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Modern Marketers Drive Revenue & Retention Through Post-Sale Nurturing, Customer Communities

One of the best resources available to marketers today is a healthy list of engaged, happy customers. Research from Demand Gen Report shows that nearly two-thirds (65%) of B2B buyers will turn to peer review sites when selecting and evaluating new technology. Customer success is paramount to both maintaining current revenue streams and attracting new business.

5 B2B Brands That Show Us How Social Media Should Be Used

Progressive B2B brands are taking a note from the B2C playbook and meeting buyers on their preferred platforms, such as on podcasts, through videos and on social media. In fact, the number of buyers using social media to research potential solutions has grown from 20% in 2012 to 54% in 2018, according to the B2B Buyers Survey. Yet, research from the Content Marketing Institute shows that while 80% of B2B marketers have a social media strategy in place, only 32% have documented it.

A winning social media strategy must be documented and expansive. B2B companies should leverage a variety of social media platforms to not only promote their products, but also share relevant content, engage with customers, build brand awareness and more. Here are five B2B brands with a stellar social media presence we can all learn from:

MailChimp Mixes Eye-Catching Visuals & Humor On Instagram

MailChimp is an email marketing platform, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it by looking at their Instagram. The company’s Instagram page is a beautiful blend of bright colors, entertaining videos and a dash of humor — a winning combination that has landed MailChimp over 83,000 Instagram followers. Visit the page for yourself and see if you can resist hitting the follow button.

 

Slack Drives Customer Engagement, Service Via Twitter

Slack leverages Twitter as a two-way communication platform to engage with current and prospective customers. On most days, the Slack Twitter is awash with relevant videos, articles and more, and the Slack team is constantly responding to comments from other Twitter users. But on days where Slack is down, the company uses Twitter as an active platform to send out status updates and field individual questions and feedback from users. With Twitter, Slack can provide real-time customer support in an easily accessible and scalable way.

 

HubSpot Continues Post-Event Conversations Over Facebook 

The best brands don’t just have social media pages for their companies, but also their events. HubSpot is a shining example of Facebook use at its finest.

The company has created a separate Facebook page solely for its annual INBOUND event. Although the event takes place in early September, the company is dedicated to building a year-long, sustainable community around it. To do so, HubSpot created an INBOUND Studio page, where it posts video interviews, “dear attendee” tips, quotes and more on a regular basis. The posts help drive engagement long after the event has ended, as well as build excitement around the following year’s event.  

 

Oracle Humanizes B2B Marketing On LinkedIn

LinkedIn is repeatedly named the top social media platform to reach B2B buyers, and Oracle is a prime example of how to best leverage the site. The company is ranked 9th on LinkedIn’s top companies list and has amassed more than three million LinkedIn followers. Beyond just sharing content and relevant news, Oracle makes a point to connect with its followers and showcase the people behind the brand.

Earlier this month, the company opened up about losing 11 employees on 9/11. Then, in the wake of Hurricane Florence, Oracle posted a video of two employees who are delivering supplies and providing aid to those affected by the storm and urged its followers to join them in giving back. In doing so, Oracle humanizes its brand and creates a company image that people will want to support.

 

Adobe Fuels Instagram Feed With Customer Content

Instagram is quickly growing in popularity and is considered the number one platform for engagement. Nevertheless, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many B2B brands using the platform, let alone posting content on a regular basis.

Adobe, which recently acquired Marketo, has a notable Instagram presence on par with MailChimp. The Adobe Instagram feed looks like something straight out of Pinterest, with breathtaking travel photos, inspirational quotes and quirky designs. But don’t be fooled by the professional-looking photos, as they are often created by Adobe users themselves. By crowdsourcing user photos, Adobe always has a steady stream of content available and can showcase the power of its products over social media.

 

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Podcast: HubSpot’s Scott Brinker Discusses Traversing The SaaS Explosion With Efficient Partner Ecosystems

In a quick interview at INBOUND 2018, hosted by HubSpot earlier this September in Boston, Demand Gen Report’s Brian Anderson sat down with Scott Brinker, HubSpot’s VP of Platform Ecosystem. Brinker is also notoriously known for mapping out the martech landscape on the Chief Marketing Technologist blog.

During the interview, Brinker shared how he has seen HubSpot’s partner ecosystem grow during his first year at HubSpot. He also discussed how the need for easily integrated solutions has grown evermore important over the past couple of years, as well as where he thinks partner ecosystems need to continue evolving to meet the needs of tech adopters in the space.

Listen to the full podcast to hear more of Scott's insights:

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INBOUND 2018: HubSpot Unveils Flywheel Framework To Better Attract, Engage & Delight Buyers

In the early days of demand generation, the traditional funnel excelled at helping businesses streamline their processes to move prospective customers from the top of the funnel to closed business. However, there has been a movement within the B2B marketplace toward breaking down the traditional sales funnel that the industry has come to adopt. You can see that in examples such as the #FlipMyFunnel movement and other analysts’ interpretations of the customer journey.

Why GDPR Will Force Marketers To Be Better At Their Jobs

Contently Jordan Teicher headshotI received 41 emails about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May. For some, 41 may sound modest. Every brand, publisher and tech company has to send these notifications explaining their new privacy policies. As we’ve seen over the last few weeks, these emails are painfully bland. Most people I’ve spoken to weren’t reading them. But they’re also incredibly important — and not just for legal reasons. For some companies, GDPR may actually be the creative catalyst they need to get ahead.

Let me explain.

At its core, GDPR is about protecting user privacy and limiting data sharing. But the subtext has to do with an unequal exchange of value. Users were handing over their names, email addresses and phone numbers (plus more personal details in some cases), and not getting enough in return. These days, companies gate as much content as possible with lead forms and ask consumers to share their contact information in order to access any old webinar, E-book or infographic. These exchanges emphasize the form of the content rather than its quality.

These same companies are also sending too many emails. By the end of 2017, people received an average of 121 emails at work every day, according to Templafy. If my inbox is like yours, that number is going to be a lot higher by the end of 2018. Some of those are urgent messages from colleagues, sure, but dozens probably fall under the umbrella of email subscriptions and spam. A few years ago, HubSpot reported that 78% of consumers unsubscribed from communicating with a brand because they received too many emails. So, the GDPR email purge of 2018 is like a giant reset button for anyone creating content.

Until now, it seemed like a lot of marketers were just going through the motions posting their content and sending their newsletters. Everyone still hoped to drive more audience engagement, yet there wasn’t a sense of urgency. Regardless of whether people read the fine print in the new privacy policies, expect them to at least be more discerning when it comes to engaging with your messaging. The impetus has shifted from the individual to the enterprise.

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For content creators, the mission is clear: be better. Be more creative. Develop a strategy that leads to differentiation. Ask the audience questions to figure out what’s working and what could be improved. Don’t just expect people to opt-in to email communication with your company because you have a blog and a newsletter.

Email is such a powerful channel for reaching an audience because it offers a direct line that sidesteps the tricky nature of social and search algorithms. But maintaining and growing that list has become a real challenge now that everyone is relying on the same tactic. According to a 2018 B2B report from SuperOffice, 64% of subscribers open an email based on who sends it, while only 47% open based on the topic or subject line. Those two factors are certainly linked to some degree, but they paint an interesting picture about the current state of email marketing. Building trust and earning a good reputation with an audience over time outranks the short-term impact of catchy copy or a trending topic.

As you’re moving the collection of GDPR emails to the trash now that May 25 has come and gone, think about what can be done to take advantage of this opportunity. Marketers don’t always get the chance to step back and evaluate their approach, but these new regulations have an upside. New research out of the UK from DMA and Acxiom suggests that a majority of people may actually be more willing to share some personal data due to the GDPR laws.

This window won’t last forever, though. It’s only a matter of time before businesses fall back into the status quo. So, make an effort to create breakthrough content that’ll compel your audience to stick around for more. If you address the pain points, skill gaps and buyer needs, people will be much more likely to see you as a valuable resource.


Jordan Teicher is the Editor-in-Chief at Contently, where he manages the company’s two digital publications: The Content Strategist and The Freelancer. Jordan also freelances about technology, business and sports in his spare time. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal and Wired.

B2B Marketers Turn To Personalized Live Events, Mobile Apps As Shortcut To MQLs

Online communication via email and mobile devices may be on the rise, but face-to-face engagement with customers and prospects at live events is far from fading away. In fact, the 2018 Event Marketing Benchmarks and Trends report from Bizzabo reveals that more than 80% of marketers view live events as a critical factor to company success and 63% plan to hold more live events and increase budget spending in the future. Marketers from companies such as WorkWave, Marketo and HubSpot are looking ahead and investing in live events as a tool to build communities around their brands and collect better leads more quickly.

Yet, despite the growing demand for event marketing, many marketers still struggle to prove event success and calculate ROI. New research from Certain and Heinz Marketing shows that nearly half of marketers spend up to 25% of their budget on events. Another quarter said they spend between 26% and 50%. But of the marketers surveyed, only 30% said they find their spending to be effective.

“I think the disconnect is due to a lack of maturity in how companies measure and track ROI from events,” said James Huddleston, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Certain, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “Because events are a physical channel, many companies don’t have the right tools or processes to convert physical buying signals from events into quantifiable ROI.”

Validar CEO Victor Kippes agrees, saying incomplete or irrelevant event data was a constant struggle in his previous marketing roles and was the reason he started Validar as an event marketing software company.

“I was on the receiving end of event data for many years and it was a big frustration of mine,” said Kippes. “When my company went to an event, they’d come back and give me 100 leads or 500 leads and say, ‘call these; there’s some good ones in there.’ I didn’t call them. You may as well have ripped six pages out of the Yellowbook. Those leads weren’t qualified or categorized at all.”

Best-In-Class Marketers Create Communities And Personalized, Heightened Experiences

Just as content is becoming more personalized and authentic, marketers are taking their strategies up a notch by doing the same for event experiences.

WorkWave, a cloud-based field services and fleet management solutions provider, is doubling its event marketing efforts in 2018 and focusing its efforts on developing valuable events that are tailored to the target audience. According to CMO Ken Wincko, the company held less than 100 live events last year and will hold around 150 this year.

“We are trying to create exceptional experiences at our events,” said Wincko. “We are tailoring events and event content based on industry, company and role. [Attendees] are put in different rooms based on the type of company they’re in and their level of proficiency. So, we’re providing different content for the small business owner because they have different challenges than the enterprise-level companies.”

In addition to its own branded events, WorkWave does roadshows and participates in third-party sponsor events. Wincko said live events comprise between 20%-25% of the company’s marketing budget for 2018.

According to Wincko, the company conducted focus groups and surveys to better gauge what their attendees want out of events and catered their approach accordingly. As a result of this feedback, WorkWave shifted its events to focus to how to’s and product optimization which is tailored to different industries, companies and roles.

B2B companies have also found success by creating memorable event experiences and building year-long communities around the event.

Marketing Nation Summit, hosted annually by Marketo in San Francisco, offered more than your average conference sessions and networking opportunities.

“We have found that giving the attendees an experience along with information is the most successful,” said Simon McPherson, Director of Global Events at Marketo, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “Our theme [this year] was ‘The Fearless Marketer.’ We used that in messaging and content, as well as in experiences at the show.”

According to McPherson, the conference included a zip line, as well as a “Swallow Your Fears” booth with scorpions and other insects. The experiences allowed attendees to fully embrace the theme of fearlessness and guaranteed that the conference would not soon be forgotten.

HubSpot took a similar approach to its INBOUND event last year, which included a 30-foot waterfall, hanging balloon sculpture and parachute-style wind machine.

The INBOUND event itself is centered on the idea of communities and puts attendee needs at the forefront.

“INBOUND is not a traditional B2B conference,” said Kimberley Darling, Senior Director of INBOUND, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “We actually banned the word conference because it has that user group connotation within the B2B tech world. We think of INBOUND as a community. We want people to have a place where they believe in doing things in a better way in order to grow their business, grow their careers, grow their teams and grow themselves.”

The company aims to continue the conversation post-event via the INBOUND Studio, a series of video interviews that are published to Facebook, YouTube and Instagram throughout the year.

“We have enough content where we’re putting out videos each month,” said Darling. “Really, it comes back to how you think like a marketer. You have this property, which is your event, and you want to be able to leverage your social channels to keep the conversation going year-round.”

Mobile Event Apps Provide Modern Insights For Lead Generation

When done right, live events can serve as a shortcut for marketers to gather more qualified leads. In-person events give marketers a direct platform to engage with current and prospective customers, promote and demo new products, answer questions and more.

“I think in the digital age, the people-to-people aspect of marketing has become even more important,” said Wincko. “When people come to your events, they’ve committed time, so they’re more serious about it. It shows that you have more interest than just a casual exploration phase.”

But better leads are futile without the right technology to support them. Progressive marketers are turning to mobile event apps, such as Doubledutch and Attendify, to gather qualified leads and collect data for informed follow-up.

“It's all about how you collect and utilize data,” said Jared Bodnar, VP of Marketing at Attendify, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “When the technology is used correctly, it’s [also] used to enhance the attendee experience and move them through the event in a very delightful way.”

But according to the 2018 State of B2B Event Marketing report, only about 30% of marketers are using mobile event apps, which James Huddleston, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Certain, an event automation and management software provider, said is a surprising statistic.

“Given the importance and ubiquity of mobile phones, companies who are hosting events should absolutely utilize a powerful event app to foster greater engagement and provide a personalized experience for their attendees,” he said.

In addition to doubling its marketing efforts, WorkWave is prioritizing mobile event apps as a strategy for success. According to Wincko, the company recently changed its event software to Cvent, in part because it offers a mobile component.

“We’re investing more in our events and in mobile apps because that’s where everyone is,” said Wincko. “Even in events, people are sitting at a session and they’re on their mobile phones. They’re recording you, taking pictures, tweeting or they’re looking at some other content on their phone.”

In addition to collecting attendee data for lead generation and nurturing, mobile event apps can also serve as a useful tool for B2B companies to share content and connect with attendees post-event.

“Some of our clients use apps as sort of community apps throughout the year,” said Bodnar. “They don’t want the momentum to slow down after the event is over, so they use the apps throughout the year to keep people engaged, to keep people posting, to keep sharing information and sharing content.”

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