8 B2B Marketing Resources: Blogs, Research, and Thought Leaders

People ask me all the time what they should be reading to keep up on B2B marketing. Naturally, I have my favorite sites, since I need to keep up myself. So, here are my top B2B marketing resources — including how-to, research insights, prognostications, and opinions from knowledgeable experts

People ask me all the time what they should be reading to keep up on B2B marketing. Naturally, I have my favorite sites, since I need to keep up myself. So, here are my top B2B marketing resources — including how-to, research insights, prognostications, and opinions from knowledgeable experts. Sign up, follow, and enjoy.

  1. B2BMarketing.net: Some people say that the UK marketers are way ahead of the US, because their smaller universe means they have to work harder. This publisher’s capabilities would certainly support that argument. Find their excellent content, plus webinars and events, and check out their first US event in Chicago in May.
  2. Content Marketing Institute: Joe Pulizzi’s genius was to see the value of content marketing long before everyone else. He built an organization that explains the theory and practice, and its first examples were in business markets. This is the go-to place for research and how-to.
  3. Demand Gen Report: A treasure trove of white papers, research reports, articles, videos, and how-to guides on every imaginable B2B marketing topic. Kudos to founder Andrew Gaffney for this resource!
  4. Fusion Marketing Partners: Whitepapers, ebooks, and articles from Christopher Ryan, who really knows his stuff and provides actionable ideas and guidance. And if you don’t want to take the time to read his material, you can just hire him to get your job done.
  5. Heinz Marketing: Matt Heinz has built a successful demand gen agency on the shoulders of great content. Here you’ll find abundant books and guides. But what’s extra special is his Sales Pipeline Radio show, and the newly available Sales Pipeline Velocity Calculator. Sure to impress your friends.
  6. MarketingProfs:This website’s heart is in B2B. Within its two-tier free and paid membership system, you’ll find a rich array of articles, webinars, templates, research reports, training courses, and events. Plus, there’s a Know-How Exchange forum where you can get your questions answered by experts.
  7. Ruthless B-to-B Marketing: Of course, I can’t leave out my monthly blog articles on various B2B marketing topics. Find them first at Biznology. I welcome your feedback.
  8. Spear Marketing: Howard J. Sewell started out in sales, so it’s no surprise that as an agency head, his understanding of lead gen is superb. I’m an admiring subscriber to his blog The Point, where the tips are immediately applicable to your campaigns.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

The 10 Most Fascinating People in B2B Marketing in 2019

I’m back with my roundup of brilliant B2B marketers whom I’ve encountered this year. With a tip of the hat to those on my previous lists, it is my pleasure to introduce these fascinating colleagues to you. Our B2B marketing field has thrived in recent decades.

I’m back with my roundup of brilliant B2B marketers whom I’ve encountered this year. With a tip of the hat to those on my lists last year, and in 2017, 2016, and 2015, it is my pleasure to introduce these fascinating colleagues to you. Our B2B marketing field has thrived in recent decades, as new technologies and strategies emerged to help us reach target audiences and generate sales conversations.

But now, as we enter a new decade where challenges loom — data privacy, ad fraud, fake posts, ever-longer sales cycles — we need all of the talent we can get.

  1. Nancy Harhut is the Energizer Bunny of B2B copywriting. After a long career at Boston-area agencies, she has formed her own firm, and is creating bang-up campaigns for clients based on new insights from behavioral science. Catch her informative keynotes at B2B marketing conferences here and abroad.
  2. Valerie Bowling co-founded The Conference Forum to serve the pharmaceutical clinical-trials industry. With programs on such cutting-edge fields as immuno-oncology and “patients as partners,” she’s responsible not only for recruiting top-notch industry speakers, but also for driving attendance. As such, Bowling is an avid follower of B2B marketing methods, to fill the seats and keep attendees coming year after year.
  3. Sean Campbell is CEO of Cascade Insights, a Portland, Ore.-based tech market research firm. On the content side, Campbell hosts the “B2B Revealed” podcast, where I was a recent guest. It was the best interview I’ve ever had. He was prepared — actually read my book! He asked thoughtful, important questions, but also managed to steer the interview into a real conversation. Thanks, Sean, for a great experience.
  4. Elle Woulfe, VP of growth marketing at the product design platform InVision, is one of the most coherent thought leaders in the B2B realm. Find wisdom in her article about new ways to think about lead qualification and her three keys to sales and marketing alignment.
  5. I’ve known Chris Jeffers for years, but 2019 saw his major move. Jeffers founded NetFactor, the first service to automate B2B visitor IP address identification, in 2003. In 2017, he sold the company to Bombora, and decided to “retire.” All eyes are on his next step. I know he’ll come up with a winner.
  6. Vinay Mehendi is one of those rare data scientists who easily bridges to the business world. His company, amusingly named OceanFrogs, offers a wide range of B2B data services, like data enrichment and hygiene, persona development, technographic data, and lookalike modeling. But he has also developed some interesting B2B data innovations, like target account prioritization models, partner prospecting services, and a way to identify the “champion” in your target account buying group.
  7. I have to laugh when I run across a B2B sales executive with a stand-up comedy side gig. Check out Vincent Pietrafesa, Stirista’s intrepid VP of B2B products by day, who moonlights as Vincent James at comedy spots in the NY area. Who said B2B couldn’t be funny?
  8. I am a big fan of Jill Konrath, a sales expert who really gets B2B marketing. Having reconnected with her this year to get help crafting cold prospecting emails, I benefited from her superb Prospecting Tool Kit. She knows what she’s talking about, explains things clearly and tells the truth: “What percent of your prospects want to spend time with a salesperson? Zero.”
  9. When I worked at IBM in the 1990s, I noticed that our Canadian colleagues were way ahead in B2B marketing strategy and execution. So I am not surprised to see the same today in marketing services and technology. One example is Mike Couch, Toronto-based martech systems integrator whose agency helps firms like Bloomberg and ADP make their new purchases hum. When asked who should own the martech stack: marketing, sales or IT, Mike says the answer is “your customer.” Indeed.
  10. Bernice Grossman is one of the early lights in B2B data management, who saw long before most the essential value of complete, clean, and well-organized customer information to the success of B2B marketers everywhere. I was honored to partner with her on a series of research reports on B2B data-driven marketing over the years. After 37 years running DMRS Group, she holds the fascinating record.

Here’s to another great year in B2B marketing. Happy new decade to all!

 

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

15 Must-Attend B2B Marketing Conferences for 2020

The B2B marketing conference scene continues to flourish since I did my last roundup a year ago. I hope I am not jinxing the trend by commenting on how top events thrive and new events arrive. Here’s a lineup of top-quality conferences to add to your 2020 calendar.

The B2B marketing conference scene continues to flourish since I did my last roundup a year ago. I hope I am not jinxing the trend by commenting on how top events thrive and new events arrive. Here’s a lineup of top-quality conferences to add to your 2020 calendar. A treasure trove of strategy, innovation, ABM, martech, data, AI, e-commerce, social media — the works.

• February 24-26, Scottsdale, B2B Marketing Exchange

The real deal. Catch great speakers like Lee Odden, Pam Didner, and Howard J. Sewell.

• March 17-18, San Francisco, The ABM Innovation Summit

Organized by Demandbase, at Pier 27, and followed by certification courses on Day 2 at the Hyatt Regency.

• March 29-April 2, Las Vegas, Adobe Summit

Perhaps the largest of them all, as Adobe has built a B2B martech powerhouse. Featuring Mindy Kahling, an apparent new fan of B2B marketers — having also appeared at Content Marketing World in 2019.

• April 15-17, San Jose, Martech West

See Scott Brinker’s persuasive video call for speakers. Martech East runs in Boston, September 6-8.

• April 20-22, Chicago, B2B Online

E-commerce and digital marketing for manufacturers and distributors. Attracts attendees from around the world.

• April 23-24, San Francisco, TOPO Summit

Where sales and marketing teams learn to break down barriers and work together. Organized by thought leader Craig Rosenberg.

• May 3-6, Austin, Sirius Decisions 2020 Summit

A strong event, made even stronger after Sirius’s purchase by Forrester.

• May 12-14, Scottsdale, ANA BMA Masters of Marketing Conference

The ANA is moving its reincarnated BMA conference from Chicago this year.

• May 27-28, Chicago, B2B Marketing Ignite USA 2020

At last, the event we’ve been waiting for. The UK’s B2B Marketing.net brings its successful annual conference to our shores. If you’re not already a member of its US online community, I suggest you sign up now.

• August 10-12, Boston, B2B Sales and Marketing Exchange

A fruitful merger of three smaller B2B conferences, DemandGen Summit, FlipMyFunnel, and REVTalks, launched in 2019.

• August 19-20, Singapore, B2B Marketing Leaders Forum Asia 2020

THE Asian event for B2B marketers, if you can stand the idea of Singapore in August. Part of an Australian organization with additional conferences in Sydney (May 20-21, 2020) and Melbourne.

• September 16-18, Boston, Connect to Convert

A division of the giant LeadsCon, with a solid B2B marketing track.

• October 7-8, Chicago, reach 2020

Launched in 2019 by G2Crowd, this one-day conference is all about getting the most value from B2B ratings and reviews sites.

• October 13-16, Cleveland, Content Marketing World

Still growing, still thriving.

• November 3-6, San Francisco. MarketingProfs B2B Forum

The B2B Forum is on the move again, after years in Boston and a swing by DC in 2019.

 

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

5 Big Changes in B2B Buying Behavior

If you’re a B2B marketer — especially a services provider — your environment is about to be upended. Customers are changing, and so are the ways they buy. I’ve been struck recently by five glaring developments in business buying behavior that you need to know about.

If you’re a B2B marketer — especially a services provider — your environment is about to be upended. Customers are changing, and so are the ways they buy. I’ve been struck recently by five glaring developments in business buying behavior that you need to know about.

And once you know, you must consider how to adapt and, better yet, turn the changes to your advantage. Consider these.

The Arrival of Millennials in Business Buying Positions

These 30-somethings are rapidly migrating from researcher and specifier into decision-making roles. I’ve written about this before, offering ideas for how marketers can cope. But I also see this development as part of a larger trend that has deep implications for how we need to be selling and marketing today.

Use of Ratings and Reviews Sites in B2B

Comparison sites in the mold of TripAdvisor and Yelp have entered the B2B buying process; especially in crowded categories, like software and services. You’ll find ratings sites like TrustRadius, Capterra (now owned by Gartner), Clutch.co and G2Crowd, where users leave product reviews — and sellers quake in their boots. Here are some tips for how marketers can take advantage of this new channel.

Expanded Customer Requirements for Compliance

Long prevalent in government buying, companies of all sizes are increasing their requirements of vendors in areas such as sustainability, diversity, and — for manufacturers in such categories as apparel — wages, working conditions, and safety. Christine Crandell brought this to my attention recently, with examples like Marriott embracing the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals 2030 as a source of competitive differentiation, and how event planners are routinely making venue carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions an evaluating criterion in property selection.

Buyers Are Bringing Their Consumer Expectations With Them to Work

They want fast, personalized service, pricing transparency, ease of use, a human face, seamless integration across contact channels, and mobile access. We know this, but are we stepping up?

Enterprise Buying Platforms Mature

B2B buying has long been enabled by EDI, supplier exchanges, and e-procurement. But the pace is accelerating — fast. A new entrant is Globality’s platform that helps large enterprises buy services. According to Kathy Chin Makranyi, head of corporate marketing, Globality’s founders recognized that services procurement is inefficient, and ripe for change. So, they set up an AI-enabled platform that manages the entire buying process, enabling buyers to write the RFP, identify a short list of candidates — even inviting incumbents to participate, conduct the bidding process, hire for and manage the project, and handle the billing. Globality has vetted and recruited over 17,000 services providers to the platform, giving enterprises access to entirely new potential vendors. And the platform saves both time and money in managing the competitive bidding process.

“It’s a marketplace between the global 500 and a network of worldwide providers. The big services firms, the McKinseys, KPMGs, and Accentures will play, too, because it makes their sales cycles faster and easier. If you go with the incumbent, you’ve confirmed they are the best choice. Sourcing team[s] can learn and validate their work. And a provider who lost can find out ways to improve next time,” explains Makranyi.

Calling all consultants, accountants, lawyers, agencies — here’s your chance to compete on a level playing field for enterprise accounts.

 

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

How Passion Projects and Cause Marketing Can Power Your Marketing

Cause marketing can tie passion and product together and help you connect with your target audience on an emotional level.

It’s not news that your marketing can’t be all about you. To borrow a pop culture expression, your prospects just aren’t that into you. They’re into what you can do for them.

But once they’ve established that what you can do for them will address the problem they’re trying to solve, your prospects will want to know what kind of company you are and what it’s like to work with you.

Tie Passion and Product Together

A great way to do this is to get behind a cause that ties into your business mission. One of my favorite examples of this is Honda’s support for Project Drive-In, which is an effort to save the remaining drive-in movie theaters in the country.

It’s a fun project, it’s as close to controversy-free as can be imagined, and its automative focus ties in with Honda’s business.

“Sure,” you might be saying. “Easy for Honda. Cars and drive-ins are fun and interesting. Who wouldn’t love that?” That’s a fairly common refrain from those of us in less exciting businesses, particularly in the B2B world. There is, after all, no “Project Fax Machine” to save the last beeping, whirring, thermal-paper spitting wonders of the 1980s.

So anyone marketing copiers may have a little more work to do, but consider the approach of Skody Scot & Company. It’s an accounting firm. Not too sexy, right?

‘Boring’ Industry Doesn’t Have to Mean Boring Marketing

Boring or not, Scody Scot is so passionate about its mission to help non-profits manage their financial reporting — it works exclusively with non-profits — that it provides its services free to any non-profit with annual revenues below $50,000.

Some of those firms are non-profits that are just getting started. Some will grow and eventually become clients. Others are simply small operations that will never grow — and they’ll never provide revenue.

What they do provide, though, is arguably more important: a concrete demonstration of Skody Scot & Company’s commitment to its mission of helping non-profit organizations.

Adding Cause Marketing to Your Marketing Mix

The trick for marketers is to find a cause that you and your team are passionate about, identify how it aligns with your message, and how you can support that cause. It may be a very personal approach, like that taken by Skody Scot, or a much more public effort, like Honda’s.

These kind of passion projects provide the perfect counterpoint to parts of your marketing that attract your target audience with a focus on how you can help them. By also demonstrating how deeply you believe in your work, you can deepen the emotional connection between you and your audience.

And if you really, really, really can’t find a cause to align your business with, it’s not because you’re in a “boring” industry. Chances are, you have a brand and positioning issue to solve before you can tackle you marketing questions.

How B2B CMOs Can Give Panicked Salespeople Answers Instead of Discounts

Seasoned CMOs have all experienced it. A downturn in business happens, the sales team is flailing and not hitting their numbers, and the sales EVP comes to the CMO and asks for one or more items.

Seasoned CMOs have all experienced it. A downturn in business happens, the sales team is flailing and not hitting their numbers, and the sales EVP comes to the CMO and asks for one or more items.

  • Some immediate lead generation campaigns offering specific discounts, or new discounted product bundles or free service offers to serve as door openers
  • Inexpensive customer upgrades or similar offers at a lower than normal prices
  • Mega-incentive offers for referrals or partner-sourced deals

The right response to these drop-everything-else-and-focus-on-these requests is “No … but … ”

Before we review the counter-offers to the sales VP, let’s quickly review why immediately saying “yes” is a bad idea.

Why ‘Yes’ Is a Bad Idea

If your customer value proposition rests heavily on product leadership, you will do your brand, and all future average selling price (ASP) values, a terrible disservice if you suddenly decide to offer discounts or temporary product and service bundles at lower prices.

You will be assuring the market that you are not in fact a product leader and your value proposition is more about prices. You open the door to being compared to the inferior product that owns the low-price part of the market.

There is nothing wrong with Wal-Mart’s “Save Money. Live Better.” Or its older slogan “Always Low Prices.” If that represents your primary value proposition and you have designed your firm to operate that way profitably, carry on. However, if you designed your firm to focus on product leadership, attempting to switch strategy to meet a short-term sales shortfall will fail in the long run.

In the short term, it might stimulate some deals to come in sooner at lower margins than they would have later. In the long term, you will have undermined your brand attributions and you’ll be forced to discount more often.

The same logic applies to firms whose value proposition rests heavily on customer intimacy. If you switch value propositions in a crunch, people will question your commitment. Four Seasons’ slogan “Experience Four Seasons” is never threatened by surprise discounts because hotel occupancy is low.  Nordstrom Inc. created the sub-brand “Nordstrom Rack” to address this issue: “Nordstrom Rack is the off-price retail division of Nordstrom Inc.”

Discounting a price is a sales tactic, not a marketing tactic. In B2B, it is best used in one-to-one settings with clients. When you ask marketing to broadcast it to many prospects, it becomes a strategy. Be ready.

A second major issue to saying “yes” to the sales team for these requests is that it leads them to believe that it will result in enough good deals to see you through the downturn. If, for the past three years, you have been trying to educate Sales on the idea that the buyer is in control of the buying journey, and we need to plan and nurture a pipeline of early opportunities, why would you suddenly capitulate, set aside nurturing campaigns in mid-flight, and launch a Hail Mary campaign? Don’t say “yes” to appease the sales team, if you know it will damage the business.

Why ‘No, But’ Is the Right Answer

So how do you respond? First, take the customer perspective. What is causing the downturn? Is it industrywide, or just your firm? Is it the economy? Is it in multiple regions and affecting multiple product lines? What are the customers telling you by delaying their purchases? Or are they simply buying elsewhere? In the event it is a downturn experienced by you and your competitors, there are things you can do to stimulate sales.

Assuming the customers are still buying something and simply not spending at the same level as usual, the new value proposition to the customers in the downturn must be based on why their shrinking budget is best allocated to your products and services in the downturn — that the benefits you bring will help them more in the downturn and stimulate the topline of their business more than anything else. It somehow readies them for the economic recovery and will help them outpace their competitors when the recovery starts.

Perhaps their reduction in spending is tied to their business slowing down, in which case they may have plenty of staff bandwidth to handle change, re-tool and learn new skills. This could be the perfect time to implement new products, services and processes.

Marketing does more than help the sales team sell more. We help prospects and customers buy more. We take the sales request to help them sell more and turn it into the question: “In these circumstances, how can I message customers to help them buy more?”

“No … but … ” can mean “I really don’t want to support a campaign that simply offers discounts, as that will cost us in the long run. But how about we run a campaign that highlights why our products and services have an even stronger value proposition in an economic downturn and list the benefits thereof?”

There are other times when the business is best served by demand generation marketing saying “no … but … ” For instance, when Sales wants to expand into a new market or go down market with no research or planning to determine if that is a good idea. In that case, a great CMO response is, “No, we really shouldn’t launch demand generation efforts for that market yet, but what we can do is some market research and competitive research and determine if we should put a focus there, how much it will cost to break in, do we have suitable products and services, and will it impact our current positioning and messaging, etc.”

So, under what circumstances have you said “no … but … ” to Sales? How did that work out for you?

Why Your Content Needs to Focus on Expertise and Relevant Experience

Expertise and relevant experience now matter more than price and reputation when it comes to B2B marketing. That’s not to say that your B2B prospects are making decisions with a “hang the expense!” attitude, nor will they ignore any evidence they find of you being difficult to work with or in any way suspect.

Expertise and relevant experience now matter more than price and reputation.

The latter two still matter, of course, but according to a recent study by Hinge Marketing, the old twin pillars of professional services buyers’ decision-making — price and reputation — have been replaced by expertise and relevant experience.

That’s not to say that your B2B prospects are making decisions with a “hang the expense!” attitude, nor will they ignore any evidence they find of you being difficult to work with or in any way suspect. It’s just that they’re going to focus on expertise and experience first.

In other words, without expertise and relevant experience, nothing else matters, because you’re not making it onto the short list.

Relevant Experience

How to Make Your Case

So how do you state your case in a world where buyers are ever more eager to eliminate you before they’re even willing to have a conversation with you? You have to move that conversation from the phone or in-person meetings to your website and social media channels, as well as to other thought leadership channels, like trade show presentations and webinars.

Of course, the trick is that your prospects, like the rest of us, are inured to any empty marketing claims you might make. Everyone and everything today is award-winning, highly regarded and “the best,” not to mention new and improved …

That idea leads us back to the age-old marketing truth that showing is better than telling. Present your prospects with a library of content that demonstrates your expertise and relevant experience creates a much stronger case in your favor than merely telling them that you have that expertise and experience. White papers, case studies and articles outlining the work you’ve done are all helpful. Even more beneficial are the results you’ve achieved.

You also have to present that content in a way that meets your prospects’ needs. Which is to say, not the case stories of every project you’ve ever done. Just the case stories and articles about every project you’ve done in their industry. Or that address the business problem they need to solve.

How Good Information Architecture and a Good CMS Can Help

Because we can’t always know how a prospect will define content as relevant, we’ll want to make use of content hubs and landing pages. These gather the information related to a topic (or industry or problem to be solved) into a single page or section of the site. Your prospects land there and have all of the information they might want, right at their fingertips.

It’s important that your website architecture and content management system allow you to create these pages as the need arises and make it easy to use content wherever it’s needed, rather than asking you to recreate the same content more than once.

Telling the Marketing Story Your Audience Wants to Hear

It’s not enough to tell your story. You have to tailor your story to showcase the chapters that are most relevant to each segment of your audience.

Once you’ve convinced them that you have the experience and expertise to help them solve their problem, that’s when they’ll be more likely to pick up the phone to find out if your pricing fits their budget and if your approach and culture is simpatico with theirs.

10 Must-Attend B2B Marketing Conferences for 2019

It’s encouraging to see a resurgence in the quantity and quality of B2B marketing conferences and trade shows these days. For a while there, I was worried, as event after event went dark. Part of the upturn is due to the growth of the proprietary client conference.

It’s encouraging to see a resurgence in the quantity and quality of B2B marketing conferences and trade shows these days. For a while there, I was worried, as event after event went dark. Part of the upturn is due to the growth of the proprietary client conference, where B2B companies host clients, and often prospects, with an array of educational and schmooze opportunities.

Sirius Decisions, Terminus and Marketo are prime examples. But other events have emerged, too, to support marketers seeking information on martech, data, personalization, ecommerce, social media and other challenging topics.

Here’s a lineup of top-quality conferences scheduled in the remainder of 2019:

Mostly B2B, featuring a keynote by thought leader Matt Heinz, and sponsored by ON24.

Organized by Demandbase, with a free livestream of the keynotes for those who can’t attend in person.

Worth a jaunt across the pond.

Now folded into the Adobe Summit, this event has grown to 15,000 marketers. Wow.

Chaired by Scott Brinker, focused on technology tools for B2B and consumer marketers. Martech East runs in Boston, September 16-18.

Digital marketing and e-commerce for manufacturers and distributors. Where industrial marketers meet.

Covers the gamut, from product management to channel marketing, and everything in between. Plus, a touch of start-up and innovation content.

Featuring popular speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Geoff Ramsey, with an emphasis on brand and advertising topics.

This lively show continues to grow and thrive. Not 100% B2B, but just about.

My favorite. It claims to be “The best B2B marketing conference on the planet,” and as a frequent speaker and attendee, I can attest.

Save the Date for Next Year

 

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Improving Website Engagement Means Getting Your Site Visitors to Stay

Getting website visitors to stick around is critical in moving them through the buying cycle. Here are the aspects of your site to focus on to increase engagement and conversion.

On Saturday mornings, the station my clock radio is set to play “Living on Earth,” a show about environmental topics. After a brief intro on the show’s topics, the host Steve Kirwood says, “Stick around!” before cutting over to the local news.

I’m not sure if his jaunty delivery makes more people stay tuned in through the news break, but it sure has stuck in my head. And it comes to mind today, because getting visitors to stick around on your website is a critical component in your site’s marketing and lead generation success. Here are some tips for encouraging deeper website engagement.

What’s in It for Them?

Make it impossible for your audience to miss what’s in it for them. Forget your years of experience and and your awards and how great you are. That’s not going to get them to stick around. (Yet.) More on this below. Make sure your value proposition is front-and-center.

Be Entertaining

Often overlooked in the focus on being informative — which clearly is critical — you should also pay attention to whether your content that is fun to read, view or listen to.

B2B shouldn’t mean “Boring to Boring.”

We’re all people — even when we’re in the office — and we all like to enjoy even the mundane moments of our day. No, you’re not likely to make your B2B site as bingeworthy as the latest Netflix hit, but you can make people smile. And that’s going to help keep them engaged.

Be Informative

Because you can’t be Netflix, you have to be valuable. It’s just that simple. People aren’t coming to your site primarily to be entertained, anyway; they’re coming to learn more about how they might solve a business problem. Help them do that, and they’ll not only stick around longer, they’ll be back more frequently.

Write Well

All of the above implies good writing, but it’s worth pointing out that your content has to compete with a lot — not just other firms offering the same service, but all the fun stuff on social media and everywhere else. You have to craft more-than-passable prose.

If you can afford to hire a good writer, do so. Work with her or him often enough so he or she knows your company and your products inside and out and can craft a strong story.

If budget is an issue and you have to do the writing yourself even though you’re not 100% confident in your skills, go against your instinct to write less. Write more. The more you write, the more quickly your writing will go from questionable (or wherever it is now) to captivating. That’s your goal.

Perspective Matters

In your writing and the way you organize your site, think from your prospect’s perspective. If you’ve presented your value proposition properly, you’re well on your way. Keep that value central to all your writing, as well as your site’s navigational controls and structure. Even your calls to action should follow this principal and answer the question, “What would someone who’s just consumed this piece of content be interested in next?”

Ask for the Sale

Speaking of calls to action, find the balance between overdoing it and never doing it. You may not be literally asking for a sale, but you should be asking your audience to take the next step in building a relationship with you. Get them to take that next step by making the next step logical and rewarding.

Track Engagement

With these ideas implemented on your site, you should see an increase in engagement metrics, like average session time and number of pages viewed per session. You are tracking these data points, aren’t you?

By they way, if you’re wondering why I have an alarm set on Saturday mornings, so am I. Our dogs always have me up before the alarm goes off, anyway …