Reuters posted an article yesterday entitled, “Is SEO DOA as a core marketing strategy?” and trust me, I know better than to respond and fuel attention to a writer who is either naive or trying to stir up the bee’s nest with a contrarian title. I suspect there may be a bit of both in this situation. Basically, the article makes the argument that entrepreneurs “may want to reconsider pouring money into search engine optimization (SEO) as their primary marketing strategy” based on an ill conceived post by Chris Dixon “SEO is no longer a viable marketing strategy for startups”. The reason I am posting about another “SEO is Dead” diatribe, is that with the right context, I would agree.
Archive for April, 2011
Imagine this scenario: Company XYZ has developed a great business creating products and services, developing marketing programs that explain the features and benefits of those offerings and making sales. The mix of SEO, advertising and newsletter is focused on explaining the solutions offered with the intention of educating and persuading prospects to buy. This is the way it’s been done in the past and it’s what current marketing programs are based on. Pretty common right?
But let’s also imagine in our hypothetical situation that sales growth has started to slow down or even slumped. Competitors are starting to eclipse Company XYZ in search results, the blog doesn’t really get many shares, likes, links or comments and it’s nothing but crickets chipring on the Facebook Fan page, on Twitter and the YouTube channel. The staff responsible for creating content are running out of ideas. Seem familiar?
Staying on top of social media and networking trends is essential for B2B marketers. Forrester Research predicts, “B2B companies will spend $54 million on social media marketing in 2014, up from just $11 million in 2009.” via eMarketer. Data and research are key to forecasting and strategy development but not many B2B companies invest the time and effort into such initiatives outside of link-baity Infographics.
Luckily, there are many analysts and agencies that serve the B2B Marketing industry that do conduct regular research into topics like social media marketing.
Here are 5 meaty reports published in 2011 that can help B2B marketers understand the direction new media and social media is taking in terms of overall strategy, industry trends, unique audience and application differences between social media platforms and measurement.
Content Marketing is a near and dear online marketing tactic and there’s been an explosion of attention and advice over the past year. SEOs and PR professionals are “seeing the light” if you will, of the value in creating and curating content that delivers value as part of their online marketing and public relations strategies. In an online marketing model with a defined strategy, goals and understanding of the target audience, what mix of tactics makes the most sense?
Many marketers limit themselves to a handful of content types and formats leaving substantial business to the competition. To be competitive, it’s essential to be open to a mix of content marketing tactics in order to provide relevant information discovery, consumption and sharing experiences for customers. This matters at the top of the funnel as much as it does after the transaction and into engagement and evangelism.
During an internal discussion at TopRank Marketing, the topic of defining social media came up and one area of interest was the difference in outcomes when it comes to incorporating both social media and search engine optimization. The social media tactics and expected outcomes when used for a SEO program are very different than social media intended to improve customer engagement outcomes. I think this is an important distinction because while social media and SEO work great together, the outcomes and business value can be very different.
Social Media for SEO
SEO helps connect customers with brand content through search engines. Content associated with both qualitative and quantitative signals tends to be rewarded with higher search ranking, driving traffic and hopefully, sales. In the scheme of things within the customer lifecycle, SEO is a tactic focused on aiding information discovery at numerous touchpoints, with an emphasis on the top of the funnel. Customers have some idea of what they’re looking for and search until they find it.
It’s a persistent question: Is social media and networking appropriate for B2B marketing? There are many ways to answer that question and one of the most engaging is through statistics and information presented as an infographic. My team knows I’m a big fan of using visual assets to persuade and I’ve been a fan of information graphics since XPLANE’s amazing work started appearing in popular business magazines years ago.
Besides using infographics to explain social media in the B2B space, there are a growing number of B2B marketers using infographics in their mix, such as this case study about Cisco.
Here are 5 useful B2B social media marketing infographics that help tell the tale of social media and B2B marketing working together. Click on each image for the large version.
After a great opening keynote presentation by Arianna Huffington, I was drawn into the nearby speaker ready room and ran into the always inspiring Brian Solis. Brian’s Marketing Masters track at ad:tech San Francisco was on my list for live blogging and as always, he shared a great mix of insights and inspiration about business on the social web.
I haven’t live blogged in a while, so forgive the rough edges
How do we improve the game for social media in business?
Why have people begun to hate the term “social media”? It’s about what social media is not. Social media is neither one to many marketing or many to many. It’s about 1+1=many.
Today I’ll be speaking at ad:tech San Francisco with one of my favorite people in the Search Marketing industry, Melanie Mitchell, who is a Senior VP of Search Strategy at Digitas. She’s tasked a panel including Simon Heseltine, Rob Snell and myself to talk about “Modern Search Engine Optimization”.
While SEO is a billion dollar industry, many companies focused on advertising are quite new to how SEO might fit within an online marketing strategy. With plenty of outdated and mis-information online amidst a fast changing industry, it can be a challenge to have confidence in what’s true and best practices. Few marketers want to invest in something they don’t quite understand. Or at least not understand where it fits for connecting the brand and customers to drive revenue.
Oftentimes marketers budget, plan and implement online marketing tactics in silos. When it comes to SEO, Social and Content Marketing – integration is the best practice and that means a tremendous competitive opportunity. Why Social Media and SEO for B2B? The intersection of social media and search engine optimization is a perfect match for B2B Marketer for several reasons:
Long B2B buying cycles have always involved engagement through content. The opportunity for coordinated Social SEO is in part inspired by buyer information discovery, consumption and sharing habits that have changed with the influence of social technology and search.
QR codes are getting quite a bit of buzz lately and as a self-professed marketing nerd, I find them to be a clever way to connect mobile consumers with online digital content. There have been some pretty creative implementations of QR codes for promotions and mobile marketing too. You can put them anywhere printing is possible and even places it’s not.
But as creative and interesting QR codes are, I’m a bit skeptical in terms of mass adoption. For some reason, I can’t imagine consumer behavior changing to start scanning codes for things when they could just search or enter a URL. There’s also the technology that needs to be adopted by more devices.
In testing out the newer Facebook question feature, I thought it would be interesting to step away from corporate marketing and ask our network about personal brand marketing and the tools that have been the most effective. With hundreds of millions of people active on social networks world wide, there have been more than a few “brandividuals” spawned through the social web.
Some tools are more appropriate than others based on who you’re trying to engage of course, but my question was directed mostly to Marketing and PR professionals.
About 140 people responded and here’s the breakout of tools from most to least voted:
- Facebook (I asked the question on FB so I suppose it’s a given that FB would be the most popular)
B2B marketers have joined the social media marketing movement in droves. In fact, Forrester Research predicts that B2B firms will spend $54 million on social media marketing in 2014, up from just $11 million in 2009 (eMarketer B2B Social Media Marketing Heats Up).
Unfortunately, many of those efforts are entirely tactical, methodical and without a true understanding of the “social” aspect of social media marketing. B2B marketers that are early in their social media marketing maturity level tend to focus on message distribution such as Tweeting or posting Facebook links mostly to their own content vs. engaging with customers on a human level. That one-way communication profile doesn’t engender discussions and sharing, so social traffic level increases tend to plateau pretty early.