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Today’s B2B buyers are calling the tune

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Today's B2B buyers are calling the tune

B2B marketing is a dance between the marketer and the customer.

The decision to buy is never easy, so the marketer must cater to the potential purchaser’s desire for more information, providing it until the right moment comes to convert the prospect into a customer.

But technology will not play the same tune this year. The tempo has changed. The music is different. And the dance steps are faster.

The marketer and customer once did the tango. Now they are doing the twist.

Yesterday’s waltz

Things that used to work are being discarded. “Traditional sales calls are fading into the background,” said Lisa Ohman, COO of SEO solution Ubersuggest. Affiliate programs might drive sales with just five to 10 percent of membership. “The rest is noise and overhead,” she said.

“As with any industry, tactics and techniques fall in and out of favor.” Said Dennis Shiao, founder of B2B agency Attention Retention

“Five to seven years ago, two of the trendiest tactics for B2B marketers were infographics and SlideShare…These days, marketers still create infographics, but not nearly as frequently as before. SlideShare seems to have become irrelevant, sadly.” Shiao said. The first infographic got a lot of attention, but a single infographic today is hardly noticed in a flood of many.

“The lack of results is a big reason why tactics fall out of favor,” Shiao said. “Tactics that continue to produce results do not fall out of favor. One example might be well-written, longform blog posts, though achieving success with these is more challenging today than it was in the past.”

“The ebb and flow of channels and tactics are strange; they go up and down, yet rarely ever die” said John Wall is a partner at analytics firm Trust Insights. “Digital ads are getting less effective as privacy has become a higher concern,” he said, “and prices going up at the same time.”

Read next: Why we care about B2B marketing

Today’s whole shack shimmy

It would be cynical to say that new technology merely empowers one to do the same old thing in a new way. The cow path is paved with such gold bricks of foolishness. The challenge is on the marketer to figure out how to find a way to use new technology that plays to future strengths. Take video.

“I’d use a broader term for the category, which is ‘multimedia,’” Shiao said. “It encompasses slide-based webinars, audio podcasts, application screen shares and more… multimedia content should complement written content… For me, however, the sweet-spot combination is a high-quality written article with YouTube or Vimeo videos embedded adjacent to the copy.”

“We’ve found that for many organizations written content is most common early in the buying process and video is closer to the moment of purchase and used for post purchase, but this is different for every product.” Wall added.

Written content is great when someone is looking for information, but video can explain value, Ohman said. “I don’t need the article. Show me.”

Social media is another avenue of approach, but it must be more than being a place to dump content.

Ohman sees an opportunity to take social media to the next level. “Don’t talk about yourself. Get someone else to talk about you.” Here creative partnerships come in handy as “people are looking for social proof.”

“LinkedIn is always our first choice for B2B.” Wall said. “The fact that it’s business first, and there are paying customers who are doing recruiting [there], makes it an entirely different thing than social networks that are built around only advertising, which then creates incentive for clickbait and other sensationalism.”

“While B2B companies need to claim their brand handles and have a presence on the major platforms, start by picking one or two to focus on.” Shiao said. “On Twitter, a tactic I found successful is finding Twitter chats in your industry. A Twitter chat happens on a specific day and time (around a particular hashtag) and usually lasts for an hour. Participate in the chat from your brand’s Twitter handle. Relative to all your other Twitter activity, the engagement from these chats can go through the roof.”


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Learning new steps without missing the beat

So what can B2B marketers do? Despite all the change, marketing fundamentals remain the cornerstone of practice.

 “Adopting new technologies is always a challenge, on one hand you have to learn how to effectively publish on the new platform…and then you have to have marketers who can effectively communicate through copywriting and compelling content, which is an art in itself.” Wall said. “For B2B marketers, do everything you can on the product marketing side. This will give your content more credibility, and help you better communicate value.”

“Get back to the basics, which has nothing to do with a change in thinking or a new technology. It’s about understanding your target audience.” Shiao said. “I often say that my wife knows me better than I do. B2B marketers should strive to know their audience better than they do. This comes from studying and observing them and it also requires engaging with them (e.g., having meaningful conversations). If you know your audience better than they do – or even if you know them as well as they do – your content and campaigns will be all the more effective.”

People struggle with new technology and the change it brings. If a current technique is producing conversions at two percent, why risk a new technology that can produce a five percent conversion — or zero? Sometimes it pays to try a manual technique on a smaller scale to produce and measure change, then understand how the customer used that new information in their journey to purchase.

Ohman related best practice this way:

  1. Personalization. “Be scrappy about it.”
  2. Encourage your people in lead generation and sales support to bring in the human experience.
  3. Drive value. Even if you provide value at the risk of “sharing the secret sauce”, do it anyway. It may unlock new levels of opportunity.
  4. Data. Data. Data. Data. Data. The more you find useful, the better.

About The Author

William Terdoslavich is a freelance writer with a long background covering information technology. Prior to writing for Martech, he also covered digital marketing for DMN.

A seasoned generalist, William covered employment in the IT industry for Insights.Dice.com, big data for Information Week, and software-as-a-service for SaaSintheEnterprise.com. He also worked as a features editor for Mobile Computing and Communication, as well as feature section editor for CRN, where he had to deal with 20 to 30 different tech topics over the course of an editorial year.

Ironically, it is the human factor that draws William into writing about technology. No matter how much people try to organize and control information, it never quite works out the way they want to.

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MARKETING

SEO Recap: ChatGPT – Moz

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SEO Recap: ChatGPT - Moz

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

We’re back with another SEO recap with Tom Capper! As you’ve probably noticed, ChatGPT has taken the search world by storm. But does GPT-3 mean the end of SEO as we know it, or are there ways to incorporate the AI model into our daily work?

Tom tries to tackle this question by demonstrating how he plans to use ChatGPT, along with other natural language processing systems, in his own work.

Be sure to check out the commentary on ChatGPT from our other Moz subject matter experts, Dr. Pete Meyers and Miriam Ellis:

Video Transcription

Hello, I’m Tom Capper from Moz, and today I want to talk about how I’m going to use ChatGPT and NLP, natural language processing apps in general in my day-to-day SEO tasks. This has been a big topic recently. I’ve seen a lot of people tweeting about this. Some people saying SEO is dead. This is the beginning of the end. As always, I think that’s maybe a bit too dramatic, but there are some big ways that this can be useful and that this will affect SEOs in their industry I think.

The first question I want to ask is, “Can we use this instead of Google? Are people going to start using NLP-powered assistants instead of search engines in a big way?”

So just being meta here, I asked ChatGPT to write a song about Google’s search results being ruined by an influx of AI content. This is obviously something that Google themselves is really concerned about, right? They talked about it with the helpful content update. Now I think the fact that we can be concerned about AI content ruining search results suggests there might be some problem with an AI-powered search engine, right?

No, AI powered is maybe the wrong term because, obviously, Google themselves are at some degree AI powered, but I mean pure, AI-written results. So for example, I stole this from a tweet and I’ve credited the account below, but if you ask it, “What is the fastest marine mammal,” the fastest marine mammal is the peregrine falcon. That is not a mammal.

Then it mentions the sailfish, which is not a mammal, and marlin, which is not a mammal. This is a particularly bad result. Whereas if I google this, great, that is an example of a fast mammal. We’re at least on the right track. Similarly, if I’m looking for a specific article on a specific web page, I’ve searched Atlantic article about the declining quality of search results, and even though clearly, if you look at the other information that it surfaces, clearly this has consumed some kind of selection of web pages, it’s refusing to acknowledge that here.

Whereas obviously, if I google that, very easy. I can find what I’m looking for straightaway. So yeah, maybe I’m not going to just replace Google with ChatGPT just yet. What about writing copy though? What about I’m fed up of having to manually write blog posts about content that I want to rank for or that I think my audience want to hear about?

So I’m just going to outsource it to a robot. Well, here’s an example. “Write a blog post about the future of NLP in SEO.” Now, at first glance, this looks okay. But actually, when you look a little bit closer, it’s a bluff. It’s vapid. It doesn’t really use any concrete examples.

It doesn’t really read the room. It doesn’t talk about sort of how our industry might be affected more broadly. It just uses some quick tactical examples. It’s not the worst article you could find. I’m sure if you pulled a teenager off the street who knew nothing about this and asked them to write about it, they would probably produce something worse than this.

But on the other hand, if you saw an article on the Moz blog or on another industry credible source, you’d expect something better than this. So yeah, I don’t think that we’re going to be using ChatGPT as our copywriter right away, but there may be some nuance, which I’ll get to in just a bit. What about writing descriptions though?

I thought this was pretty good. “Write a meta description for my Moz blog post about SEO predictions in 2023.” Now I could do a lot better with the query here. I could tell it what my post is going to be about for starters so that it could write a more specific description. But this is already quite good. It’s the right length for a meta description. It covers the bases.

It’s inviting people to click. It makes it sound exciting. This is pretty good. Now you’d obviously want a human to review these for the factual issues we talked about before. But I think a human plus the AI is going to be more effective here than just the human or at least more time efficient. So that’s a potential use case.

What about ideating copy? So I said that the pure ChatGPT written blog post wasn’t great. But one thing I could do is get it to give me a list of subtopics or subheadings that I might want to include in my own post. So here, although it is not the best blog post in the world, it has covered some topics that I might not have thought about.

So I might want to include those in my own post. So instead of asking it “write a blog post about the future of NLP in SEO,” I could say, “Write a bullet point list of ways NLP might affect SEO.” Then I could steal some of those, if I hadn’t thought of them myself, as potential topics that my own ideation had missed. Similarly you could use that as a copywriter’s brief or something like that, again in addition to human participation.

My favorite use case so far though is coding. So personally, I’m not a developer by trade, but often, like many SEOs, I have to interact with SQL, with JavaScript, with Excel, and these kinds of things. That often results in a lot of googling from first principles for someone less experienced in those areas.

Even experienced coders often find themselves falling back to Stack Overflow and this kind of thing. So here’s an example. “Write an SQL query that extracts all the rows from table2 where column A also exists as a row in table1.” So that’s quite complex. I’ve not really made an effort to make that query very easy to understand, but the result is actually pretty good.

It’s a working piece of SQL with an explanation below. This is much quicker than me figuring this out from first principles, and I can take that myself and work it into something good. So again, this is AI plus human rather than just AI or just human being the most effective. I could get a lot of value out of this, and I definitely will. I think in the future, rather than starting by going to Stack Overflow or googling something where I hope to see a Stack Overflow result, I think I would start just by asking here and then work from there.

That’s all. So that’s how I think I’m going to be using ChatGPT in my day-to-day SEO tasks. I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned. Let me know. Thanks.

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MARKETING

What Is a White Paper? [FAQs]

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What Is a White Paper? [FAQs]

The definition of a whitepaper varies heavily from industry to industry, which can be a little confusing for marketers looking to create one for their business.

The old-school definition comes from politics, where it means a legislative document explaining and supporting a particular political solution.

(more…)

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

This afternoon, HubSpot announced it would be making cuts in its workforce during Q1 2023. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it put the scale of the cuts at 7%. This would mean losing around 500 employees from its workforce of over 7,000.

The reasons cited were a downward trend in business and a “faster deceleration” than expected following positive growth during the pandemic.

Layoffs follow swift growth. Indeed, the layoffs need to be seen against the background of very rapid growth at the company. The size of the workforce at HubSpot grew over 40% between the end of 2020 and today.

In 2022 it announced a major expansion of its international presence with new operations in Spain and the Netherlands and a plan to expand its Canadian presence in 2023.

Why we care. The current cool down in the martech space, and in tech generally, does need to be seen in the context of startling leaps forward made under pandemic conditions. As the importance of digital marketing and the digital environment in general grew at an unprecedented rate, vendors saw opportunities for growth.

The world is re-adjusting. We may not be seeing a bubble burst, but we are seeing a bubble undergoing some slight but predictable deflation.


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About the author

Kim Davis

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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