The 10 Biggest B2B Stories of 2018


As we look forward to the year ahead, let’s take a moment and look back at the past 12 months in B2B marketing. From tougher privacy regulations to quantum leaps in marketing technology, 2018 has so far proven to be a very exciting year for us marketers.

We scoured a year’s worth of events and headlines to compile this collection of industry-defining moments that helped shape B2B marketing. So, without further ado, here are 2018’s biggest B2B stories:

1. Data breaches continue to break records

This year, we saw cyberattacks steadily worsen. It seemed that almost every week, different companies had to inform customers and users of a data breach—including compromised databases at Facebook, Quora, Exactis, and Marriott Starwood Hotels, among others.

Source: Business Insider

2. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica debacle brings data privacy into spotlight


In March, news that third-party data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica allegedly harvested the personal data of some 50 million Facebook users without their consent hit the headlines. This raised questions about privacy rights and the limits of mass data mining for psychographic profiling.

Source: NY Times

Related: How the Cambridge-Analytica Scandal Will Shape Marketing

3. The EU’s GDPR rules come into full effect

Dubbed as the Y2K of B2B marketing, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect on May 25. The new framework sought to enhance consumers’ data privacy rights and set restrictions on companies’ use of personal data.

Source: Forbes

Related: 30 Must-Know Resources for Your Last-Minute GDPR Preparations (

4. Major social sites tweak algorithms for tighter engagement


Both Facebook and LinkedIn made significant changes to their feed algorithms this year, causing a bit of a stir among marketers. In January, Facebook announced News Feed ranking updates aimed at promoting engagement among family and friends. LinkedIn also followed suit with its own tweaks to improve the impact of user updates.

Sources:  HubSpot and Social Media Today

5. The digital revolution rages on

The world gets even more connected. In early December, the UN revealed that half the world’s population was already online. Not only that, Mary Meeker also reported that the time people spent online had also increased, while Gartner projected that IoT devices would reach 21 billion by 2020.

Sources: Telegraph, Recode, and InformationWeek

6. MarTech ecosystem maintains double-digit growth

In April, Scott Brinker published the much-awaited 2018 edition of his Marketing Technology Supergraphic. The visualization showed some pretty staggering figures: 6,829 solutions, 6,242 vendors, 55 categories, 27% year-on-year growth.

Source: Scott Brinker

7. Google’s algorithm updates point to future direction


Moz counted nine “confirmed” Google algorithm updates for 2018. While this was nothing out of the ordinary, many of this year’s changes gave marketers a hint where things seemed to be moving. The tell-tale updates included March’s mobile-first index rollout, July’s mobile page speed ranking, and August’s “medic” core update.

Source: Moz

8. Marketers are Data-driven, but few are data-ready

Despite being data-dependent, many marketers are still far from being data-ready. Forrester found that 82% of marketers struggled with data silos and 80% had a hard time managing data. Radius echoed these findings, citing issues like disparate data (55%), lack of analytical skills (33%), and dirty data (32%).

Sources: Forrester and Radius

9. Influencers demonstrate their B2B clout

If there had been any doubts about influencer marketing’s role in B2B, this year’s trends put them all to rest. B2B brands—including LinkedIn, SAP, Microsoft, American Express, IBM, Cisco, HP, and Salesforce—all have launched successful influencer marketing campaigns in 2018.

Source: Grin

Related: Influencer Interview Series: What Top Marketers Are Thankful For (

10. The Marketing Cloud Wars intensify


Adobe bought Marketo for a cool $4.75 billion in September, marking Adobe’s entry into the B2B space. But, more than just a landmark deal, Adobe’s move signaled an escalation of the Microsoft-Adobe vs. Salesforce-Google vs Oracle melee known as the “Marketing Cloud Wars”.

Sources: TechCrunch and Diginomica

Conclusion:  Before we wave goodbye to 2018, it’s nice to sit back and ponder where we’ve been in the last 12 months as a B2B marketing community. More importantly, though, it’s always rewarding to learn as much as we can from our journey. And so with that, we say:

Happy New Year!

8 B2B Social Media Tips to Boost Holiday Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Last year, sales during the holiday season represented up to 30.1% of annual revenues in some consumer-focused segments. That’s why Q4 tends to be a make-or-break quarter for B2C companies.

But the holiday season isn’t only for B2C firms. It’s also an ideal time for B2B companies to proactively engage prospects at a critical point in the sales cycle.

One channel where B2B marketers can effectively connect with current and potential customers is social media. Social media remains a key part of the B2B decision-making process, with 83% of executives using it in their buying journey and 92% of purchases being influenced by this channel in the last year.

To effectively leverage the power of social media during the holidays, B2B marketers need to take a few things into consideration. We compiled a handful of expert advice on holiday social media tactics and included them here in this infographic.

8_B2B_Social_Media_Tips_to_Boost_Holiday_Engagement (Infographic)

Let’s go over these eight tips in detail:

#1 Understand the impact of social media seasonality

Decision makers’ use of social media varies throughout the year as prospects’ priorities shift from one period to another. During the Christmas holidays, overall social media activity can pick up or drop.

For example, Social Media Today notes that some B2B industries typically experience reduced activity in the final weeks of December as potential buyers focus more on closing out year-end projects and less on researching new solutions.

But this may not be the case for your industry or your target customers. That’s why it’s crucial that you carefully study past social media performance to uncover seasonal trends.

Related: 5 Social Media Trends in Canada and What They Mean for Lead Generation

#2 Keep sharing useful and relevant content

We’ve already seen that social media holds some level of sway over a majority of B2B purchase decisions. While your target audience’s social media activity may drop during the holidays, this channel’s impact on the sales process remains undiminished.

Since the holidays are a perfect time for people to catch up on their reading, it’s also an ideal time for you to continue sharing content that resonates with your target audience.

Your holiday social media posts can include both original and curated content. The main thing is to share useful and relevant resources.

#3 Make sure your holiday social media activities stay in context

Many B2B purchase decisions are finalized in Q4 and implemented in January. This highlights the need to place your holiday social media activities in the context of your buyer’s purchase process.

According to the Buyersphere Report, B2B decision makers gravitate toward different social media platforms at different stages of the buying cycle: Facebook and blogs in the awareness stage, LinkedIn and blogs in the consideration stage, Twitter and Facebook in the decision stage.

Daniel Kushner from Octopost mentions that using buyer personas in your holiday social media campaign allows you to segment your audience into different social streams, create targeted messaging strategies, and gather separate analytics.

Related: Content Intelligence: Leveraging Data and AI to Create Smarter Content

#4 Sprinkle the 3 R’s into your holiday social media mix

During the holidays, marketing resources can become stretched too thin as teams focus on project completion and staff starts heading out for vacation. This often leads to a drop in the amount of original content you’re able to publish and share on social media throughout the season.

To help you maximize the meager resources at your disposal this time of year, MediaPost suggests applying the 3 R’s of content marketing:

  • Reuse – Find an existing content piece and repackage it in a different format
  • Refresh – Update an old resource to make it more relevant
  • Reimagine – Revisit an earlier topic and look at it through another angle

#5 Tweak your social media posting schedule

The holiday season also brings a change in the way your social media audience spends their workday. This affects the level of engagement your social media activities can generate, so it’s good practice to adjust your posting schedule accordingly.

When modifying your social media schedule for the holiday season, the tweaks you make shouldn’t negatively impact the quality and value of your posts. Again, past social media analytics should serve as your best guide:

  • What are the times of day your target audience is online?
  • What are the days and times your audience tends to view and interact with your posts?
  • How do different metrics (reach, impressions, engagement, etc.) vary throughout the day?

Related: 7 Social Media Ideas to Steal from Classic B2B March Madness Campaigns

#6 Maintain a high level of community engagement

Dialing back on social media posts doesn’t necessarily mean you have to engage less with your community. There’s still plenty of ways for you to stay engaged during the holidays:

  • Create themes around topics that your audience is interested in
  • Curate the latest industry news and trends
  • Post quizzes, polls, and contests
  • Showcase notable community members
  • Respond to inquiries and questions promptly

Since you’re probably working with lesser staff during the holidays, you also need to assign flexible schedules to the people in charge of social media in your team.

#7 Start way before and continue long after the holidays

Depending on how much the holidays impact your social media engagement, it’s good practice to start your holiday campaign a few weeks before and after the peak holiday season. This gives your campaign enough traction to generate results.

A lot of B2B marketers, for example, divide their holiday social media campaigns into different phases, spanning early November to mid-January. Again, your previous social media experience should be your guide when planning the duration of your campaign.

#8 Humanize, don’t just personalize your social media activities

The holidays offer a great opportunity for you to showcase the people behind your brand and your customers. These types of posts blend well with the season’s festivities, and they help your audience connect with the faces and stories of key people in your community.

Here are a few ways to humanize your holiday social media activities:

  • Share stories about people in your team and company, and don’t forget to showcase customers and prospects
  • Relate your company’s vision and purpose to events your community cares about
  • Join in the celebrations and get into the festive mood

Related: Humanize Your Brand: Marketing Your Technology Business With Human Touch

Conclusion:  If there’s one piece of advice to take away from this post, it’s that the holidays are all about having fun. That’s what you should aim for in your holiday social media campaign; everything else is just a bonus.

Happy Holidays!

6 Scary (but Useful) Lessons Lurking in your Spam Folder

6 Scary (but Useful) Lessons Lurking in your Spam Folder (Blog image)

Once in a while, I rummage around my spam folder hoping to find the latest edition of the Nigerian prince email scam. These fraudulent missives never fail to make me double over with laughter, that I’m almost hoping these scammers would put up some sort of subscription service.

Gizmodo once dissected what was quite possibly the weirdest Nigerian email scam ever, involving a request for $3 million to help a trapped Nigerian astronaut safely return to Earth from a secret Soviet-era space station. That was absolutely priceless.

But, as you may know very well, not all junk mail is funny. In fact, from a B2B email marketer’s perspective, some are downright scary.

The Inescapable Clutches of Spam Filters

The Inescapable Clutches of Spam Filters

Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to spot why messages provoke the wrath of the email gods (e.g., use of known trigger words, inadequate authentication, irrelevant content, etc.). While these are definitely cringe-worthy examples of poor email practices, there’s an even more spine-chilling situation playing out in most spam folders today.

A good deal of legitimate emails now gets snagged in spam traps. In fact, the last time I checked, I found some editions of my favorite newsletter and even a Google Alerts email in the junk folder.

This should scare the living daylights out of all of us doing email marketing. In recent years, ISPs and webmail providers have ramped up their efforts at blocking spam. Unfortunately, this has the unwanted side effect of increasing the false positive rates for many spam filters, resulting in more and more legitimate emails being incorrectly classified as junk.

And, of course, you know what happens when more and more of your emails get flagged as spam. It hurts your sender reputation, which in turn harms deliverability, which leads to further damage to your sender reputation, which again results in more serious deliverability issues—and the vicious cycle repeats ad nauseam.

In short, no one is spared from the clutches of overzealous spam filters—not even email marketers who follow the rules. It seems sticking to tried-and-true email deliverability tactics isn’t going to be enough.

Related: Dissecting the World’s First Spam Email: 5 Timeless Lessons We Learned

Avoiding the Dark Abyss of the Spam Folder

Avoiding the Dark Abyss of the Spam Folder

If email best practices don’t guarantee safe passage for your emails, then what does? The answer lies in the depths of the spam folder itself. If we look more closely at the doomed emails in the junk folder, there’s plenty of lessons they can teach us to save our emails from the same horrible fate.

1. There’s no such thing as a silver bullet that slays all your deliverability fears.

We all know that segmentation and personalization tend to improve email marketing results, and we’re demonstrably better off applying these two things into our campaigns. But the problem arises when we treat segmentation and personalization as the answer to every deliverability issue we face.

While it’s true that relevant emails lead to better engagement (in terms of opens and clicks) and eventually results in lower spam complaints and bounce rates, the path from targeted emails to better overall deliverability isn’t as straightforward.

Don’t get me wrong, segmentation and personalization work, but only when used the right way. As Neil Patel points out, the main reason why most personalization tactics fail is that they’re actually making emails less and less personal. He even suggests a few ways to “de-personalize” your campaigns to achieve true personalization:

  • Drop the old “Hi {first name}” kind of personalization
  • Make sure your emails actually give more than they take
  • Be a real person reaching out to another person
  • Get in the habit of asking and listening

Related: What Personalization Means to Your B2B Customers and How to Implement It

2. Dead email contacts will come back to haunt you.

I totally agree with Digital Marketer’s idea that knowing which contacts to avoid is just as important as identifying which ones to reach out to. Inactive and unengaged email subscribers do have a real impact on deliverability, especially if you continue lumping them together with the rest of your subscribers.

When determining your sender reputation, mail providers and ISPs also factor in mailbox usage rates. This is the ratio of active to inactive contacts on your email list. The lower the mailbox usage, the worse off your sender reputation becomes—and consequently, the lower your deliverability rates get.

Return Path says that low mailbox usage is the third most common cause of low inbox placement, accounting for 19% of email deliverability issues.

The only way to maintain a healthy mailbox usage rate is through proper list hygiene. Marketingprofs recommends regularly checking and removing the following types of email addresses that harm deliverability:

  • Invalid email addresses
  • Spam traps
  • Departmental or role-based email addresses
  • Unresponsive subscribers

Related: Symptoms of an Unhealthy Email Marketing List (and How to Clean It)

3. Your reputation is your best weapon.

In the eyes of ISPs and mailbox providers, your sender reputation is one of the most crucial things that determine whether your emails make it to the inbox or get sent straight to the spam folder. That’s why improving email deliverability is almost synonymous with maintaining a high enough sender score. But how do you take care of your sender reputation?

We’ve already seen that most spam filters consider mailbox usage as a key signal in gauging sender reputation. Other factors include the volume of email send-outs, the level of engagements your emails generate, and the quality/relevance of your email content.

There’s a ton of helpful advice on ensuring high inbox placement rates out there, but some aspects of sender reputation need to be thoroughly covered:

  • Work with a reputable email service provider
  • Make sure your IP is never used for spam (by you or someone else)
  • Let your recipients easily and reliably identify you as the sender
  • Segment by IP and subdomain

4. In most cases, your recipients will be your only allies.

I’d argue that one of the main reasons why legitimate emails end up in the spam folder is that the senders themselves have forgotten that email is supposed to be a two-way conversation. This is a bit unfortunate since, in our struggle against spam, it’s the recipients who are our best allies.

Recipients have the power to tip the balance in your favor by actively opening, clicking, and engaging your emails. They can also destroy your campaign by ignoring or (when push comes to shove) hitting the spam complaint button.

That’s why it’s essential for reaching excellent deliverability results that you not only offer relevant emails but provide a compelling email experience as well.

Opt-in Monster points out some extra steps you can take to set the stage for a genuine, two-way conversation between you and your recipients:

  • Identify yourself clearly with a valid ‘from’ name information and address
  • Align the subject line with the body of your email
  • Instruct recipients to whitelist your emails
  • Ask Gmail users to move your emails from Promotions to their Primary Inbox

5. You only fix symptoms, while the real problem remains unseen until it’s too late.

Let’s say your delivery and inbox placement rates start to trend downward. The first place you check is your list where you find a substantial number of unresponsive contacts. You scrub the list, and results begin picking up again. A few months later, the same trend shows up, and you apply the same fix but this time, things don’t improve.

This is a sign that you’re not really addressing whatever underlying deliverability problems that plague your campaign or strategy.

To make sure that you really reach the root of any deliverability issue you encounter (and not just the visible symptoms), you need to adopt a holistic approach to problem-solving similar to what Return Path recommends:

  • Set up an email feedback loop (FBL), which most reputable ESPs provide
  • Make sure all your sending IP addresses are enrolled in your email feedback loop
  • Develop a strategy for managing bounced addresses
  • Use your bounce logs to identify the source of a block
  • Clarify what recipients can expect from you at the outset

6. Clues that unlock deliverability mysteries are usually hidden in plain sight.

Like everything else in marketing, determining what’s working and what’s not in your email deliverability tactics boils down to monitoring the right metrics. While the exact KPIs to keep track of will depend on your campaign, a few of the core email numbers you need to constantly follow include:

  • Delivery Rate
  • Inbox Placement Rate
  • Soft Bounce
  • Hard Bounce
  • Open Rate
  • Spam Complaint Rate

One crucial thing to keep in mind when measuring your campaign’s deliverability performance is to make sure that each metric is taken in context, not analyzed in isolation.

Related: The Only Guide to Email Marketing Analytics You’ll Ever Need

The Takeaway:  Well, there you have it. Six frightening email deliverability lessons lurking in your spam folder. The main point is that it’s easier for our emails to become ensnared in spam traps than we think, but there are steps we can take to keep our emails from falling down that route as much as possible. If this doesn’t scare you into action, I hope this has (at the very least) gotten your attention.

Happy Halloween, marketers!

Mobile-First Indexing: What It Means for SEO and How to Prepare (feat. Timothy Hughes of Digital Leadership Associates)

In September, Google ramped up its rollout of the much-awaited mobile-first indexing update to the wider web. While it’s still too early to tell how exactly this change impacts your SEO efforts, the update clearly shows Google wants to give mobile users a better online experience—and you definitely should, too.

Now that the SEO world has fully gotten over the five stages of grief that typically accompanies important Google updates like this one, it’s going to be much easier for us to find useful insights and best practices on how to properly respond to the change.

That’s what we’ll detail in this blog post. We’ll first take a close look at some possible ways Google’s mobile-first update can affect your SEO activities. We’ll then go over a number of practical steps to help you build a mobile-first SEO strategy.

What Mobile-First Indexing Means for SEO

When Google first made its first mobile-friendly update in 2015, a lot of SEO folks dubbed it “Mobilegeddon” amid worries that the algorithm tweak could mess up page rankings.

Much of the fears later turned out to be overblown. But that didn’t stop many in the industry from once again bringing up the idea of mobile apocalypse after Google announced its plans for mobile-first indexing in 2016.

Mobile-first indexing, in Google’s own words, means the search engine uses “the mobile version” of a webpage for indexing and ranking to better help its “primarily mobile users”.

Previously, Google used the desktop version of websites to crawl, index, and rank pages. Now that mobile searches outnumber desktop searches, Google is starting to index and rank mobile websites.

Here’s what that means for your SEO efforts:

It shows the growing role of mobile.

With this update, Google mainly wants to serve as much mobile content to mobile users as possible, since mobile searches now account for 60% of search queries.

The company further clarifies that:

  • It will continue to have one index for search results. That is, mobile-first index is not separate from its main index.
  • Google will increasingly prioritize indexing mobile pages and content. If you have both mobile and desktop versions of a page, Google will prefer the mobile page.
  • If you use different URLs for mobile and desktop, Google will show the mobile URL to mobile users and desktop URL to desktop users.
  • Google will choose mobile-friendly sites over AMP sites.

Mobile searches now account for 60% of search queries.

Mobile-first is not the same as mobile-only.

As Neil Patel points out, mobile-first indexing doesn’t mean mobile-only. That’s because the way the new indexing works is that it prefers (read: not replaces) mobile content over desktop when determining page rankings.

In other words, if your website doesn’t have a mobile version, the desktop version still shows up on the mobile-first results. Google will continue to crawl and index your desktop pages.

In fact, Google Webmasters made this point abundantly clear in a previous tweet:

The impact on rankings is nuanced.

Since the new update prioritizes mobile content, then it’s natural to think that optimizing your website for mobile users will boost SERP rankings. But it’s not as straightforward as it sounds.

Google explains that being switched to mobile-first indexing doesn’t guarantee better SERP rankings. While mobile-friendliness helps determine where a website will end up in results pages, it’s certainly not the only factor that Google takes into account.

Still, as TechCrunch points out, Google notes that having a site’s mobile-friendly content indexed under the new mobile-first update will likely help the site “perform better” in mobile search results.

Related: 10 Undeniable Ways Mobile is Reshaping B2B Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]

How to Create a Mobile-First SEO Strategy

Each time Google unveils a major update to its page ranking algorithm, it forces us, marketers, to rethink our SEO strategy.

But mobile-first indexing is a little different from most Google changes in that it reminds us what SEO is fundamentally about: helping users find what they’re looking for.

That’s what your strategy needs to achieve. Forget about rankings or penalties first. Start with improving the user experience (UX).

Make sure your site looks and feels good on mobile

We already saw that mobile-friendliness isn’t a requirement for ranking in mobile-first results. However, keep in mind that we’re not after SERP rankings here. We want to deliver the best possible UX, so we want users to fully experience our site regardless of the device used.

If you’re not sure whether your site is optimized for the different sizes of mobile screens, the first step is to find this out using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

Making your site mobile-friendly boils down to two development philosophies:

  • Responsive web design (same content, same URL, different output based on users’ device)
  • Dynamic serving (different content and output based on users’ device)

Google has explicitly mentioned that pages delivered as part of responsive web designs or through dynamic serving are indexed in mobile-first results. But, the better option would be responsive web design since it does away with the difficulty of managing two different sites.

Put content in context

Mobile searches uncover rich insights on user intent that your content needs to meet. For example, research carried out by Think With Google shows that mobile searches can reveal a lot about user behavior:

  • 96% of people use a smartphone to get things done
  • 70% of smartphone owners who bought something at a store first turned to their phone
  • 92% of those who searched on their phone made a related purchase
  • 68% of people use search for information on a long-term goal

All this indicates that it can be a bit misleading to try to generalize what kind of content works for mobile-first indexing. Each of these actions involves one of three queries (navigational, informational, and transactional), and each query, in turn, can be addressed with its own page, content, and messaging.

Create a consistent and continuous experience

From making relevant information easy to find, to ensuring that the desired action is easy to do, mobile-first needs consistent and continuous user experiences.

That’s because the bulk of online activities now take place in fragmented, instantaneous interactions with mobile devices.

Some of these moments (when mobile users want to know, go, do, and buy something) are known as micro-moments.

Micro-moments are important touchpoints in your SEO strategy because it’s in micro-moments where mobile users are most interested and engaged.

Leveraging micro-moments means delivering a smooth and seamless mobile journey for your target users:

  • Set up structured data to make your site easy to navigate for both people and Google’s crawlers
  • Make sure the key content on your mobile and desktop sites align
  • Consider mobile-first technologies like Google AMP to improve site load times and performance

Related: Why B2B Marketers Need to be in the Micro-moment

The Takeaway:


To help us see how a mobile-first mindset impacts real-world marketers, we previously reached out to a number of key influencers to tell us about their experience with this development so far. Timothy Hughes, founder of Digital Leadership Associates and social selling pioneer, said it best:

We have switched over to mobile first. So everything we design has to be tested on mobile…. We have moved to a personalized approach as well as understanding that mobile moves at a faster pace. With a swipe taking about a second you need content that will inspire in at sub-second speed. The good news is that if you get it right, the response, engagement, and results are faster too.

Why B2B Marketers Need to be in the Micro-moment

Marketers desire to influence the buyer throughout the decision-making process. It can be all too easy to let a buyer slip through your hands. The opportunity to do business can be lost in a micro-moment.

What is a Micro-Moment?

Google coined the term micro-moments as the aftermath of a study on the consumer’s journey. According to Google, consumers are increasingly dependent on mobile devices to know, plan, and purchase. Micro-moments are all the times that mobile device searches influence purchasing decisions.

These searches happen any time of the day while consumers are on-the-go. It can happen during a commute, in a waiting line, or in the midst of a busy day at the office. 91% of smartphone users do a mobile device search in the middle of a task.

Corporate Micro Moment

How Do Micro-Moments Affect the Consumer Journey?

Both B2C and B2B consumers do intensive research for almost everything they buy. From small office purchases to big investment solutions, B2B consumers want to use the best product and service that meet their needs. Anytime a consumer has a question to ask related to your industry and they are away from their PC, the quickest way to find the information is through smartphones with internet access. Information consumers find through a mobile device search can directly impact the buying decision.

Related: Lead Generation: Utilizing AI to Create Personalized Customer Journey

Micro-Moments of B2B Buyers

It is easy to see micro-moments affect B2C industries, but B2B buyers across industries have gone mobile too. Statistics show that more than 90% of B2B buyers access industry-related information on a mobile device. Whenever they have questions about a product or service, they turn to the quickest way to access information.

At the moment that the B2B buyer searches for information, and you don’t have it, they quickly turn to the next enterprise who can answer their questions. At this point, there is a high risk of losing the business opportunity.

Related: 10 Undeniable Ways Mobile is Reshaping B2B Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]

Serve the Micro-Moment Needs

B2B marketers can better prepare for the micro-moments of their consumers by anticipating their concerns. Go beyond product features and specifications detailed on the company website.

B2B consumers need real-time information that solves pressing concerns. Useful content includes:

  • FAQs
  • How-To’s
  • Feature Comparisons
  • Product Demonstrations
  • Cost Breakdown

B2B consumers don’t want to take too many steps to solve their problems. Don’t be afraid to display pricing on your website. For services that vary in cost per project, an easy-to-fill form that does not require too much personal information is a must.

Related: Creating Appeal: How to Promote a Product People Don’t Search For

Be There for All the Micro-Moments

Map out the customer journey and identify all the moments you want to influence the purchasing decision. Be present in all phases of the consumer journey. Start with the B2B consumers that are yet to recognize the need you serve.

You have to be there in the micro-moments of a B2B consumer even after they complete the purchase. In B2B, enterprises are constantly competing with other businesses even for their loyal customers.

For instance, if you sell a CRM software and your customer encounters a problem after the purchase, you need to have the content ready to access whenever wherever. Warranty concerns and common troubleshooting tips are some types of content your consumer may need. Contact information for various concerns should be quick and easy to access as well.

Target and engage your prospects across all channels with Callbox Multi-channel Marketing

Content Creation for the Micro-Moments

You need to have the right content when the consumer is looking for potential solutions. Utilize a range of formats to connect with the consumer during these critical moments. You can provide content through:

  • Blogs
  • Social Media Channels
  • Digital Publications
  • Newsletters
  • Industry Mobile Apps

B2B consumers also desire to see and feel the benefits of the product or service even before making a purchase. Utilize video and text to show demos, sneak peek of the CRM, interviews, and testimonials.

The Most Important Feature

Make all content mobile-ready, so users have a positive experience with their mobile device search. Content should be usable on any browser or device size. Websites, images, and videos that do not load or load slowly on certain devices may lose the opportunity to connect with these types of consumers.

Related: Essential Components of a Lead-generating Website

Wrap Up

Google started the term micro-moments to define the influence of mobile device searches on the decision-making journey of consumers. In the B2B world, a huge bulk of decision-makers also utilize mobile devices to search for industry information any time of the day. B2B marketers are prompted to anticipate the B2B consumer’s every micro-moment throughout the buying journey and be prepared when the consumer asks for plans or buys.

Step-up your Marketing Game with Gamification

Gamification is proven effective in B2C with the likes of Nike and Starbucks onboard this marketing strategy. The question is: can B2B marketers utilize gamification as a strategy to engage businesses and encourage loyalty? Today, we show you how.

Gamification Defined

From the start of civilizations, gaming rules tap into the competitive nature of humans and the desire to win. Gamification makes use of psychology to harness the power of games for profitability. Rewards, challenges, earning points, and incentives are some of the techniques behind gamification that make it a practical and effective marketing strategy, even in B2B.

Gamification for B2B Marketers

In an increasingly mobile world, B2B marketers can’t ignore gamification as a marketing strategy to reach other businesses. A Wrike survey revealed 66% of B2B buyers use specialized mobile apps related to work.

B2B companies in various industries have launched mobile apps and reaped the benefits of gamification. Digital advertising agency inTacto created an online game that generated traffic at the start of the year. The digital agency included sharing options, links to their site, and chances to win merchandise.

Workplace, a workforce management software developer encouraged potential clients to sign up for a trial service with The Game. The app was a gamified version of their service that made it fun for consumers to engage in and share with others.

Related: This Labor Day, Start Future-Proofing Your Marketing Team

Why Gamification Campaigns Succeed

Gamification is more than implementing gaming techniques in marketing. A successful campaign offers value, skills, and improvement. It is a compelling tool to challenge, track, measure, motivate, and reward people. Businesses can utilize gamification both to target their consumers and make the workplace more engaging for employees.

Related: Creating Loyal Customers Through Curiosity Marketing

Key Points in B2B Gamification

The content and elements of your campaign should be interesting to your target personas.

Offer rewards and incentives to all who participate in the challenge. For example, you can offer reward points, trial service or an ebook.

Enable share options. Boost brand awareness and engagement by adding a social share button for your multi-channel campaign.

Related: Ultimate Lead Generation Kit To Jumpstart your Business [FREE EBOOK] (

How to Add Gamification to your B2B Marketing Strategy

The gamification marketing is valued at billions and predicted to grow to $12 billion by 2021. Consumers perceive companies that employ gamification strategies as forward-thinking.

This innovative tool can promote any product or service and deploy at any stage of consumer interaction.

Here are practical tips to use gamification in your business:

#1 Tailor-fit your strategy to your marketing goals

Determine success metrics and desired outcomes from your campaign. Ensure you have realistic and measurable goals in place. An analytics tool can determine when you achieve your goal.

Related: SaaS Market Trends for 2019 and How to Align Your Growth Strategy

#2 Know Your Audience

Know what type of game appeals to your target personas. Test several game types to find out when consumers are most likely to be receptive and convert.

Likewise, consider designing your campaign to suit the age of your target personas. As seniors exit industries, it is critical to address the desires of the millennial audience. A URL shortener such as Bitly and is a great way to get insight into the topics and keywords your audience finds interesting.

The more you dig deeper into consumer problems, the better your campaign. Aim to deliver a consumer-centric app that offers solutions to meet a pressing consumer problem to a specific audience.

Related: Approaching Psychographic Segmentation In B2B Marketing

#3 Test the Waters

If you feel you are not ready to go full-force with a gaming app, it’s best to test the waters first. Run little challenges that reward consumers and see how your target audience responds.

Related: The Math Behind A/B Testing: A (Simplified) Visual Guide [INFOGRAPHIC]

#4 Establish Incentives

It should be clear to your audience what they will get in turn for participating in the challenge. It could be a special offer, exclusive content, or a product sample.

#5 Go for User-friendly

Don’t make it difficult to navigate through the game or challenge. Make it easy for your audience to join without asking them to commit too much right away. If it is complicated, people will abandon the game.

Testing sites like UserFeel and Peek can help you determine games that hold excitement and optimal level of difficulties for the best user experience.

#6 Make it Fun

Game developers learned to make menial tasks sound exciting. Take for example FarmVille, a game about planting crops, or Diner Dash, a waitressing game.

The more boring you think consumers perceive your business, the more vital is gamification. Fun elements make your strategy look less like advertising and more experience-centered.

Finance company Commonwealth utilized gamification in their website and mobile app SavingsQuest. Through this platform, the company leverages challenges and badges to encourage users to reach financial goals.

#7 Set Deadlines

Create a timeline from developing to launching your gamification campaign. Set limits within your budget and use analytics tools and key metrics to determine its efficiency. Consider working with a gamification developer to stay on budget and schedule with the campaign efficiently.

Final Thoughts

From startups like Foursquare to established companies like Nike, gamification is moving forward in mainstream marketing. Tap into powerful human emotions in winning and losing, improve customer experience, loyalty, engagement, and retention. Gamification that works centers on the needs of a specific audience and wraps solutions in creative and entertaining ways.

Creating Loyal Customers Through Curiosity Marketing

Curiosity is innate to man. Even as infants, we crawled to sockets and put keys in our mouths out of curiosity. Google is an expert at feeding man’s curiosity—using our insatiable need to know.

In business, the goal is to get the buyer’s attention and maintain it through engagement. Curiosity is a useful tool towards this goal.

Just like when you go out on a first date, getting married is not your initial goal. Curiosity is what got your date’s attention and what will keep it. As in business, your goal is to create trust and conversation, without telling all at the first meeting.

But, curiosity can lead to frustration. This is where businesses can fail. They dump features and benefits on the minds of their customers but fail to close the deal. Why?

Information overload requires so much mental effort that the decision-making process slows down. We are naturally irritated by the need to decide in 10 minutes—one of the reasons why cold calling fails.

Curiosity marketing, however, can turn a decision-maker into an impulse buyer. You don’t buy the latest smartphone after analyzing all the specs. You purchase it because it’s the best camera phone of 2018—and you need to experience it yourself.

How Does One Create Curiosity?

Economist and educator George Loewenstein at Carnegie Mellon University revealed that curiosity takes place when there is a gap between what man knows and what man wants to know. To create curiosity, we need to:

  1. Create a difference between what they know and want to know.
  2. Provide information in bits to maintain interest.

Instead of setting your customers up for cognitive overload, you continuously feed their curiosity and keep them engaged.

Related: 5 Strong CTA Examples (with Solid CTRs and Conversions) to Learn From

Curiosity Marketing for B2B Companies

In B2B, the goal is more long-term than a one-off deal. Where products and services are more complicated than off-the-rack goods, it takes commitment and intent planning to work. Curiosity marketing, when done right leads to customer-centered engagement, solutions that solve problems and achieve goals, build strong relationships, and opens buyers to new opportunities for better results.

Related: Account-based Marketing: Why It Delivers the Highest ROI

5 Ways to Use Curiosity Marketing in B2B

1. Focus on Internal Curiosity

Curiosity marketing begins within the B2B company. A lot of people see apples fall from a tree, but only Newton asked why. You need a team of Newtons with an insatiable curiosity towards your buyers, their key decision-makers, the Key Performance Indicators of your marketing strategy, and more. Curiosity marketing is creating the A-ha moment similar to the Eureka moment you had when your product or service was born.

2. Be an Expert at First Impressions

When you get a “yes” to a first date with someone you like, you want to make the best first impression. You buy flowers, dress to impress, and pick the right place. In B2B, the first impression dramatically influences decision-making. It is vital to invest in your brand image to position yourself high in the market and retain loyal customers.

Related: What Dating Teaches Us About Face-to-Face Sales Meetings [INFOGRAPHIC]

3. Provide Information Necessary in a Step-By-Step Selling Process

Make it easy for decision-makers to seal the deal by giving only the information they need to know to complete every step of the sale. Give them small decisions to make in the span of their working relationship with you. This strategy will minimize the likelihood of making the wrong choices, making it easier to work with you.

Related: Stages of a B2B Sales Pipeline (and Ways to Increase Your Sales Success Rate)

4. Use Storytelling to Get Your Message Across

You can hear without listening, look but not see—that is if you see something like a mere distraction and nothing that will help you solve your problems now. You don’t want your customers to passively skim through your product and get on with their daily affairs. You want to hold their attention like water in a desert that a thirsty man will run towards. So you need a transformation story that will direct your buyer from where he is now to where he could be—pain vs. desire.

5. Study Your Buyers More than You Study Your Competitors

You can’t promise to solve your buyer’s problems if you don’t know what they struggle with. Knowing their pains and desires will tell you what message is relevant and will not be filtered out. You need to get in the mind of the decision-makers, understand what their buying agendas are, and what triggers them to buy. In marketing terms, spend time documenting your buyers’ personas. Studies show that high-performing companies that exceed lead and revenue goals invest more in knowing what drives their buyers and how they decide.

Related: How to Use the 3 Levels of Pain Points for Better Sales Conversations

In Conclusion

Curiosity marketing works because it achieves two goals—that of the buyer and the company they are buying from. There’s no magic ingredient to catch the attention of key decision-makers and make them buy into your idea.

It takes a lot of hard work to create a team of curious people along with optimizing their branding, filling in the curiosity gap without creating cognitive overload, getting the right message across, and documenting buyer personas.

The rewards more than pay for the efforts as you earn the loyalty of your customers who are impressed with your ability to helping them reach their personal goals.

Traditional Marketing Tactics That Still Work In The Digital Age

The internet has become a battleground for marketers. These are increasingly competitive internet marketers who make it harder to stay on top of search engine sites and lead generation.

The statistics are alarming.

  • A look at the previous years reveals that Social Media traffic has decreased by 50%.
  • Facebook Ads are working only for 40% of digital marketing strategies. Even organic ads hover at a mere 2%.
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) that was all the rage last year revealed a mediocre conversion rate below 1%.

Email marketing seemed to fair better. On the other hand, email marketers note the struggle to reach their target audience who get an average of 121 emails per day, plus promotional emails.

Search engine optimization or SEO strategies remain to be vital in working with lead generation. Still, the competition for the same SEO keywords is like a breeding ground for crabs, each wanting to get ahead of the other.

In fact, growing website traffic has become the top priority for more than half of digital marketers. In particular, 61% of these marketers reveal building organic presence and SEO as their top priority in 2018.

What are We Leading Towards?

No matter which modern advertising tactic you use, that strategy will go through the same cycle as every other strategy—from conception and testing to finding success and facing the inevitable saturation of your methods.

In the process, we have forgotten old school marketing techniques and focused on inbound noise instead.

This year, more and more marketers are forced to look back. They start to rethink these old marketing strategies. Now is the time to revive these tactics and make them work in the modern digital landscape. Let’s tackle them one by one.

#1 Success in Snail Mail Marketing

You’d think that in the digital age, direct mail is dead.

That’s a myth.

It’s outdated, but the wheels have turned, and its efficacy rate is shocking.

  • Marketers who sent their message through direct mail saw their response rate increase by 10 and even 30 times more than through their efforts in email marketing.
  • Outreach emails for the sake of landing leads and sales are sent to spam and promotional folders.
  • On the one hand, 100.7 million adults in 2016 purchased through a catalog.
  • These consumers believe that direct mail adds the personalized touch that online interactions lack.
  • Your leads have flooded inboxes, but their mailbox at home still has space.
  • Despite the decline of direct mail sent in the past decade, it is reaping a return on investment of 15 to 17%, on average.
  • There is less competition via direct mail. Meanwhile, email marketing has become saturated.

Even Conversion Fanatics, an SEO company, turned to direct mail with a 25% response rate which happened to be big-ticket clients.

The marketing team of Intronis, a cloud backup and data protection company, leaned in favor of direct mail. They invested as much as $10,000 and raked in 700% ROI.

If you like to make a significant impact on your annual revenue, target the big clients. Surprisingly, direct mail is the fastest and most effective way to get big-ticket deals.

#2 One-on-one with Clients and Serve their Individual Needs

Account-based marketing (ABM) is not as old school as direct mail. However, it is built-in older marketing strategies that understand and apply personalization.

These days, marketing campaigns personalize their lead outreach by calling the client by name. Still, the message is a cookie-cutter one with generalized pain points.

Optimizely is one of the companies that had success using the ABM strategy. They targeted 26 different accounts, focusing their efforts on these handfuls.

Among their target market was Microsoft.

Optimizely provided a fully custom experience for their target market specific to their pain points and desires.

The result is a 117% elevation in account signups.

On average, marketers who employ ABM strategies reap 97% ROI.

Here is how you can use the ABM strategy for your business:

  • Study and determine which types of account demographics result in more sales.
  • Identify businesses that match these demographics and will benefit the most from your products or services.
  • Personalize your message to every target account.

The ABM strategy focuses on building real relationships with clients. It drives in massive sales and improved relationships between the client and the company.

Related: Account-based Marketing: Why It Delivers the Highest ROI

#3 The Power of Networking in a Conference

Nowadays, it is considered time-consuming and a waste of money to attend conferences.

Meanwhile, companies like HubSpot rake in thousands of new leads attending conferences.

Think of $10,000 spent on conferences as an investment. Connecting to sponsors and partners in these conferences can quickly pay you a higher ROI.

A Google search will reveal hundreds of sponsors in a single conference, ranging from small businesses to large companies.

Using this data, you can analyze these companies beforehand.

If you do conferences right, you can leverage a sponsor list to create a personalized sales pitch and land the big-ticket clients.

Just remember to study, plan, and specify your objectives, goals, and strategy before networking to the partners in a conference.

Boost event turnouts and conversion with Callbox’s Event Marketing services

Final Thoughts

The resurgence of old marketing strategies does not go to say that digital marketing efforts don’t work in 2018.

Combine digital marketing strategies with direct mail, ABM, and personalized networking in conferences, you have yourself a better game this year.

It’s all about directing your efforts in a market that is still wide and open, and then building relationships that encourage clients deeper into the funnel.

Now we know it’s best not to judge a strategy based on its old and tattered cover.

Build your digital presence, attract the right audience, and engage potential customers with the help of Callbox’s integrated Digital Marketing Solutions.

Lead Generation: Utilizing AI to Create Personalized Customer Journey

Let’s face it – the modern consumer has become smarter. Thanks to the wealth of knowledge they can find on the internet, they can get information about a certain company, product, or service before they decide. Because of this knowledge, the modern consumer has also become more demanding, requiring businesses to deliver a more personalized experience.  

Attracting the interest of modern-day consumers has become more and more challenging. They prefer a business that creates products and services that are tailored to their needs. Providing individualized experience to thousands or even millions of online consumers can be overwhelming, but not impossible.

How Businesses Use AI to Create a Personalized Customer Experience

Businesses such as Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify have been providing the best personalized experience to their consumers using AI or Artificial Intelligence. They use recommendation engines. Customers do not have to search for what they want. Instead, recommendations are sent to them, making them feel special.

These recommendations that large businesses give are based on every client’s purchase history.  The trailers that Netflix offers its subscribers are on genres that they usually watch. Consumers who go for Sci-Fi movies will get trailers of this type from Netflix.

By tracking their customers’ behavior, Netflix is able to provide them with products that they want. They do not have to browse for movies to watch. Instead, they get recommendations, which correspond to their preferences.

These companies have invested in gathering customer data that the AI can process and analyze to provide individualized experiences to clients. Even if you are a company not as big as Netflix, you can learn from them regarding the use of AI to give your customers a more personalized customer journey.

Related: What Personalization Means to Your B2B Customers and How to Implement It

Start Small with Your Personalization Strategy

Using AI or machine learning for a personalization strategy will require tons and tons of data. It’s okay if you only have little information about your clients in the beginning. Start with what you have now and add later when you have gathered more data. There are five steps to accomplish this.

Step #1. Keep a record of the client’s behavior across channels.

Nowadays, businesses can purchase customer tracking software to do this. The program will give an analysis of the buying habits of people that visit your website or make use of your app. You will know how many people are just making a random visit and how many converts into sales.

Among the site visitors, who will most likely make a purchase? You can target this specific group when sending messages in real time, making offers, providing tips and updates, and conducting surveys to find out what else they want.

Related: How Behavioral Targeting Can Help You Achieve Your Bottom Line

Step #2. Merge all data gathered with pertinent customer data with other systems.

Getting information from varied sources and systems will give an unbiased assessment of the customers. This broad understanding of how and why they act the way they do will serve as the framework for each individualized experience to offer.

Related: The 5 F’s of Data Hygiene for Deeper Sales Conversations

Step #3. Automatically interpret the data to determine affinities and intent.

AI can analyze and interpret large data instantly. The information will help find out customer affinities and intent. A customer’s affinity profile reveals which products he will most likely buy. However, a customer’s intent is something he buys because he needs it. A marketer can offer the customer items that meet his preferences and needs.

Related: The Math Behind A/B Testing: A (Simplified) Visual Guide [INFOGRAPHIC]

Step #4. Place everything in a central storage system.

Once a customer’s profile is established, products that meet his preferences and needs are gathered in a single place. Real-time messages and offers are sent to the customer from this place, which is based on his profile.

Related: Not Just an Address Book: 4 Hacks to Turn a CRM into a True Sales Tool

Step #5. Act on all data in real time.

Marketers must act on all data gathered immediately. When a consumer shows preference or intent to buy a particular product, he expects an immediate response. This means that he finds what he wants to buy right away. If he prefers a specific color and style, his search results must show these items.

Related: How to Skillfully Recognize and Respond to True Buying Signals

In Conclusion

Artificial Intelligence will be more and more significant and vital in individualizing consumer experiences. As a business, however, you must gather all relevant information about each customer for AI to process, analyze, and interpret.

With all the relevant data collected for each client, you will be able to nurture your clients in every level of the buyer’s journey as you provide real-time responses to each of their queries, giving them a better experience.

Sales Productivity: Tips From the Top Salespeople

Do you ever feel like it’s a dog eats dog world in sales? Well, it is. Every member of a sales team is looking after his best interests and monthly quota. With a mentality of autonomy, it’s ironic that we still have so much time to look into other people’s sales, compare, and criticize.

If you are determined to make it to the top, you have to stop harboring selfish motives against other salespeople.

Instead, put all your time, energy, and efforts into creating your success. Today you learn how you can become a top salesman.

Tip #1 You Have to Think Like a Top Salesman

In “The Greatest Salesman in the World,” Og Mandino prompts us to change the way we think about sales. You can’t expect different results from doing the same things. Albert Einstein calls that insanity. Here are some takeaways from his book you can apply to transform your mind and sales strategy:

Act Now- Don’t wait for another salesperson to reach your customer. You are the right man/woman for the job. An opportunity to sell can strike at any moment, and you have to be ready.

Don’t Be Afraid to Set Your Goals High- As Og Mandino said, “The height of my goals will not hold me in awe, though I may often stumble before they are reached.”

Related: Telemarketing Mistakes That Expert Salespeople Still Make

Tip #2 You Have to Be in the Right Place

When W. Clement Stone was a newsboy, he sold newspapers in restaurants where people did more reading than on the street. He rose to become one of the world’s best insurance salesman selling insurance to employees in downtown offices.

When planning appointments, a practical approach is systematic. Map out your prospects and go through your appointments by area.

Related: Be a SMART Marketer, Know the Best Time to Call your Prospects

Tip #3 You Have to Be the Expert

In sales, you have to know a little bit of everything, and everything about what you are selling. Top salespeople invest time digging into more than just the facts. They are genuinely interested in the product.

You have to believe your product will solve problems. In a sense, you have to be an expert at problem-solving.

Your product may not always be the solution to their impending problems, but if you can help them resolve their problems with a bit of research or connect them with someone who can help, they may have more time to listen to you talk about how your product can solve another one of their problems.

Related: The 3 C’s of Selling to the C-Suite and Closing Large Deals [INFOGRAPHIC]

Tip #4 Get Out There and Sell

Joe Girard learned at a young age that more doorbells rang equals more money made. He later rose to fame as the greatest car salesman in the postwar era. At one point, he sold 18 cars in one day.

Ask yourself, “what is stopping you from putting yourself front and center in the market?” Do you spend more time in the office than face-to-face with your customers? The reason can be one of three things:

  • You have not learned to delegate.
  • You are not prepared.
  • Your system and processes are not automated.

Tip #5 Get Some Help

If you don’t delegate, you will get into the time-sucking habit of multi-tasking. Research proves it’s better to focus on one thing than waste 20-40% of your time doing everything at once.

Joe Girard sold thousands of cars because he hired an assistant to research and pre-qualify customers before he talked to them. His assistant also had his appointments lined up for him.

His time was spent on customers who were ready to say YES, reducing the time and effort he could have spent decoding a lead who may not be ready to buy.

Related: Capture More B2B Sales Leads with Multi-Channel Marketing

Tip #6 Get Organized

Docurated published data that reveals salespeople are wasting more time on unproductive and repetitive tasks than actual selling. If you are still manually updating your client profiles, it’s time to switch to systems that allow you to automate CRM. This way you can access information about your clients at a touch of a button.

Related: Not Just an Address Book: 4 Hacks to Turn a CRM into a True Sales Tool

Tip #7 Master the Sales Process

John H. Patterson, the founder of the National Cash Register Company and father of modern sales training, has mastered the art of selling. He designed sales scripts along with a 4-stage sales process—initial approach, proposition, product demo, closing the deal.

Top salespeople do so well because they have a systematic sales process. Low-performing salespeople, on the other hand, are yet to find a sales process that works. While it is important to offer a personalized approach to every customer, each sale should be streamlined to follow an organized sales process to keep the momentum going.

Related: Stages of a B2B Sales Pipeline (and Ways to Increase Your Sales Success Rate)

Tip #8 Preparation is Key

The Father of Advertising, David Ogilvy rose to fame as a top salesman of AGA cookers. His company believed in him so much they asked him to write a manual on his sales approach.

If you read the “Theory and Practice of the AGA Cooker,” you will notice that the man with every kind of attack and defense towards his product. Even to the point that he studies the sales arguments of his competitors, but doesn’t waste time criticizing them in front of his customers.

Related: 4 Fathers Who Shaped the Evolution of B2B Marketing

Tip #9 Plan and Prioritize

Tom Hopkins, author of “Selling for Dummies” notes the importance of planning in productivity. 5 minutes is all it takes at the end of every day to identify 5-6 priorities for the next day. This way, you can start your days with more clarity.

At the end of every week, evaluate your performance and plan for the coming week. Calculate the numbers. How many YES, how many NO, how much time did it take to complete the sales process every time, how many calls did you make vs. your target, and so on. You may opt to use a productivity software to better monitor your game.

Tip #10 Sleep and Wake Up More Enthusiastic

The number one reason why Ron Popeil can sell absolutely any product on infomercials is his child-like enthusiasm for each product. Now you can’t be Ron Popeil if you’re tired and grumpy.

Even the richest businessmen in the world know this. Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk sleep 6-7 hours a night to stay productive. They wake up early too. No wonder the saying goes, “the early bird catches the worm”—and chirping happily too.