Entries Tagged as 'Online marketing'

Should blogging be on your to-do list?

You’ve been hearing a lot about blogging for the past few years and you’ve reluctantly concluded that maybe it’s time to join the parade. Company blogs have a place in the B2B marketing arsenal, but only under the right circumstances.

While there are millions of blogs online, consider that the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that only 39 percent of Internet users read them. Is your target audience among them?

Marketing Benefits

Blogs are usually more effective for enhancing brand image and awareness than they are for driving leads and sales.

Blogs establish expertise by giving the company a venue for sharing what they know about subjects related to the products and services they provide.

Some of the most effective business blogs are written by management personnel for business decision makers–it’s not just for the techies anymore. Regardless of their editorial focus, the best-read corporate blogs avoid hype and self-congratulatory content. Instead, they focus on content useful to readers.

To create awareness about your company, products and services, keep in mind that blogs tend to be favored in the Web’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). That can go a long way toward helping your company be found by prospects who are actively searching for what you sell.

Your blog can also have a big impact on a potential customer moving through the awareness/inquiry/consideration/purchase cycle. When you find areas of confusion about the marketplace or can answer common questions prospects have, you are supplying the information needed to move to a purchase decision–anticipating the needs of those who haven’t contacted you directly.

Required Commitment and Resources

To gain and maintain readers, you need to keep your blog fresh. So you’ll need someone who has the expertise, writing skills and time to frequently post new blog content. How frequently? According to a research study by public relations firm Porter Novelli and market analytics company Cymfony Inc., only 24 percent of bloggers post once a week or less (I belong to this camp). Some 39 percent of bloggers post several times a week and 37 percent post daily or multiple times a day.

Are you ready for a conversation?

Blogs are inherently a two-way medium. Get ready for bluntly honest responses from delighted real customers as well as disgruntled naysayers. Yes, you can choose to disallow comments completely, but that removes the authenticity that you can build with a blog versus other ways of keeping in touch.

You can screen comments, which I recommend. But don’t immediately trash the comments that raise valid concerns and issues. These tough topics are key to showing that your company can handle doubts and respond to them, as well as listen to problems and resolve them. Skeptical prospects will watch and learn that you are listening, making you stand out from the crowd.

I recommend that you plan to post new content to your blog weekly to start. You can always turn up the frequency later, once you’re sure you have the ability to keep up the pace.

You also need a place to host your blog. (If you’re looking for links from the blog to your Web site to boost your Web site’s search engine results, host it on a different server than where your Web site is hosted.) Consider using Microsoft Live Spaces (http://spaces.live.com) or search using a phrase like “blog hosting” on your favorite search engine to find additional and inexpensive options.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

I recommend that you consider blogging if you need a venue to demonstrate your expertise (branding) or are looking for additional ways to move up in the SERPs (for traffic). However, you should launch a blog only if you, someone on your staff, or an outsourcer can post regularly.

If you’re tasked with driving leads and sales, hand it off to someone else or put it on the back burner. There are plenty of marketing tactics that will have a more direct impact on the bottom line.

 

Viral videos for marketing: A difficult balance

Many viral ads are fun, funny or clever, but few do a good job of really selling the product.

While taking a break after teaching a webinar from my home office, I was watching the top five viral videos that were mentioned in an e-newsletter I subscribe to from Marketing Vox.

When my wife, Andrea, came into my office to ask how the webinar went. She sat down and watched with me.

After watching the first one, Gorilla Drummer which was interesting and fun, Andrea said, “I don’t get what this has to do with the product.” The product, a chocolate bar, was only shown briefly at the end.

We both agreed that the second one, loosely promoting a alcoholic green tea beverage, was funny, but way too long.

The third one, sponsored by a leading manufacturer of sunglasses according to Marketing Vox, was interesting, but also never mentioned the brand, Ray-Ban™, directly. I’m guessing they thought that we all would recognize the sunglasses in the video as being their brand. The risk is that the audience of this viral video may be too young to recognized the iconic look of Ray-Bans.

I thought the fourth one from a blender manufacturer, Blendtec, was the most effective overall. It not only was provocative, making it a good candidate for going viral, it also clearly demonstrated the product in action and offered up a website to learn (see?) more. My wife commented that she sure hoped our kids didn’t see the video, as she didn’t want them trying it at home. But she also suggested I send it to a friend of ours.

The fifth video, although clearly not aimed at my demographic (old and married), was clearly effective at selling the implied “benefit” of a body spray for young men. I’m guessing any male teenager with horomones raging would understand the message clearly. Even this old guy got the message, as did his wife.

Although these are the top five viral ad videos, I’ll bet these last two translated into far more sales than the first three!

Even though these examples are not business-to-business advertising, I think there are lessons we B2B marketers can learn from them.

The main lesson is that the hard part is making the video interesting, funny or provocative enough to go viral, while selling the product at the same time. Hats off to Blendtec and Lynx and/or their agencies for doing so.

I also wonder, is anyone tracking results such as a lift in sales as a measure of success? Or are they only bragging about how many views the videos got?

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