As 2013 quickly approaches, marketers have a lot to consider. To successfully plan ahead to the new year, it’s important to take a glance back at 2012. Thinking about what worked and how to squeeze the most marketing value into these final two months can influence the strategic direction companies take in the future. Studies and reports released last week demonstrate some of the broader trends in internet marketing for 2012, as well as strategies that will make or break performance during the holiday season.
Content marketing becomes more diverse
The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs unveiled a report analyzing content marketing in the B2B sector last week. Business-facing companies of all sizes across industries profess a commitment to content marketing that should make 2013 an interesting year. According to the study, 91 percent of responding companies currently use content marketing. It’s clear that companies have adopted diverse strategies and formats for content marketing, but the goal of developing a broader presence on the web is quickly becoming the cornerstone of successful B2B brands.
The data found that the average B2B company creates at least 12 different kinds of content. Content formats range from social media marketing posts and udpates to original research reports, and each element of an integrated strategy drives convertible traffic for these brands.
Brafton reported that 87 percent of respondents currently use social media as part of their strategies, while 83 percent create articles for their websites. Email marketing, blogs and case studies are all present in at least 70 percent of custom content campaigns. B2B companies need to diversify their content to reach broader audiences as more employees play a role in purchase processes. Writing articles, sharing social content and developing case studies helps a brand satisfy informational needs to compel conversions among a range of prospects. Using multiple kinds of content not only attracts a diverse audience, but it demonstrates thought leadership and authority that makes a prospect want to work with a brand.
Rapid rise of video
One of 2012′s fastest growing content types is video marketing. According to the report, 70 percent of B2B brands now produce their own marketing videos.
Brafton reported that video marketing’s rapid adoption follows the general growth of the format on the web. Nearly 90 percent of American internet users stream video content every month, and the ways they interact with web videos multiply just as fast. Developing engaging video helps content marketers literally put a face and a voice to their brands, which can foster trust for companies.
Broadening content marketing goals
Working toward trust with content marketing requires steady production of new content that keeps prospects engaged, and consistency can also fuel other content marketing objectives.
79 percent say brand awareness is the top goal for their content strategies.
According to CMI and MarketingProfs, 79 percent of respondents said brand awareness is the top goal for their content strategies, 74 percent pointed to customer acquisition and 71 percent said lead generation. Other frequently cited goals include thought leadership, engagement and greater website traffic.
No single type of content can achieve marketers’ wide-ranging campaign objectives. Moreover, beyond content formats, integrated content marketing includes a series of factors, such as content production, SEO, effective social marketing distribution and conversion optimization, to drive traffic, awareness and leads. Analytics are essential to understanding where brands win with content and how to drive further web marketing success.
B2B social marketing trends
For B2B brands, social media marketing has often proven one of the more difficult content channels to gauge.However, it appears business-facing companies have found value with multi-platform social campaigns, using different networks much like they rely on varying content types.
Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, each speak to different prospects and allows companies show off content and interact with fans and followers. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn ranked as the top three networks. In the previous two surveys, Twitter finished in the top spot, but LinkedIn took No. 1 in 2012, with 83 percent of respondents using the platform.
Facebook goes ‘global’
The report from CMI and MarketingProfs found 80 percent of B2B brands use Facebook to connect with prospects, customers and other brands. Add in the countless B2C companies marketing on the platform, and it’s clear a Facebook presence has become a competitive necessity for companies on the web.
For many brands, Facebook’s Page structure provides optimum exposure and helps drive relevant traffic consistently. However, global brands may have experienced problems related to managing Pages in multiple languages and sharing content appropriate for different regions. With this in mind, Facebook unveiled a new Global Pages framework last week.
While the feature is currently only available to select partners, its benefits could be massive for companies with presences around the world. The technology automatically translates parts of the Page to the appropriate language and updates Milestones or cover photos according to what’s hot in a specific area. Kelly Winter, product marketing manager for the social media giant, reported that users will be directed to the Page most likely to suit them.
Brafton highlighted comments from Winters that suggest Facebook will explain the feature more as the end of 2012 approaches. The social media marketing landscape is dynamic enough to constantly keep marketers on their toes.
Pinterest among top 50 websites
Pinterest’s continued growth is evidence of social marketing’s dynamic nature. ComScore‘s monthly analysis of top web properties revealed the platform has emerged as one of the top-performing sites. For the first time, Pinterest ranked among the top 50 web properties, checking in at No. 50 in September. The usual leaders included Google, Yahoo and Microsoft sites, as well as Facebook.
Throughout 2012, Brafton has highlighted studies that demonstrate Pinterest’s appeal to brands relying on ecommerce. Others can certainly benefit, but the visual-heavy site lends itself well to showing off different products. As the holidays approach, new trends related to Pinterest’s value for ecommerce will likely emerge as brands find creative ways to showcase their products.
As October ends, the holiday shopping season will pick up quickly, and the ways marketers leverage social platforms and other strategies may ultimately decide their success to end the year. Either way, it will certainly be interesting to see innovative new campaigns and the way consumers interact with them. Marketers might get last-minute ideas for 2012 or strategic insights for 2013 at the upcoming ad:tech New York conference. Stay tuned.