Sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with what is going on in the world of digital marketing. It gets even more difficult when you try to focus on multiple channels within multiple industries such as industrial B2B (business-2-business).
Well, luckily for you, I just happen to keep my finger on the pulse of those issues so you don’t have to. Below you’ll find some of my favorite tools, tech, and trends for Q1 of 2014.
Since this is the first installment in this recurring quarterly column, I’ll be going through some foundational tools that may not be new, but that everyone should be familiar with.
Shall we begin?
MailChimp — OK, so I know this one isn’t new or emerging, but email marketing is going to be important this year for B2B businesses, so let’s put it at the top of the list. Email is a vital part of the marketing mix, especially for industrial companies, so having an easy-to-manage solution is very important. There are a lot of great services that manage email lists and contacts and even more that package email services within their larger offerings. We like MailChimp for beginners because it’s free if you have fewer than 2,000 contacts and if you send fewer than 12,000 emails per month. The interface is extremely easy to use and the service is very in tune with the federal CAN-SPAM Act regulations, so you won’t have to worry about being blacklisted.
Open Site Explorer — This is basically a search engine for finding links that link to your site (or a competitor’s). With the recent updates to Google’s search algorithm, link quality is even more important than link quantity, so it’s essential that you know who’s linking to your website. Trustworthy links will be of great value going forward, while dubious links may actually do more damage than good. Open Site Explorer is a great tool for keeping an eye on your site’s links and how you’re doing in comparison to your competitors.
Google Hummingbird Algorithm Update — Google has a long history of updating its search algorithm to better serve its searchers. While this is great news for Internet users, it means that online marketers have to stay on their toes if they’re going to retain their rankings. The major facets of the Hummingbird update that took effect late last year are:
- “Conversational Search” is more accurate. Google wants people to ask their search engine questions the way you’d ask a knowledgeable friend. The Hummingbird update made searches like “Where can I find Thai food near my house?” pull more accurate results.
- Better semantic relationship between words and phrases. In the past, it was harder to nail down exactly which terms a site might rank for because phrases like “pool equipment” or “heavy metal” might have multiple meanings across industries. With Hummingbird, the “machine” better understands the relationships between words in a phrase and semantically related words so that more accurate results can be delivered. What this means for businesses is that you now have to focus more on producing helpful content rather than simply adding important keywords to your site copy.
- SEO still matters. Posts claiming that “SEO is dead” are prolific around the Internet (and we believe this to be the case, to a degree), but SEO tactics are still important if one is going to rank as highly as possible under new algorithms.
Marketing Automation — This trend is by no means new to 2014, but it has been growing in importance every year for the past three years, so if you’re not familiar with it already, you should be. Companies like HubSpot, LeadFormix, Eloqua, and Marketo are the premiere players in this arena, but there are marketing automation tools designed to fit any need and any budget. Studies have shown that marketing automation can drive a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12% reduction in marketing overhead (Nucleus Research) and that nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities (DemandGen Report). So it’s no wonder that 84% of top-performing companies are already using automation or have plans to do so by 2015 (Gleanster).
Imagine this scenario: A new visitor comes to your website because they see an ad promoting your latest industry white paper. They give over their name and email address to download the white paper and immediately are sent a “Thank You” email with a link to download the paper. Then, three days later, they receive an email asking how they enjoyed the white paper and offering more services or downloads for free. While visiting your site to browse those offerings, they go to a specific page. Twenty-four hours later, they are sent another email specifically asking them about that page and the services mentioned on it. Meanwhile, a lead is routed to the correct sales rep and all customer activity is tracked so you can calculate ROI. The kicker? All of this happens automatically, without your direct involvement. That’s the power of marketing automation.
There are new digital marketing technologies, tools, and trends emerging every day. We hope this quarterly column will help you stay on top of them and point you in the right directions. If you have any tools, tech, or trends you would like us to cover in future installments of the Industrial Digital Marketing Roundup, please email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Industrial Digital Marketing Roundup.” Or, contact us directly.