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It has been several years since we last reported on the growing use and popularity of content marketing as a core strategy among B2B marketers. Back in 2012, the creation and use of compelling, relevant content was still in an experimental and learning stage for most B2B marketers.  At the same time it was starting to gain significant momentum and claiming a growing percentage of marketing budgets.

 

Fast forward to 2015 . . . according to the Content Marketing Institute's and Marketing Profs' fifth annual 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends survey, content marketing has grown from "just a creation and distribution of content tactic into a formal discipline," and the latest data reflects continued momentum.  

 

Key findings include:

 

  • 87% of B2B marketers are using a variety of content marketing tactics. ​47% indicate that they have a dedicated content marketing group and another 15% plan to create one. 
  • 70% are creating more content than they did a year ago, with 42% publishing content daily or multiple times per week. 

​ 

Source:  Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs.  2015 B2B Content

Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Survey.

  • The average number of content marketing initiatives used to achieve marketing goals has increased to 13, up from 8 in 2012, with Infographics showing the biggest jump in usage year over year from 51% to 62%.  
  • 30% of the overall marketing budget, on average, is allocated to custom or branded content and 84% plan to increase their content marketing spending during the next 12 months, up from 60% in last year's survey.

Respondents use content marketing for a variety of purposes, but brand awareness, lead generation and customer engagement are the top three.  Social media content, and especially content delivered through LinkedIn, is the top content marketing tactic used by B2B marketers, followed by e-newsletters, articles on websites, blogs and various others such as case studies, white papers, videos, etc.

 

In spite of the growing momentum, challenges remain.  B2B marketers continue to struggle with creating enough engaging, high quality content and doing so consistently.  Plus they have difficulty finding enough trained content marketing professionals and struggle to measure the effectiveness and ROI of their content marketing efforts.

 

Finally, it is noteworthy that the survey findings show that those B2B marketers who have a documented content management strategy and follow this strategy closely are more effective with content marketing across the board.   For additional details and insights on these and other survey topics, a copy of the 2015 study is available via the Content Marketing Institute website.

 

As always, we welcome your comments and questions and the opportunity to dialogue with our readers. 

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In spite of early skepticism about the business value of online communities their popularity and adoption has been growing significantly in recent years.  Social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest have been leading the way as digital technologies continue to transform our lives and businesses.  Today, digital business is an imperative and organizations without a digital transformation strategy in place are at a significant competitive disadvantage compared to their digitally savvy counterparts.

 

One of the key manifestations of the new digital reality is the way organizations engage, communicate with, and extend relationships with their customers, suppliers, partners and employees.   Increasingly organizations are moving away from one-way, portal-centric interactions and conversations to more socially engaging alternatives that facilitate brand advocacy and peer-to-peer collaboration to achieve business outcomes.

 

 

Research from a variety of industry watchers such as Gartner Group and IDC shows that customers trust the opinions of other customers more than company sources or even industry opinion-leaders. Harnessing this power of people, with common interests connecting and engaging through customer and/or product reviews, word-of-mouth referrals and problem solving, can be a powerful force for companies.

 

Although early use cases and the return of investment for online communities centered primarily around customer service, the proliferation of digital technologies has led to the emergence of other viable use cases with robust value propositions, and most notably a customer engagement use case.  

 

Recent data from Perficient, a Salesforce.com cloud alliance partner, shows that clients who have implemented online communities are achieving a 48% increase in employee engagement, a 45%  increase in customer satisfaction, and a 43% increase in partner sales.  As a result of 48% faster case resolution, Perficient clients also continue to see substantial benefits from their customer service and support use case.

 

While companies should have a presence on the open social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, owned online communities provide more control and flexibility for engaging with customers, partners, employees and other target audiences aligned with organizational and brand strategy and objectives.  These branded, and typically closed or private communities, put the power of social communication and collaboration under your control, helping you compete more effectively in today's competitive marketplace.

 

If you are  ready to embrace online communities as the next big engagement opportunity for your business, or interested in learning more about the value and benefits of online communities, we would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your specific needs and share our thoughts as to next steps in your digital customer engagement journey. 

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Digital business is a hot topic and nearly every week several new reports or white papers on this subject become available from various sources.  It can be challenging to sift through this information overload to discern what's real, relevant and actionable to help guide our business decision-making.   

 

One of the more authoritative sources of information about this topic is the annual Digital Trends report, a collaboration between Adobe and Econsultancy.  This fourth annual Digital Trends 2015 Report focuses on practices and trends that are, as the authors state, "attainable in the here and now."  Based on a record number of about 6,300 B2B and B2C business professionals around the globe, the report not only provides a prospective view of what's ahead for 2015, but also compares last year's expectations against the realities of what actually occurred during 2014.

 

One of the most important highlights of the report is the growing emphasis placed on the Customer Experience as a key business priority for many organizations.  Although the authors acknowledge that areas such as data-driven business, personalization, mobile, social and cross-channel marketing are considered as critical for business success, it is the focus on the Customer Experience (CX) that stands out as increasingly crucial for not only competitive differentiation but also for "survival in an unforgiving business world."

                    Source:  Econsultancy/Adobe Digital Intelligence Briefing - n=2,543

 

As shown in the previous table the customer experience ranks first as a key differentiator among client-side organizations with a growing margin (22% versus 20%) over other opportunities.  The authors point out that realization of an optimal customer experience in a consistent manner across multiple channels remains a challenge for many companies and emphasize the importance of not only "bringing together data sets, technological infrastructures and operations," but also the need for a customer focused culture.

 

Other key highlights if the report include the growing importance of targeting and personalization as well as content marketing and content optimization as emerging initiatives. At the same time, mobile and social, in spite of falling back some in the rankings, continue to be key digital business priority areas.

 

For more in-depth information about the Customer Experience and other key digital business imperatives from the Digital Trends 2015 report, Click Here for a free copy. 

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A significant evolution involving the business of big data and analytics is under way and was on full display during Teradata’s 2014 Partners Conference and Expo in Nashville.  Teradata, NCR Corp’s former data warehousing division, is the world’s leader in enterprise data warehousing and analytics.  Many of the Global 50 enterprises rely on Teradata to consolidate their data and provide insights that enable faster and better decision-making.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the conference is the message that big data and analytics are not just for “techies” anymore.  Perhaps most telling was Teradata Labs President Scott Gnau tweeting several days after the conference that “this is the first time in Partners’ history that most attendees are from business and marketing, not IT - pretty cool.”  

In fact, many of the sessions and presentations focused on insights from practical case studies related to customer engagement as well as digital marketing and campaign management.  Increasingly, vendors and end-users recognize the growing need for analysts with multi-disciplinary backgrounds who can provide contextual business and industry understanding  and can act on, and/or deliver, wisdom that enables agile and higher velocity decision-making, while creating competitive advantage.  

Business intelligence and analytics vendors, many of whom exhibited at the conference, are responding with “out-of-the-box” analytics applications that are easier to use and don’t require programming skills, thus putting powerful self-service analytics and data visualization capabilities in the hands of non-IT business analysts.  During his presentation, Microstrategy’s Michael Hiskey pointed out that he has observed an increasing level of sophistication among business analysts with analytics skills, capabilities that would have required the skills of statisticians 6 to 7 years ago.  There is obviously significant value creation potential for businesses going forward.

 

A recent industry survey clearly confirms the growing importance of big data and analytics.   According to NewVantage Partners’ 2014 Big Data Executive Survey, 67% of senior Fortune 1000 business executive report having big data initiatives running in their companies, up from 32% last year. 

Moreover, 82% say that it is “important or mission critical,” and 23% say that its value is “revolutionary,” demonstrating that Big Data has gone mainstream and is delivering significant business benefits, including sustainable competitive advantage for those firms who master obtaining greater insights and learning from multiple sources of data, including structured and unstructured data.  It is also telling that only 4% see technology selection as important to successful big data adoption, reinforcing that big data value is less about the technology per se, and more about the insights, wisdom and business value delivered.

 

For additional key takeaways from the Teradata Partners conference, and/or a free copy of an executive summary of the New Vantage Partners' 2014 Big Data Executive Survey, email us at infohealth.intelliqresearch.com.  We welcome the dialog.

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For many organizations, there has been considerable skepticism about the business value of social media.  In many cases, business leaders have associated social media with employees wasting time on Facebook and Twitter. This sentiment has been reinforced by various industry watchers such as Gartner Group who prognosticated as recently as November of 2012 that through 2015 most social business initiatives would fail to meet business objectives.

 

However, the latest annual survey from MIT’s Sloan Management Review and Deloitte suggests that "times may be a changing," and that the negative views about the value of social business may have been premature.  The study found that over 60% of managers surveyed report that their social business initiatives were at least somewhat successful and positively impacted business outcomes.


This is especially true for firms that have reached a certain level of social business maturity and have the ability and capacity to derive positive benefits from social business.  In fact, the higher a company is rated on the social business maturity scale the more likely they are to report positive business outcomes.  It is interesting to note that social business maturity involves more than simply implementing and using social media tools. Study participants with higher social business maturity levels have typically adjusted and evolved their business processes to take advantage of the power of social media tools to positively impact business outcomes.  


           Source:  MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2014.   


Moreover, as social business maturity rises, the use and benefits of social business tend to evolve from externally focused applications, such as marketing and customer service and support, to more internally focused applications such as innovation and product development. At the same time, the tools used to measure and assess social business results and ROI become increasingly sophisticated.


For more information and/or strategies and initiatives you can use to raise your organization's social business maturity level and capture its value, contact us at infohealth.intelliqresearch.com.

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