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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Using Twitter for lead nurturing

B2B Marketing magazine has published a Twitter Best Practice Guide which includes a chapter by The Crocodile.

The B2B buying process can be long and arduous, not to mention potentially risky. Choosing the wrong supplier or partner for a business-critical service or product can have ramifications beyond initial capital outlay. No surprise then that your customers are increasingly turning to the social web, seeking advice from colleagues and peers to support their decision making processes.

Twitter can help you tune in to what your target market is talking about. Joining in these conversations in a timely and appropriate manner is a key part of an effective nurture strategy, one that can quickly and cost effectively help your business acquire a position of stature and leadership.

By addressing your audience throughout the various stages of the decision making process with useful, relevant content you can engage prospects in social dialogue that will help prove relevance, drive consideration and set you apart from the competition.

Good quality content and conversation are key to cultivating long-term relationships and valuable repeat sales opportunities. The challenge is in understanding, firstly, how to use Twitter to create and nurture leads, and secondly to establish the qualification criteria that determine when a marketing conversation is ready to progress into a sales discussion.

To help B2B marketers use and understand Twitter, B2B Marketing magazine has published a  Twitter Best Practice Guide including a chapter on using Twitter for lead nurturing and sales written by me and The Crocodile’s digital director Tom Marrows.

For brands, Twitter is no longer optional – it’s essential. The Twitter Best Practice Guide looks at the basics principles through to sophisticated techniques and examines all aspects of creating a sound Twitter strategy. Get your copy of the Twitter Best Practice Guide.

Follow us on Twitter or, contact us here.

Google’s new privacy rules

Google’s new privacy rules roll out today. The main purpose of the change is to allow sharing of information across Google’s services in order to allow targeted advertising based on users’ behaviour across Google properties.

It’s causing quite a stink, with France’s data regulators in particular warning that the privacy rules may breach European law. Google have decided to press ahead and see what happens. It’s more than likely that after some initial mutterings the new rules will be adopted without much fuss.

When new ways of using data evolve, it’s important to have regulation and opposition to ensure the commercial desires of businesses are balanced against our rights to privacy. It seems though that we’re becoming more relaxed. Opt-ins to Facebook apps have a level of ambiguity that would have been unacceptable until very recently, but resistance is relatively low.

I’m reasonably comfortable with the idea that Google can share information about my behaviour across its services. After all they are Google’s services, and I’m choosing to use them. I’m happy to be shown more relevant advertising in return for free use of some pretty amazing stuff. Remember life before search? In fact, I wish Flickr would find a clever way to exploit my data, rather than charging me $24 a year.

Beyond the advertising benefit to Google, greater freedom with use of data will spark possibilities for whole new products, some of which will turn out to be very useful and popular. I’m very happy someone’s keeping an eye on service providers to protect my rights. But every so often boundaries must be nudged if they’re to bring us the next, more useful, more immediate and more intelligent product.

The surprising role of technology and data in creativity

I was intrigued recently to come across an idea that has been used by an English school in Brazil that asked children what they wanted to be when they grew up.

They took the responses and created photo business cards for the children. The result – more kids had a clearer focus of their aspirations and their parents were more enthusiastic about them learning English and signed them up at the English school.

Applying a creative approach to the information available, and making it personal, made all the difference.

With all the different ways marketers can collect and use data these days – it’s when we team it with clever creative thinking that we see the most effective results.

You should never overlook genuine creativity if you want to truly capture your audiences’ attention. Here are two ideas I’ve seen done recently that have managed to surprise, and achieved results.

Intel made it personal brilliantly with their museum of me. What a thrill to walk through your own gallery that is simply all about you. With your permission, they collect all your photos, friends and information from your Facebook account and turn it into your very own personal gallery. Then they take you on a 3D journey through your gallery room by room. All your pictures and thoughts are used to take you on a compelling journey of your life.

(Take a look)

With a more down to earth approach, KLM caught our attention recently delighting passengers with little acts of kindness to brighten a traveller’s day. Using Twitter and Foursquare the team were able to find passengers travelling with KLM, and from their public profiles they could find out a little bit about their life to help them choose an appropriate personal (carry-on sized) gift to brighten up their day. Like an apron for the passenger on route to a food blogging conference, a Spanish dictionary for the traveller on his way to Spain, or the Dutch souvenirs for the couple going back to Singapore. This creative way to reach audiences proved a real smile is better than a virtual smiley icon….oh, and it generated 1,000,000 Twitter impressions!

There may not be much that feels genuinely new these days. But there are certainly new ways of doing things to surprise and delight – it just requires a bit of creative thinking, something we at The Crocodile have a bit of an obsession with!

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs

Has anyone else noticed that the current technology marketplace seems to be looking a bit cloudy? Technology marketing departments have been clambering for some time now to get their Cloud offerings out to market, and Apple’s announcement of the iCloud has brought the conversation to the front of people’s minds once again.

Over the last six months we have seen a vast array of Cloud offerings, all branded in a very similar way; white clouds, fluffy clouds, silver clouds, clouds with wheels, clouds with doors, clouds with blue backgrounds, clouds with no backgrounds, clouds that look like a collection of meatballs and of course Apple’s immaculate, confident and minimalist image of cloud.

The problem here is a simple one, so many Clouds and so many cloud images, are vendors, associated marketing departments and agencies slightly missing the point by relying on a shorthand label that can mean so many things to different people?

Clearly it’s important to firmly plant your flag in the sand in an emerging market but isn’t it about time we stepped away from the cliché of the catch all label and begin assessing the products themselves in relation to the buyers needs.

As bigger budgets fight for ownership of the same space, differentiation is going to be key, especially for smaller players. Both the thinking and the execution will need to go a little further than the creation of a cloud logo.

We’re at the Cloud Computing World Forum today and are looking forward to exploring the Cloud further, and hopefully discovering more to it than it’s white flurry exterior!

Optimise, personalise, localise

Online video has risen in popularity over the last few years. Although it can take time and money to create the initial product the results can be well worth it. In a report published by Forrester Research it was shown that videos were 50 times more likely to naturally receive first page ranking than other traditional text pages. With impressive figures like these the argument for video within a marketing strategy is a key one.

In order to optimise video there are several areas to consider. From the title, to the content, and the platform you host it on, everything about the video needs to be tailored. Once this effort is put in at the beginning the rest has the potential to happen organically.

Title

Optimise your title; use appropriate keywords to enhance it. This can provide a great tool for search engines to find your video quickly and easily. The title is only the beginning of course, your content is the most important part of your video, but not everyone knows exactly what they’re looking for. A short and simple text summary can be invaluable, especially if you use this opportunity to include your URL.

Content

It can be tempting to put your most knowledgeable person on camera and let them do their thing, however reaching the audience is vital. Charisma goes a long way. Being able to get the information across as well as being entertaining and memorable isn’t always as a simple as it sounds. Speaking in a language that is personal to your viewer is also important. If you’re embedding a video into an email or newsletter try and personalise it where possible this can also help hook the viewer.

Platform

Use the right platform for the right audience. A B2B marketing video is probably better off on LinkedIn rather than Facebook, Google owns YouTube so the cross referencing of search and video can work in your favour if the message is more generic, and a more specific or direct message will probably have more impact if it’s sent directly to a potential viewer.

If you’re a global business you need to make sure your message can be as far reaching as possible. Break down the barriers by having the video translated. When referencing case studies and/or news change content to become relevant for the local area.


Let’s get personal

We all know marketing strategy is changing at breakneck speeds, what was groundbreaking yesterday is old news today. However, there are some strategies that seem to have been slow burners in comparison, yet are just as innovative as many of the marketing tactics around today.

For some time now websites, in particular e-commerce sites, have been using personalisation to ensure the success of their businesses. Amazon, one of the forerunners of this strategy has been honing this technique for over ten years and is now rated as one of the most valuable retailers in the world, so it seems to be working.

Within B2B this strategy has been less widely adopted. However, according to a recent study by TNS Research International 74% of people who interact with brands online prefer the websites to be tailored to their own personal requirements, so is there a place for greater levels of personalisation in the B2B world? And how could it be used to have the highest level of impact?

Exclusive Access

Providing customers with exclusive access to areas of your website can prove to be a valuable tool. A good example is Dell. Dell provides its major customers with ‘Premier Pages’, a secure, customisable procurement and support site designed to ensure a personalised and simplified experience. Through this Dell can create a much more effective relationship with its customers.

Create a Profile

IBM offers frequent visitors to their site the opportunity to create a profile with their personal interests or through telling IBM more about themselves, allowing IBM to deliver relevant information. You can even click a button on various pages, adding that particular page to the ‘Interests’ on your profile, all while you are browsing.

Link up

Trawling through white papers and the vast amount of complex data found on many websites can be hugely frustrating. Simple links to similar topics, comments and information can make the user experience quick and effective.

With B2B throwing up a double set of challenges – reaching the individual and reaching the company – personalisation can provide a bridge to link the two.

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Crocbites

Crocbites is our running commentary on the trends affecting B2B marketing, alongside our own insights and independent viewpoint formed from working with global brands turning marketing budgets into bottom line benefits.

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