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Christmas ads and B2B marketing

Unless you’ve been resolutely avoiding contact with the outside world, you’ll know that 2013’s Christmas ads are, well, everywhere in the UK. From the massive retailers vying to outdo John Lewis, to the perennial Coca-Cola Santa, it’s official: ‘Holidays are coming’.

For B2C brands this is a unique time. Rather than talk about aspirational lifestyles or product benefits, many focus on communicating their values and fostering empathy in their audiences. Perhaps this is something B2B marketers can learn from – could you communicate your values and build empathy as simply as these brands?

John Lewis – a “thoughtful giving” theme that is inclusive, considerate and personal

 

Sainsbury’s – a 50 minute feature film about people’s experiences of Christmas, with shared lives, food and family quirks at the forefront

 

Tesco – real families, part of life for decades, shared happy memories

 

Waitrose – socially responsible and giving something back

 

Which values would you communicate if you had the luxury of creating a Christmas ad?

I’m not suggesting that fibre manufacturers or managed services providers should create lavish 50 minute Christmas feature films, as fun as that might be. Instead this is about taking a moment to consider how your clients and customers are affected by your brand values, and how you can create a lasting impression and bond.

B2B marketers don’t have the luxury of massive above the line creative and media budgets so must utilise their channels throughout the year to reinforce brand values.

Consistent brand building is key. Your hypothetical ‘Christmas ad’ messaging could give you a new perspective on your annual marketing programme. Taken as a whole, how do your campaigns reinforce brand values throughout the year? Do your customers experience them consistently from awareness to purchase and re-purchase stages? And does anything run against the grain?

Don’t forget social in your review. The Crocodile has found that social channels are super effective at getting brand personality and values across. In social spaces you can truly live the brand and demonstrate that you are passionate and hands on, for example.

Which values would you prioritise in your Christmas ad? Let us know on Twitter @crocbites.

Second chance for Facebook posts

We’re big fans of Facebook for B2B marketing here at the Crocodile. It might not seem as immediately relevant to business marketing as LinkedIn, for example, but it’s worth remembering that each target audience member is an individual as well as a professional. With the right nurture strategy in place, engagements on Facebook can lead to MQLs.

Last week, Facebook changed the algorithm that determines which stories appear first when a user logs in or opens their Facebook app. Now, businesses that have good audience engagement can expect even more people to see their most popular posts.

Essentially, the change gives a post a second chance of being seen if a user didn’t get to it the first time they looked at their News Feed.

Google reported that a trial found: “Previously, people read 57% of the stories in their News Feeds, on average. They did not scroll far enough to see the other 43%. When the unread stories were resurfaced, the fraction of stories read increased to 70%.”

Looking specifically at Pages – the profiles that organisations can create and manage – Google reported “an 8% increase in likes, comments and shares on the organic stories they saw” under the new algorithm. The ‘second chance’ means that more people will not only see but also engage with the post.

How do you increase your chance of a second chance?

The change only benefits posts that make it into News Feeds in the first place. So, this is another great reason to post stories and content that your audience will want to engage with and share.

At the heart of Facebook, an algorithm called EdgeRank determines which stories a given user will see. EdgeRank is an equation with three key factors: Affinity, Weight and Time Decay.

• Affinity grows when people repeatedly interact with your brand

• Weight grows when people engage deeply with your brand by spending more time on their interactions with you

• Time Decay is a negative factor in which posts are less attractive the older they are

EdgeRank gives businesses that engage with their audiences a significant advantage on Facebook. By regularly posting content that relevant people feel compelled to ‘like’, comment on and share, you will increase the likelihood of making it into their News Feeds, then into the News Feeds of their colleagues and industry friends.

In addition to the mid-term benefits of increasing your EdgeRank, you could also be building a strong foundation for your search engine performance in the future.

Facebook looks increasingly set to take on Google search with Graph Search, a Facebook specific search engine designed to leverage the data acquired from over 1billion Facebook users. Graph Search makes the people, places, photos and other content on Facebook more easily discoverable. So improving your business’s EdgeRank today could well improve your future organic search performance too.

Look out for more on Facebook’s Graph Search in upcoming posts here on Crocbites.

Proof of social media’s ROI

Marketing budgets are a constant challenge. Allocating the right amount of money to the right area, as well as being able to justify the overall spend, has never been more important or more challenging. In a down economy businesses are understandably reluctant to increase spending in any area without definitive proof of ROI, let alone invest in new areas like social media.

The rise of the social web and the corresponding changes in buying behaviour have happened concurrently with the economic downtown and the squeeze on marketing budgets. The result is that many businesses, particularly in B2B, have completely overlooked new inbound marketing techniques that offer significant, quantifiable results without the need for a large capital outlay.

The content, conversation and on-going interaction that make up an effective social media strategy create an online experience that keeps customers in your orbit, drive consideration and set you apart from the competition. Sharing interesting, relevant and useful information will hold the attention of your existing customer and help you attract new ones.

Social media is proving to be a powerful source of revenue for Crocodile client Ellisons, delivering an online uplift of 70%. Facebook is now the 3rd biggest referrer to the Ellisons website after Google and Bing. Through running regular competitions and special offers to drive engagement and using a strategy designed to drive traffic Ellisons has achieved:

  • 71% increase in online sales over six months (against a 50% target)
  • 44% increase in the number of customers ordering online
  • Incremental ROI of 1534%
  • 36% increase in website traffic
  • Enhanced customer service
  • New levels of customer insight

As marketing moves away from a quarterly campaigns approach towards a continuous dialogue, social media can help you tune in to what your target market is talking about, nurture prospects through the buying cycle and deliver valuable repeat custom. If you’d like to find out how a social media strategy from The Crocodile can benefit you, contact us here.

The Crocodile wins global Gemalto account

Gemalto, the world leader in digital security, has appointed independent London agency The Crocodile to support its global marketing programme for Near Field Communications (NFC) technology following an international five-way pitch.

With a €2bn turnover, and presence in 43 countries, Gemalto provides enabling technology for mobile devices, payment security, authentication services and e-ticketing. The company is at the forefront of the fast emerging NFC market, building the SIM-based platforms and software that bring together the key players in the cashless revolution: service providers, mobile operators and banks.

The Crocodile will be creating and deploying campaigns aimed initially at mobile operators in Europe and Asia, followed by campaigns targeting service providers in the more advanced NFC markets including the UK, France and Japan.

“We came to Gemalto as an agency with proven credentials in centralised campaign development and local market activation”, explains Adam Wooff, founding partner and managing director of The Crocodile. “The team responded to the brief with a clear vision of how our results-led approach would help Gemalto consolidate its position in existing markets, and gain the traction it needs in emerging NFC territories. It’s a terrifically exciting business sector and we’re really looking forward to working with the Gemalto team.”

Awards shortlist reflects key focus

Ask anyone in B2B marketing which skill sets, capabilities or challenges they really need to crack, and there’s a good chance the following might make the list:

  • Social Media – Taking the next step on from using social as an essential dialogue tool and exploiting its capability as a revenue generator, delivering tangible, measurable financial results
  • Lead Nurture – Using developments in marketing automation technology to enhance lead nurturing, leading to a more measurable and strategic relationship between marketing and sales
  • SME - Unlocking the all-important SME market (ie reputedly the B2B segment with all the money!)
  • Cost effectiveness – Achieving more with less in a world of shrinking budgets

By no means an exhaustive list, however it’s one that neatly sums up some of the key focus areas for The Crocodile during the last 12 month – or more accurately, our clients’ key focus areas.

That’s why we are so pleased to have been shortlisted as finalists for three of the most topical categories in this year’s B2B Marketing Awards:

Best SME-targeted campaign
Transformation to Social Media for Ellisons

Best Limited Budget Campaign
Transformation to Social Media for Ellisons

Best Lead Nurture Campaign
Cyberconfidence for CSC

The B2B Awards are fast becoming the gold standard in B2B marketing and this year attracted a 20% increase in entries. So well done to the guys at B2B Marketing, and good luck to our great clients at CSC and Ellisons – looking forward to the usual tense black tie evening in November!

New Timeline will make brands work harder on Facebook

New Facebook Timeline is a force for good and a chance for B2B brands to shine. B2B can do branding every bit as well as B2C, and the new Timeline format is all about branding and brands having to work harder to stay relevant.

Facebook pages will automatically switch to the new Timeline layout on 30 March. Here’s a summary of the changes and what they mean for business pages.

Cover photo
You now have an opportunity to showcase one large image on your company Facebook page. The image must be a minimum of 399 pixels across and the maximum dimensions are 850 by 315 pixels. You can’t include any calls to action and you can’t tell people to ‘Like’ or share your page. You can’t feature any contact information.

Profile image
The size of the profile picture has been changed to 180 by 180 pixels and appears in the news feed as a 30 by 30 pixels picture.

Highlighted post
You can now highlight an important story or event on your Facebook page so that it expands to run across the whole Timeline.

Pinned posts
You can now ‘pin’ stories to the top of your Timeline for up to a week so you have more control over what content visitors to your page see first.

Milestones
This is a new feature that lets you tell your brand’s story. See how Starbucks has done it here by clicking the bottom of their Timeline to reveal a picture of their first store opened in 1971. Who knew Starbucks was that old?

Applications
One of the biggest changes affecting company pages is removal of the default landing tab option, which mean new visitors to your page will always arrive on your wall first. Applications, welcome tabs, contact forms, competition etc. are all still available and can be showcased in a new position top right beneath the cover image. New app buttons are customisable and the dimensions for these are 111 by 74 pixels.

Facebook offers
This functionality is due to be rolled out soon with easy ways to share offers. As Facebook has the user’s email address they are able to email offers to whoever claims them.

Analytics and messaging
You now access Facebook analytics, or ‘Insights’ as they are called these days, by clicking on the Admin Panel top right. You can now see Insight information about any page using the new Timeline format. Plus pages now have the ability to receive messages from fans, which means some of those customer services conversations (complaints?) can move off your wall. This is similar to the DM feature in Twitter and is a welcome new feature for brands. To protect users from unsolicited contact, conversations can only be initiated by your Facebook fans.

This covers everything you need to know to make the transition to new Facebook Timeline and start driving more web traffic and better search performance. Bear in mind however that not everyone in your marketing team is gong to be a Facebook expert. There may be 30 million users in the UK but they are not all expert users.

Like many businesses you may decide to outsource all or part of your Facebook marketing. If you’d like to talk to someone about anything from competition pages, apps, welcome canvases or fully outsourced Facebook account management, call us.

Photo: Mark Zuckerberg introducing Timeline at F8
(Credit: Facebook)

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.

Is your company ready for social media?

According to a report by eMarketer only 14% of senior marketing managers consider their business to be fully integrated with social media. With that in mind, and as the 2012 trends for marketing all refer to the continued growth of social media as a platform, it is vital that marketers have a structure in place to fully benefit from their social offerings.

The most important thing to remember about social is that it might not be suitable for everyone (there I said it!), you don’t have to dive right into a social strategy if your organisation isn’t going to benefit. To see if your company could benefit from a social strategy, and whether that strategy stands a chance at success, we’ve put together this simple checklist:

1. Do you and your company have clear goals for your social strategy?

The more specific your goals the better. It’s a lot easier for the people taking on the task of growing and implementing the strategy if a clear set of goals is awarded to it. Keep in mind why you are doing it. Is it to increase conversion rates, build brand awareness or improve customer service?

2. Do you have the manpower to fully commit?

Social media is about the personal touch. Having a dedicated team providing content and real-time responses will stand you in good stead. Involving people from various areas of the business provides you with greater exposure to a wider audience. Using their collective experience will help to shape the approach going forward, driving an uplift in visits to your site or your blog. In the long run this strategy will yield impressive results.

3. Do you have the content?

The most important part to social media is having the content to ensure you can deliver thought-leadership, build trust and increase credibility. A good place to start is by looking at your existing material and deciding what can be recycled for social. As you create new content it’s important that the material is optimised for social. Use eye-catching headlines and visuals, as well fresh new ideas to make sure your content drives customers to find out more about you.

4. Do you understand where your audience is?

Research at the beginning is essential. There is no point placing all your content on Facebook if all your potential clients are on LinkedIn. Make sure your attention is focused on the right areas.

5. Does your company website engage with new prospects?

It seems like an obvious one but it can so easily be overlooked. It is important that traffic driven to your site can be assessed. Where are the leads coming from? Once you can establish the reasons people are coming to your site, and from where, you can use this information to direct future social strategies. Make sure you have prepared your site beforehand. Make sure it is a site you are proud of, and above all ensure you have a strategy in place for dealing with any lead generation (contact forms for example).

6. Are you able to ensure your social media is useful at every stage of the buying cycle?

It is vital to customer retention that your social brand remains consistent throughout the buying process. Make sure you have steps in place to both monitor and track your customer’s conversations, supplying them with the content they need at the right time.

The bottom line is social media is important to a modern marketing strategy, but done badly it can be damaging. The difference between social media and more traditional marketing is that it takes time to build momentum and provide a visible ROI. However, by making sure you have all the above steps in place you can ensure a great foundation for social marketing success, and by maintaining a long term strategy it can deliver real business benefits.

Take a look under the search engine hood

Search engine optimisation (SEO) has always been reliant on the location and frequency of keywords within a webpage, but as the Internet continues to grow and develop that isn’t all there is to it.

The ranking position of pages searched by an Internet user is decided by what happens off the page, in the form of links from other sites. The complexity of SEO is getting those links to form organically. The emergence of social media marketing has helped to define a new era of SEO by creating an appealing and natural way for these links to evolve. However, if your content fails to attract these natural links your social media can’t do its job.

So what can be done to enhance your social media and effective SEO? Content, content, content. The more valuable the better. Your content needs to tune into the needs and wants of your target audience. Before you begin writing for SEO understanding your audience is key. Simply asking “What creates value for my customers?” can help to focus your online marketing efforts.

Understanding search engines
Most of us use search engines everyday yet many don’t understand the basics of how they work. Taking a look under the search engine hood and discovering what makes the engines tick is the best way to focus your SEO and achieve the rankings successful businesses need.

Search engines use three techniques to rank your web pages.

1. Crawling
Search engine “spiders” are perhaps the most widely recognised search engine tool, they effectively “crawl” around the web sifting through content. These computer codes find information on a web page, “reading” it as they go and following the links from your pages to others.

If your site isn’t “crawable” then your ranking capacity is already disadvantaged. As search engine spiders crawl the links of your site, they make copies of the pages – and using additional analysis – give your site a score for the page, and the association of the page to certain words.

The search engine spiders regularly return to re-evaluate your content but if it can’t see your content, or doesn’t understand it, it will fail to index you correctly. So with this in mind easily accessible and fast-loading code is vitally important.

2. Indexing
The job of the crawling spiders is to not only browse but to also store the content in a database.

This indexing system allows searches to become faster and more efficient, constantly checking how relevant content is to the search terms being used.

3. Ranking
The most important element of search is the way in which the relevant results are delivered to users. These occur through complex and closely guarded algorithms. That said they follow a set of rules that allow your content to battle with other content to satisfy a user’s keyword search, delivering what the search engine feels is most relevant.

Effective SEO copywriting

So what can you do to make sure that you’re making the most of your web pages? Well, complicated as it sounds, search engines are relatively simple in their needs. All they require is for the information to be delivered to them in a way that they can understand. The complications arise when you’re trying to deliver keyword friendly and searchable copy with genuine reader appeal. This is where the SEO Copywriter can add significant value to your site. Ensuring that the balance is right is vital to success, of course you have to have research your keywords and phrases, that’s SEO 101, but you also need to remember that the search engines aren’t your customers. Ultimately copy needs to sell and persuade, not just tick the search engine boxes. Do both and the results can be staggering.

Here are our top tips for ensuring your content is optimised:

1. Use research tools
There are many SEO tools and a lot of SEO software available online to help you find the best keywords; Google’s Keyword Tool is a great place to start. You can also give your SEO a boost through Sponsored Ads, paying for design and usability to give you a great start.

2. Be specific
Keywords are key but keyword phrases are just as important, base your keyword terms on geography and specialty, as well as synonyms.

3. Research the popularity of search terms
Pay attention to popularity of search terms associated with your businesses or sector. You can also enhance the success of your search terms by behavioural-targeting and using long tail keywords (a keyword phrase used when the website wants to refine searches to the web page, or when the user is searching for a specific term)

4. Make sure you’re relevant
Your search terms should be highly relevant to your service, product or end goal. Keyword relevance measures how well your keywords match what a potential customer is searching for. By analysing your keywords through online tools you can replace poor-performing keywords with more relevant ones, keeping your web pages featuring highly.

5. Build up content resources
Keyword phrases and search terms are what are valuable to your potential users; use them as a foundation for your content. It’s essential that your content is up-to-date and fresh. Regularly reviewing your content helps search engines pick-up on the date of when a page was last updated, and can give you an opportunity to review and tweak your keywords and phrases.

6. Link, link, link
Search engines are able to analyse the popularity of a site through the number of links back to it. Using this analysis, the ‘spiders’ can discover how pages are related to each other, and in what ways, and because trustworthy sites tend to link to other trusted sites this method provides a vital cycle of sharing that can provide a great way for search engines to identify useful sites.

SEO doesn’t, or shouldn’t, stifle your content. The most effective SEO is when creativity and these tips build a foundation together, creating an easily searchable and valuable site. Getting these simple steps right is a great basis for reaching your target audience more effectively now and in the future.

The Crocodile wins global EMC account

EMC Corporation, the world’s leading information management company, has appointed independent London agency The Crocodile to lead global campaign development in IT Transformation and Big Data, following an international five-way pitch.

The Crocodile has been an EMC roster agency for some years, participating in project-based campaigns at global, EMEA and UK level. The pitch, which took place in late December, has coincided with the creation by EMC of a new internal campaign team with a brief to drive EMC growth in the rapidly developing ‘IT as a service’ market. The win hands The Crocodile a key strategic agency role working alongside campaign teams in Boston and London.

EMC’s pitch brief required a fully integrated results-based approach using digital, social, email and direct mail to drive leads through to sales qualification via an internal CRM platform. Additionally, participating agencies were required to demonstrate clear understanding and experience of the global technology market and the dynamics of both direct and indirect sales channels.

“Working with EMC plays to our core strengths as an agency,” explains Adam Wooff, founding partner and managing director of The Crocodile. “We bring informed strategic focus and cut-through creativity to the table, along with a clear perspective on the mix of activities that will genuinely impact the buying behaviour of EMC’s customers and prospects. These days there’s simply no room for tokenistic marketing – anything we do has to prove relevance, tie in to sales activity and make a measurable contribution.”

Chris Blaik, senior director, Global Campaigns at EMC commented, “The Crocodile has a proven track record in not just building world class, award winning campaigns but an ability to truly understand the go-to-market priorities of our business and channel, crucial to driving value in today’s end to end environment”

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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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