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5 Things You Must Know About B2B Content Marketing

Monday, July 18th, 2011

*Guest post by Matt Krautstrunk…

I used to think B2B marketing was B2C’s ugly sister. I was obsessed with consumer facing marketing initiatives and branding strategy. So naturally, I took a job as a B2B content marketer, and I learned that while B2B isn’t sexy, my creative spirit can still shine.

So when I began learning about B2B content marketing, I struggled with finding the secret sauce. I began tracking analytics on our site’s content, figured out what other companies actually wanted to read, and learned the most important rule of them all: content for the sake of content is useless.

A B2B audience isn’t searching for “sexy marketing,” with simple, branded web 2.0 messages (Salesforce is about as close as B2B comes to sexy); the B2B buyer is more sophisticated, looking for informational articles, blogs and anything that may or may not give them incentive to buy.

1. Don’t Sell

If you’ve ever seen Harry Potter, almost no witch or wizard dare speak of Lord Voldemort’s name. Well the same concept applies to content marketing, never mention the word, “buy our product.” It sets off the SPAM filters in the reader’s head, discrediting your content and slandering your name. Even if your goal is to guide purchase decisions with your company, don’t treat your readers like sheep. If they are interested, they will find you.

Of course your strategy differs with the type of content you are marketing (blog, article, whitepaper, buyer guide), but I’m often even scared to plug my company if it’s not in the bio. If you are a content marketer, speak with your voice and credit your own name, but have the company back your opinions and insights. This will help your credibility and the overall effectiveness of your content.

2. Statistics Are Your Backbone

In B2B marketing, there can never be enough statistics. Managers love them, creative writers loathe them, and researchers just… research them. Statistics are your backbone for all arguments you will make in B2B content marketing. Looking for reasons to get into content marketing? According to Junta42, in 2009, content marketing spending comprised of 33% of the total marketing budget and 60% of marketers believe that number will increase. This survey was taken in 2009, and content marketing was on the rise; I’d imagine if we surveyed the scene after Panda we’d see much more emphasis on unique content.

Regardless, you should invest in R&D. You should test out new content within the buying cycle and strategically launch your content like you would launch a new product.

3. Say It Only When You Need To

Sites that post content for the sake of posting something are often filled with low level jargon. It’s rare that your company would ever outsource its blog material, but many companies outsource their on-site page content. Does this make sense? From an SEO standpoint, more content is always better. But the real question is where the line cross between content quality and quantity. Does it serve you better to have 100 pages of optimized, poor content, or 20 pages of well written copy? The answer is, it all depends. If it needs to be said, say it, and be weary of poorly written outsourced content.

4. Don’t Copy Your Competitors

Copying a competitor’s strategy is a dumb idea. Whether you are taking basic ideas and repurposing them or blatantly stealing content (which Google will punish you for); always know that competing with yourself is easier than competing with other. Marketers get rewarded for paving new paths, not following old trails.

5. Plan Your Content for a Channel

Each channel views and interacts with your content in a different way. Short, concise content does well on mobile, where as more drawn out research oriented conclusions register for trade publications. If you are set to produce a white paper for lead generating purposes you will want to plan out where you will be hosting your white paper (longtail niche site or commercial site with universal appeal) and what topic it will cover before you finalize the draft. You don’t want to make the mistake of writing a “VoIP 101” article for a niche community like TMCNet.

Taking a channel approach to your content, shying away from duplicate content, and saying it only when you need to say it, are all instruments to the success of your content marketing. However, remember to keep your sales pitch at the door, and delivering timely, valuable, statistic-backed information to your audience will keep you relevant with the opportunity to go viral.


Matt Krautstrunk is a writer and social media marketer for Resource Nation, a service that provides document management software tips and tools to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

 


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Animate Thy Blog

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Animate your blog.  No, not that kind of “animate”.  I’m not talking about Flash or GIFs or even video.  I am not talking about animation.

I am talking about animals.

an•i•mate (n-mt)
tr.v. an•i•mat•ed, an•i•mat•ing, an•i•mates
To fill with animals.

Before you go thinking that I’ve gone Noah on you, consider this question: “How do you engage your blog readers?” posed by Brian Belfitt at SEOMKT.

My response to that post (visible in the comments) was “all over the place”, according to Brian.  And he is right.  I reflected upon what I tend to do across the various blogs I write, and I realize that I like to “animate” them.  This may or may not be an approach you want to follow; it is one of many ways to add a little colour to your blog.

Real Animals In Imaginary Settings.

squirrelLet’s start with the approach I think works best.  Do you remember the cartoon “The Far Side”?  Gary Larson made a career of switching role of humans and animals.  People somehow relate to animals playing human roles.

I would be proud if I had even a fraction of Larson in me, I suppose, since I wrote about “Five Animals Teach Us Less-wasteful Dining Habits“.  Not only does the theme put animals in the role of humans, but three of the illustrations do, too.

Real Animals In Real Settings.

monkeysinhottubOver at the Hot Tub Covers Blog, I wrote about “Monkeys Love Hot Tubs“.  This is a more real approach, almost science.  We put together a video montage of Japanese Macaques enjoying their own hot tub (hot springs).  Again, we try to humanize the animals by characterizing their actions in human terms.  (No monkeys were harmed in the filming of this blog post.  And nothing needed to be staged.) This might not work with every blog, but if it does, it can really add some colour for your readers.

Imaginary Animals in Imaginary Settings.

bugs2What’s an Imaginary animal?  Daffy Duck.  Under Dog.  Rocky and Bullwinkle.  Thestrals and Blast-ended Skrewts. I wrote “The Bugs Bunny Guide to Linkbuilding” right here on this blog.  Bugs is imaginary, of course, and the world of linkbuilding and SEO is pretty imaginary most of the time (and certainly some of the advice Bugs shares with us is somewhat unreal).  This post is based on the concept of “What would Bugs Bunny do?”, drawing on real-life quotes form this imaginary animal. People really enjoyed this post.

Imaginary Animals in Real Settings.

tigger1This one is a bit tougher to do, since Rocky and Bullwinkle have only once been caught on film in the real world – when filming their movie a few years ago.

But Kevin at Out Of Your Rut did manage to venture into the Hundred Acre Wood capture this live interview of “Eeyore and Tigger on Stock Investing Risk“.  (OK, so some people might suggest the stock market is no more real than SEO, but I had to place this here for symmetry.)

Maybe you’re not an animal type of blogger.  But maybe you are.  I hope this gives inspiration for a few colourful posts.  Whether you use my definition of the word “animate” or simply use the meaning “to make more lively”, may you leave this post prepared to animate thy blog.

 


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The Newest Oldest SEO Tool

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The latest SEO tool is not an automated submission device or some web page analyzing script.  It’s the thesaurus on your desktop.  No thesaurus?  Better get one soon.  Google has just announced that it has made great advancements in reading synonyms.

While even a small child can identify synonyms like pictures/photos, getting a computer program to understand synonyms is enormously difficult, and we’re very proud of the system we’ve developed at Google.

What does this mean for you?

Thesaurus

If you are optimizing for “real estate Kentucky”, you had better not leave off related search words like “homes”, “property”, etc.  These words will be treated as synonyms of “real estate”, and “real estate” will be treated as synonyms of them.  More variations – in other words, more synonyms – looks a lot more like natural language than the forced language of always using the same word just for SEO purposes.

It also means that one website can easier dominate a niche across several searches.  For instance, a page with a great link profile that was ranking very high for “real estate Kentucky” due to an astounding backlink profile, but was ranking at 100 for “Kentucky property”, might suddenly become competitive for “Kentucky property”.  This is just an uneducated hunch, but I suspect that the strength of your backlink profile could help you greatly with searches for synonyms of the terms you are actually optimizing for.

In any case, this is good news for searchers, since their true intent is more likely to be satisfied.  As web marketers, we also want to satisfy them, so make sure you use natural language with a generous use of that thesaurus – both on-page and in the text of your backlinks.

 


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For SEO, Write More Text

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Over at the High Rankings Forum a couple weeks ago, the following question was asked:

“What’s the general consensus on padding your site pages with paragraphs of extra test just for Google or for better page rank? Does it work? I’ve always believed that web sites should be designed for humans and if done well, the search engines will find it. What’s the prevailing wisdom on this?”

You can see the original post at http://www.highrankings.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=37658 …but you won’t see my response.  It must’ve been one of those times when the Internet crashed on me as I was uploading my response.

So for what it’s worth, here it is.

First, you can place a trillion words on your page and it won’t help your PageRank…unless the words are such that will inspire others to think, “Hey, I want to link to this page!”  That’s what PageRank is all about. 

That being said, I am a big more-is-better believer both for the search engines and for real people.  Why? For search engines: If you replace 300 words with 800 words, and the words remain on-topic and keyword relevant, the following will most likely happen: 

1. Your keywords will show up more often.
2. Variations of your keywords will show up more often, as will synonyms that might not have fit into your shorter text.
3. Many other words will show up that could be part of long-tail searches.
4. It is possible that the amount of information on a page might even play a small role in  rankings.
 

For humans: If you replace 300 words with 800 words, and the words steadily aim to provide increasing explanation/evidence as you scroll down, the following will most likely happen: 

1. Impatient doers will ignore everything below your first “click here” or other call to action, so the added text makes no difference to them.
2. Undecided people, who like your message but are just not sure, will keep reading and you have the chance to convince them.
3. Analytics (people who need lots of info to make a decision) will love you and will be much more likely to follow your call to action.
 

There is no right answer to this, but for what it’s worth…write!  Write!  Write!

 


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Earlybird Link Building

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

POP QUIZ:  How do you build links to a website that is not yet live?

Those who are new to the Web might wonder why you would want to do that.  Let’s suppose your website takes 4 months to develop.  If you build some links to your domain, then SEO-wise you can hit the ground running when you are ready to go live.  Imagine going live and already having 100 links indexed by Google.  You have a head start.

But who wants to link to a non-website?  Nobody, of course, except…

Let me tell the story of a shy little girl named Melanie.  Her parents moved to a new town, and let’s just say that the kids at her new school were a little less than welcoming.  What’s a girl to do when nobody wants to be your friend?

Be your own friend, of course.

Eventually, anybody who is a good friend to herself will radiate confidence and self-esteem and will emit an aura of worthiness.  Soon, Melanie had plenty of friends, just because she was a good friend to herself.

So, too, with link-building.  If you are not yet ready to seek links from other people, set up links to yourself.  Here are a few ideas how to do this:

Set up pages at Social bookmarking and social networking sites.  Most of them allow links in your profile, and the more friends you have and the more items you vote on, the more link juice your profile will have.  LinkedIn is great for SEO .  FaceBook is good.  Squidoo is ideal (Set up lots of topical pages and network, network, network).  MySpace is useless from an SEO perspective.

Submit articles to general article directories and how-to/expert websites.  In the resource box, you can place a link.  These links are hardly ever checked by the website administrators, unless something looks fishy.  Make yours an exquisitly useful, quality article and most places will accept it.

Submit comments on DoFollow blogs.  Some blogs automatically add all comments. Some bloggers will read your comment and approve it if it adds value, without looking at your website.  Some bloggers will follow your link and nuke your comment.  (I did just that a few minutes ago, which is what inspired me to write this post.)  Ah…but if the commenter had posted a lengthy comment that really added to the discussion, I might have approved it, and I think most bloggers would … although some might remove the active link to a non-functioning domain.  Keep in mind that who you link to matters.

Set up blogs on other domains.  You can set up blogs on Blogspot and WordPress and on hundreds of smaller websites that allow users to set up blogs.  many of these overlap with the advice above to set up profiles at social networking sites.

Buy blog posts.  There are plenty of paid blog review websites, such as Blogsvertise.  And there are self-serve paid blogging sites like LinkVana

In fact, you can build hundreds of links before you even have a website.  All you need is to harness the power of user-generated content on other websites.  However, there are a few caveats.

1.  It still requires work.  You might not yet have content on your own site, but you have to put quality content on the other sites, and the better the quality the more links you can build.

2.  It helps if your site is live.  It might take 4 months to develop, but in 24 hours you can have a nicely designed on-topic interim home page live on your domain.  I suggest you do this.

3. This is not hoity toity SEO.  This is guerilla SEO.  There is nothing wrong.  There is nothing shady.  It leaves a bad taste because it should not be like this, but given that the longevity of links and the gradual accumulation of links does count to your success, it would be foolish not to take advantage of these opportunities to quickly position your new website to compete with the established players.

 


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A Degree in BS?

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

We get requests for all sorts of writing, and every now and then somebody ignores the quote plastered on every page of our website about not doing their school papers for them and cheating them out of an education.  So on occasion we get to ignore a request like this:

I need someone to help me with a continueaction book report  on why should I celebrate thanksgiving , I have done part one  which was 12 pages part 2 need 38 pages  it is just that i have so much to do before I gradurate in may for my B.S. degree form bible college. 

 I think she might have taken the “B.S. degree” thing too literally!

 


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This story is going to make “MILLIONS”

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

I don’t know why, but I seem to like posting the crazy email demands I get.  For instance, this one lady wants a book written based on her true story, and asks “Dear David, I was wondering, do I have to come up with the cash up front? Or will the writer take a commission?”, followed by a long explanation of her story.

When I explain that “We typically ask for the payment to be broken into thirds, but we can break it down into smaller increments.  The only thing we are not flexible on is that any work the writer does has been paid for.” …she comes back with:“All I know is my story is going to make MILLIONS and IM wikking yo dhare it all, just to get my story out! Got it?”

Ready for my response? 

“With all respect, it sounds like you are more interested in hiring a gambler than a writer.  Best of luck.”

 


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Optimize for misspellings

Thursday, October 4th, 2007

Your PPS is cute, what with the “translaters” !  :o)

That was part of a query I received from a lady needing translation of a French medical document into English.  She was refering to the following paragraph from my “free lance englishfrench translaters” page.

P.P.S.: If you came searching for a free lance frenchenglish translater or free-lance englishfrench translaters, you won’t be the first to make a little spelling booboo. That’s OK; it’s our job to make sure that your final translated text is error-free.

This is just a cute way to get a few misspellings tactfully into the text of the page.  When someone searches for “free lance translater”, their real intention is to find a “freelance translator”, so including the text on the page is one good way to help them find hwat they meant to type, not what they actually typed.

Is this appropriate?  Are we tricking the search engines?  Not at all.  We are helping people find what they want.  It is always wise to include as many variations of a word as possible.  It is for that reason that writing naturally makes sense.  Writing just for a keyword, say “Freelance French English Translator” would not sound right.  Variations of these words should also appear on the page, such as “translation” and “translators” and maybe “translating”.

Including misspellings is another way of covering the various combinations of searches people might eb undertaking

 


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Make them think

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

If you want to attract attention, it helps to make them think.  I ran the following item in my Daily Dose of Happiness ezine:

RELAX

Close your eyes and imagine you are in a room filled with soft blue light.  Around you is gentle green foliage.  Feel the blue.  Feel the green.  These colors, the hues of sky, forest and water, are known to relax people.

For more permanent stress-relief, paint your walls blue, green or a combination of the two.  Since these are cool colors, they can also help keep tropical homes cool.  Not recommended in Iqaluit or Hammerfest. 

A fairly straightforward little item, with a touch of cuteness at the end.

Actually, it was a touch of interaction.  You have no idea how many people pulled out the atlas to find out where Iqaluit and Hammerfest are located.  And one Norwegian subscriber even emailed me to cheer the inclusion of her country in my ezine.

Make them think.  Make them look something up, but make sure that what they have to look up is not something really important to your message, because not everybody will look it up. 

 


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Stupid writing client tricks

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

If you plan to hire a writer, please do not try this at home:

Message from prospective client (came in on a form on this website)…

I need 10 unique articles about closet organizer, I provide you the keywords for each article, I need the article have a keyword density about 2% to 3%.

Next message…

The articles have to be in english, I provide the keywords, each articles have 300 words and a keyword density of about 3%. The articles is to be include in ezinearticles to generate trafic to my site, the article  have to wake interest in the people to visit my site.

Final message…

Thanks for your time David, but I found Ghost Writers who write me the articles for $50, thanks again for your time and your interest.

No, I did not make up one word of this.  10 high quality articles for $50?  If it is not immediately obvious what the problem is, you had better get a job quickly – you won’t be in business for long!

 


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