Podcasting need not be daunting. You can record an interview over Skype. Today we’ll discuss how.
On Thursday night last week I scuttled off to talk B2B communications and social media to a bunch of people who work for a B2B company that have twelve offices throughout Sweden. After showing them how social media represents a paradigm shift in the way we communicate, I looked at examples of how other companies working within B2B convey their sense of personality and key competences on the web.
Facebook, Blogs or Twitter?
As I was talking all things social, the majority of my presentation looked at how other businesses use social communications channels in the B2B space.
Looking at a rather dry selection of B2B communications on corporate websites, I complained about how much they were lacking in personality and then contrasted them with a few examples I like including my friends at Arment Dietrich.
I chose to showcase Gini’s sites because they do two things that B2Bs can really learn from. They both
- show personality and
- build trust and credibility.
On the blog there’s a weekly vlog that shows Gini â€“ cycling gear and all, or maybe a hotel backdrop â€“ answering a crowdsourced question from the Facebook Page. For example:
As I’ve written before, this kind of B2B communications gesture shows that the people that run a company are approachable.
It’s Not About Conversion
When it comes down to it, my experience with clients has shown that blogs aren’t really about converting to sales. Yes, they might be an important part in the process of generating a sale, funnelling site visitors to specific landing pages; but as anyone involved in B2B marketing will tell you, the sales process is much longer than B2C. You have to convince different levels of an organisation that your product or service is just what you need. And persuading everyone through to the top brass can take time.
So I tend to see blogs are part of that initial journey to the sale.
For small online businesses, or would-be internet marketers, blogs are a vital cog in the sales wheel because so many internet marketers make their money with affiliate links or the sale of ebooks or training courses. But the techniques they use, won’t / don’t necessarily wash if you’re selling printers; or consultation services.
So What Are B2B Blogs Good For Then?
We were really excited at Jontus Media when we first heard about Google Wave. That video on YouTube blew us away and we imagined Google would be taking online communications to the next level, making it easier to collaborate over the web.
We got our invites really early on and gave it a whirl, trying it first out as a collaborative note-taking space at a Stockholm conference.
But as we tried to get our heads around it, it quickly became apparent that the product itself just wasn’t what we were looking for. After looking at other options we settled on Basecamp, which makes working as a virtual agency a blast, and haven’t looked back.
Google Wave – A Marketing Lesson
As you might have heard, Google put the final nail in the Wave coffin announcing that it was killing it earlier this week. I must admit it came as a bit of a surprise given the resources that had been put into building the Wave brand.
It was supposed to radically change the way we communicate online: Email 2.0 for millennials and other interested parties.
But after all the publicity, the hype and the interest generated around the product â€“ people were paying for beta invites on Ebay, for goodness sake!â€“ Google didn’t follow through.
Development seemed to stall despite the release of a few Wave templates; and it didn’t play nicely with Google Docs.
Content is King, But Creativity is Queen
I don’t mean that you should put creativity or razzmatazz ahead of substance; getting your key value proposition across is essential. Nevertheless, the creativity that underscores a piece of online content is an important part of the marketing process. The Net has all but replaced TV as the go-to medium but text alone is losing some of its sparkle; in the last two years video and audio have begun to feel just as natural on the Net. After all, there’s a reason YouTube is the number 2 search engine on the planet!
With the Net increasingly the domain of mixed (or multi) media, content marketing strategies have had to change. Getting traffic to your website isn’t just a matter of great writing. It’s also about search engine optimization, participation across social media channels, and building communities of engagement.
Throwing money at a project isn’t the be all and end all of strategy. Sure, large companies may be able to throw money at creative teams in the pursuit of standout content, but that doesn’t always ensure success. Just ask Cisco. They aped the Old Spice campaign and no one seemed to notice. [Read more…]
Daniel Hindin, over at SpinSucks wrote an interesting post about business blogs and conversations. I chimed in with my own two cents this morning because being the sceptic that I am, I couldn’t help wonder if that kind of B2B blogging strategy means you’re less likely to turn your traffic into customers if you put the emphasis on conversation rather than lead generation.
Perhaps lead generation is too crude a term but you know what I mean. There’s this whole school of thought that blogs are:
- great for SEO
- get you near the top of Google
- can help you target keywords
- and provide traffic to your website.
My own approach to business blogging is a combination of blogging whatever takes my fancy, coupled with a mirrored with a hefty dose of SEO strategy and the desire to make a living.
I used to blog as purely a means of creative, self-expression but that died away after I changed career and started my own business.
I’m yet to consciously set out to be more conversational on this site. I try and do that on Twitter. But I have taken considerable steps over the last year to increase my traffic through SEO and keywords.
WP Scribe SEO Plugin
As I’ve noted before, since I installed the SEO plugin the weekend it launched, I’ve seen a considerable rise in traffic to this site. I also get better results in Google and, as it happens, better conversion rates.
Although I love the conversations I have and witness on blogs, I tend to regard blogs as a strategic channel for business growth (and a way of making new friends interested in the online communications industry)! That’s why I was interested in Danny Brown’s post last week recommending Arkayne, a similar plugin to Scribe that seemed good for business.
Straight from the Horse’s Mouth
Even my customers seem to see business blogs as a stepping stone to business. For instance, I always ask new customers how they found me and last week’s response was fairly typical:
“You were at the top of Google for the phrase I searched for,” the client told me. “And your blog offered what I was looking for. That’s why I contacted you.” [Read more…]
So you’ve been running a business blog for a while now. Maybe it’s hosted on at a different domain to your regular business site, maybe it’s not. Maybe you try to be more informal, more conversational than you allow yourself to be on the “real” site.
But what if it’s not working?
- What if 90 percent of your daily traffic is from new visitors that don’t hang around?
- What if Google Analytics tells you that your I came, I saw, I puked (Bounce) rate is 80 percent plus? (Tip: Check out this site for the best on using Google Analytics
- What if no one’s leaving comments, questions or retweeting your posts?
And what if the Hippo (Highest paid person in your organisation) is complaining that the business blog that was given the OK earlier this year is failing miserably and due for the axe and your job along with it?
Nightmare on B2B Blog Street
When disaster strikes and you’re failing to build a significant community around your business blog, it’s time for action. Ask yourself some searching questions and try to develop a strategy that you can implement and monitor to turn things around. What’s more, make sure you put a system in place that will measure your progress!
Do the Data
Rather than just making a subjective assessment of your site and flaying around in the dark as you try to turn things around, turn to concrete data. Look at what Google Analytics tells you about the performance of your site (Cf Content Marketing and Google Analytics 101 – podcast).
For example, three of my favourite questions for clients are:
- What are the top entry pages for your blog?
- What pages get the most clicks from unique users?
- What pages have the highest bounce rate?