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Posts Tagged ‘best practices’

Six Crucial B2B Website Elements

February 18th, 2015 by Jeff Mangels

jeff article website

Your business has a website. Why? Most of us can easily answer this question with the rationale behind our websites. However, our website doesn’t always correlate with our rationale for having a website, and that is a serious issue. In general terms, a website should:

1. Be the digital window into your business

2. Entice people to stick around and learn more

3. Get people to perform certain actions while visiting the site

A study done by MarketingSherpa suggests that marketers have increased their focus on their company’s websites. The study reported that 69% of businesses surveyed were increasing their website budget. Businesses clearly see the importance of a strong web presence, yet many are still lacking basic requirements of an effective B2B website. Here are six critical elements that will ensure your websites effectiveness.

1. Trust Building Components

Your website offers a first impression to many visitors learning about your business and needs to clearly represent who you are and what you offer. According to Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat, 55% of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on your website.

Consider from the outset that visitors to your website seek trust signals. Your website needs to convey that there is a legitimate, physical business behind the website. Examples of effective trust signals include customer testimonials, awards and official accreditations.

2. Exciting, Engaging and Relevant Content

You’ve heard it before and it hasn’t changed. Content is king. Pertinent and interesting content generates traffic, establishes thought leadership, and gives value to your customers and prospects.

The basic rule is to keep your content concise and relevant while focusing on your prospect’s and customer’s problems and needs. Avoid the urge to talk about how wonderful your own products and services are because it won’t draw the visitor in. Content should come in multiple formats, from web page copy, blogs and articles, to downloadable items such as case studies, whitepapers, short videos, demos and infographics. Limiting your methods of delivery will only lessen your potential visibility.

Consider asking your visitors to fill out a form if they want access to your most valuable content. The process will provide you with a short list of visitors who are one step closer to becoming customers.

3. Dynamic Landing Pages

When someone visits your site as a result of a marketing campaign or clicks a hyperlink on an external website, they are often times directed to a landing page. Compelling landing pages engage the visitor. A great landing page makes the difference between a visitor sticking around or disappearing after a few seconds.

The goal is to funnel visitors down a desired pathway. If it’s form submissions you are looking for, make the form an obvious next step. If it’s downloading materials, make the button stand out visually by color and placement.

4. Social Media Integration

Social media is here to stay and integrating social channels in to your website is an easy process. Most content management systems offer plugins or templates that allow for simple and direct connections. All you need is the specific social page to link it to. Consider how you will use social media. Social media should be viewed as an additional communication channel for your business. It’s a way of extending your online presence beyond the confines of your website.

Social media shouldn’t be approached as a passive endeavor. It works best when it can consistently build on quality content and so works particularly effectively when combined with original content and blogs.

Be certain to have social sharing buttons on your website. This will entice your visitors to share your content with their own networks.

5. Search Engine Optimized Design and Content

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is more important than ever and it’s necessary for every business to understand the true meaning of SEO as well as the potential it creates. At its core, SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website or webpage on search engines. You can spend an enormous amount of time and money building a website, but it’s not going to matter if it can’t be found.

SEO takes time and patience to get it right. Businesses and marketers should consider engaging with experts they can trust to keep their website optimized. Without effective SEO, chances are the only people that will see your website are those who already know your company and physically type in your website address.

6. Responsive Web Design

As more people are beginning to use mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, one thing has become clear. The need for mobile friendly design is here and it involves everything from Internet surfing, browsing social media channels, checking emails and online shopping.

Responsive web design is a solution that is equally favorable for both desktop and mobile users. Regardless of the device, if a site uses responsive design, the images and content will automatically adjust without distorting images or cutting off content. One site, one set of content, for all audiences.

Setting The Course for Success B2B websites are very different than B2C websites. They are rarely about immediate transaction. Most B2B websites act as a shopping window or a hub for content created in hopes of intriguing a visitor and maintaining their attention. By tackling the aforementioned six elements, you will be on your way to an effective B2B website. Users will associate your business with a positive online experience, share your content, and keep coming back for more.

Need help with your website? Launch Marketing can provide website design services including strategy, content, development, execution and SEO. Contact Launch Marketing today to learn more! Be sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to keep up with the latest in B2B marketing tips and trends.

 

Graphic credit: http://www.rickwhittington.com/blog/4-questions-must-ask-outsource-website-design/

3 Tips to Boost Creative Thinking in B2B Marketing

January 29th, 2015 by Shawna Boyce

In today’s oversaturated world, key messages and value propositions that drive a business can easily get lost. The trick to not blending in is to find creative, non-traditional ways to market your organization so that it will successfully stand out from the crowd and demand attention. While this may sound difficult, and it often is, it becomes much easier with a little creativity on your side. So how can you boost your marketing creativity? Here are three easy and actionable tips for you to boost creative thinking in order to help you generate your chart topping B2B marketing ideas.

Shake it Up

While your marketing team probably has some stand-by approaches to creating awareness and filling the pipeline with leads, there are most likely ways those approaches could be creatively improved. If leads are constantly subjected to the same old marketing tactics, it is only natural they begin to tune them out. It is because of this that it is important to change things up. Take what you are doing today and find ways to creatively improve them without completely abandoning the tried and true. Use a whiteboard to sketch out what you are doing today, what you have done in the past and what you have yet to try. Think back to those creative ideas you have heard/read about and brainstorm ways you can apply them to your industry and your current marketing mix. Make new connections, think outside of the box and keep note of all of your wild ideas.

If the ideas aren’t flowing, take a break and walk away. One of the greatest lessons I have learned when it comes to creativity is to shake up what you are doing. Sometimes it is best to abandon what you are working on, and move on to something else, grab some coffee, work on another project, etc. While you may not be consciously thinking about a creative solution to boost your marketing bottom line, your mind will continue to process what you have already started. Doing this will many times lead to that creative aha moment, so be sure that wherever you are, you are able to capture it.

Find Inspiration with Others

Working alone is rarely the best way to step up creativity. Your organization is most likely filled with a variety of personalities that can provide a new twist on current practices, or even new ideas all together. While brainstorming may be a normal part of your marketing planning, it is often beneficial to reach outside of your go-to brainstorming crew and expand your reach within the organization. Invite those roles that are not traditionally involved with marketing and put together a quick think tank to generate new ideas. Doing this will diversify your current thinking and help prevent marketing tactics from getting stale. While you may not come out with a perfectly polished idea, you will generally walk away with some great starting points to expand on.

Push the Limits

So you’ve had a brainstorming session and generated a heaping handful of great ideas. So now what? Where do you go from here? This is often a critical step in the creative process that is frequently overlooked. Don’t just take an idea and run. Instead, select a couple of the best ideas and think through the problem you are trying to solve or the goal you are trying to achieve. Start from the beginning and walk through the entire creative approach for each of the selected ideas. Even if one idea may be the clear leader when you are getting started, keep an open mind. Once flushed out, it may take a back seat to other ideas that just needed a little more thought behind them.

It is also important that you set some limitations when working through your ideas in the early stages. Many believe that placing constraints on creative thinking will force more creativity and help people think differently.

While these three tips can help boost creativity in your current B2B marketing, your environment can also play an important role. There are a few simple fixes that can be implemented in your office to enable more creative thinking. For example, lighting, sound, colors and mood can play a big part in the creative energy. You just need a few triggers to help boost creative thinking, so if you are feeling uninspired, don’t hesitate to setup shop in a different space.

creativethinking

Looking for creative ways to boost your marketing results? Contact Launch Marketing today.

 

Image source: http://www.creativitypost.com/create/twelve_things_you_were_not_taught_in_school_about_creative_thinking

Thinking About Becoming a Thought Leader?

January 8th, 2015 by Somer Klepper

The importance of being a thought leader in your industry continues to grow now more than ever, with a plethora of digital outlets available. Countless websites, blogs, various social media sites and the traditional/nontraditional press outlets create an expansive space for businesses to ignore and say nothing, say the wrong things and damage their reputation, or use strategically and build up their brand equity with thought leadership that shares their voice, message and vision. Thought leadership is a key element in branding, which results in more organic traffic and increases the credibility of your business. When you deliver concrete, educational and useful information and circulate it in the right places, people read it and learn to trust your company as a thought leader in the industry. Then they will come to you and invest in your product and services because of the foundation of trust you’ve built.

thought-leader

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” –John Maxwell

How does one become a thought leader?

  • Remove the concern of self-promotion. You’re probably already doing a bit of self-promotion without realizing it, so continue doing so, but in a bolder, more direct way. Careful to not sound arrogant, just confident and knowledgeable.
  • Be patient. At the beginning, remember that you’re just starting to deliver and they’re just starting to read your material. Like in any other area of life, relationships built on trust take time to grow.
  • Realize your level of experience and speak to the audience who is actually willing to listen. Ex: If you are a small startup, do not expect to deliver Apple-level CEO content. Be honest with yourself and your readers – that being said, if your content is not strong, don’t post it as a thought leadership piece.
  • Ask yourself if you have truly created something worth trusting and worth sharing. The passion and confidence will shine through the piece. Ex: You’re convinced that the new software your company designed will change the industry and you’re very proud of it. Call your mom, your best friend from college and mention it to your neighbor the next time you see him in the yard – listen to yourself and mimic that voice (professionally) later when writing thought leadership content.
  • NEVER stop learning. As you grow in your field of expertise, it’s wise to learn from others as well. Not only will you gain knowledge about other products and services in your field, but also note their delivery and the presentations that grabbed your attention. Apply those to your delivery.
  • Start creating alliances. Smart people tend to converse with other smart people. The expression, “Birds of a feather flock together,” rings true here. Let people know who those alliances are by combining efforts, events or possible resources.
  • Apply for awards. Awards show credibility – it’s as simple as that.
  • Think of LinkedIn as your favorite outlet. Facebook and Twitter are useful outlets and typically reach the masses, but LinkedIn is known for being a natural go-to for connecting with professionals and professional thought leadership material. Not only is LinkedIn good for posting strong content, but it’s also a place where people can easily see credibility from those alliances you made and support from customers and potential customers.

 

Considering the above will start you off to becoming a thought leader in your industry, and keep these three components front and center: Experience, Credentials and Passion. If you can stay consistent in delivering each of these components within each of your thought leadership efforts, with time and consistency, you will reign as the go-to resource for advice and information that will lead to increased sales and profits. For more tips on creating content that gains readership, look here: http://launch-marketing.com/creating-content-tips-gaining-readership-engagement/ Please share your comments on thought leadership best practices for those wanting to share their words of wisdom! Keep up with the latest B2B marketing tips and trends by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

Correct Word Choice Can Grammatically Improve Your Life

December 18th, 2014 by Jeff Mangels

Grammar Blog

We like to think that we have a solid grasp on the English language and that our writing is flawless. But with so many exceptions to rules and confusing homonyms, it’s not surprising that we get mixed up on occasion. Many word processing programs have features that can check for misspellings, grammatical miscues and even punctuation errors, but they are not fool-proof. How do we ensure that we are using proper spelling, punctuation and grammar? At the end of the day, it comes down to proofing your content and then proofing it again.

How many times have you received a piece of mail, read a brochure or perused a website and noticed improper word choice or poor grammar? Mistakes in your written communications can negatively impact your business message and the way your audience views your business, especially when it comes to word choice. Let’s take a look at how correct word choice can grammatically improve your life by reviewing some commonly misused words.

Farther vs. Further

Farther refers to a physical distance.

Further refers to figurative distance.

Examples: Your office is farther away than my office. Our time on this project can go no further.

 

Affect vs. Effect

In most situations, we use affect as a verb and effect as a noun, but there are exceptions.

As a verb, affect means to change something.

As a noun, an affect is an emotion or desire that influences one’s behavior

Examples: Our products can positively affect your life. When the writer noticed his spelling error, his affect was quick and unsettling.

 

As a verb, effect means to cause something to happen.

As a noun, an effect is a change that was caused as a result of something.

Examples: The actions taken have effected positive changes in their social media strategy. Proper word choice can have a profound effect.

 

Disburse vs. Disperse

Disburse means to distribute or give out.

Disperse means to break up or spread in all directions.

Examples: Shall we disburse our brochures during the event? We need to disperse the team on the trade show floor.

 

Allusion vs. Illusion

Allusion means an indirect reference.

Illusion means a misconception or false impression.

Examples: Did you catch my allusion to the benchmarking report? Mirrors give the room an illusion of depth.

 

Elicit vs. Illicit

Elicit is a verb meaning to bring out or coax.

Illicit is an adjective meaning unlawful.

Examples: Our email is designed to elicit responses. The firm is under investigation regarding illicit practices.

 

Capital vs. Capitol

Capital refers to a city or resources.

Capitol refers to a building where lawmakers meet.

Examples: Austin is the state capital of Texas. The Texas capitol was built in 1888.

 

Discreet vs. Discrete

Discreet means careful or cautious.

Discrete means separate or distinct

Examples: The reporter made discreet inquiries about the new product launch. Data from three discrete but important areas are presented in the first chart.

 

Adverse vs. Averse

Adverse means unfavorable or harmful.

Averse means a strong feeling of distaste or opposition.

Examples: The adverse effects of the hostile takeover still linger today. The company was not averse to taking on risk.

 

How many of these words have you been misusing? I hope this short but useful list finds itself properly attached to your desk, cubicle, or wall!

 

Looking for more tips on grammar, spelling and punctuation? Be sure to visit these two articles:

Back to Basics: Spotting Common Grammar and Punctuation Mistakes in Your Copy

Back to Basics: Spotting Common Grammar and Punctuation Mistakes in Your Copy – Part 2

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*Image: http://tomakeaprairie.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/on-rigor-grit-productive-struggle-and-what-our-word-choice-means/