• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • Duo Consulting
    Duo Consulting on October 15, 2014

    4 Reasons Drupal Is the Best Social CMS

    It turns out Drupal and Social Media are a match made in heaven. Because of Drupal’s system of modules, integration with external websites can be as easy as installing a module that fits your site’s needs. And once these modules are installed, you will have a central place to manage profile information and plug-in modules, such as follow and share buttons.
  • This year has been a pivotal period for many public cloud service providers. They've fully tapped the early-adopter segment of the market.

    This year has been a pivotal period for many public cloud service providers. They've fully tapped the early-adopter segment of the market. The leading providers have also overcome much of the early inertia and resistance from legacy CIOs within the multinational enterprise marketplace.

    The Shadow IT phenomena will continue to transform how Line-of-Business (LOB) users make purchase decisions. The path forward is clear for the savvy CEOs that choose to fund this growing trend. Eventually, even the most reluctant traditional IT leaders will embrace a hybrid cloud model, to actively participate in this business technology transformation.

    The public cloud services market will nearly double over the next four years from $67 billion in 2014 to $113 billion by 2018, according to the latest global market study by Technology Business Research (TBR).

    The TBR "Public Cloud Benchmark" identifies revenue and growth leaders across SaaS, PaaS and IaaS -- highlighting their strategies and future moves, as well as overall market trends in each segment and geography.

    "The public cloud market is maturing, driving SaaS vendors to tailor their portfolios and teams vertically while IaaS and PaaS vendors invest in developer tools, pricing models and global expansion," said Jillian Mirandi, senior analyst at TBR. "Pressure from traditional incumbents is affecting fast-growing, pure-play vendors, and the spend among pure plays will continue to decline."

    Early-to Market Public Cloud Revenue Leaders

    According to TBR's assessment, portfolio developments across 2Q14 highlight the Salesforce.com ability to build out a portfolio of industry-specific solutions through internal development and ecosystem collaboration.

    The launch of the Salesforce1 for Retail portfolio in June illustrates that Salesforce.com is internally developing solutions such as Mobile Clienteling, while a partnership with Philips to create a healthcare platform demonstrates ecosystem collaboration.

    Microsoft will consolidate its Cloud Accelerate and Cloud Deployment programs into the Cloud Solution Provider Program to ease engagement between the company and its partners.

    TBR views this consolidation as a step in the right direction for Microsoft as it aims to create value-added opportunities for partners around its cloud solutions. Additionally, Microsoft reduced program fees for partners to encourage them to resell Azure and Office 365.

    To maintain IaaS leadership, Amazon (AWS) will utilize ongoing price cuts and service launches to remain competitive with Microsoft and Google on cost. Additionally, a higher-touch sales model and small but growing professional services team will help AWS better compete with the rapidly expanding cloud portfolios of IBM and HP.

    Forward-Looking Public Cloud Revenue Growth Leaders

    In September Box announced a beta version of Box for Office 365, enabling customers to access documents stored on Box without leaving Office applications. Also in September, Box announced Box for Industries and Accenture as a partner to help expand Box into the healthcare industry.

    TBR observes that the Google cloud business is rolling out portfolio additions and improvements more rapidly than it has in recent years. By focusing on developers and acquiring tools such as monitoring, Google will add value and elevate its position against IaaS leader AWS.

    The Google Apps portfolio has also become more attractive to enterprise customers through the launch of Google Drive for Work -- a premium edition of Google Apps for Business that includes unlimited storage, an API audit for developers, and increased security and management tools.

    Establishing additional SoftLayer public cloud data centers in London, Hong Kong and Dallas, as well as more recently opening data centers in Melbourne, Australia, and Toronto, continues to drive IBM’s public cloud growth globally.

    Furthermore, IBM’s recent acquisitions of security solutions providers CrossIdeas and Lighthouse Security Group LLC boost IBM’s global cloud revenue growth.

    TBR believes that security is of top concern among multinational enterprises when deciding to transition to cloud, particularly in Europe, where data sovereignty has somewhat inhibited public cloud adoption.

    While it’s true that a lot of PDF content isn’t the greatest SEO content, it’s not true that PDF documents are bad to have on your site if there are good reasons for PDFs to be there.

    While it’s true that a lot of PDF content isn’t the greatest SEO content, it’s not true that PDF documents are bad to have on your site if there are good reasons for PDFs to be there. An article at Search Engine Land details the pros and cons of PDFs for SEO.

    What’s A Good Reason For A PDF?

    If you can add spec sheets, forms, manuals, and other types of easily loaded content that users will want to download or print, it’s logical to do it in PDF format. Think about your customers and do what works for them. You can put your PDF on the site in ways that still work with the search engines if you do it the right way:

    • Use text. Scanned documents are pictures of words and not the same thing to a search engine, but they are getting better at processing images.
    • Set the title in the document properties using keywords in that title. You want a URL/filename that makes sense and is SEO-rich.
    • Link your PDF to other pages where appropriate.
    • Write-protect your document so it can’t be uploaded & edited by bad guys.
    • Save it in an older version of Acrobat. Yeah, I know there are new versions, but many of your readers are not going to renew their version just to get your PDF.
    • Be careful about duplicate content when you are updating documents. It’s easy to do if you are changing things around.

    Practice Good SEO

    When it comes down to it, good SEO is a good idea for everything on your site no matter what format it’s in because good SEO is user-friendly. You should be doing an online health checkup regularly and monitor what’s working and what needs to be adjusted. PDFs and SEO work fine together as long as the PDF is optimized for SEO.

    Photo Credit: PDF SEO/shutterstock

    Your company has embarked on a blogging journey to increase the right kind of traffic to your site and to convert visitors to leads. Those leads can then be nurtured toward a sale and become raving fans of your company.

    Are you wondering if your B2B blog is on the right track for successful lead generation? Focus on these five areas to know.

     

    All aboard! Your train is pulling away from the station and you’re on it.

    Your company has embarked on a blogging journey to increase the right kind of traffic to your site and to convert visitors to leads. Those leads can then be nurtured toward a sale and become raving fans of your company.

    Your blog posts are helpful and educational, and focused on your buyer persona’s interests and challenges.

    Even better, your company’s management and sales teams are on board, having bought in to the importance of blogging and how the sales team can use blog content during the sales process.

    What helped get everyone on board the blogging train? Here are a few reasons:

    • B2B companies that blog only 1-2x/month generate 70% more leads than those who don’t blog. Click to tweet!

    • Companies that increase blogging from 3-5x/month to 6-8x/month almost double their leads. Click to tweet!

    • An average company will see a 45% growth in traffic when increasing total blog articles from 11-20 to 21-50Click to tweet!  Source: HubSpot

    And while blogging can generate long-term marketing success, you also know that blogging doesn’t usually generate overnight success.

    In fact, that period after a blog has launched can be a scary and precarious time for a blog’s success and longevity. It’s a time when there seems to be more effort going in than results coming out. Management might start to wonder if all the content creation efforts are worth the investment.

    To help get you through that long first leg of your blogging journey when you hope you’re headed in the right direction, here are five things to measure to know if your B2B blog is on the right track:

    1. Article Views

    After you have begun publishing blog articles you’ll be able to see which ones are getting the most and least views. The results might surprise you, but that’s OK because blogging is an iterative practice where what you’re doing becomes informed by data and analytics. That in turn enables you to do more of what’s working and less of what’s not working.

    What is it about the more popular posts? Is it one particular author whose posts are getting more views? Is it a particular subject? A post format (e.g. how to, list post, controversial topic)?

    2. Engagement

    Many people who visit your blog may ultimately buy what you sell. They just aren’t going to buy immediately. Or from you.

    On average, 80% of a blog’s readers are first time visitors. That means that most readers don’t return.

    That’s why it’s important to capture visitors’ email addresses so that you can keep in touch with them and nurture them toward a deeper relationship with your company over time. The best way to do that is with an email newsletter. If you can get visitors back to your blog you’re on the right track.

    Measuring the net growth of your blog’s subscribers is also important because the average email list deteriorates 25% per year due to unsubscribes, people changing jobs, etc.

    Similarly, the number of subscribers to your blog via RSS reader is also a good number to track for an indication of a growing audience.

    3. Inbound Links

    Inbound links are one of the most important indications that your blog has remarkable content. It is like a vote of confidence from other websites.

    Inbound links are also one of the most important ranking factors in Google’s search algorithms. If other sites are linking to your content, your search rankings are most likely on the way up.

    4. Call-to-Action Performance

    A Call to Action (CTA) is a website button, image or text link that encourages a visitor to take an action by typically clicking on the button, visiting a landing page and filling out a form in return for some kind of content. Often, that content is a white paper, eBook, webinar or a newsletter.

    Every blog post should include CTAs, ideally offering more indepth content about the blog topic. For instance, at the bottom of this post there is a large CTA for an ebook about business blogging (click here to download). ☜ That is also a CTA, by the way.

    Look to see which CTAs are getting the better conversion rates (views to clicks). Some posts will have a better click rate perhaps, because of a more relevant CTA.

    One of the primary purposes of your blog is lead generation. Analyzing the CTA performance is a strong indicator of how well your blog is serving as a means to that end.

    5. Sales

    For many B2B companies with long sales cycles involving several buying decision makers, this will be a challenge. But with closed-loop marketing analytics, you can determine which blog posts are not only generating the most leads, but also which of those leads are converting into customers.

    Linking specific blog posts all the way to a sale can be illuminating. Sometimes you will find that while some posts generate more leads, other articles generate a lower number of leads but a higher percentage of sales.

    Bon voyage!

    Video is unquestionably one of the fastest-growing aspects of content marketing. With that in mind, here are four tips for your company’s next video content marketing effort.

    Video is unquestionably one of the fastest-growing aspects of content marketing, and savvy business owners and marketers are smart to leverage it now.

    With that in mind, here are four tips for your company’s next video content marketing effort.

    1. Get your resources in line
    For a lot of business owners and managers, video content marketing may be an intimidating concept, especially if they have little or no experience with the medium. Video creation can be a challenging task, and a lot of companies simply don’t have the means of executing a good video strategy by themselves.

    Before you initiate any video content marketing plans, you need to first consider what your resources are. If you plan to keep this all in-house, then you’ll need equipment, personnel to operate that equipment, scripts (probably) and the software necessary to edit and publish this content. You may be able to cut some corners here and there – maybe you rely on smartphones to record your videos and feature your employees, rather than actors – but there are limitations to this approach. While nonprofessional videos can have a certain appeal, you may run the risk of making your organization appear amateurish, and that can undermine your entire marketing effort.

    If you’re not going to handle every aspect of video content production in-house, then you need hire some experts to help out. In that case, you’re going to need some funds. Determine how much money you can reasonably afford to hire professional assistance, as well as which components you want to outsource. Maybe you want to write the scripts yourself or plan to handle the editing. Or maybe you’ll want to find a partner that can handle every aspect of the process. Whatever the case may be, you should know your resources before you develop a detailed plan of action.

    2. Set goals
    A major issue with many video content creation campaigns is that business leaders have unrealistic expectations. You have to realize going in that there are limits to what videos can accomplish.

    Generally speaking, videos are great for branding your business, as they give you a chance to develop your company’s personality. They aren’t as good for lead generation. Consequently, you shouldn’t expect to see an immediate sales boost. Instead, look for increased social media mentions and other signs that your brand is becoming stronger.

    video23. Short and snappy wins
    Whatever path you follow for your video content creation, you want to make sure that your videos are short, snappy and engaging. A minute to a minute a minute and a half is a good cap for most, with maybe a few here or there running a bit longer. But really, you want to limit the length.

    Creating overly long videos is a major mistake, one that countless businesses have made when pursuing video-based content marketing. It’s very tempting to develop longer content, especially if you want to cover particularly complex subjects. Maybe you have the idea to film a series of 10-minute-long presentations or roundtable discussions with yourself and other employees, covering the state of your company’s industry.

    The problem with such approaches is that hardly any consumers have the patience to sit through long videos. Unless the content is incredibly, unbelievably engaging, most viewers will check out after a minute or two. This makes longer videos not only a waste of resources, but also less effective.

    Keep your videos short and you’ll save time and money, and you’ll see better results from your outreach efforts, as well.

    4. Synergize
    ​Your video content should not exist in a vacuum (unless of course you sell vacuums). Instead, it should be an integrated part of your company’s broader content marketing campaigns.

    video3Most obviously, you should promote your video content through email and social media – after all, consumers aren’t going to come across your videos spontaneously. In addition to creating emails and social media posts when the videos first become available, you should also periodically shine a spotlight on these offerings by working a link into later promotional content, featuring the videos on your homepage on occasion and so on.

    You should also reuse your video content in other forms. You can write a blog post that refers to a video and offers additional insight that you couldn’t fit into the 60-second clip. You can use a testimonial from a video as a springboard for a social media campaign. Ultimately, you simply want to get as much bang for your buck as you can. With synergy, all of your content marketing will receive a boost.

    Sharing successes is one of the more common facets of modern life, whether it’s sharing each new sale or target reached in the organizational world, or sharing our latest holiday photos via our social networks.
    Sharing successes is one of the more common facets of modern life, whether it’s sharing each new sale or target reached in the organizational world, or sharing our latest holiday photos via our social networks.  The theory behind such things is no doubt that by sharing your excitement and your successes, you naturally grow the bond between you and those you share things with.

    A new study suggests this approach may not actually be as effective as we like to think.  The hypothesis was that because great moments tend to be rather exceptional in nature, sharing them can often distance you from your audience.  Rather than connecting you further together, it in effect creates greater distance between you.

    The experiment consisted of groups of participants watching various videos.  One member of each group watched a clip of an exceptional piece of street performance.  The other members had to make do with a rather mundane and boring video.  They were then given some time to discuss the videos they’d seen.

    The researchers then quizzed each participant on how they felt at the end of the discussion.  Interestingly, it emerged that those who had seen the more interesting video felt worse at the end of the exercise, because they had felt excluded from the rest of the conversation around the dull video.

    Interestingly, this was the exact opposite of how people had imagined things would be.  The researchers had asked participants to imagine the outcome of the study beforehand, and people consistently believed that the lucky people who were given the exciting experience would feel better, both whilst watching the video and when discussing it afterwards.  This would also include feeling a greater part of the group.

    “Extraordinary experiences are pleasurable in the moment but can leave us socially worse off in the long run.  The participants in our study mistakenly thought that having an extraordinary experience would make them the star of the conversation.  But they were wrong, because to be extraordinary is to be different than other people, and social interaction is grounded in similarities.”

    It brings to mind previous posts on the relative popularity of innovators.  There have been various studies highlighting how people with innovative thoughts and ideas are often ostracized by those who would much rather things stay just as they are.

    It emerged that when people voice creative ideas, they are viewed by others as having less leadership potential. That’s particularly true in times of economic uncertainty. The data suggest that, when the going gets tough, people crave the security that comes from having leaders who preserve the status quo.

    A second study goes as far as to suggest that the mere idea of wanting creative and innovative ideas is a load of rubbish. The research team found that we have an inverse relationship with creativity.  They found that new things can make us feel uncertain, and this uncertainty makes us feel uncomfortable, which of course makes us wary of innovation.

    The original paper concludes on a rather depressing note, suggesting that the key to happiness is finding common ground with other people.

    “When choosing between experiences, don’t just think about how they will feel when they happen — think about how they will impact your social interactions.

    If an experience turns you into someone who has nothing in common with others, then no matter how good it was, it won’t make you happy in the long run.”

    All of which isn’t great news for those seeking to initiate change in the workplace.

    Photo Credit: Sharing Ideas/shutterstock