Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why B2B should STOP using YouTube in Social Media / Content Marketing

B2B organizations have been dependent on YouTube for sharing product demo videos, insights on new developments, product servicing videos, etc. to customers. These videos are used for marketing and customer support as well.

But YouTube has been blocked by most of the corporates, so employees cannot view videos during work hours and as it distracts.  YouTube doesn’t offer landing page for videos or lead generation facility for B2B. These have adversely affected B2B organization’s as they have to courier CDs of product demo and servicing videos to customers, and use other content marketing tools for lead generation. Time has come for B2B organization’s to identify better tools for video sharing, along with landing pages for lead generation and analytics.

Content marketing is most essential for B2B organizations and videos play major role in content marketing. Most B2B organizations have corporate clients for whom they offer products or services, as YouTube is blocked this becomes very difficult to engage with them.  Here are few examples how Video helps B2B in engagement.

  1. Email marketing with Videos: Using videos for email marketing can increase Click – Through – Ratio (CTR) for the campaign. Using video streaming server helps to view the video in the email box itself thus increases engagement with customers. These videos should be not more than 60 seconds and have landing pages incorporated in the emailer for lead generation, which helps to attract customers to website by showing trailer videos. 
  2. Video landing Pages: Using video landing pages during social media and search engine optimization campaign helps for more time spent on each page, thus increasing engagement with customer. Usually website visitors tend to view video rather than spend time reading the entire content. 
  3. Analytics of videos: Video streaming websites offer better analytics about viewing patterns of the video; this helps to filter target audience based on engagement levels. Better the analytics and better will be the marketing strategy. 
  4. Customer Support: This is the most important element of marketing, whether offering demo of the product / service or helping in solving errors in the product. As YouTube is blocked by most corporates, sending a video of product demo or servicing becomes tedious process, with video streaming, B2B doesn’t have to worry about blocked content; the video directly opens in email box. Since it is stream from different server’s chances of the server getting blocked is very less. 
  5. Testimonials: One of the best marketing tools for B2B organizations are testimonials from clients, these are the most effective tools and can be marketed along with case studies. As most customers don’t have time to read through the content, viewing videos  with case study and testimonial capsules helps to engage, since it increases me-too factor and spread word – of – mouth.
 There are many companies offering services of video streaming like

  • Bomb Bomb
  • Get Response
  • HTML5 video plugin is supported by high number of mail boxes, which can help in video marketing

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Outline to help you in designing social media marketing strategy for B2B

B2B organizations have started venturing in social media and content marketing campaigns. Prior planning a social media campaign, B2B organizations have to venture in social listening strategy to understand more about what stakeholders are discussing? What interests them? How can B2B organization engage with them? What are the influencing factors? Etc. Have worked on parameters for which the B2B organizations need to answer before venturing in social media and content marketing strategy.

  1. Define your target audience / stakeholders / customers – Unless you know with whom you need to engage, you cannot venture in Social Media campaign. 
  2. Information which your target audience likes or feels important – Identify through social listening, what they like, type of information which can engage them, topics of interest, when they share posts, etc. 
  3. Social Media networks used by target audience – Identify the social media channels where you can find your target audience, also identify specific groups where they discuss. It is necessary to identify organic and paid channels of social media for specific targeting. 
  4. Marketing vision of B2B brand – Whether B2B or B2C, brands should define their vision, as this forms the motive for marketing. Without vision it will be difficult for brands to engage in any marketing communications activity. 
  5. Visual Identity of Brand – All B2B brands connect with highly specific customers, but should have a visual identify which stakeholders can recollect or connect when they read about the brand. This in an integral part of marketing, as B2B brands have to influence customers deep learning systems. 
  6. Responsibility of content generation – B2B organization have to define employees / people responsible for content generation and authentication before it is published on social media, to ensure any negative impact due to errors. 
  7. Identify most important topics / categories – Identify most important topics / categories which help to engage and communicate with stakeholders / target audience. 
  8. Keywords– Being a B2B organization it is important to target the content based on keywords search trends by target audience. Having right keywords build into the content helps search engine crawlers to rank the content. 
  9. Identify customer journey from Search to Purchase – This is the most important element to measure ROI for campaigns on social media and content marketing. B2B organizations have to identify the complete process along with specific parameters like time required, number of decision makers, customization required, and cost of project.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Six Mistakes by Indian B2B in marketing strategies, are you doing THESE?

B2B businesses have always taken long time to change or re – work on their marketing strategies. Since earlier in 1970s and 80s they enjoyed monopoly business. Which emphasized any Indian company considering to import from international sellers had to obtain NOC from Indian B2B manufacturers of same line of products. This lead to the development of sloppy attitude and less focus on marketing. With change of policies for international B2B companies, these attitudes lead to either their closure or stagnant growth. The ones, who changed, stayed in business and experienced growth.
Now with progress in technology, B2B manufacturers are on the receiving end, as they are yet to embrace the new technologies like digital marketing, CRM (Customer Resource Management), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), etc. Though most B2B manufacturers are working on embracing technology and digital marketing, but fear of negative impact have made them conservatives.
The below points are my observations on some major marketing strategy mistakes which B2B business; especially manufacturers have been committing over the period. 

  1. Company doesn’t have a website: Most common problem with Indian B2B businesses, they don’t own a website of their organization, zero online presence. Most buyers are searching online; not having a website is as good as not running the business. 
  2. Have a website but only you visit it: Most B2B business design a website just for the sake of it, without having any vision or marketing plan. The websites are designed in old format of tables, without any conformity to W3C guidelines of Google, no meta tags in the website, etc. This is as good as not having website as it is difficult for search engines to crawl or rank it on search engine. 
  3. Website focuses on products only: It is important that B2B organizations focus on offering solutions, rather than products, as buyers are looking for solutions. This would increase engagement with buyer for better influence. 
  4. Solely depend on word of mouth/referrals for leads: With buyers increasingly dependent on search engine and engagement oriented communication, the dependence on word – of – mouth is less, though it is helpful for initial meeting, but cannot wholly depend as lead generation activity. 
  5. Mass Emailing campaign: Email campaign has long been changed, from mass emailer to database brought from different sources; it is now permission oriented email. This concept of mass email often leads to blacklisting of servers by firewall. On the other hand, this also results email reaching in SPAM folders instead of inbox of the customer. B2B organizations need to build strategy for building mailer list, of customer who wants to receive information. 
  6. Digital Marketing: If at all, B2B organizations ever venture in digital marketing, the focus is to have paid profile on Indiamart or TradeIndia and focus on SEO of the website for lead generation. Social Media is the last thing they ever plan to venture and that too is just focus on getting the likes and followers. All the strategies are only focused on lead generation, instead of engagement. But the ground rule is – engagement has to be top priority, while lead generation is outcome of engagement.

B2B Organizations need to venture in new marketing strategies for better engagement with informed buyers.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Why Indian B2B Manufacturers will be out of business in near future?

Indian B2B manufacturers for long have been focused on promoting products rather than solutions. With the advent of technology the market is fast becoming a buyer’s domain than SELLERs. The focus of B2B manufacturers, whether in digital marketing campaigns or participation in exhibitions or cold calling is PRODUCT oriented. Most of these organizations spend huge amount of time in strategizing on how to launch products in market and not on learning about customer requirements.

This article tries to highlight aspects which are least focused by B2B Organizations and solutions for the same.

Problem: Number of stakeholders involved in buying cycle: The biggest different between B2B and B2C is the number of stakeholders involved in buying decision process. In B2B scenario people from purchase, quality control, research and quality assurance are involved, while in B2C its mostly impulsive buying. Most B2B buyers often conduct prior reference checks happen at all levels. This also lengthens the sales cycle as B2B manufactures have to ensure all the stakeholders agree to the solution and it has been documented.
Solution: Develop engagement strategy for stakeholders: Indian B2B manufacturers have to develop engagement strategy to solve problems faced by stakeholders rather than promoting products. Also have to focus on customer support, since most buying decisions are based on prior reference checks, having robust customer support can help to help to build word – of – mouth marketing.   

Problem: Informed Buyers: Most buyers are well informed about B2B Manufacturing Company, before floating enquiry for product. Most buyers often conduct prior research about the B2B Manufacturer, its clients, range of products and background reference checks from clients. The sales team is most often unaware about this research.
Solution: It is important for sales team to constantly engage with stakeholders, since this would help them to be a part of the research process and influence buying decisions. The engagement can work on two simultaneous levels regular discussion meetings to understand any issues they face in their current production and content marketing on social media for regular online chats.

Problem: Investing without researching: It has been observed most B2B manufacturers invest without venturing in research for launching new category of products, advertising or marketing. Most decisions are based on gut instinct and experience, which often results in losses. Research for most B2B organizations is just focusing in Google results, which is often influenced due to SEO.
Solution: Research has to be conducted from established agencies with proper focus on expected outcome and what decisions will be taken based on the outcome. There are different types of research agencies who work on collaborative report to reduce the cost of research for a single company. This same should be applicable when venturing for advertising or launching a new office.
Problem: Rise of social search engines: Last 10 years have seen immense growth in social media, search engine, smart phones and internet. All this has fueled profound implication on how a company strategizes its marketing and communications. Internationally most B2B manufacturers have embraced social media, but in India, they haven’t even begun. For B2B manufacturers, having website and accounts on Indiamart and Tradeindia is end of the story for digital marketing. And strategy is focused on getting enquiries for products not on engagement. The digital transformation resulted in buyers’ market, rather than sellers, now the buyer decides what they want, how they want, when they want and their terms.
Solution: To succeed in buyers’ market B2B manufacturers have to research and redefine their strategy. The strategy should focus on engagement online as well as offline, to influence the buying decisions. Campaigns can be focused on training the stakeholders on how to solve issues related to problems arising in production, product demo sessions, regular newsletters informing on new developments in technology and research, regular webcasts on social media websites, ensuring presence in media, etc. Involving customer support team for regular site visits, not just when the client requires, even when they don’t require helps to build confidence and trust for word – of – mouth marketing.

Problem: Technology: Indian B2B companies’ dependability technology is mediocre, except for investment for managing finance through Tally; they hardly invest to create a robust platform for observing sales trends. When most companies, especially their clients shifted to SAP or ERP, these companies hardly spend on implementing technology. The sales team still drafts quotations using excel or word and keep track on follow – ups using spreadsheet. With cloud model of CRM the biggest fear of Indian B2B manufacturers is that data will be hacked or stolen.
Solution: B2B manufacturers have to venture in technology in all aspects of business processes. It is a need of the hour for B2B organizations to implement CRM for managing sales cycle and ERP for other internal departments. Having a robust technology will help in getting analytics and trend of finance and purchase, while CRM would offer insights for sales and marketing team. Having cloud model of CRM is better than having no CRM as tracking of sales data is much easier.

Indian B2B Manufacturing companies have to invest in business process re – engineering to re define their vision. Lack of vision has been the biggest drawback for growth.