 4 pm.

With inbound marketing, a major aspect is the creation and promotion of content.  Of course, you can’t promote content without creating it – and I try to write at least 1,000 words a day to ensure I’ve always got a full hopper of content ready to go.

I alternate which client I write for, or if I write for my own blog, and 1,000 words is the minimum, not the maximum.

Each blog starts with research, looking into popular topics for the industry, and then creating a rough outline loosely based on the most shared blogs I find.

Alternatively, I review keywords that the client or myself are currently ranking well for, and if there are some that are just below the cusp of first page ranking, or fast rising words, I use those as a core topic and write an outline focused on that.

Then, I just focus on writing.  I block out a large chunk of time for this, and try to write an entire blog in one sitting.  Each writer has their own method; I find it’s easier to get an idea out in one sitting than to try and piece together multiple days worth of thinking on the same idea.

The purpose of this time is simply to get a blog written, not to edit, not to polish, not to do anything beyond get an idea from my head onto a word doc.

Like anyone, sometimes I get stuck, and rather than try to force a blog out, I’ll start a new one.  The important thing is to write as much and as consistently as I can.  The point is to practice – the more I write, the easier it is to write more, and to write better.

inbound marketing daily activities

Wrapping up the day – from when a blog is done to 5 or 6 pm

I usually spend the end of my day wrapping up a few key activities.

First, I update any metrics needed, something I do each week, updating a client or two a day to keep the workload manageable.  Chipping away at metrics management keeps it from getting to be too big of a project to keep on top of.

It also lets me see if there are any major decreases in performance that need to be corrected, or if there’s a positive trend that’s an opportunity, I can ensure my clients take advantage of it.

After reviewing numbers to reset my thinking, I review a blog from the week before.  By giving at least a week between when I write a blog and when I review it, this allows me to see it with new eyes.  I’ll often change the font to a different one than what I wrote it in, to further aid me in reading it as critically as possible.

The goal with the review is to ensure that the idea I had was conveyed properly, and makes sense.  I correct phrasing, sentence structure, or rearrange the structure of the entire blog as necessary.

Final task for the day: planning the next day

One of the essential parts of the day, at least for me, is spending time planning out the next day.

Everyone has their own preference for how they manage a to-do list, and as often as I’ve tried digital methods, I go back to a handwritten list.  I’ve adopted, and heavily use, the bullet journal system to manage my to do list.

So, at the end of each work day, I review the list of tasks for the day, tasks needed for each client, and write out a new list for the next day.

I make notes of meetings, events, or other happenings that disrupt the normal flow of my work day.

I also note if I need to rearrange my normal workday; if I need to write an email sequence (hey, still counts towards that daily 1,000 words!), or if I need to create new landing pages, or otherwise devote time to something that’s not in the normal flow.

Simple on the surface, but it gets complex, quickly.

I (and my team) juggle all of this for multiple clients on a daily basis, also returning emails, taking calls, joining meetings, and generating reports as needed for each client.

If you’re offloading your inbound marketing efforts to an intern, or to whoever you can dump the social media marketing onto, are you sure they’re handling things with the same efficiency?

Does the person you’ve dumped the load onto even have the time to spend hours each day focusing on social media, researching topics, writing, or creating new campaigns?

This is why it can be so beneficial to outsource your inbound marketing to an agency (like Tyrannosaurus Marketing) that specializes in doing all of that for you.  It’s not a half-hearted effort to check off a list of the latest trends in the B2B marketing space – it’s an actual effort that generates leads. 

Why Poor Results From Social Media Marketing Aren’t the End of the World for B2B – Part 1

I see this a lot.

Businesses start their social media marketing as a part of their overall marketing strategy, and after a couple months, there’s little or no “pick up” on the social front.

They’re not getting much in the way of clicks, and the engagements on the channels they’re active on are minimal, if not completely nil.

At this stage, they may give up, or they may relegate social media marketing to a low priority, offloading it to an intern or the front office person to handle when they have time.

To understand why getting few, if any, results from social media alone doesn’t mean you should give up, we have to review the overall strategy behind digital marketing for B2B.  This will be a multiple part series, since first we have to review the entire strategy, then how social fits in, and then review poor results and what they mean.

Let’s begin!

modern digital marketing strategy

This isn’t the same internet it used to be.

As an older millennial, I grew up with the internet being fairly ubiquitous.  I’m used to Googling things I have questions about, I expect to be able to look businesses up online, and I do most of my shopping online.

Even older generations are getting used to these kinds of things, although they may not take it quite as for granted as I do.

The thing is, though, that the internet as it is today isn’t the same as it was when I was growing up.  It’s much different than it was when I was in highschool, college, or even 5 years ago.  The rise of social media and Google’s ever-changing algorithm (and the power those changes have on how pages rank online) have had a huge, huge impact on how we use the internet.

10 years ago, we had the first smart phones coming out, setting the stage for mobile-friendly content and a mobile experience.

Think about it.  10 years ago, mobile wasn’t even a thing. Image content only started making a big entrance 6 or 7 years ago, and 5 years ago, Facebook really took over social media after its purchase of Instagram.

Now, instead of word of mouth needing literal word of mouth through phone calls, in person meetings, or occasionally email, word of mouth can take place virally, through various social media channels.  Now, news can and often does break on Twitter or Facebook, spreading virally through shares without necessarily needing to be linked to a website.

We use the internet for everything, from dating, to shopping, to learning.  I know multiple people (most of the people I know, actually) who found their partners through online dating websites, an app, or social media.   I don’t know anyone who doesn’t do any shopping online.  Most people I know check out a company online before they ever consider shopping there or doing business with someone.

10 years ago, none of that was as accepted as it is now, much less commonplace.

B2B digital marketing

What does this mean for businesses online?

Okay, so the internet has changed, dramatically, in a very short time.

But the way you do business is still the same.  You still go to trade shows and conventions.  You still get most of your referrals from direct word of mouth.  Your sales team still needs to spend most of their day on the phone, calling around, or pounding pavement, getting in front of as many new prospects as possible.

You set up a website and every few years, you update it, just to keep up with that pesky Google algorithm.

That’s enough, right?

The part about updating your website to keep up with Google should be your first sign that it’s not.

You adapted how your business appears online to keep up with the requirements of staying visible on Google.

Why wouldn’t you adapt to the hundreds of other ways people will look for, view, and pass judgement on your business?

As much as everyone likes to rag on millennials, we are becoming the biggest generation in the workforce today. And right behind us is Generation Z – if you thought we were obnoxious with our understanding and use of technology, wait until the generation that grew up with smart phones arrives on the scene.

This means that we’re the ones passing judgement on who to do business with, and it means that your traditional methods of networking and prospecting aren’t going to be nearly as effective as they used to be.

Now, there’s organic search, there’s personal referrals through social media, we look up businesses on the social media networks we expect them to be active on, and we ask for reviews from friends and family on networks and in ways you can’t control.

It’s not just millennials using the internet this way, either.  Tech-savvy Gen Xers or Baby Boomers are just as active online, researching potential vendors or partners themselves.

Everyone expects to be able to research businesses online, reviewing their website for background information, social media networks for reviews, and seeing what kind of content the business shares on their own social media channels.

Today’s buyer wants to handle their own education on what you offer, with minimal to no input from your sales team.  They search for information from areas they feel are impartial, whether that’s groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, or forums, or by talking with colleagues in the same industry.

They don’t want to hear from you until they need more information. 

effective digital markeitng strategy

An effective digital marketing strategy is a comprehensive strategy.

Knowing that your buyer actually doesn’t care about you, your business, or what your sales team has to say about what you sell might be a difficult pill to swallow.

But it’s the truth.  The fluffy, jargon way to describe this is that today’s buyers are “empowered and informed”, meaning that they know what they want, or if they don’t, they’re going to look it up for themselves.

That is why your digital marketing strategy needs to be comprehensive. 

You need social media not because it’s going to completely change how you do business.

It’s because there’s an excellent chance someone, sometime, is going to look you up on social media to learn more about you.

Do you want them to arrive and decide that you’re not worth a call because your social media channels are full of self-promotional fluff?

Do you want them to scroll through your blog and click away because they didn’t get the answer about your offerings that they were hoping for?

What happens when a disgruntled former employee decides to ‘nuke’ your brand image through negative postings on every social media network of any kind they can find?

How do you want to find out about that kind of negative press – through your social media team, or weeks or months later, when you have an impossible time trying to hire quality people for your team?

What about customers or partners that had a less than stellar experience with your company?  Do you want to know as soon as they post something negative – or weeks or months later?  Do you want to stumble on the negative post months after the fact, after that customer’s post has snowballed into a shit-fest of complaints about your business, spurred on because you never bothered to answer?

On top of that, there’s more to social than just being there in the off chance someone looks for you there, or being able to respond to a negative post.

While social shares don’t rank in search, your social profiles do. 

Plus, as the article I just linked to mentions, social media networks are search engines in and of themselves. 

comprehensive digital marketing

Comprehensive digital marketing means more than social.

Social media is just one piece of the digital marketing puzzle.

Digital marketing is used in varying ways, but I prefer to use it as an all-encompassing term for any and every marketing activity your business does online.  Paid advertising through adwords, social media advertising, or influencer marketing, social media posts, blogging, email marketing, landing pages, purchase paths, website design, all of that counts as digital marketing.

If it’s online, it’s digital marketing.

To get the most out of your digital marketing, you need to start viewing each piece as a marketing asset, not as an isolated silo of activity you do just because it’s expected these days.

In order to attract organic search traffic, you need content on your website that answers the questions posed in those searches.  This means blogging, as well as informative, helpful “pillar pages” that explain your product or service offering, and that your blogs link to in order to build up how authoritative your site appears on the subject.

Long tail keywords are usually your best bet for ranking highly in search, and if that’s a new phrase for you, I have a helpful blog that describes them in more detail.

To get direct traffic (people who typed in the link to your site), which are most often repeat visitors, you encourage them to come back by continuing to post new content.  Blogs, landing pages, content offers – all of these act as potential reasons for visitors to continue to come back.

Referral traffic can be socially generated, or through links shared on partner websites or review sites that feature your product or service.  Being a positive source of helpful information means you get more of those links – often called back links – which also help boost how highly your site and various pages within your site rank for various key words.

Email marketing is another key method to get repeat traffic back to your site, enticing visitors to come back after an initial visit.  You have to be careful in how you use email marketing, though – you want to offer something of value to email recipients, to avoid burning them on ever opening your emails again.  Never, ever use purchased lists, either.  You may think that the one or two valid prospects (maybe even customers) you get from those lists make their expense worthwhile – but you’re digging your own grave for long term value.

On top of that, there’s paid channels – shown in Google Analytics as paid or display traffic.  Adwords is an entire world in and of itself, and can be a valuable asset to help increase the reach of your other marketing efforts.  However, due to its complexity, I won’t be going into detail about it in this blog series.

So there’s all of those pieces – do I just want more of everything?

Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that they want more website traffic, period.  More visitors means more potential prospects, right?

Not really.

Your digital marketing strategy needs to be focused on attracting prospects, which may mean you never really get all that much website traffic.

It means you’ll want to rank well for very specific keywords that indicate someone is interested in what you offer.  It means that when a visitor that is that potential prospect visits your website, they find it to be a helpful resource.

It means that your content offers need to help them make a decision, either for or against purchasing your product or service, which helps shorten your sales cycle.

It means your email marketing needs to nurture, not alienate your prospects. If there’s only a limited pool of ideal prospects, you want every single one to be happy about receiving your email – not to report you as spam or refuse to open your emails entirely

It means that your social media posts should be helpful, interesting, or informative, encouraging discussion or providing useful information that your prospects are happy to see in their feeds.

It means not taking the attention of your visitors, or prospects, for granted. 

Just because you published a blog post, created a website, or provided a white paper doesn’t mean you automatically deserve the attention of the people you want to reach.

You have to earn it.

In the next blog post, I’ll tell you how, as well as how social media fits into all of this.

Little Things That Make a Huge Difference Using the Right File Format for Blog Images

This is a small thing, a tiny thing, in the grand scheme of what it takes to run an effective blog.  Among the dozens, even hundreds of things you have to remember to do for a blog to generate leads (not just take up internet space), this might seem like no big deal.

It is, though.

It’s a small thing that sets a professional, classy looking business website or blog apart from one that seems pieced together as an afterthought.

What is that small thing, you ask?

Save your images in the right format.

You might be wondering “what do you mean, the right format?”

Maybe you think there’s only one format – the image format.  For most folks, that’s jpeg or jpg.  It’s common for photos and images, as it allows for a trade off between the size of the file and the image quality.

Need a smaller file?  You lose quality of the image, but you can make the file as small as you’d like.

The issue is the whole loss of quality thing.  For print photos or professional quality, printable graphics, jpeg allows you the depth of detail in color that you need.  If it’s an image with no graphics laid over it, jpeg still works just fine.

But for fast loading, high quality images with graphics or text that stay the same high quality on screens of all resolutions, you need a different format.

PNG.

It’s a type of file that supports lossless data compression – meaning you can have those small files you need for fast loading, and your text and graphics stay high quality.

When do I use JPEG (JPG) vs PNG?

JPEG is best for purely images.  To get the best quality in images, you need a range of colors that PNG doesn’t really support.  If you’re just dropping in a photo, use JPEG, but make sure it’s at a resolution that matches the size you want it to display in your blog.

For example, don’t get the cheapest, smallest version of an image from the stock photo site, and then upload it to be 3x the size.

To explain it in plain terms, pay attention to the resolution you’re downloading.

phone-690091_640.jpgThis is a stock photo at 640 x 426 pixels.

On a large screen, with a resolution of 1024 pixels wide, it’ll get a grainy, unfocused look.  It may be blurry, or it may be “pixelated”, which means you can see the squares (pixels) that make up the image.  Open it up and zoom in – you’ll see what I mean.

phone-690091_1920.jpg

Same photo, but at 1920 x 1280 resolution.  You can blow it up to full screen, and it’ll still be in focus and detailed.

You can get away with a lower resolution image if your blog is always using smaller image sizes to fit within your formatting.  You can run into issues, though, if you’re trying to share the image to a social media site that uses a format larger than your blog default.

On Facebook, shared images default to 1200 pixels wide – meaning if you have the lower resolution image, it’ll either be sized smaller and look weird, or stretched to fit, and look pixelated.

Twitter would let you get away with that lower resolution image, as it defaults image sizes to about 600 pixels on either desktop or mobile.

LinkedIn also skews smaller, between 180 or 350 pixels depending on how you share the image.

Which means that if you’re not actively sharing content on Facebook, you can continue to get away with smaller images…as long as your website doesn’t stretch the images responsively for larger screens.

The magic of PNG for anything with graphics on it: 

If you’re just using stock photos and not editing them or overlaying text or graphics, then you can go for the image size that’s in the middle, and be fine with that.

But if you add a logo, or text, or a graphic of any kind, that’s when it’s time for the PNG format.

Not sure what I mean?  Check this out – it’s subtle, but look for the difference:

How Clear is this Text- (2).jpg

That’s the JPG image.  Now look at the PNG image:

How Clear is this Text- (1).png

Sure, the first image is readable, and on its own on your blog, it might not be all that noticeable.  That’s especially true if it’s kept at a smaller image size.

But if anyone opens it in a new tab, tries to share it, or their screen is larger than yours and you have a responsive design…the poor resolution shows up.

Resizing is bad, mmkay? 

If you’re going to resize your image, resize from the original, don’t scale up a small image back to the size you need.

Regardless of format, this will trash the resolution of your image – resizing an image from small to large will make it look like crap, no matter how you save it.

When it comes to resizing, use the original, largest resolution image possible, resize that, and save a copy.

Always keep a version of the original image to work from, so that you can avoid image quality degradation.

It’s a little thing, but like the entire focus on image format of this blog post, it makes a significant difference over time.

That’s it!

It’s a simple, easy, thing, but it can make a big difference on how your business is perceived.

it’s more than just having pretty pictures on your website.  It’s everything else that it implies.  Having quality images demonstrates that you’re a company that understands how to do something as seemingly simple as post a nice looking image on your website.

If you can’t figure out a simple image, the implicit assumption is that your technology or your entire company is a bit, or more than a bit, outdated.  Maybe you don’t know how to get around on this newfangled thing called the internet?

How do you think a prospect would feel about working with a company who can’t figure out something as simple as an image?

The Essentials for a B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Whether your business has dabbled in content marketing before this, or if you’re just starting a content marketing strategy for the first time, knowing where to start can be a truly daunting prospect.

You know the gist of it – you blog, or create other types of content, and the leads come in.  Right?

But what about the details?  How often should you blog, what should you blog about, do you need to do more than post to your website?

I’ve got the information to help you get a process in place to better implement a content marketing strategy that actually works, and doesn’t just fizzle out after a month of disorganized activity.

First step: what should your content marketing accomplish?

Seems simple on the surface, but you need to actually come up with a goal for what your content is going to do.  While “get more leads” is a noble goal, you’re better off outlining how the content marketing is going to do that.

It helps to take a look at how your current leads normally find you.  Content marketing works well at attracting leads; not so much at hunting them down like your sales team would.  That’s a big reason it takes so long to start working: you have to wait for people to look for you.

That means you have to stop and think about how easy it is to find you, and what you could do to make finding your business easier.  It’s not just the obvious searches, either.  Sure, if someone is googling your product or service, you want to show up for that.

But what do your prospects search for when they don’t know that there is a solution for their problem?  What are they likely to search for if they aren’t even aware they have a problem?

Those phrases and searches are where your content marketing strategy should focus.  Not just on the obvious, easy search phrases, but on the ones that people search for before they realize they need to solve a problem.  That’s where you’ll get the most benefit from your efforts.

Decide how often to post, and what your topics will be about. 

Even if you’re not entirely sure what your potential prospects are likely to enter into Google that would indicate they need your services, you can still start working on a schedule for content.

Content means all content, by the way – blogs, whitepapers, videos, infographics, webinars, you name it.  Often, it’s easiest to start with generating blogs.  You can review their performance to determine if it’s worth diving into a particular topic in more detail with another content format, such as a video, webinar, or infographic.

Aim for posting content at least once every other week, with a once a week schedule being more ideal.  You’ll have to figure out the best frequency that allows you to generate content as often as possible, without sacrificing quality.  Posting too seldom will mean that it takes you months, if not a full year, to determine what topics are performing the best at attracting the audience your business needs.

Posting too often, with low quality content, will drive away any potential prospects.

Once you’re comfortable with the frequency of blogs you’re generating, start adding in other types of content to your calendar.  White papers, comparison reports, case studies – these kinds of heavier content can have a significantly less frequent creation schedule.  They’ll be used later on in your content marketing strategy.

content marketing strategy for b2b

Important step: create a buffer of blogs before you start posting. 

No matter how committed your team is when you decide to start your content marketing initiative, you will run out of blogs.

At least, you will if you only write posts the week or day before they need to be posted.

Without time to write, review, and edit your posts, you’re far more likely to have typos and errors within them that would have been caught with a decent review process.

By having plenty of content in reserve, you also insure that your business posts consistently – which is one of the most important aspects of your content marketing strategy.  You only build an audience through consistent posting, and by skipping weeks or delaying by a day or two, you’ll start to lose the momentum you built early on.

So: Don’t. Skip. Posts. Decide on a schedule, and stick to it!

While you focus on creating that reserve of content, start posting to the social media channels you want to be active on. 

Using the magic of curated content, start posting at least once a day to the various channels you want to develop a presence on.

In the B2B world, your biggest priority should be LinkedIn.  Not just a business profile, either.  Get your sales team and your senior executives on there and active.  The biggest reason for you to get individual employees to start engaging on LinkedIn on behalf of the company is LinkedIn groups. 

Groups are where you’ll get the most engagement bang for your buck, and you can’t just show up in a group and start blasting the members with your blog posts.  Share curated content relevant to your business and your industry, and build a relationship with the members.

Sharing curated content will also give you insight into what the audience on each social media network actually finds interesting.  After a month of activity, you may want to update or tweak your topics to match the topics you shared that received the most engagement.

5 Steps to a B2B Content Marketing Strategy (2).png

Sharing your own content: 

When you do start posting your own content, you want to be wary of flooding your social media channels with that content.

Yes, the entire point of building an active following on social media is to share your content to them, but unless you’re a brand the size of GM or Coke, your audience isn’t going to be too thrilled if that’s all you share.

Instead, you should continue to post more curated content than owned content.  To start, try the ratios I list below for the three biggest social media networks ideal for B2B:

LinkedIn, Personal Profile: Post no more than 1 owned content to every 2 curated content posts.

LinkedIn, Groups: Post no more than 1 owned content per week, with at least 1 curated content post in the same group that week.

LinkedIn, Company Profile: At most, a 1:1 ratio – one owned content to one curated content post.

Twitter: No more than 1 owned post for every 3 curated content posts.

Facebook, Company Page: 1 owned post for every 2 curated content posts.

I don’t recommend trying to use personal Facebook profiles as ways to reach prospective buyers – Facebook is seen as more for one’s personal life, and it tends to feel invasive when sales teams approach you on your personal account.

With Twitter, it’s easiest and most effective if you maintain just one company account, rather than trying to have everyone within the company active and engaged.  By focusing your Twitter efforts on just the company account, you also demonstrate that for customer service or other questions, there’s one account to turn to in order to ask questions.  This keeps things organized, and ensures that a question posed to your business is never missed.

LinkedIn is the one network where you do want to utilize individual people as arms of your company’s social media presence.  Because groups don’t allow you to join as a company, only as an individual, you’ll need trusted members of your team to join and be active on your company’s behalf.

Now, you experiment, and keep it consistent. 

The hardest part for content marketing is keeping this all up for an extended period of time.  You won’t see much success the first month, or likely even the second or third months.

The little indicators of success are things like your site traffic starting to climb, or your search rankings improving.  If you don’t have a tool to measure your organic search rankings, now is the time to invest in one and begin monitoring your standing.

Seeing the competition showing up on your site and downloading your content or signing up for offers is another excellent sign that you’re on the right track in the types of content you’re producing.

Marketing Automation Software – Why I Use and Recommended Hubspot

When your business reaches a certain point, you can’t continue to manage your marketing efforts manually.  Sending each email, signing into each social media network, dealing with 20 different wordpress plugins to handle your blog and website, reporting…all of it becomes a collection of time and tools that slowly take over your entire day.

Or you don’t use any tools at all, but you’re sick of having to jerry-rig together metrics from multiple sources, and you aren’t really sure how to get your business on board with Inbound Marketing tactics.  If you’ve read my previous blog posts on social media marketing tools your business could use, you may still be on the fence about which tool to use and just how to get started.

If you aren’t currently blogging, however, or you don’t have a content marketing strategy in place, the idea of implementing blogging, social media, email marketing, lead nurturing, and all of the pieces of inbound marketing can be extremely overwhelming.

Enter Hubspot.

marketing software for b2b

One portal, everything you need. 

Take it from someone who juggles social, blogging, email, advertising, and everything else digital marketing for multiple clients – even when it’s just one business, you want easy.

The fewer sites you have to log in to manage your marketing effectively, the more likely you are to do the things you need to do to see success.

That’s where Hubspot comes in.

You don’t need a tool for social media management, a tool for blogging, plugins for optimization, tools for analysis, tools for SEO, or tools for email marketing.

Instead, you get one tool: Hubspot.

In addition to the typical tools you expect to need, it offers something else that’s incredibly valuable to your sales team: insight into how specific contacts behave on your website.

Let’s take a step back and look at the single portal for everything part before we discuss the whole contacts insight part, though.

Blogging make you nervous?  Hubspot will hold your hand. 

When you’re just getting started blogging, it’s tough to come up with topics, it’s tough to write, and it’s tough to figure out if you’re actually doing anything to help SEO.

Hubspot helps, though.  You get the standard WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor to write the blogs, and when you’re writing, there’s all the usual editing options.

But what’s nice is for the beginner, you’ll get templates to help you write the top three types of blogs that perform well for generating leads: How To blogs, List based posts, or image based blogs.  You’ll also get an optimization guide that’ll help you ensure you’ve placed your keyword for the blog post in all the right places.

With Hubspot, your blog is also hosted directly through the tool, so initially, you’ll need to figure out the domain hosting part with the help of your IT team.  If you don’t have one, luckily, the Hubspot support team is phenomenal, so they’ll walk you through it.

Once you get your blogs published, the rest of the tool starts coming in handy.

best marketing software for b2b

Call to Actions, landing pages, thank you pages, and forms – oh my! 

Now, instead of needing multiple tools to generate svelte, modern looking landing pages, forms, and thank you pages, you can build them all within Hubspot itself.

Generating call to action buttons and forms within the tool also have a secondary benefit: you can measure the success of different buttons, forms, landing pages, and offers.

Hubspot lets you review the performance of your landing pages and call to actions, which means you can test and retest offers and buttons to see what works the best.  If you see a specific call to action gets a high number of clicks for views, but the landing page it links to isn’t converting as high as you’d like, you’ll know it’s the landing page you need to update.

If it’s just a button you’ve had to create yourself, you may not be able to see how well it’s working without some creative Google Analytics setup.  On top of that, you can see exactly which contact did what on your website after they fill out a form hooked up to Hubspot.

The ease with which you can generate landing pages is one of my favorite aspects.  For myself or for clients, once the general template is decided on, it’s just a matter of copying in the copy for the page.  You choose a form from a drop down (or create a new one), then select if you want an in-line thank you message or to redirect people to a separate thank you page.

Once the copy is written, creating the landing page tends to take less than 15 minutes – it’s just a matter of copy and paste.

How long does it currently take you or your team to generate a call to action, form, landing page, and thank you page?

Oh – I didn’t even mention.  At all levels, you can generate an automatic follow up email response whenever someone fills out a form.  Whether it’s a followup for a content offer, a demo request, or a quote request, you can automatically send a response that lets the contact know your team will be working with them shortly.

You can also set forms to alert specific team members each time one is filled out.  Those demo or quote requests?  Have them alert your sales manager.  If there’s specific products that your sales team handles, you can have the various forms for those products notify different people.

Nifty, right?

Once your blog and landing pages are set up, you’ll need to promote them: 

Promoting your content through various social media channels is a pretty necessary part of producing blogs.  If you’re not telling people you’ve posted something, how will they find you?

Of course, you do still need to share content that’s not your own – aka curated content.

How you schedule that content can get frustrating, though.  Without a social media management tool, you’ll find yourself logging in to each network individually, hoping you remember to post at the right time each day.  Or, you do use a social media management tool, but because it’s a standalone tool, you can’t map it back to your CRM or to your site performance with the accuracy your sales team really needs.

Hubspot offers social media management nearly as convenient as Sprout Social, although the Inbox feature isn’t quite as tidy as the one from Sprout Social.

It does, however, let you see clicks and interactions for each status for a given time period.  You can also slice and dice the data in the reporting feature, and clone statuses to repost the ones that were the most successful.

The ability to go back and repost statuses that performed well has nearly made my favorite recycling tool, MeetEdgar, unnecessary.  MeetEdgar recycles statuses from the entire library that you add, however, while Hubspot only easily goes back 3 months.

You can set up a schedule for time blocks that posts can go out, and Hubspot varies the timing within a 10 minute window so that the posts seem natural.

You can view the calendar of posts in a separate tab, or review all scheduled posts in the scheduled tab.

It’s easy to get your entire team plugged in as well, and with the shared scheduling calendar, you can set up a way for your team to add posts to the scheduled post queue without posts overlapping.

Hubspot is also one of the few tools I’ve used that makes posting and engaging with LinkedIn groups easy and manageable.  With B2B, LinkedIn groups can be one of the most valuable ways you can increase the reach of your content, and being able to easily post to and monitor groups is a necessary aspect of any tool you use.

marketing software for b2b marketing

Let’s talk about the contacts tier thing. 

One of the biggest drawbacks for many of my clients is that Hubspot forces low contact tiers.  100 contacts for the basic level of software, 1,000 for professional, and the enterprise level allows 10,000 contacts.

If you have a list of tens of thousands of contacts, paying for the additional space in Hubspot can seem prohibitively expensive.  Why spend for the space you need just to know you have that many people in your system?  Who can afford to spend thousands of dollars a month on having all those contacts in their Hubspot database?

The thing is, you’re looking at it wrong.

One, you’ve got too many contacts in your database anyway.  Read more about why you should be deleting contacts from your email collection here – you’ve got a lot of junk in that list.

When you do slim down your email list, you’ll probably realize you have far fewer truly active contacts than you thought.  It’s those active contacts that you really want to have in your Hubspot database.  Like I said in the blog post I linked to, you don’t want to think of your contact list as just a list of emails you’re hoarding – it’s a list of active prospects you’re moving towards a sale.

If you actually landed every one of the contacts in your list, would that be enough business to hit your sales goals?  If the answer is yes, then your list is big enough.

One of the best ways to find out what contact tier you truly need is to run through the segmentation process I describe in this past blog post.  Often, after the first sequence of emails, you’ll find your list is cut in half – or more.

Without Social Media Marketing, Your B2B Business Will Be Forgotten

There tends to be a divide between B2B businesses about whether or not they can see success with their social media marketing efforts.

Some businesses are all aboard the social media marketing train, with employees at all levels of the company active, as well as a robust presence on key networks.

Other businesses don’t see the point.  They get enough business through traditional channels, such as trade shows, and they use their sales team to keep up with leads.  It ain’t broke – so why fix it?

There’s a very compelling reason to get on the social media train, now, while it’s not crucially essential to driving more business.

millennial b2b buyersNotice how stock photos are showing millennials as office workers and managers now?  Searching “manager” in any stock photo site brings up as many (or more) millennial age looking people than it does the gray haired, experienced Gen Xer or baby boomer.  The times, they are a-changing.

B2B buyers are, more and more, in the millennial generation.

Forrester noted that B2B purchasing habits are fast on the heels of B2C buying habits – due, in no small part, because when a B2B buyer leaves work, they’re a B2C buyer.

The same expectations they have for their B2C purchases are bleeding into their B2B buying habits.  Today’s B2B buyers, more and more, expect that they can research their purchases online the same way they can for their consumer goods.

A big driver of this is the fact that millennials are now the largest part of the workforce, and they are making up a larger portion of decision making roles than ever before.

If your industry has a large amount of Gen X or Baby Boomers in decision making roles, sure, you’ll continue to see success for the next few years with your traditional marketing methods.

But those decision makers won’t stay in those roles forever, and if you’ve been counting on Baby Boomers for business, you’ll be in trouble when they retire.

And if you haven’t established a way to attract and retain business from the younger generations by the time the older generations have retired, you’re going to be in a lot of trouble.

There’s significant ways that Millennials differ from Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in the purchase process:

  • Research: Millennials want to talk directly with vendor representatives, and have high expectations of the service they receive in that process. Baby Boomers and Gen X, however, value the references from third party sources, as well as trade shows conferences.
  • Engagement: Millennials particularly appreciate fast responses on digital mediums – emails, or phone calls. Once they’re done with their research, they want responses to be fast and easy – noting that they are interested in communication through social media, live chats, or instant messaging to get information as they make their decision.
  • The Actual Buying Decision: While Baby Boomers and Gen X both rely on their own experiences to make a decision, Millennials actually seek and ask for advice from friends and family outside of their organization. They combine this advice with data analysis, and often seek information from social media or forum posts.

innovative marketing techniques

It’s not the bleeding edge of innovative marketing techniques anymore – you need to market to the younger generations now.  

A lot of companies have been biding their time with social media or content marketing, preferring not to be on the ‘bleeding edge’ of innovation – the edge where there’s a lot of risk, but also reward.  It’s a safer bet to let others go first, and learn from their mistakes.

That bleeding edge point in B2B marketing is long past us, though.  Now, if you’re not getting on board with tactics that include social media marketing, inbound marketing, and content, you’re just plain going to be left behind.

Yes, there are plenty of companies that are and will continue to do well without those things for the next few years.  There’s still tons of Gen X and Baby Boomers in the workforce, and they’ll be there for some time to come.

But do you really want to rely on what are increasingly becoming outdated sales tactics?  Are you really okay with your company being seen as a dinosaur – and with the idea that in 5 or 10 years, your company won’t have the digital clout to be able to remain competitive?

Are you so scared of change that you won’t even set the ground work for the types of marketing efforts that skilled staff can utilize later on?  You don’t necessarily have to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into a new marketing team, or an expensive, large scale agency to get your business up to speed.

You just need to start somewhere, and keep working at it.  The new marketing techniques I’m suggesting you embrace can still work side by side with the traditional marketing and sales tactics you’ve relied on for decades.  Since these newer methods take some time to really get rolling, it’s actually a good idea to continue utilizing the tactics that you know work.

It’s new, and it’s different, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or that it doesn’t work. 

That big prospect your team has been trying to get on the phone for months?  What happens when they post in a LinkedIn group asking for reviews or suggestions for the exact service or product you offer?

What happens if a prospect interested in your company sends you a tweet or Facebook message to ask for more details – and no one checks often enough to answer them?

Do you have anyone on your team monitoring forums for your industry to answer and participate in conversations that establish your company as an industry leader?

While right now, your older buyers may not make their purchase decisions this way, the millennials coming after them do.  It’ll take you time – possibly years, for forums – to establish credibility and trust on the networks you choose to focus on.

Additionally, using some low budget advertising on either LinkedIn or Facebook ($1,000 a month or so) can help you test and measure the effectiveness of your marketing materials.  Not sure if your images or copy is effective?  Test it with Facebook ads or LinkedIn ads.

How confident are you that you even know how to target your prospective buyers?  You may not have your finger on the pulse of who your buyers really are.  Nothing highlights a lack of awareness about your prospects than attempting to market to them – and failing to get any to click or convert on your website.

Social media marketing isn’t just about getting people to visit your website, but learning about them.  If no one is interacting with your content on the networks you’re posting to, maybe your content isn’t all that good – or maybe it’s not relevant.

If the content you’re creating and sharing isn’t relevant or interesting to prospects visiting your social media channels, how confident are you that your sales team is sharing helpful information with the prospects they talk to?

Social media marketing, content marketing, inbound marketing – it’s all a loop that tells you more and more about what your prospects are interested in and how you can better reach them.

They’re talking to you.

Are you listening?

Social Media Tool Review – Using Audiense for Twitter

A couple years ago, I reviewed a tool called Socialbro, a really nifty tool that let you slice and dice your Twitter follower data in helpful ways.

Socialbro has since rebranded to Audiense, and with it, they’ve updated a few things.

Dashboard – check out the demographic data about your Twitter followers

Audiense offers a simple, easy to digest dashboard that summarizes the data you may be interested in about your followers, as well as who you follow.

You can see your current follower count, as well as demographics about language, activity levels, celebrity followers (or celebrities you follow), how many newbie followers you have, and so on.

This dashboard view is best for reviews of how you’re doing with your audience, if you’re attracting the right people, and how engaged that audience is.  Aside from reviewing your Twitter (or Instagram) status, this isn’t where you’ll spend most of your time within the tool.  It’s good for collecting screen clippings to paste into Power Point presentations for reviewing social media performance, but it has little day-to-day value for what you’re doing.

Follower Management 

When you hover over the dropdown option from Dashboard (see screen shot below), you’ll see that you have several options for follower review, finding new followers, or searching Twitter users in general.

audiense screen shot dashboard.png

You can review who you’re following, and filter based on who’s not following you back, and unfollow anyone who hasn’t returned the favor since you last checked.  You can also unfollow people who don’t have a large enough audience, who are in a country you don’t want to engage with, and so on.

Maintaining a clean list of who you’re following can be helpful when you’re trying to follow only those accounts that will provide you with content you can share, or when you’re still below 2,000 followers and have to be cautious how many accounts you follow.

You can also seek out new Twitter users to follow based on keywords, audience size, and other tags such as location, language, or gender.

Alternatively, rather than following the new users you find based on the searches you perform, you can add them to a list.  This helps keep the list of who you’re actively following lower, and allows you to monitor who’s truly active and posting content that indicates they’re a user you do want to follow.

It’s a handy way to monitor and review the accounts you may be interested in, through efficient sorting and searching of users.

Reporting capabilities

A part of Audiense that I use often is the reporting capabilities – you can customize various reports based on what you’d like to see, and use those to review your Twitter performance.

The community insights report is generated for you automatically, and can be exported as a PDF, excel sheet, or a Google sheet.  No matter the format you need for your social media status reports, Audiense makes it easy to pull the information necessary.

The community insights report provides greater detail into who’s following you, and graphs out the ratios of how active your followers are along with other insights.

The detail provided in these graphs is more in depth than what Sprout Social offers, which is one big reason I use both tools.

In addition to diving into details about the demographics of your followers, you can review Tweet analytics, a very handy way to measure engagement.

It’ll show you in a heat map of how engaging your tweets have been over the time period you select, or you can see the totals per day as a bar chart.

Below that, it lists your engagement stats as totals, letting you see clicks, retweets, mentions, list adds, and so on.  I pull this information weekly to update my metrics sheets to compare against site performance, checking if there’s trends in Twitter activity and conversions.

Another helpful report is the followers retention/churn report – one that tells you what percentage of your new followers you actually keep.  If you’re losing a large percentage within a month or two of them following you, that’s a sign you’re either attracting the wrong audience, or that you’re posting content they have little interest in seeing.

audiense screen shot retention churn.png

Audiense helpfully color codes the report, shading it red the lower your percentage of retained followers gets. It’s worth reviewing how many of your followers continue to follow you after a longer period of time – sure, after the first week, you’re likely to keep most of them, but it’s the long term followers you’re most interested in.  You can’t build a relationship or establish trust if your followers don’t stick around for more than a couple weeks.

An additional report that can be informative would be the benchmark report – you can compare your account’s performance against similar accounts for your industry.

Audiense review

One of the most useful tools of all: the Rule Builder

I’ve talked about automating certain aspects of your Twitter activity, and this tool is what allows you to do that easily.

You use the Audiense rule builder like a simple if this, then that formula, although unlike the IFTTT tool, you can apply filters to who your rules apply to.

For example, if someone with over 5,000 followers retweets you, then you can choose to have an automated “thanks for the retweet!” style response go out to them.  Or, you can only thank people for following you if they have over 1,000 followers of their own.

You can also build lists to review later on, based on specific hashtags or Twitter chats you’d like to follow.  It’s a handy way of building up a list that you can search through on a weekly basis for new potential prospects to connect with, without having to search through Twitter yourself.

Use the automated response prompts judiciously – I’ve had to turn off my retweet response rule due to some enthusiastic followers who retweeted over 10 of my tweets, generating all of the variations I’d had in place.  At that point it clearly looks fake, and has the opposite effect of what you’d like.  Aim for natural seeming responses with a human delay of at least 5 minutes.

Limitations and pricing: 

One of the ways that Audiense divides the users of its product is by the size of contacts it has to monitor.  If you’re only managing a single Twitter or Instagram account, then you’ll be fine with the “professional” plan.  As your total list of contacts grows, or you manage multiple large Twitter/Instagram accounts, you may need to upgrade, but it’s those total follower counts that really push you towards needing to upgrade.

You can also import email addresses to monitor how the users associated with those emails engage with you, but if you’re using a CRM like Hubspot to monitor contacts and site interactions, this feature is a bit redundant.

Audiense works exceptionally well at streamlining your follower management, allowing you to more efficiently manage your followers as well as review if they’re the audience you want to have.

How to Consistently Get Your B2B Email Open Rate to 50% or More

What are your current email open rates for your newsletters or marketing emails?  Are they in line with the industry standard for your business – usually the 10 – 20% range?

What are you currently doing to improve that?

Anything?

Or are you just happy with your industry average?

Being content with the average for your industry is, at best, lazy.  You’re losing out on opportunities to nurture leads, and you may be losing out on business.  At worst, you’re alienating current prospects, driving them to unsubscribe or simply assign your emails to the junk folder, never to be seen or opened again.

You don’t have to just accept that low open rates are a fact of life.  Those open rates could be higher – much higher – if you implement a few relatively simple practices.

improve email open rates

Your biggest problem is probably your list.

Without fail, this has been the single biggest problem for any list I’ve tackled for clients.

Your list sucks.

The first thing you need to do is go through and clean it up.  By holding on to junk contacts – the ones who haven’t opened your emails in months, the ones who probably aren’t even getting your emails at all – you’re trashing your deliverability.  When you consistently get poor open rates, email providers notice that.

And your emails start getting sent directly to the junk folder, or promotions tab, or clutter folder.

When’s the last time you went into your junk folder or promotions tab, saw an email from a vendor or supplier, and thought “I want to buy what they’re selling”?

Never.

One of the first ways to improve your email open rates is to remove the ‘bad’ contacts.  If they haven’t opened your last 10 emails, chances are, they’re not going to open the next one – so remove them from your active email list.

You’ll end up with a significantly smaller list than your sales team might be happy with, but that’s okay.  Think of this smaller list as the list of actual, interested prospects you’re trying to market to.  Would you be happy if every single person on your smaller list became a customer?

If the answer is yes, then the smaller list is still a good thing.  Better a small segment of known, interested prospects than a gigantic segment of maybes!

Before you can improve your open rates, you’ll have to start by cleaning up your list. 

If you haven’t been actively emailing your list in the last 6 months, you may not be sure of who, exactly, is active or inactive.

You’ll need to set up a sequence of emails to help figure that out.  I usually set up a series of 4, and thanks to some handy dandy workflow automation options from Hubspot, I can create options based on whether or not contacts opened, clicked on, or otherwise interacted with the emails.

It’s a lot of work for this initial sequence, but it’s worthwhile – you’ll be able to determine actively interested contacts (those who open every single email), lukewarm contacts (those who only open one to three emails), and your ‘dead’ contacts (those who don’t open any).

Set up your emails so that they’re not obtrusive or obnoxious.  It can, and should, take about two months for the entire sequence to complete if you send emails once every two weeks.  For a list you haven’t emailed in months, that’s about as often as you should really push it.

For more active lists, you can send more often, but keep in mind that your prospects may not welcome more frequent emails.  It’s something you can test later on, once you’ve established a segment of contacts who seem to open your emails consistently.

At the end of your sequence, you should be able to segment out the opens, occasional opens, and the never opens.  This is where an advanced email marketing tool is handy.  While MailChimp offers some of these options, for B2B email marketing, you’ll want to connect your marketing efforts to your CRM to see which prospects are actually engaging.  Without that, your sales team may not know who, exactly, is the most engaged point of contact at a particular company.

If you just can’t let go of those contacts that aren’t interacting with your emails, export them to an excel sheet, and hang on to them that way.  Otherwise, remove them or segment them in a separate list that doesn’t get your regular emails.

The rest of your contacts are where you want to focus.

improve b2b email open rates

Segmented email sends are the secret to better open rates.

Even if you just clone the same email and send it to all of your segments, by divvying them up, you’ll get segments with great open rates, and others with less than stellar open rates.

What works better than cloning and sending to each segment, however, is testing specific pieces of your emails to see what could improve your open rates.

For your ‘easy open’ segment, you probably don’t have to change much.  Continue sending from the same email address, and whatever format you used in your clean up sequence, stick with it.  You should see initial open rates that are much higher than previous sends, especially if you start adding in personalization tokens or other things that tailor the email to the recipient.

Your lukewarm segment you can test with other options – different email subject lines, a different send-from email address, different preview text, etc.  Once your open rates improve, those are tactics you can apply to future sends, continually improving performance.

Subsequent email sends can then be segmented yet again.

If the recipients didn’t open their emails, test with different options.

If they did open, stick to what worked – and adjust the content of your email to garner more clicks, conversions, replies, or whatever you’ve set the goal of your email sends to be.

With testing and continual improvement, expect open rates to climb.

You should find that your opened previous emails segment becomes your most engaged.  My clients routinely see their average opens for those segments (which are about 1,000 contacts in size) in the 60% range, with the best performing sends reaching open rates of over 70%.

How does that happen?

This is the rough structure that unfolds once the initial contact cleanup takes place:

  • Based on previous sends, four segments are created:
    1. Opened from the generic newsletter email address (or whatever was tested)
    2. Didn’t open the from the generic newsletter email address
    3. Opened from personalized email send (person, subject line, etc)
    4. Didn’t open from personalized email send
  • Email is adjusted for each segment – personalization added, subject lines adjusted, or the format of the email itself is rearranged to garner more clicks or conversions.
  • A week after the send, new segments are created, based on how the segments from the previous send performed.
  • After 3 or 4 sends, yet another segment is created of highly engaged prospects – often under 20% – who opened every single email. Those contacts are sent to sales for follow up, as they’re the warmest possible leads.
  • Rinse and repeat!

Over time, you can create more and more sophisticated campaigns.  If you’ve included content offers in your emails to learn more about your prospects, you can start tailoring the sends to information you’ve gleaned.

Have a segment of office staff, and one of managers or directors?  Tailor the content to each segment.

Provide office staff with content they can bring to managers (or make their lives easier), and use them as inside eyes into the company to find out when your sales team can best approach the management.

Provide management with information they can use to justify the expense of your product or service – or that highlights the problem or opportunity they have that you can solve.

Over time, your email sends will shift from a marketing chore you have to assign to someone, to a consistent lead generation or informative exercise that’s essential to your sales team.