All posts by Jeremy Durant

Bop Design Listed as Top Global 75 B2B Design Company

At Bop Design, our holistic approach to marketing is dedicated to helping our clients move their businesses forward. We credit our success to a team that is reliable, communicative, and innovative. We’ve accomplished a great amount of B2B projects since our humble beginnings in 2008, and we’re proud when our achievements are recognized. On the ratings and reviews platform Clutch, we’re listed as one of the top print and web design companies. Bop Design continues to excel on Clutch, and we end 2018 by scoring another major achievement.

For the first time, Clutch has unveiled a new and exclusive category: the top 1000 companies on their platform. The firms were chosen based on their superior level of dedication to clients. Client feedback is the core of Clutch’s research methodology, and companies comprising The Clutch 1000 list have surpassed client expectations with their innovative solutions.

Selected among many reputable companies, our inclusion in The Clutch 1000 recognizes our efforts to deliver the best solutions across all areas of our expertise. We pride ourselves on our 5-star rated Clutch reviews. Clutch analysts interview our former clients directly to understand all aspects of a collaboration: project management, innovative approaches, product quality, and impressive aspects of the company. These comprehensive reviews give a prospective buyer an up-close perspective on the companies on Clutch’s platform, and Bop Design has certainly stood up well to the research firm’s in-depth evaluation.

With almost 30 reviews on our Clutch profile, the feedback from former clients has been excellent. Take a look at some of the praise so far:

“They worked tirelessly to ensure we were happy with the website design and deployment.” – President, R&S Manufacturing and Sales

“Regarding our overall experience, we love their accessibility, turnaround times, and client service.” – Marketing Manager, IT Services Company

“Bop Design was informative throughout the process, giving us a deliverables timeline, and stayed on top of things.” – Marketing Manager, Evergent Group

Our high rankings on Clutch have even qualified us to appear on Clutch’s sister website, The Manifest, in top 15 on the list of top web designers. The Manifest is a resource that provides industry reports, how-to-guides, and lists of top service providers across various industries. By keeping up with the latest trends in B2B, we hope to continue providing excellent solutions to our clients as the new year approaches.


Marketing Tips to Hit the Ground Running in 2019

During the final few weeks of the year, you might be asking, “How did this year go by so fast?!” You may also be thinking, “I’m not ready for 2019!” Heck, you may only be thinking, “Enough work, bring on the eggnog!”

Whatever your state of mind, now is a good time to do some easy prep work for 2019, so you can really kick off your B2B marketing come January 2nd. The best part is that while you may be running around looking for gifts or planning holiday parties, you likely have downtime in the office as you are waiting for everyone to get back to you on a certain project or initiative. (Seems like at least one team member is out every single day in December for school plays, family celebrations, etc.)

Here are our tips to make the most of the last few weeks of the year and get a few extra things done.

Look at the Data

Every successful B2B marketing strategy relies on quality metrics to gauge what’s working and where there are opportunities for improvement. The last few weeks of the year are an ideal time to look back at an entire year’s worth of data.

Take some time, at least an hour or so, to look over your marketing efforts, first at a very high level and then drill down into your specific initiatives. We’ve put together a few questions to guide your data analysis:

  • Do you see any patterns?
  • Are there any spikes in website traffic, referrals, or leads?
  • How did your efforts perform when compared to last year?
  • Did you meet your yearly goals or objectives?
  • Which initiative did better than expected?
  • Which initiative had lackluster results?

Determine Wins & Losses

This part piggybacks nicely on the data analysis and only takes 20 minutes or so. Write out where you had some great wins.

  • Did you get your new website launched?
  • Did you roll out a new rebrand?
  • Did you win a strategic partnership in a critical client vertical?
  • Did you get your internal staff on the same page with the company’s value proposition?

The hard part can be figuring out any losses. We don’t call them failures because they often provide valuable information.

  • Did your email campaign push not produce enough ROI?
  • Were your social ads successful but display netted more leads?
  • Did you not see any traffic from a huge campaign spend?
  • Have your B2B website leads dropped off or has the quality declined?

These can be tough questions (put your ego aside!) but they are tremendous for the next step to…

Build Your Strategy

You likely will have a big strategy session with your team to build out your 2019 B2B marketing strategy. However, in your downtime or when you find a spare 30 – 45 minutes, map out a rough strategy. If you are working with an outside agency, tap them for help with revamping your 2019 marketing strategy.

  • What revenue goals are you looking for as a company in 2019?
  • How does marketing contribute to those revenue goals?
  • Look at the revenue dollars/closed deals in 2018 – how will you exceed that?
  • Do you have the resources you need for your marketing efforts?
  • What initiatives do you want to include in 2019?
  • What large projects/wishlist items do you have for next year?
  • Is it time to overhaul your branding, website, marketing materials?

The best strategies take a high-level view and then drill down later into specifics. Ideally, you will have a comprehensive view of your strategy to see how everything works together and complements one another.

Ask for What You Need

As you drafted your strategy for 2019, you came away with a wish list. The list may be 4 – 5 larger items or 20 smaller projects. Think about what it will take to complete that list next year.

  • Do you need more staff?
  • Do you need more training for your staff?
  • Do you need to bring on a B2B marketing agency to get things accomplished quicker?
  • Do you need better tracking tools to show value?
  • Do you need to hand off less important projects or deprioritize projects that don’t add revenue or value to your clients?

Most marketers know that the end of the year is budget time. It’s also time to start planting the seed for what you need in 2019. Even if increasing marketing headcount isn’t in your current budget, you can start making requests for 6 months from now. If you need to start ramping up your pay-per-click campaign to support a growing sales force, ask for the money now. You’ll have better success with any requests you put in now if you are able to demonstrate that marketing is a revenue driver rather than a cost center.

Looking for more tips to craft your 2019 B2B marketing strategy? Contact us today for a personalized strategy session.


What We’re Thankful For at Our B2B Agency

As we close in on the end of the calendar year, we pause to reflect back on the past, evaluate our current situation, and start looking towards the future.

In this moment of pause and reflection, we’d like to share what we are thankful for at Bop Design. While this list isn’t all-inclusive, it hits on a few main things.

Our Wonderful Clients

At Bop Design, we don’t believe in paying our clients lip service. We are committed to providing expert guidance in all things B2B web design and marketing related and, in some cases, this can bring about tough, but necessary conversations. As such, we feel that we establish ourselves as true partners to our clients and don’t fall in the role of simply a “vendor.”

We are grateful to our current and past clients who have relied on this partnership approach and who have fully embraced it. This commitment to truth and quality has enabled us to be the support to help our clients achieve their B2B marketing objectives. We look forward to continuing and growing our relationship with our clients while also helping them execute effective marketing strategies.

A Stellar B2B Design and Marketing Team

As a staunchly boutique B2B marketing firm, we rely on our knowledgeable B2B web design, development, and marketing team to successfully complete website projects and meet the goals of our clients. We look to our employees and teammates to continually push the envelope and make things work. Our staff has a great rapport with each other and with our clients. We appreciate our team, their hard work, and their commitment to going above and beyond.

Cutting-Edge Technology & Tools

At our core, we are a marketing and design firm and we rely heavily on innovation and cutting-edge tools to stay competitive and efficient. We’re thankful for all the companies we partner with to help us be effective on a daily basis. Whether its lead tracking tools, support for WordPress plug-ins, or web design resources – we are grateful. You never realize how much time you spend on a time or a task until you find a tool or resource that gives you that time back while helping you to stay on track.

The list can go on and on, but we bet you’ll be thankful it doesn’t.

When you look back over the recent past and evaluate your present situation, what are you thankful for?


4 Strategies to Improve the Quality of B2B Marketing Leads

The marketing department is often tasked with more than just maintaining a quality brand reputation. For many organizations, the B2B marketing team is responsible for providing quality inbound leads to the sales team. The key term here is quality. Provide quality leads and the sales team is quiet, provide low-quality leads and the sales team becomes vocal.

In this blog post, we explore 4 strategies to improve the quality of your B2B marketing leads (and win the favor of the sales team!).

What Is a Quality Lead?

First, let’s address what a quality lead is. A quality lead is not a whale of a deal that will cover your sales quota for the month.

For many B2B organizations, a quality lead can include various types of leads. In general terms, a quality lead is a prospect who is in your target market and wants to buy your products or services. It might not be a huge sale to start with, but a quality lead often has the potential for a larger lifetime value for sales.

Alright, now that we have a good idea of what a quality lead is, let’s look at how to improve the quality of leads you are getting.

Learn how to make your B2B website lead-centric.

Refine Your Message

So much time and effort are spent on building out CTAs, crafting killer blog copy, and drafting the perfect opening email that the overall messaging is diluted or overlooked. Take a serious look at the main message on your B2B website and marketing materials and answer a few questions:

  • Is it clear what products/services you offer?
  • Do you discuss the value/benefits of your services/products?
  • Do people outside of your organization understand your business from your website’s homepage?
  • Is your message clear and concise? (It should be 5 – 6 words tops!)

If you answered no to any of these, take another pass at refining and clarifying your message. You may need to look outside your organization for help on simplifying your message.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

A smart business model, particularly in B2B, is specific and clear. Your B2B marketing and sales team should know what you sell and what you do not sell. Don’t be afraid to tell website visitors what your company does not offer (and why, if necessary). This will help the prospect to qualify themselves.

Don’t work with companies that have revenue under $500,000 because your services have a higher price tag? State that you only work with companies with over $500K in revenue because they get the most value from your services. Saying no is the best way to be considerate of a potential leads’ time.

Forget Visit Quantity and Focus on Quality

Driving website traffic for the sake of traffic is an ineffective technique for improving leads and will never improve the quality of your leads. Instead of focusing on driving more traffic to your B2B website, focus on driving quality traffic.

A strong B2B marketing strategy is continually being refined and looks to exclude non-viable prospects. For example, a company that works exclusively with non-profits will not benefit from driving traffic from companies in the for-profit sector.

Our best advice here is to get specific – in your website copy, in your ad copy, in your search ad targeting, in your email campaigns, etc. Being specific ensures that you miss out on certain types of website visitors – but those folks aren’t in your target market.

Speak Your Prospects’ Language

Don’t talk about what matters to you, talk about what matters to your target market. This includes creating B2B marketing copy that addresses your prospects’ needs and pain points. Don’t talk about features – talk about the end results.

Another big mistake we see B2B companies make is to create their own terminology. Unless you are Microsoft, Twitter, Apple, or Samsung – no one is going to adapt to your terminology. It’s OK to use abbreviations that are common in the industry, like SaaS or ROI, but if your team creates an acronym to use internally – do not use it on any marketing materials. If your prospect can’t understand what you are saying, they will assume you don’t understand them and won’t be the right partner for them.

Don’t Just Drive Leads, Drive the Right Leads

At Bop Design, our mantra is to help B2B marketing teams garner quality leads. We never promise to drive X amount of leads because that doesn’t speak to the quality of the leads. By following the strategies here, you can start improving the quality of your B2B marketing leads and build a successful brand.

Ready to talk lead generation strategies? Schedule a call with our B2B marketing and sales experts.

How to Get the Most from Your B2B Marketing Partner

Your company has recently hired a B2B marketing agency to help build brand awareness, redesign your website, generate leads or produce thought leadership content. This can be an exciting time since this marketing agency can help your company identify new business development opportunities, close new deals, and generate new revenue.

In terms of maximizing the value of this B2B marketing agency partnership, the following are some best practices.

Trust

Your company hired an agency because they are the experts on which B2B marketing tactics work and which practices may not be optimal. You hired the agency to take the lead and, because they do this all of the time, there needs to be an element of trust. There does not need to be blind trust, but there needs to be some faith that the B2B marketing agency knows what they are doing. Constant questioning and skepticism tend to impede the process and slow down results.

Define Success

Before starting a project with a B2B marketing partner, it is critical to define what success is and ensure that the agency you have hired is confident that they can deliver on your expectations. Success should be formally defined before a contract is signed. You should not ask for a guarantee of success, but at least make sure that your company and the hired agency are on the same page. Is success tied to the number of leads each month, closed quarterly business, increased traffic, securing a specific client, or something else? Success needs to be formally stated and written down.

Why consider hiring an outside B2B marketing agency

2 Things You Know Best

Trust is important but there are 2 things you will know better than the agency you hire: your company’s ideal client profile and your company’s sales process. Make sure to aggressively communicate both items as much as possible—not only at the beginning but through the entire partnership. This proactive communication will ensure that tactics employed by the agency will result in more engagement with your ideal prospective client AND give you the tools in the sales process to nurture this prospect from a general inquiry to a qualified lead to a committed relationship.

Top tools for B2B marketers.

Agency Takes The Lead

Let the marketing agency do their job and take the lead. You don’t want a B2B marketing agency to be order takers. Rather, you want them to be proactively thinking of ways to generate more business for your company. Make sure you allow them to drive the lead generation strategy and be creative on ways to build brand awareness. In the agency interview process, if you find a prospective agency to be passive and not aggressive, move on to the next option.

Reporting

If your company and the agency have defined success, it better be measured monthly! In the agency interview process, directly ask about an agency’s reporting and optimization process. Request that there is a monthly report and activity call so that you can determine that you are getting the most from your relationship. Regular reporting will track results and hopefully showcase success.

Conclusion

Selection of the right agency is critical. If you don’t select the right agency the first time, it can postpone success for years. However, just as important as the selection of an agency is managing the agency effectively to maximize your company’s investment. If you adhere to the philosophy above, you will be on the right track.


Brand Control: Maintaining a Consistent Brand in a Noisy World

Whether your brand has long been established, is getting a refresh, or is a new creation, it’s important to maintain a consistent, cohesive B2B brand. This is easier said than done as we live in a noisy, competitive world.

That being said, there are a few proactive measures you can take to control your B2B branding in your marketing strategy.

Define Your B2B Brand

It happens all the time. The marketing manager has a clear idea of what the company’s brand is and the major value of the brand offering. This isn’t always the same as the CEO’s brand vision or the sales manager’s understanding of the brand. You may not think this happens at your company, but it happens at even the smoothest run organizations.

Start by bringing all the leadership together. With all of the key players in the room, discuss what defines your brand.

  • What are your main values?
  • What is your brand promise?
  • How do your clients view your brand?

Determine whether your brand is fun and carefree, serious and down to business, or innovative and cutting-edge. Don’t just discuss your brand, DEFINE it. Write it all down.

Establish Brand Guidelines

After you have a clear definition of your brand, it’s essential to establish your B2B brand guidelines. This should be a document that you can share with any new hire, supervisors, salesperson, or designer you work with. The brand guidelines will list things like the tone of your materials and technical requirements like your Pantone colors, logo restrictions, and fonts.

If you don’t have an in-house designer, work with a professional designer to build out your B2B brand guidelines. Even if you don’t have many design projects, brand guidelines will ensure that any designer or agency you work with will be able to produce materials or content that is consistent and cohesive with existing materials.

Evaluate your B2B marketing strategy with 5 simple questions

Educate Your Team About Your B2B Brand

The biggest mistake we see is when the heart of the brand is held closely by one or two individuals and the rest of the organization is in the dark. Your brand should be visible throughout your organization, especially in the culture and in the people who work at your company. How can this be true if no one is educated about your B2B brand?

Don’t expect everyone in your organization to understand your brand. Educate them. This starts with sharing your brand guidelines and your brand vision but can be shown further through company events or highlighting team members who uphold the brand in their everyday work. For example, if personalized customer service is your primary brand message, take time to recognize employees who go above and beyond for customers and get great customer feedback.

Choose a Brand Watch Dog

Yes, you need a brand watchdog or watchdogs. Why? Because you want innovative people in your organization who are always pushing the envelope and trying to implement change. In some cases, this innovative spirit can spill over into trying to “innovate” your brand by changing the logo to a non-brand color, using a different font for effect, or trying to introduce something new to the brand without making sure it works with your existing brand. In most cases, it is done with the best intentions.

This isn’t a “tough-guy, going around making people feel dumb” position. It’s a careful, watchful position and includes reviewing all client correspondence (including sales emails), marketing materials, brochures, sales sheets, social media posts, digital ads, search ads, website updates, etc. Having a person or a committee who needs to review and sign-off on anything brand related is a great way to ensure it’s all cohesive, while also taking another step to educate your internal team. For example, your sales team lead may not know that she can’t change the color of the logo on a video she’s putting together for a client.

WWOBD? (What Would Our Brand Do?)

When in doubt, ask “What Would Our Brand Do?” Another way to phrase this is, “Does this fit with our brand?” When in doubt about a new brochure, new blog post, or even a new B2B web design – ask that question.

  • Are the values and benefits represented consistent with your brand?
  • Do the calls to action in the blog post represent what you want customers and prospects to know about your brand?

In some cases, it might be a minor tweak to make it consistent with your brand. In other cases, it may be off-base and need to be overhauled. If your brand is all about building value and a team member is running a 50% off ad, you may need to pull it and start over.

Looking for help with your B2B branding strategy? Contact us today to see how we can help you build a clear, cohesive, consistent brand in a busy, noisy world.

 


Your Thoughts on Content Marketing: Survey Results

B2B content marketing: who does it, what are they doing, how are they getting the word out, and who is helping them? These are the questions we wanted to get answers to in our latest survey to B2B marketers in a variety of industries. The findings are listed below.

Content Marketing: Widely Adopted

We wanted a high-level view of whether B2B companies are doing content marketing. Over 62% of respondents said they were indeed doing content marketing at some level, while only 15% said they were not. The other 20% fell into either doing content marketing sometimes or not being sure whether they were doing content marketing.

Main Barriers to Content Marketing: Time, Knowledge, Resources

While more than half of survey respondents are doing B2B content marketing, we wanted to discover what barriers those not doing content marketing (or not doing it regularly) were facing. The responses indicated the top three barriers to content marketing were time, resources, and knowledge/experience, in that order. Almost 58% of respondents listed time as the major factor for why they weren’t doing content marketing while 36% and 26% pointed to lack of resources and money, respectively, as the major reasons why they weren’t implementing a content marketing strategy.

Content Marketing: Average Experience, Low Investment

When asked about their level of experience with content marketing, all respondents listed their experience as average. We expected a little bit of variance on this question, but are concluding it’s a further indication of the wide adoption of content marketing across different industries.

It is interesting to note that while there is wide adoption/acceptance of content marketing, the monthly budget for content marketing activities is fairly low. A little over 60% of survey respondents listed a monthly budget for B2B content marketing to be at $1,500 – $3,000 and another 22% listed budgets under $1,000 a month. A budget was the fourth most mentioned barrier to content marketing, so it can be assumed that many marketers are making do with a budget of under $3,000 a month for content marketing.

Marketing Manages Content Marketing

Next, we asked about who was in charge of content marketing efforts. The options were marketing, sales/business development, customer service/service delivery, human resources, product management, management, outside consultants, and other. More than 65% of survey respondents listed marketing as being the business unit handling content marketing and another 15% stated that management was in charge of the content strategy.

 

Content Marketing Must Deliver

Content marketing can have a variety of different objectives, depending on the goals of the organization. In our survey, we asked what B2B firms were looking to get out of their content marketing strategy. The responses were spread out but the top three goals were: lead generation (84%), brand recognition (65%), and thought leadership (46%). The good news is that when it’s implemented properly, content marketing can deliver on all three of these objectives.

 

What Is Content Marketing?

The survey also was focused on finding out what types of content B2B marketers wanted to produce. Blog posts were the top pieces, with over 84% of respondents saying blogging is/would be included in their strategy. Other forms of content included email newsletters, white papers, social media ads, video, ebooks, print pieces and pay-per-click ads.

Content Promotion: Mainly Social

A key element of content marketing is what happens once the content is created. How do you get it in front of your target market? As such, we asked our survey respondents about their content promotion efforts to find out where and how they are promoting their content.

The majority of respondents, 78%, use social media to promote content, while 62% use an email newsletter for content distribution. Advertising in the form of Facebook ads (31%), LinkedIn ads (28%), Pay-Per-Click ads (21%) and Retargeting ads (21%) all were represented in the responses as well. The other category included channels such as industry publications/niche magazines, IP targeting, tradeshows and in-house events for promoting content marketing pieces.

Outsourcing Is Not Happening

The last question we asked was straightforward: Do you outsource any part of your content marketing? A high majority of the respondents, 74% said all their B2B content marketing efforts are handled in-house. A small percentage, 9%, said it’s mostly handled by an outside agency with another 6% saying only certain aspects of the strategy are outsourced.

Conclusions on B2B Content Marketing

The biggest takeaway for us was that while 74% of respondents say that all content marketing is handled in-house, the biggest barriers they find are time, knowledge, and resources. A solution for overcoming the time, knowledge and resources barriers is to outsource the day-to-day content marketing, or even some aspects of it, to outside B2B agencies or professionals.

Stay on top of the latest trends impacting B2B content marketing. Sign up for the Bop Design monthly newsletter to get the latest tips and advice for B2B marketers right to your inbox.


Take Your Digital Marketing Strategy to Print

We live in a digital age, where everything is now a “soft copy” or a digital download or an electronic payment rather than a hard copy. Yet, the title of this post is related to taking your digital B2B marketing strategy to print. Doesn’t that seem counterintuitive? It’s not, stay with me as I explain.

To execute a successful B2B marketing strategy, you absolutely must have a well-defined digital presence that includes:

  • a polished B2B web design
  • closely monitored social media profiles
  • policed third-party review profiles
  • thought leadership content published in online industry publications
  • carefully crafted search ad campaigns
  • strong remarketing ads
  • listings in reputable online directories
  • and more.

However, we aren’t machines who function solely in a digital world (yet). As humans, we still prefer to have physical items that we can touch and feel, like books, magazines, brochures, maps, mailers, etc. Yes, things like digital readers, smartphones, and online bill payments are helping to reduce unnecessary paper waste, however, they have not made all of these physical things extinct just yet.

While it’s imperative to have a strong digital B2B marketing strategy, it’s also a competitive advantage to include print materials when possible and where they make sense. By having an “analog” presence as well as a digital presence, you can make sure your B2B brand is providing valuable resources to your prospects and clients, even when they “unplug” from tech for periods of time.

Below are 4 ways we recommend taking your digital marketing strategy back to the old school, aka, print.

  1. Repurpose downloadable offers into print pieces

Although a lot of day-to-day interaction in the B2B world is handled over email, screenshare meetings, conference calls, and phone calls, there is still room for adding value with print materials. One way to do this is by taking your star piece of downloadable content, like an FAQ or a buyer’s guide, and redesigning it into a print piece or a leave-behind piece. The advantage here is that you give a prospect something to look over after you’ve met with them in person or after you’ve had an introductory call with them.

Email follow-ups can be easily filed away and forgotten, but a print piece that is well-designed often gets face time as it sits on a desk waiting to be reviewed, reminding the prospect about your B2B products or services.

  1. Send direct mail that sends people to the website

If you do a quick search for direct mail statistics, you’ll find statistics that are a bit shocking. According to a study by the good old USPS, more than 60% of direct mail recipients were influenced to visit a promoted website (Source).

We do not advise sending direct mail to an unvetted list of addresses or even your entire prospect list. That type of approach will fail every time and produce lackluster results. Rather, the approach we suggest is to create a carefully vetted list of prospects or past clients to send snail mail to with specific messaging or a tailored promotion. The smaller the target list, often the better results for a B2B marketing direct mail campaign.

The most important point here is to make sure that it hits on a need and doesn’t just push a product or service offering. Ask yourself, “Why would a prospect care about this?” instead of “What do we want the prospect to know about us?”

How to choose the right B2B marketing agency for your company.

  1. Pitch out articles to print publications

A component of a well-engineered B2B marketing plan includes elements of content marketing, or creating content for an ideal audience. From the digital marketing side, these thought leadership articles should be pitched out to the appropriate online industry publications. However, it’s also effective to pitch out unique, quality articles to industry publications that still have print circulation.

These spots are often harder to secure (there are only so many pages and the issues are typically themed), but they are like gold for an industry niche. These work well for not only establishing your firm’s authority in your industry with third-party validation, but they also get your brand in front of prospects who may not even know they need your products or services. Think of it – getting to be the first company that lets them know you have a solution to solve a problem they didn’t know could be solved? Gold, I tell you.

  1. Create a print brochure from your best digital content

Talk about old school – a print brochure? Trust us, it can still be a useful component in a comprehensive marketing strategy for B2B firms. This is different from a content piece that educates. This is a brochure about your firm and your products or services. These days it can be tough to break through to the decision maker, even if you have their email address and connected with them on LinkedIn. They get hundreds of emails a day and will take 1.3 seconds (or thereabouts) to glance at your prospecting email before they delete it.

However, what they don’t get a lot of is snail mail. If you’ve reached out to a prospect over email and aren’t able to get a response or a meeting, why not send a beautifully designed brochure via mail? You’ll often get more of their time if you send something via snail mail than email. Also, if you are able to secure a meeting, it’s great to leave along a capabilities or features brochure along with your content piece so they can remember exactly what your firm has to offer.

B2C vs B2B Marketing: Is it all the same?

Warning: Don’t Print Everything

The cost of print hasn’t gotten cheaper over the past few years. The cost of good quality printed materials has been pretty consistent, meaning that it does require a good chunk of your marketing budget. This means you can’t print everything you want to print, but if you strategically plan and budget for a few print pieces to accompany your comprehensive B2B digital marketing plan, you can get a strong ROI.

Get more insights into your B2B digital marketing and print marketing strategy. Contact us today to see how Bop Design can help you build brand awareness and generate more leads.

 


Why a B2B Website Is a Necessary Investment

When you walk into a building for the first time, the first thing you see is the lobby. A lobby says a lot about a building. Is it a nice building? Is there security? Is it up to date or does it look like something out of the 1970s? Is it clean or is there dust built up in all the corners? Does it have an easy to find directory to get you where you need to go? A lobby says a lot about a building and often sets the tone for the rest of your visit.

Your B2B web design is similar to a building’s lobby in that it’s the first thing that your prospects will see about your company. It also sets the tone for the first interaction with your company.

Take a look at your current website and answer these questions:

Does it look professional and polished?

When you look at the images and layout of the website, do they represent your company’s brand in the best light possible? If the images are pixelated or blurry, that sends a message about your company that you aren’t professional and may not be a legitimate firm. Definitely not a message you want to send to a potential client.

Does it look current and up-to-date?

It’s often easy to identify a website that is 5 years old. It’s even easier to identify a website that is over 5 years old. It looks outdated and doesn’t have the same functionality, like a mobile-friendly display, that current B2B web designs have. Additionally, does the website reflect the product and services your company currently offers? In many cases, even information about products and services from two years ago is considered outdated or stale.

What is page speed and how does it affect your B2B website?

Is the website a reflection of your brand?

A high-tech company like Apple or Salesforce doesn’t have a lobby that looks like it was designed in 1983, it wouldn’t reflect their current branding of cutting-edge and modern. When you look at your website, does it reflect your B2B branding? If your branding is about ease-of-use and customer service, does your website clearly get users where they need to go and connect them with your customer service team? Or if your branding is about speedy delivery and custom designs, does your website load quickly and clearly represent a custom look?

Check out our gallery of B2B website redesigns.

Is your website easy to navigate or does it appear cluttered?

There is a lot of information you need to convey to your prospects and clients in a short amount of time. It’s easy for websites that have a ton of information to start to appear cluttered or visually noisy.

Does your website have a clear user flow?

A professional B2B web design should have a clear user flow. You want your prospects and clients to know exactly where to go and what to click on next. Look at your existing website and ask yourself if it is obvious what the user should do once they land on the page. If you think you are too familiar with your website, ask a new employee or a family member or friend who isn’t familiar with the site. They will tell you right away if the site is tough to use.

Custom B2B web design vs. template websites: Which is the best?

Don’t have a dusty, old website

Your B2B web design says a lot about your company, your brand promise, your products and services, and what it’s like to be a client of yours. If your website is like a dusty, old lobby, it’s going to be a major turnoff and could be causing damage to your brand online by making your company appear outdated and out-of-touch.

A professional B2B web design is not a superfluous investment, rather it’s a critical component of your brand. It’s the digital face of your company and should accurately represent your company to potential prospects.

Discuss your upcoming B2B website design project with Bop Design. Contact us today to schedule your personalized website consultation.

Not ready to chat with us yet? Perform your own 5-minute B2B website audit.


Bop Design Secures a Spot as a Top Agency in San Diego

Here at Bop Design, we are very pleased to announce our recent inclusion in Clutch’s press release as a top agency in San Diego! We have been named as an industry leader as well as the number one Web Designer in San Diego on Clutch’s website for this segment! Additionally, we were ranked first as the top B2B Content Marketing Agency, Print Design Agency, PHP Developer, Digital Designer, and ranked second as a WordPress Developer, Full-Service B2B Digital Agency, and Web Developer.

Beyond this, we have also been featured on Clutch’s sister website, The Manifest, as a Top San Diego Web Design Agency. Clutch is a Washington, D.C.-based B2B research, ratings, and reviews marketplace. Clutch contacts our past clients to obtain accurate reviews of our overall performance as a company. Clutch primarily collects these reviews through interview style phone calls.

Beyond our selection as an industry leader, we are also very pleased to share our general success on Clutch. We have received a very impressive 5-star overall rating. This rating has come directly from our clients’ reviews. We are very pleased with the feedback that we have been receiving on Clutch’s website. We are always aiming to not only offer the best possible B2B web design but to also provide the best assistance to our clients’ marketing. A few of our clients have commented on our performance regarding this capability, below are a few of our favorite quotes from our reviews on Clutch’s platform,

“With Bop, not only did we gain a great web design firm but also an outstanding marketing firm.”

“Bop is always responsive to our needs… [and] accommodating, even during our most intense months.”

“They worked tirelessly to ensure we were happy with the website design and deployment.”

“Although they are a boutique agency, they have the expertise and bandwidth to tackle any marketing need.”

“We’ve received very positive feedback about our updated UX and have gained an unprecedented increase in business conversions.”

We are ecstatic about the positive feedback that we have gotten on Clutch. As one of our clients said, “I feel privileged to be able to collaborate with Bop.”, but truly it is us who feels privileged to work with each and every one of our outstanding clients. We are very motivated by this kind feedback to continue our work with our clients, ensuring to always maintain and improve on our level of service and production!


B2B Blogs Your Prospects and Clients Hate to Read

As you build out the editorial calendar for your B2B blogging and content marketing strategy, it’s important to understand who your target audience is and what they want to read. It’s also critical to understand what they don’t want to read. It’s a waste of time to create content that your prospects and clients aren’t interested in or, worse yet, really dislike reading.

Get 10 great ideas for your next blog. 

Now, we don’t think that companies purposely put out content that their audience hates, we believe it’s just a misunderstanding of needs/wants. While the content needs of audiences vary from industry to industry, there are several B2B blog types that are universally disliked and should be avoided at all costs. These are the types of blog posts your company should avoid creating:

Advertorials

Have you ever started reading an article or a blog post that has a promising topic and introduction only to realize mid-way through that it’s selling you something? It’s monumentally frustrating and often will leave a bad taste in your mouth. This is how advertorials often make readers feel.

The goal of blogging as part of a B2B content marketing strategy is to provide value. Notice that we didn’t say “sell products or services.” Creating an article that is subtly, or not so subtly, selling something doesn’t provide value. Stay away from creating advertorials that have a salesy angle and only discuss your firm’s products or services.

Learn how a blog fits into your B2B web design strategy

Keyword Stuffed Articles

Ugh. Just ugh. Whether you are skilled at search engine optimization (SEO) or not, you’ve likely come across a blog post that is just stuffed to the max with a keyword or keywords. It’s so obvious since every other sentence has that keyword. It makes it tough to concentrate on the central theme of the post.

SEO is not an end in itself. It’s a means to an end, to get your B2B blog in front of the right audience. However, it shouldn’t turn them off as soon as they get to your blog. Avoid creating blog posts that are jam-packed with keywords. Instead, focus on two or three keywords and let them naturally appear in the blog post. Successful content marketing is one that the target audience doesn’t even know is content marketing.

Out of ideas? Here are 3 surprising spots for blog topic inspiration

Pointless Puff Pieces

Blah, blah, blah. You’ve likely been to a party, wedding, or social gathering where you got stuck next to the person who just talks about themselves and all the great things they have done. What a bore. Don’t let your B2B blogging efforts fall into that boring, puff piece place.

The best way to avoid creating drab puff pieces is to step back and ask what the audience gets out of the blog post.

  • Is there an actionable takeaway?
  • Do they know have the skill or knowledge to do something?
  • Did you give them tips to save them time or money?

If the answer is no, then it’s likely a puff piece that talks all about your company and doesn’t provide your prospects and clients with anything of value.

Find out what blog topics your prospects want to see

Features of Products/Services

Your B2B web design should have a section that focuses on the features of your products or services. This should not be the blog section of your website. While it is important to share new innovations in your products or services, never focus on the features alone. Features are worthless. The only time features have any value is when they are discussed in conjunction with the benefits to the end user.

Get tips to create articles your audience can’t resist

Stay away from writing blog posts that focus solely on the features of your products or services. Yes, it may have taken your engineering team months to roll out a new feature for your software application, but your prospects and clients don’t care about that. What they care about it how it helps them. Instead, draft a blog that briefly discusses the new feature but instead focuses on the benefits to the end user and includes a use case, preferably with great results.

Takeaway

The takeaway here is that you want to ensure that any B2B blogging your content marketing team does provides value for the end user, whether it’s something that saves them time, shows them how to do something, or helps them save money. Always focus on what’s in it for the end user.

Ready to create a B2B content marketing strategy for your firm? Contact us today to learn more.


Inbound vs Outbound: What Works Best for B2B Marketing?

When evaluating an overall B2B marketing strategy, it’s critical to include activities and campaigns that will enable you to meet your goals and objectives. A common question we hear is: Inbound vs. Outbound campaigns – which work best for generating leads?

Although there are several exceptions, in our experience working with a variety of B2B companies, inbound marketing efforts work best for producing qualified leads that are near the conversion/closing stage. Let’s take a look at why this is (and why outbound marketing is also valuable).

Inbound Leads: Intent

Leads generated through inbound B2B marketing efforts often have demonstrated buying intent. In other words, they are looking for the products or services the company is selling or offering. Particularly in the case of inbound organic leads, where the user performed a search around a set of high-intent terms, the user is in the market for the goods or services they are searching for online. When a prospect is searching for what your company offers, you want to be sure you make it easy for them to find you and get to your website.

Learn more: 3 Tips to Refresh a Lackluster B2B Marketing Strategy

Inbound Leads: Effort

In terms of online research, evaluation, and browsing, you may not think it takes much effort for a prospect to get in touch with your firm. However, it does. Think about all the distractions, duties, projects, emails, presentations, webinars, and phone calls you have to deal with or manage on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. It’s kind of a miracle that professionals are able to seek out and find new vendors at all. There is so much virtual noise.

An inbound lead, whether it came via organic search, an email newsletter, or a retargeting ad, has made an effort to click on your B2B marketing campaign and navigate back to your website. Right there, they have put out an effort. If they go through the process of finding and completing a form = more effort! The inbound lead has invested effort into contacting your company, which means they are a valuable lead and ready to talk to your sales team.

Inbound Leads: It’s Their Idea

It’s human nature. We want it to be our idea. Think about it, when is the last time you accepted a cold call from a potential vendor looking to sell you something, even if it was something you were interested in? It’s likely been a while. However, when you need something, your first inclination is to do some research. Even if the company that cold-called you is a possible vendor, you likely search out the alternatives. Right?

Inbound B2B marketing enables you to put your company’s products and services in front of the right audience, but also makes it the prospect’s choice to get in touch. As I mentioned before, to actually make contact, they need to show intent and put out effort, so it’s their idea.

Outbound Marketing: Still Relevant & Complementary

While we are champions for inbound campaigns for B2B marketing strategies, we don’t think outbound marketing campaigns are dead. In fact, outbound efforts have some great applications.

Direct mail is a great way to reach a highly-targeted list of potential prospects in a target market. Cold calling can start to build interest in a new product launch or service offering, although the lead conversion metrics will typically be low. Advertisements in industry magazines are a great way to build up brand awareness and establish credibility.

Overall, outbound marketing for B2B companies can be a great way to build brand awareness and fill the top of the sales funnel. The leads will likely be lukewarm and may take longer to convert, especially if they are locked in a vendor contract or need to procure a budget allocation.

The Essential B2B Marketing Mix

Conclusion: Focus on Inbound

Rather than sound wishy-washy, we are taking a firm stand that inbound B2B marketing provides results in terms of generating qualified leads. If your company has limited resources, budget, or focus, inbound marketing is the best strategy. It takes time to implement and start garnering results, but the results it drives are often worth the wait.

Ready to launch an inbound marketing strategy for your B2B firm? Contact us today for a personalized evaluation of your current marketing strategy.

Marketing Automation: When and Where to Implement

There is a large push in marketing to automate as many tasks and workflows as possible. However, automating for its own sake isn’t the best strategy. Especially for B2B marketing, automation should only be implemented where it provides real value. Before we jump into the when and where, let’s take a step back and look at that what.

If you search for “marketing automation” on a search engine, you are served up a ton of ads by, no surprise, marketing automation software providers. The best explanation of marketing automation is from Wikipedia:

Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.[1]

Marketing departments, consultants, and part-time marketing employees benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes which are then interpreted, stored and executed by software, which increases efficiency and reduces human error. Originally focused on email marketing automation, marketing automation refers to a broad range of automation and analytic tools for marketing[2] especially inbound marketing.

The use of a marketing automation platform is to streamline sales and marketing organizations by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions

This is a great explanation of the purpose of marketing automation, particularly as it applies to B2B marketing. Now, let’s unpack this definition to discuss when and where implementation is appropriate.

Increase Efficiency Not Add Processes

As you examine the different marketing automation options and vendors, it’s important to not get distracted by all the capabilities. Many tools, like Marketo and Hubspot, have extensive capabilities. The only issue is that your company may not use all the capabilities and will end up paying more for functionality that you and your team will never use.

The main purpose of marketing automation is to increase efficiency and save you and your team time. If setting up all the processes in your marketing automation tool ends up costing you more time, it doesn’t make sense. For example, using an email automation tool to track unsubscribes, send auto-responses, and automatically post to social media will reduce the amount of time your team needs to manage these tasks manually.

Reduce Human Error Not Replace Human Touch

Human error often happens when there isn’t enough time and tasks are rushed, or tasks are so repetitive, the person completing them loses focus. The right tool will reduce these types of errors. For example, a great time to implement marketing automation can be through defined lead nurturing campaigns that are crafted to drip content to the lead over a certain course of time. This typically works best to handle a larger volume of leads and to provide several touch points before passing the leads off to a salesperson.

For many B2B companies, based on the cost of the products or services, there isn’t a huge volume of leads coming in. If that is the case, it can make more sense to manually nurture these leads – particularly if products or services are customized to the end user. When customization is essential, it’s tough to build automation workflows to accommodate all the prospect variables.

Streamline Sales & Marketing to Grow Revenue

Software solutions should always make our lives easier, and in most cases, they do. Just think about sending a fax versus drafting a quick email. Automation solutions should help to streamline the sales and marketing process.

Lead scoring and lead management are two ways that automation can help to streamline the sales and marketing process. Rather than wasting time following up with leads that aren’t ready to close, sales can instead focus on leads that are qualified and ready to talk pricing and implementation.

Learn 3 Tips to Refresh a Lackluster Marketing Strategy. 

What Is the Value?

A good rule to follow when evaluating whether to automate a process or campaign is to ask whether it provides value to you AND to the prospect. If both parties aren’t gaining value, then it’s likely not the time to automate. Automated lead nurturing isn’t appropriate if it sends the same content and information to all your prospects and it isn’t relevant to their needs. Similarly, if the implementation and upkeep are costing you and your team more time and headaches, then it likely isn’t the best fit for your B2B marketing strategy.

Ready to get help with your B2B marketing strategy? Contact us today for a personalized consultation.

 


The State of B2B Lead Generation in 2018

Lead generation strategies, methods, channels, and tools continue to be a major focus for B2B marketers in 2018 and for good reason – it impacts the bottom line.

Recently, we conducted a survey for B2B marketers on the state of lead generation to get insight into what’s working for lead generation and what challenges are marketers facing.

Here are the results of the survey.

Top Lead Gen Source: Word of Mouth / Referrals

When asked where B2B marketers are generating leads, the two main sources were Word of Mouth / Referrals and Company Website. More than 80% of survey respondents said that Word of Mouth / Referrals were the primary source of leads, while 70% of respondents listed their company’s B2B website as a lead generation source.

Biggest Challenge: Not Enough Time

When asked about the biggest challenges with lead generation, the results were more varied. Out of the respondents, 48% stated that their biggest challenge was not having enough time or being spread too thin, 33% pointed to a poor/undefined sales process, another 33% indicated a lack of quality leads, and 23% indicated a lack of budget was their biggest challenge.

Lead Nurturing: Personalization Wins

In terms of lead nurturing, almost 80% of survey respondents stated that they used personalized calls or email campaigns as lead nurturing, 64% listed email campaigns, and 49% pointed to content marketing offers (i.e. white papers, guides, tip sheets, etc). It was interesting to see that manual personalization was the main lead nurturing activity for B2B marketers responding to this survey, particularly with the industry rhetoric about trying to automate personalization.

Cross-Selling & Up-Selling: Personalized Approach

Next, we polled respondents on what activities and methods they use for cross-selling or up-selling clients. Personalized calls and/or emails was the leader with 55% of respondents using this method, followed by email campaigns (41%) and blog posts (31%).

Lead Attribution: Yes or No?

To increase lead generation, it’s important to know which channels are driving the best quality leads. As such, we asked B2B marketers whether they perform lead attribution to determine the source of the leads. Only 44% of respondents are currently performing lead attribution regularly, while another 28% are determining lead attribution sometimes.

Referral Leads Top the List

Lastly, we surveyed our respondents on where the majority of their clients come from. According to the responses, almost half of clients are referrals from partners or existing customers, followed by outbound marketing and sales, with a smaller percentage coming from inbound marketing.

What B2B Marketers Say About Lead Generation

We asked B2B marketers, “What is your biggest lead generation challenge in 2018?” The answers varied quite a bit and covered everything from not being able to find the right marketing staff and not having enough time to invest in certain lead gen activities. Below is a sampling of the responses:

“Overcoming a push strategy where leads are found through email lists, and other data collection services; creating a pull strategy where leads opt-in is my biggest challenge for 2018.  Finding somewhere to look to incorporate a new crop of leads is hard enough as many times you don’t know where to look, but to gain registered users who find you and want to be involved with you is even harder.  Because I’m not selling anything, it’s important to attract my clientele and not push them away or get banned by them from emails and WhatsApp notifications as I won’t be able to distribute otherwise.  Audience management is the key to building roads that sustain an infrastructure of progress.” – AC Grindl, General Manager, Milla de Oro Magazine.

“Our biggest lead generation challenge for 2018 is getting more response from our online presence.  We have backed off in-person networking during the past 18 months because it is so time intensive hoping to replace it with online networking.” – Chris Elliott, Owner, LPE, Inc.

“We have struggled to find competent, qualified staffing & get budget approval for that headcount. It took us about 16 months & 3 different people in the role to fill a content marketing position with someone skilled enough to handle it.” – Kristen Ortwerth, Director of Marketing, symplr.

Stay on top of the latest trends impacting B2B. Sign up for the Bop Design monthly newsletter to get the latest tips and advice for B2B marketers right to your inbox.

 


B2B Blogging: How a Blog Fits Into Your Web Design Strategy

If you see B2B blogging as a critical component of your firm’s ongoing digital marketing strategy, you should start planning during the website design phase ­– it should not be an afterthought once your website is launched.

In this blog, we take a quick look at how to fit your future B2B blogging strategy into your current web design project.

Plan for Blogging

While blogging may not be on your immediate radar, you need to plan for it now. This doesn’t need a ton of strategizing. Just knowing that you plan on blogging can be helpful for your web design team to know. As the website design and development team designs and builds your website, they can include a blog feature. It doesn’t need to be visible right at launch, but it will available to launch when you are ready to post your first blog.

Get 10 Ideas for Your Next Blog.

Make It Visible

How do you expect prospects who visit your website to find your B2B blog if it isn’t readily available? Don’t de-prioritize it and bury it way down in the tertiary navigation under the information about your company. Make it front and center by including it in a Resources section or even make it part of the top-level navigation.

Don’t assume that a website visitor will hunt around your website looking for a blog. They may not even know they want to look at the blog. By making the blog a clearly visible component of your website design, you will attract more prospects to the blog itself and increase the chances of that prospect bookmarking your blog to return to later.

Think Like Your Reader

The last tip for including your B2B blogging plans into your web design strategy is to think like your potential reader. This can help to influence the layout and components of the blog itself. Ask a few questions to get in the mind frame of your reader:

  • What matters most to your target reader?
  • Will images or videos help to explain your content?
  • Will they prefer long-form or short-form content? Or both?
  • Will they be commenting or asking questions about the content?
  • Is it critical for them to know the date of the publication?
  • Does it matter how visible the author’s information is to the reader?

These are just a few questions to get you thinking about the general design of the blog for your website. For example, if your firm operates in an industry in which the latest data can have a critical impact, you absolutely need to include a date on your blog. Or if you are explaining complex theories or material, you may need to include functionality for including graphs, graphics, or other visual data.

That’s a brief overview of how to include B2B blogging plans into your current website design strategy.

Ready to start blogging, but looking for a B2B agency to help? Contact us today to learn more about our B2B blogging and content marketing plans.


SEO Myths & Why You Must Drop Old SEO Habits

Search engine optimization is a continually evolving approach to getting in front of the right audience and is an essential component of a successful B2B content marketing strategy. However, there is a lot of information floating around out there that isn’t necessarily true or effective. In this blog, we take a look at common SEO myths, what you should be doing for optimizing your website, and why you should let go of those old, outdated SEO habits.

B2B Content Marketing & SEO Myths

Myth #1: More Is Better

More pages and more content on a website is not always better for optimizing a website. This myth is predicated on the belief that search engines reward sites with lots of content. What makes this is a myth is that search engines have evolved over the past few years and reward sites with quality content, not just a high quantity of content.

What you should do instead: Rather than shove a bunch of sub-optimal B2B content onto a website, focus on creating quality content that will resonate with your target market.

Check out our infographic: What’s the Story with SEO?

Myth #2: A Page Can Only Rank for One Term

Yes, there should only be one or two primary keyword phrases for each page. However, that does not mean that a page can’t rank well for multiple keyword phrases. Again, search engines have started to learn and understand the relationship between semantically similar keywords. For this very reason, a well-crafted page in a B2B web design will often have related keyword phrases appearing on a page. As such, that page can start to rank in search engines for multiple keywords, provided they are similar in nature.

What you should do instead: Just like a well-written essay has a central theme, a well-crafted web page should have a primary focus on one keyword phrase. However, it’s ok to include secondary keyword phrases that would naturally be relevant to the central theme of the page.

Myth #3: SEO Is All About Keywords

Many marketers and business owners still believe this myth. While keywords are certainly an important part of your SEO efforts, there are a number of other factors that Google looks at when determining how to rank your page. Page load time, inbound links, user experience, indexing, the age of your URL, and site structure are just a few other things that can affect your search engine ranking.

What you should do instead: Learning about all the ins and outs of SEO can be a time-consuming process, even more so because it evolves constantly. Enlist the services of a B2B marketing agency who understands ALL the moving parts of SEO or assign the responsibility to someone at your company who has the time to dedicate to it.

Myth #4: Use the Keyword as Much as Possible

This is an old SEO tactic that no longer holds true. In fact, Google will penalize sites it suspects has been “keyword stuffing.” In the early days of search engines, B2B websites could simply include the keyword in the title and a number of times on the page, regardless of whether the keywords fit naturally in the content. But Google became wise to this practice and realized it led to a poor user experience. It now considers this a “black hat” SEO technique – a big no-no.

What you should do instead: Rather than using keywords repeatedly on your web page, create content that satisfies the user’s intent when they search the keyword. Use the keyword naturally in key places in the copy and create great content that will answer the “question” the user was asking when they typed in that keyword. 

Myth #5: There Is Only One Approach to SEO

This one is especially frustrating – particularly when coming up against less business-savvy organizations who make unrealistic promises about SEO. There is no one “best way” to implement SEO on a B2B website design. Why? Because we have a general idea of what search engines are looking for but, often, we don’t know exactly! Due to the uncertainty of search engine algorithms, there are often different schools of thought in how to approach SEO.

What you should do instead: There are still best practices and several confirmed certainties about SEO – so be sure to follow these tactics. The only way to know what works for optimization of a site is to test it out and track the results.

Myth #6: SEO Is for Search Engines

Ok, while SEO is short for search engine optimization, the optimization is not for search engines. It’s for getting the right people to your website via search engines. The purpose of SEO and B2B content marketing is to make your website as transparent and easy to locate as possible so your brand is visible to the people who are looking for your products or services.

What you should do instead: Never lose sight of the fact that SEO is done for the end user and not Google or Bing. It’s a means to an end.

Myth #7: Only Link from Keyword Phrases

Only using keyword phrases to create anchor links to other pages and blogs makes for a dull, repetitive experience for the end user and can make a page or post look spammy. Instead, the focus should be on linking to relevant pages or articles as they make sense for the user.

What you should do instead: Put yourself in the reader’s shoes when including links to a blog or webpage. Does linking to that page at that spot make sense? Will they click on it to get more information?

Why You Must Ditch Old SEO Habits

Search engine optimization for B2B content marketing is continually evolving and adapting. SEO is essential to ensuring a website is visible and easy to categorize, so it should not be ignored. However, as people get to be more and savvier in their web searches, it’s critical to create a great user experience both in finding your website and navigating around on your website. It’s crucial to stay current on what is working in SEO and to continually adapt and update your SEO strategy. What worked last year for optimizing a website may not work well this year.

Interested in discussing how SEO can drive more leads to your website? Contact us today for a personalized evaluation and consultation.

3 Rules to Web Marketing for B2B Sales

b2b-web-marketingSince opening our B2B marketing agency, we’ve stressed how our marketing collateral—specifically our website design—support the sales process. There are significant differences to a B2B sale that have a major impact on how B2B should be marketed versus B2C.

B2B vs. B2C

The primary difference between B2B and B2C is the time between discovery and purchase. B2C encapsulates a lot of products, from toiletries to automobiles and more. But the majority of those products are discovered within days or at most a few months before purchasing. They’re also purchased on a more frequent basis (think of your clothing or food).

On the flip side, B2B is often a much slower process down the sales funnel. While this longer process increases the opportunity for relationship building, it also leaves a lot of room for a prospect to change their mind and go with a competitor.

Did you know that 89% of B2B researchers use the internet during the B2B research process?
(Source: Google, 2015)

Here are our tips for improving your B2B web marketing tactics for B2B sales:

Focus on helping the client

Everything on your website, from your design to your copy to your calls to action, should be geared toward educating and helping the client. In a B2B sale, a prospect may be reviewing your firm and comparing it to others online. So if your website is failing to make it easy to answer their questions or discover more—they’re likely to abandon your business early in the decision making phase.

How can you improve your website for a client? Here are some tips:

  • Navigation and user experience. Make sure a visitor doesn’t need to dig around to find your core services.
  • Contact information. Is it only featured on the “Contact Us” page? Instead, repeat it throughout the website, like the homepage header, so visitors can immediately pick up the phone—regardless of where they are on the website.
  • Web design and function. A dated website doesn’t communicate well to a prospect—refresh your web design if needed.

Did you know that 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search?
(Source: Google, 2015)

Build credibility

If your website design is functional and user-focused, the next step to aiding a B2B sale is continuing to build credibility. Since a prospect is likely to re-visit your website to gather information, consistently updating your website with relevant information keeps a prospect engaged. In addition, it builds trust without constantly relying on a phone call to the sales team.

An effective method to building credibility is implementing a content marketing tactic, such as blogging, social media or content offers (guides, tip sheets, eBooks). This way, on the consecutive visits to your website a prospect is finding something new to your firm. What’s important for B2B sales includes:

  • Create content that is educational and valuable—not promotional.
  • Create content for different decision makers. Meaning, the prospect researching your firm may be reporting back to other final decision makers (VPs, CEOs, Board of Directors, etc.) and content should speak to their needs as well.

Don’t stress the sale

Seems contradictory to not focus on selling for a website that builds sales. Focusing again on the longer B2B sales cycle, closing too early potentially scares off the prospect too soon.

When providing education and credible content, think of how your prospect would like to receive this information. No one ever likes to feel sold to, they’d rather educate themselves and content you when the solution is close to a decision. Guarding your company information behind lengthy forms or asking too many “How did you find us?” questions can potentially frustrate the prospect. Instead, keep as much information you can transparent.

Take Away

Because B2B sales are longer and more complex, marketing tactics shouldn’t be short-sighted. In the end, web marketing should support the long-term nurturing, so prospects are constantly returning to you. Making the above improvements to your website not only repeats their visits, it makes the purchasing choice easier.


Why Consider Hiring an Outside Marketing Agency?

Hiring an outside B2B marketing agency comes at a cost, but can provide a significant value. In most cases, the value of working with an outside agency greatly exceeds any monthly retainer fees.

Whether you are considering hiring a marketing agency, are in the process of evaluating agencies, or are evaluating your existing relationship with an outside agency, here are a few reasons why hiring an outside marketing agency for your B2B firm makes sense.

Limited Internal Resources

The biggest reason companies look to hire an outside B2B marketing agency is not from lack of internal marketing acumen, but rather because of limited internal resources. For most of the clients Bop Design works with, there are two to three internal marketing professionals who are highly experienced at managing and marketing their firm’s brand. They look to us to help fill in the gaps where they just don’t have the resources.

The three biggest resource limitations many B2B companies face are personnel, time, and budget. While they may have several members on their marketing team (or only a Marketing Director), they aren’t able to add the number of employees they would need to execute a comprehensive marketing strategy. As such, the current team members don’t have time to research all the latest trends or determine the most appropriate methods and channels to use. Lastly, they don’t have the budget to hire an internal team, subscribe to all the necessary tools, or invest in the planning and reporting of strategic plans.

Experts in Marketing

Team of Specialists: You get the best results when you work with experts in the field. For example, you don’t want to have eye surgery from someone who took one seminar on optical health. Partnering with a B2B marketing agency gives a company access to experts in all facets of marketing: design, copywriting, digital outreach, inbound, direct mail, web development, conversion optimization, analysis and tracking, campaign creation, automation, print, advertising, nurturing, etc. The agency employs a team of specialized professionals that has deep skills in a particular area.

Up on Current Trends: In addition to working with an experienced, knowledgeable team, a company working with an agency can be certain the agency employees are current on the latest marketing trends. As an internal marketing professional, you are likely aware of all the recent advances and news affecting your firm’s industry. Likewise, an agency’s employees stay current on the latest trends in marketing and are using them on a daily basis on client campaigns. They know what is working, what is overblown hype and can discuss the latest techniques and tools with you to ensure they are the best fit.

Vendor Relationships: A comprehensive B2B marketing strategy utilizes various channels, tools, and tracking software to ensure that campaigns are working and producing results. Many of these channels, tools, and software require ongoing relationships and subscription services. By working with a marketing agency, a company will experience the benefits of these tools without having to make the additional investment or spending the time to manage them.

For example, Bop Design uses a variety of paid tools on behalf of ourselves and our clients, all of which have a subscription cost. Here is a small sample of the subscription tools we pay for and utilize for our clients:

  • Moz – SEO tracking software for monitoring keyword performance and site audits.
  • PR Newswire/Cision – Publishing press releases and managing influencer lists.
  • Wordsmith – Organizing reporting information.
  • CrazyEgg – Heatmapping and A/B testing.
  • Staging Pilot – Testing how WordPress and plugins will affect the website in a safe, test environment, rather than a live website.
  • Tiny PNG – Shrinks images to a better size for web use.
  • GatherContent – Helps clients organize and migrate website content.
  • BugHerd – Tracking website bugs during development and content entry.
  • And many others

Cost Savings

Wait, hiring an outside agency means cost savings? Yes, it does, and we can break it down by the numbers. The minimum folks needed to run a successful B2B marketing strategy complete with blogging, downloadable guides, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing, website updates, and print advertising campaigns requires the following positions:

  • Graphic Designer – to make sure all marketing materials are consistent with the brand and source photos, videos, animations and manipulate them for each individual piece.
  • Web Developer – to ensure everything on the B2B website works, fix issues as they arrive, manage plugins, code new landing pages or website features.
  • Copywriter – to draft and edit all copy and content to ensure the value proposition is clear and the text speaks to the desired audience.
  • Pay-per-click Specialist – to manage all PPC campaigns (AdWords, Bing, and Retargeting) to ensure budgets are maximized and driving the right leads (not just traffic).
  • Analytics Specialist – to evaluate the efficacy of all programs, ensure everything is tracking properly so campaigns can be evaluated on their ROI and lead generation capabilities.
  • Technical Manager – to make sure all things work together seamlessly and ensure the user experience is great and search engines can easily access the website.
  • Project/Account Manager – to ensure the strategy is executed properly, all tasks are completed, and the campaigns are driving results. This person is the client’s advocate to ensure everything is seamless and easy for the client, while also completing a lot of the tasks in the campaigns.

Now, these are the minimum of specialists required on a successful B2B marketing campaign. There are many other specialists that can be drawn in as needed: media buyers, SEO managers, content strategists, video specialists, conversion specialists, printers, mail houses, and more.

So, let’s break down the numbers.* We are giving the range, so you can get an idea of entry-level, mid-level vs. highly experienced, skilled employees.

  • Graphic Designer $40,000 – 83,250
  • Web Developer $62,500 – 110,000
  • Copywriter $55,000 – 105,250
  • Pay-per-click Specialist – $52,000 – 94,750
  • Analytics Specialist $49,000 – 104,250
  • Technical Manager – $62,000 – 126,000
  • Project/Account Manager – $53,500 – 98,000

If a company hires all these positions at entry level to manage their B2B marketing plan, the minimum yearly spend would be $374,000. For a company looking to hire the best of the best to work on their campaigns, the yearly salary costs (not including money spent directly on advertising) would be $721,500. And this doesn’t factor in the cost of benefits!

Driving & Tracking Measurable Leads

One of the final reasons we’ll cover here (although there are many others) for hiring a B2B marketing firm is to drive and track measurable client leads. An outside marketing agency can build on the great work of an internal team and, without adding any additional overhead, drive additional leads or help to nurture existing leads. It’s important to consider the revenue of a new lead. If a typical deal for a consulting firm is $50,000 with a chance for recurring revenue from future projects, it makes sense to spend money to get more of those types of leads. Closing one lead can often pay for several months of fees for a B2B marketing agency.

While hiring an outside B2B marketing agency isn’t ideal for every single B2B firm, it makes sense for a majority of companies. It enables firms to reach growth projections and increased revenue goals without adding a bunch of overhead or taking time away from servicing existing clients.

*(All salary information was obtained from Robert Half’s 2018 Salary Guide)


B2B Marketing Agencies: How to Choose the Best Fit

Partnering with a marketing agency is a big decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The marketing agency you choose will be a trusted brand advocate and tasked with helping you to meet your strategic marketing objectives. At the end of the day, they will either make you look good and help accomplish your goals or they won’t. In this blog post, we take a quick look at how to choose the B2B marketing agency that is the best fit for your needs.

Are All B2B Marketing Agencies Created Equal?

While an agency may not be “better” or “worse” than another agency, they are not all the same. Agencies range in size, approach, skill set, and service offerings. As such, it’s imperative that you find the right B2B marketing agency for your firm.

What Are Their Strengths?

Start by asking what they do best. What are their main service offerings? Be wary of B2B marketing agencies that offer everything. While you want to work with an agency that is a resource for you and can help with all your projects, you want to make sure they excel at the main things you need them to work on. For example:

  • B2B or B2C? This is the first question to ask. If they say they do both, they may not entirely understand what makes the B2B space different from consumer-focused brands.
  • Digital Marketing? If your main B2B marketing goals include online lead generation, it’s essential that the agency you work with is on top of all the latest digital marketing trends and knows which ones are most effective for B2B firms.
  • Web Design? Many agencies say they provide B2B web design services, but in truth, they end up farming it out to someone outside their agency. This can make the process slow or future edits difficult to make on the website.
  • Public Relations? There are a lot of great PR firms out there that are dabbling in the digital marketing space, including social media and web design. However, while they are superior in creating buzz and garnering media attention, they may not be able to drive results as far as lead generation as this is not the core function of public relations.
  • Lead Generation? Don’t automatically assume that an agency is focused on lead generation. Be sure that when you are discussing your plans with a potential B2B marketing agency, you are clear that lead generation is the main objective and ask how they plan to track and increase leads for your firm.
  • Industry Knowledge? Do they know your industry? Many agencies work within a handful of industry verticals as they have discovered these verticals are where they can provide the most value. If a B2B marketing agency hasn’t worked with a client in your industry or in a similar industry, they may not be the right fit.

What Is Their Experience?

We’ve all been there when a salesperson has said yes to everything we’ve asked, only to find out after the sale that they can’t deliver on half of the things we asked about. Rather than asking if they can do something, ask what they have already done. Potential queries might include:

  • Industries – As we’ve mentioned before, find out if they have any B2B marketing experience in your industry. Ask for examples of other clients that they have worked within your industry or a similar industry. They should have an organized portfolio ready to show you. If they haven’t worked with your industry, ask what companies they have worked with that are similar and what results they have gotten for them.
  • Projects – Projects vary from company to company as goals and objectives are different, however, it’s important to get an idea of what types of projects the B2B marketing firm has worked on. Have they worked on larger projects? Smaller projects? Long-term projects? National projects? Regional projects? You want to ensure they understand your objectives and are able to tailor the marketing services to meet your needs.
  • Personnel – Who works for the agency? This is a straightforward question and should be easy to answer. A lot of larger agencies will hire and lay off workers depending on their client load. While this is common, it’s not always a best practice. Ideally, you want to work with a B2B agency that is flexible and adaptable but has an experienced, core group of designers, writers, project managers, developers, and technical specialists that will be managing the day to day work on your project.
  • Outsourcing – We work in an age where borders and time zones aren’t barriers, but merely factors. As such, it’s not uncommon for agencies to outsource design, development, copywriting, technical editing or publishing. However, when it comes to your business, it’s essential to have a cohesive brand message and the more outsourced people on a project, the more fractured a brand can become. Ask what duties they specifically outsource and how they manage the process.

How Is Their Sales Process?

What it feels like to be a prospect tells a lot about what it feels like to be a client. If a B2B marketing agency has a smooth sales process that involves understanding your company and your goals, the partnership with that agency will likely be the same. However, if the sales process is bumpy and unpredictable with a lot of uncertainties, it doesn’t leave much hope for their internal project management processes.

Talk to Existing Clients

In addition to looking at their work, talk to existing clients. Seasoned, professional B2B marketing agencies will have a host of clients you are able to contact. Much like you would ask a potential employee for references, you should be asking a potential agency for references as well.

They Should Be Interviewing You as Well

In a true partnership, you both succeed. As such, the right agency will be interviewing you to ensure your firm is the best fit as well. At Bop Design, we are careful during the lead qualification and proposal phase to be sure that the potential client is a good fit for our skill set. If we don’t think our agency is the best fit, we let them know. At the end of the day, it’s on us to ensure our projects are successful, so we only take on projects where we truly believe we can deliver.

Warning

This wouldn’t be a helpful article if it didn’t include a few warnings or red flags to watch out for during the B2B marketing agency vetting process. Here are a few giant, waving red flags to keep an eye out for:

  • Agencies that promise to meet tight deadlines without reducing the scope
  • Vague proposals that don’t detail what is included
  • Vastly different proposals from seemingly similar agencies
  • Lack of follow-through in the sales process

Lastly, it’s important to find out if the potential partner practices what they preach. Are they going to be running a dynamic social media campaign for you but haven’t touched their own Twitter in six months? Will they be creating a B2B web design for you from scratch but have a website that has several broken links and missing images? A bit of research can tell you a lot about whether the agency really knows their stuff – or is just all talk.

Interested in finding out if Bop Design is the right B2B marketing agency for your firm? Contact us today for a personalized consultation with our B2B experts.


A 5-Minute B2B Website Audit

The last few weeks of December typically includes prepping for new projects in 2018. If launching a new B2B web design for your firm is a top priority in 2018, now is the time to do a quick audit of your existing website.

Here are questions to help you perform a quick 5-minute B2B web design audit:

How Long Does It Take the Website to Load?

First things first, how long does it take your B2B website to load?

Have you ever clicked on a result from Google or Bing and waited for what seems like forever for the website to load? Or did you wait a few seconds and then go back to the search engine results to try the next website? Page speed (how long a web page takes to load) is critical to a great end-user experience. It’s also critical to search engine rankings. The longer it takes a B2B website page to load, the lower the ranking for that page.

You can do a quick test at your desk by typing your firm’s url into a browser. However, the most accurate information regarding page speed is in Google Analytics. You can find it under Behavior > Site Speed > Overview.

It’s interesting to note that almost 50% of consumers expect a web page to load in under 2 seconds. (Source: Kissmetrics) Any B2B website that takes longer than 3 – 4 seconds to load should be reviewed and addressed.

Does Everything Work Properly?

Navigate around your firm’s website and check to make sure everything is working properly or as expected. For a B2B web design to be effective at attracting and converting prospects into new leads, everything should be functional on the site.

Check the website for:

  • Broken links
  • Bad redirects or misdirecting pages
  • Image pixilation or stretching
  • Missing images or files
  • Visual issues with text not displaying or getting cut off

Be sure to check pages on the website that are critical for conversion, such as “Contact Us” pages, newsletter sign-up forms and brochure downloads. Check forms on the website by submitting a test for each one. Make sure the forms are getting to the right person at your company.

Is the Messaging Accurate?

If it’s been a year to six months since your website has been updated with a new blog or a new white paper, it’s absolutely time to review the messaging. Start with the homepage of the website and work your way through all the main pages in the navigation.

Ask yourself and/or your team:

  • Do prospects understand what we offer?
  • Is there a bunch of internal lingo on the website?
  • Does the content speak to a prospect’s need?
  • Is there any value for existing clients?

You know what you offer and the main value proposition of your firm’s products and services, but is that clearly represented in your firm’s B2B website? If your homepage does not clearly state what services or products you offer and your main value proposition, how will it engage prospects and clients? Things change and products and services adapt to the marketplace. Be sure that the web design for your B2B firm has kept up with these changes and adaptations. Make sure the messaging isn’t outdated or inaccurate, for both prospects AND clients.

Is Your Brand Clearly Represented?

For many B2B prospects, the first interaction with a company is typically with the website. The prospect will do a Google or Bing search for the products or services your firm offers. If your firm’s website comes up in the search results and they click through to your website, does your B2B web design clearly showcase your firm’s brand? Or does it look like every other competitor’s website with lackluster attempts at branding?

Don’t think branding is crucial to client acquisition and retention? Check out these 15 Crazy Branding Statistics. Did you know that it takes 5 – 7 brand impressions before someone will remember your brand? (Source: Action Card) It’s critical that your B2B brand is clearly represented in your website design and all supporting digital marketing campaigns and platforms.

What Is Missing?

Now that you have checked over everything that is on your B2B web design, determine what’s missing.

Does your website have:

  • Clear calls to action
  • A variety of calls to action
  • Short form submissions
  • Resources to download
  • A comprehensive blog
  • Easy to find service or product pages
  • A visible contact page or form
  • Company’s address or office locations
  • Compelling messaging
  • Obvious branding

Make a list of the items you think are missing from your existing website and would like to see in a new B2B web design. The list doesn’t need to be extensive, but it should be clear.

That’s it. You’ve completed a B2B website audit! Now it’s time to start searching for the right B2B web design partner.

Check out our B2B website buyer’s guide for tips on selecting the right partner to meet your firm’s needs or contact us today to start a conversation.


Bop Design Recognized as a Top Web Designer & Digital Agency in Clutch’s Global Leader Press Release

Bop Design, a San Diego based B2B Agency for Web Design, Content Marketing, & Branding, was awarded a spot as a Clutch Global Leader, a list of the 475+ most highly reviewed companies around the world.

At Bop Design, we take a holistic B2B marketing approach, and we focus on enthralling branding, avant-garde website designs, and informative marketing collateral. Our approach has enabled us to exceed the expectations of our clients and rise to the top of two fields over thousands of other agencies in Clutch’s Global Leader Press Release.

Clutch is a technology research firm from Washington DC. Their innovative research methodology maps agencies based on their ability to deliver. Their ability to deliver score is comprised of market presence, clientele & experience, and most importantly reviews.

Being featured on Clutch signifies that we routinely deliver great results for our clients.  We have been in the business since 2008, and we have helped many B2B companies who are serious about growing, achieve their goals. We are an award-winning agency because we produce results that transform our clients’ businesses.

We have had 14 clients review our services on Clutch, and here’s what they had to say about us.

“Bop is always responsive to our needs… [and] accommodating, even during our most intense months.” – Reproductive Partners

“With Bop, not only did we gain a great web design firm but also an outstanding marketing firm.”- Melfred Borzall, Inc.

Bop Design is super cool, nice, and professional. They really have a great staff. We did our due diligence by interviewing and sending RFPs to 7 firms when we were looking. I’m so glad we picked Bop Design. – Kravitz

We are committed to the success of your projects, and we are happy to be recognized for our efforts. Learn why we are featured as a global leader and contact us today!


3 Reasons to Check Your Junk Mail Folder

From time to time on our blog, we share business development and sales tips that help with nurturing or converting B2B marketing leads. In this post, the message is simple: you should check your email junk folder at least once a day. Why? Because there could be exciting opportunities or responses lurking in there.

Let’s take a look at 3 reasons why you should check your junk mail folder at least once a day.

Website Lead Gen Forms Can End Up There

This first is one of the most important reasons to check your junk mail folder once, if not twice, a day. Ideally, a B2B marketing strategy includes lead generation forms on a company website. The form submissions are typically set up to distribute to at least 2 people within a company. Many times, the set up is a smooth process and the leads end up highly visible in the desired recipient’s email inbox, giving the recipient warning and allowing them to follow up with the lead.

However, for reasons known and unknown, they may end up in the spam or junk folder. If a form submission contains any number of “trigger” terms that an email client like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail labels as “spammy,” the form submission will bypass the inbox and go directly to spam. When it’s spam, it’s great. When it’s a genuine lead looking for pricing or wanting a demo, it’s bad. Additionally, if an email address is set up to be both the sender and receiver of a form submission (as can happen with website administrators), email clients will label these emails as spam. These are the known reasons and may or may not be fixable.

The unknown reasons why a company’s website form submission goes to spam? They are…unknown. For both reasons known and unknown, your company’s website form submission may be ending up in your junk or spam folder. It’s essential that you check your junk or spam folder at least once a day to see if any genuine B2B marketing leads landed there.

Email Nurturing Campaign Responses Might Be Hiding

There are several other great reasons to check your junk or spam email folder each day. The second reason is that responses to email newsletters or email nurturing campaigns might be hiding in there. For example, if using MailChimp for marketing newsletters or nurturing campaigns, it’s a best practice for B2B companies to have those emails come from a real email address. That way, if a user on the email list replies or responds, a live person gets the email in real time. However, if the user’s email client strips out the images or videos in the response, it may be categorized as spam and sent to junk by the recipient’s email client.

For this very reason, it’s important to check your junk folder several times after sending an email newsletter or launching an email nurturing campaign. If an individual requests to be taken off the list by responding to an email, it’s essential that is handled. You don’t want to get a bad reputation or alienate a client or prospect by continuing to email them when they have expressly asked to be removed. Conversely, if the end user enjoyed the content of the newsletter or is responding to get more information about the nurturing campaign, you must be as responsive as possible and get back to them quickly. Otherwise, it will look like automation runs your company and you aren’t real people (which will, in turn, tank your company’s credibility and trustworthiness).

Great Vendor Opportunities Trigger Spam Warnings

Last, but not least, is the potential for vendor opportunities. As email security gets tighter and tighter, more and more first-time emails will go to junk or spam folders. A great partnership or tool might be available that will enable your firm to grow, but the initial outreach email may end up in your junk folder. Since your email client doesn’t recognize the email address as a trusted email address and the email likely contains a link or two, it’s automatically considered junk. Additionally, if the vendor is using any type of email automation software, it might appear spammy since it wasn’t sent from the same server that the email address sends from.

While we all understand that not every vendor is the right match or can offer the value that you need to grow your business, there are great vendor opportunities out there that can support your B2B marketing efforts and help you do your job better. You don’t want to miss them when they come along, particularly if they reach out right when you are in the process of locating a vendor that offers the product or services you need the most.

Just Do It: Check Your Junk Mail Folder

Honestly, we understand that your day is hyper-busy and you have a tough enough time managing your inbox, let alone all the other email folders. However, a quick peek every day at your junk mail folder might just be key to closing a new lead, keeping an existing client happy, or find the right vendor at the right time.

Interested in a personalized consultation regarding your B2B marketing efforts? Contact us today to schedule a call.

Tips for Nurturing Marketing Leads

For many B2B marketing professionals, your job isn’t done once a lead is generated or captured via a website form or inbound phone call. There is no ceremonial handing off of leads to sales. In the B2B space, many marketing professionals are also required to wear a sales hat and tasked with nurturing leads from a qualified prospect to a sales-ready opportunity to a closed deal. After all, a lead isn’t necessarily a closed deal.

At Bop Design, we see lead generation as only part of the revenue generating puzzle. We’ve seen a lot of success, both internally and in our clients’ organizations, for nurturing leads along to customer acquisition. As such, we are sharing our top tips for nurturing marketing leads, especially with the help of content marketing pieces.

Follow Up After First Contact

Once you have a lead in your hand (figuratively) or in your email inbox (literally), the nurturing process begins. The prospect has taken the first step to reach out to your company and has shown interest. Don’t drop the ball now. Your first step should be to follow up with the lead within 1 business day. Responding to an email within 1 day is critical to closing the deal.

Essentially, you just want to get in front of them and give them a human point of contact. While many firms are moving towards automating this first point of contact, in the B2B marketing space, it’s important to have a human make this connection. Remember this can also be a good point to disqualify a lead and save yourself and the prospect time.

Share Helpful Blogs

After the first follow-up email to the prospect, it’s time to send helpful content (once a reasonable amount of time has passed, of course). Blog posts are a great way to easily share tips with prospects, build up your credibility, and show that you understand their needs and can anticipate their questions. Be sure that any blog posts you send are educational in nature and are not merely sales brochures in blog format.

Send White papers, Guides, Case Studies

Content marketing pieces aren’t simply lead generation tools. They are also great lead nurturing tools. When it comes to designing a B2B marketing strategy, content pieces that address every stage of the sales process are essential to create a smoother sales process for prospects. For example, white papers, guides, and case studies should be created to help answer a prospect’s questions about the results your products or services provide, how best to utilize your products or services, or how your firm helps clients solve problems or streamline processes. Sending these content pieces along to a prospect builds value and lays the groundwork for a successful partnership.

Discuss a Proposal

Anyone can create a proposal and email it to a prospect. However, successful sales and marketing folks take the time to explain a proposal either in person or via a virtual presentation. If you send a proposal over email without an in-person explanation, it is almost a guarantee that your firm’s products and services will be evaluated on price alone. If you aren’t the low-price leader, you will lose out to competitors every time.

A critical step in the lead nurturing process is hand-holding. Scheduling a call or meeting to discuss a service or product proposal takes the pressure off the prospect, gives them the opportunity to see the value of your offerings, and ask any follow-up questions.

Reach Out with References

After you’ve sent your best content marketing pieces and discussed a proposal with a prospect, the lead nurturing doesn’t stop. Offer to send references. Many prospects are not familiar with the products or services your firm is offering and would like to get a chance to ask candid questions of your current clients about what it’s like to work with your company. Don’t make them ask. Understand their perspective and alleviate any uncertainty by providing contact information for trusted, happy clients (with their permission, of course).

Last Ditch Emails

Sometimes great leads seem to go cold. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Don’t automatically assume that a prospect went with your closest competitor. Instead, send what we call “last ditch effort” emails to try to get them to respond. This does not mean you should pester them or leave a bunch of messages. Rather, craft a personalized, brief email letting them know you understand they may have gone with a competitor, may have had a change in budget, or have redirected their attention to a different project or objective. Nine times out of ten, they will respond and either confirm one of these reasons or let you know where they are in the sales process. If they are a lost lead, at least you know and can remove them from your funnel and apply any feedback into your future B2B marketing efforts.

Looking to generate inbound leads for your B2B firm? Find out how content marketing can help with generating and nurturing leads for your organization today.


Why You Must Respond to Sales Emails in One Day

We’ve talked a lot best practices for converting website leads. One of the main things we see companies take for granted in the sales conversion process is responsiveness. When an inbound lead comes in or a prospect emails your team, how your B2B marketing and sales team handles that lead often determines whether your firm is able to convert that lead.

In this blog, we examine why it is imperative that your sales team responds to any and all sales inquiries within 1 business day.

Your Sales Process Sets the Tone

For a prospective client, the most accurate preview of a company’s service delivery is the sales process. If the sales process is easy and the sales team is responsive, typically that’s how the customer sales team will be too. Even though sales and customer service are two distinct departments, most of the time the overall company culture and values are consistent.

Similarly, if the sales process is confusing and clumsy, it’s likely that the service delivery will be sub-optimal also. As a B2B marketing and sales team, you want to be as responsive as possible since this is a prospect’s first impression of your company. This is why it is critical that all sales inquiries are replied to within 1 business day!

Here are other reasons why this is so important:

  1. Head Start: If your B2B marketing and sales team replies 24 hours before the competition, your company already has a head start in closing the deal. While the competition is initially responding, your sales team is already at the proposal stage. Fair or not, prospects tend to favor the company that is quickest to the close.
  2. Make It Easy: This may seem harsh but prospective clients are inherently lazy. A prospect does not want to put forth that much effort to get quotes and they shouldn’t have to put out much effort. They expect the companies in consideration to be the ones to “jump through hoops.” By replying quickly to sales inquiries, you are making it as easy as possible for a prospect to do business with you.
  3. Positive Impact on Price: If your B2B marketing and sales team practices responsiveness, then that typically positions your brand as organized, efficient, and experienced. This builds credibility with the prospect, allowing you to price higher for your services. Additionally, by being the first to respond, your proposal will become the benchmark to which other proposals are compared.

Woody Allen’s famous quote “80% of life is showing up” applies to the 1-day email responsiveness rule. If your sales team shows up before the competition, there’s a great chance you will win the deal.

Looking to increase your B2B firm’s inbound lead generation? Contact us today to learn more about creating a custom content marketing strategy to generate leads.


Gated vs. Ungated: What Content Marketing Pieces Generate Leads?

This seems to be the age-old question when it comes to content marketing. There are various schools of thought, with some folks on the side that premium content should never be gated* while others believe that all of it should be gated. The real answer is that a strong content strategy should include a mix of gated and ungated content.

*Gated content is content on a website that resides behind a form. This means that the website visitor must complete a form that collects contact information before they can access the content offer­ – thus creating a lead for your sales team. In many cases, the content is emailed, so the user must provide a valid email address to get access.

So what content should be gated and what should be ready for download without any strings attached? There is no absolute answer. Rather, it depends on a couple of different factors. In this blog post, we’ll explore a few questions you must ask to determine whether a piece of content will be gated or ungated.

Don’t Go for the Ask Too Early

The best way to explain this is in terms of dating and marriage. You wouldn’t ask a person to marry you as soon as you meet them. Instead, you get to know them. You talk on the phone or over text message or via online chat. Then you go on a few dates to determine if you are the right fit. If you like them, then you continue dating them. Only once you feel they are the right fit, you ask them to marry you.

Similar rules apply for B2B content marketing. When a prospect lands on your company’s website for the first time, you don’t want to ask for all their contact details. That would scare them away immediately. They may not be ready to provide that information. They need to get to know a little bit about your company, what products or services you offer, and what value you offer them. For example, your products and services pages should be easily accessible. Any descriptions of features or product brochures should be ungated so prospects not familiar with your business can decide if your company offers what they need.

Where Is the Prospect in the Funnel?

We’ve stated before that an effective B2B content marketing strategy includes content pieces to meet the needs of prospects and clients during all stages of the sales process (including the retention and upsell process!). Before you create a piece of premium content, determine where the prospect or client is in the sales funnel.

  • Are they at the very top of the funnel and simply learning who offers what?
  • Have they narrowed down the options to 2 – 3 potential partners and are looking to compare products or services?
  • Have they already received a pricing list or proposal from your firm?
  • Are they ready to commit but need to convince the C-suite of your value?
  • Are they a long-term client that needs to be upgraded to more advanced services?
  • Are they an unhappy customer who needs extra resources to understand how to better utilize your products and services?

It’s important to understand where the prospect or client is in the sales funnel to decide whether to gate a piece of content. If your content piece is primarily to show prospects what makes your product or service unique, you likely don’t want it to be gated. However, if you have a comprehensive case study that shares the “secret sauce” of why your products or services help clients, then you may need to gate that content.

Is the Content Considered Thought Leadership or Proprietary?

Content serves a variety of purposes.

  • It can answer common questions
  • It can demonstrate how a product or service works
  • It can show the benefits of a method or approach
  • It can provide experienced thought leadership on a hot topic
  • It can discuss current trends
  • It can take a side on an industry hot button
  • It can provide real-life examples of how a product or service added value for a client

When determining whether a piece of content should be gated, it’s essential to consider the amount of effort it takes to put together that piece of content, how available that type of content is in the industry, and the perceived value to the prospect or client. For example, blog posts typically aren’t gated because that is not where a company posts proprietary content. Rather, it’s thought leadership content that builds up the brands credibility. As a company, you want as many prospects as possible to be able to read your blog. However, if you have patented a proprietary product or process, you definitely want to gate that content.

Give a Lot Away, But Not All

As stated before, there is no absolute for gating B2B content marketing pieces. Rather, it’s a decision that must be made on a case by case basis. The questions listed here should guide you in evaluating whether to gate a particular piece of content.

Questions about how to build an effective B2B content marketing strategy for your company? Contact us today to speak to our expert content marketers.


Why Your Website Must Be an Effective Content Marketing Platform

Content marketing shows up in a variety of places and in a range of media, including everything from blog posts, to articles published on third-party sites, to infographics, to mobile apps, to printed guides, and videos. Regardless of the different media channels employed in B2B content marketing, it’s critical that your website acts as the centerpiece, where content is created and traffic is directed.

In this post, we take a look at why your website must be an effective content marketing platform, along with things you can do to create a website that properly supports your B2B content strategy.

It’s a Central Hub

Your website must be the central hub for all your content marketing efforts. If you send an email newsletter, it should link to your website. Any blogs you post to social media will bring visitors back to the full posting on your website. Any printed materials you share at tradeshows or conferences will list your firm’s website URL for more information. When prospects search for your products and services on search engines, you want your website to come up at the top of the results.

You B2B website is where you want your potential clients to go to learn more about your products and services. Why? For the simple fact that you have 100% control over it. Third party review sites, online directories, video hosting sites, and social media are crucial to your inbound marketing efforts, but ideally, you want to point all visitors to those outside sources back to your website.

Make sure your website is optimized for fast loading times and all outside sources (your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp, and Google+ pages) are clearly linked to your B2B website. Ensure it easy to find your website URL on all these outside sources.

It’s All About the User Experience

If you are pointing visitors from outside sources back to your website, you want to ensure their experience with your website is seamless. Unfortunately, many companies build their websites with content marketing as an afterthought. If you build out your website with future B2B content marketing efforts in mind, you can create a design that is optimized for content marketing. The blog will be easy to find. The resource library with all downloadable material will be clearly visible and only take one click to find. You’ll already have a video library to host all your new videos and will be easy to update when you create more.

When building a website, a little planning for future content marketing goes a long way. By creating the tools in advance, you can choose how you want them all to appear rather than just being stuck with what your website manager can throw together quickly. A well-designed website that is built with certain types of content in mind not only looks great but makes finding content easy for the user.

It’s a Tool for Passive Nurturing

You can’t be available to hold every prospect’s hand throughout the sales process. The good news is that your website is your 24/7 salesperson. Since it hosts the majority of your B2B content marketing pieces, it’s also a passive nurturing tool. It allows your company to share helpful information to guide the visitor down the sales funnel without needing a sales or marketing person available all the time. The flexibility allows a potential client to take their time, learn more about your products or services, see what you offer, and get what they need as they navigate the vendor selection process.

Ensure that your website can host a variety of content marketing materials, including downloads, articles, videos, how-tos, images, and links to social media or review sites. Lay all these pieces out in an intuitive manner and be sure to speak to various stages of the buying cycle. Again, make all the content on your website easy to find. Don’t bury the link to your blog deep in the navigation.

It’s Co-Dependent

Your B2B content marketing strategy is completely co-dependent on your website. Likewise, your website is co-dependent on your content marketing strategy. If they don’t work well together and support each either, neither will be successful in generating leads and converting leads into clients.

Ready to learn more about how to optimize your website design to support your B2B content marketing efforts? Contact Bop Design today.


Tips to Extend Your Brand Outside of Marketing

The marketing department is typically the brand guardian for B2B firms. They are also the ones with all the cool branded materials and promotional items. However, your firm’s B2B branding doesn’t begin and end with marketing materials. Rather, your firm’s brand should be visible throughout your company to ensure a cohesive experience for both external customers and internal employees.

In this blog post, we take a look at several different, often overlooked, opportunities to expand your firm’s brand outside the marketing department and into the rest of your organization.

Client Proposals

This is the number one place where you can create brand consistency outside of marketing—since proposals are typically managed by the sales department. Most B2B firms don’t want to compete on price. Rather, they compete on things like strong relationships, superior products or services, and comprehensive capabilities. For this very reason, it’s essential to have a proposal or cost sheet that is consistent from a design and messaging standpoint with all of your firm’s marketing materials. Don’t let sales manage this on their own, marketing needs to be involved to ensure brand guidelines are followed.

There are a variety of tools out there to help carry your B2B branding into the sales process. Tools like Proposify enable you to easily incorporate your branding elements into the client proposal and create a consistent experience for a prospective customer. The main takeaway here is that if your firm spends the resources to attract prospects with a well-designed website, whitepapers, and glossy brochures, you should also ensure that the first touch points with sales (such as a proposal) are also well-designed and consistent with your B2B brand.

Client Onboarding Materials

After clients sign on the dotted line, they may say, “What’s next?” Whether your firm is well-established or fairly new to the market, it’s essential to have branded client onboarding materials that will continue the brand experience and reassure your new client that they have made the right choice. These can include how-to guides, set-up instructions, or even welcome emails.

Take a look at what a newly signed client receives from your firm and determine whether it matches the look and feel of your B2B branding. Even simple things, like using branded stationery or your logo on onboarding documents will create a consistent look and feel for clients. A polished welcome kit with any helpful materials reinforces your company’s brand and continues to sell your client on their decision. Remember, selling never stops with the signed deal.

Reporting Materials & Use Guides

Everything your client receives from anyone in your company should be consistent with your B2B branding efforts. This includes things like monthly client reports, user guides, email exchanges, and invoices. Everything that you provide to the client should carry your firm’s brand on it, even if it is only your logo and brand colors. These things don’t need to be overly designed or have graphical elements, they simply need to have a consistent logo and color scheme.

Verbal Communication

Your brand is not only conveyed through collateral and written materials but also through any verbal communication your team has with the client. Make sure that your team is using the same terminology, conveying the same philosophy, and being an overall accurate reflection of your brand. Employee orientations and regular internal culture forums will ensure that your staff’s verbal communications internally and externally are a strong reflection of your firm’s brand.

It’s a Living Process

Ideally, every touch point with a client should be consistent with your brand, but this can be near impossible to achieve. Be sure to schedule regular reviews of all the content and materials your clients receive to ensure brand consistency at all levels. While you want to encourage your staff to innovate and refine processes and procedures, you don’t want this to come at the cost of your firm’s brand experience. Continuous evaluations enable you to bring all new touch points and materials into the brand fold to create a cohesive brand.

Need help with your B2B branding? Contact Bop Design today.


Bop Design Is the Top San Diego Web Design Company!

We at Bop Design are pleased to announce that we have again been recognized for our work in web design. Last week, Clutch, a technology research firm in Washington, DC, released a list of the top web designers in San Diego. We’re happy to say that Bop Design came out on top over a multitude of other companies. With our extensive knowledge in B2B web design and holistic marketing approach, along with our understanding of how to help serious B2B businesses grow, it is to no shock to anyone familiar with Bop Design that we lead the pack.

To further comprehend our ranking, it is important to understand Clutch and their methodology. They gather information on thousands of companies and rank them in comparison to other companies in their industry.  A company is ranked based on its ability to deliver, reviews, experience, and its presence on the market. As shown in the “Leaders Matrix” below, two factors play a large part in ranking the top companies. One of these is a company’s “Focus”. Our skill in web design gives us an advantage over our competitors. The other, “Ability to Deliver”, is also a strength of ours, as we make sure to always stay on schedule and achieve what our client needs.

While a company’s focus and experience are both important factors in ranking a company, the most integral part of Clutch’s methodology is client reviews. Here are samples of some of our satisfied customers and what they had to say: TheVice President of marketing at MediKeeper praised us for the website we created for them, saying:

“ Our lead count has quadrupled since launching the new website. The abandon rate has been decreased, while time spent on the website has increased.”

Another customer, a marketing manager at Evergent Group, chose to emphasize our friendliness and transparency, saying:

“We never felt that we hired a web design company, but rather that we were having some friends do it for us. If we didn’t like something, we could tell Bop Design’s team, and they wouldn’t be offended.”

This highlights our strong expertise in this field, and we look to rise up in the ranks of these lists as we continue to grow as a company while helping more and more B2B businesses grow.

Contact us today to get started on a B2B web design project for your company.


Answer Your Damn Phone!

In B2B marketing, there are several simple lead generation practices that can be forgotten or ignored—maybe because they are so simple. You spend all of this time creating an engaging website, implementing an SEO and digital marketing campaign to drive traffic to your website, hoping an ideal visitor will visit. Then when an ideal visitor picks up the phone to call your firm, they hit the dreaded automated answering system. Automation is a major trend in business since it can increase process efficiencies but when it comes to answering the phone…Answer It!!!

Here are some best practices and reasons why you must answer your phone at a B2B company.

Make It Someone’s Job

Yes, most office calls are solicitations and that’s the reason why most offices have opted for automation. However, there can be 2 to 3 leads a day that can come via phone—we see this with most of our B2B clients. If an actual person answers the phone, a caller is more likely to feel welcome and valued rather than with automation where a caller can get frustrated. Assign the task of answering phones to a specific person in the office who can at least give a compelling summary of what your company does and can point the caller in the right direction. This will ensure that your firm creates a credible, eager first impression.

It’s a Differentiator

If a prospect calls 3 firms—2 competitors and your firm—and 1 of the 3 has a real person answering the phone, which firm is most likely to stand out? The firm that answers the phone—making it easiest to do business with them. Each touch point a lead has with your firm is a chance to differentiate and position yourself as a thought leader. An internal person who is familiar with your service delivery will help differentiate your firm from the majority of B2B companies that have de-prioritized answering their phone.

Incentivize

If possible, hire a person to answer the phone who can essentially act like an inside sales rep. This person may not know all of the specifics of your product or service, but can at least deliver the elevator pitch and can follow up with thought leadership content. To guarantee this person really cares about this aspect of their job, try offering an incentive with a percentage of revenue for all sales resulting from call leads (1% to 10%, depending on type of business and call volume).

It’s a Brand Promise

The most accurate indicator of how a vendor will serve you is how they treat you in the sales process. You serve like you sell. The initial communication with a prospect is the first opportunity to showcase your firm’s thoughtfulness and personalization. If you want your ideal prospect to think of your company in its best light, be around when the phone rings.

Ready to discuss lead generation for your firm? Contact our B2B marketing specialists today for a free consultation.


6 Statistics to Guide Your B2B Web Design Strategy

Regardless of the industry you operate in, when it comes to the B2B world, a professional website is the crux of a successful marketing strategy. A B2B website is the landing spot for digital ads, email campaigns, social media advertising, direct mailers, and everyday communications.

If you don’t already have a clear B2B web design strategy laid out for your firm, it’s time to set one in place. Before you determine whether it’s time for a website redesign or start bidding out website enhancements, check out at these six statistics that will help you determine what matters (and what doesn’t) in your web design strategy.

Mobile Is Key

Even as recent as five years ago, professional websites were being built that weren’t optimized for mobile users. Or mobile versions of the website were built as an afterthought to the main desktop version. This is not the case anymore. Today, all B2B web designs should be built with the mobile user in mind.

Why? Adoption Rate

Almost all Americans, 95% to be exact, own a cell phone of some kind. What’s even more interesting is that 77% of Americans own a smartphone (so they can access the internet and websites from their phone).  (Pew Research Center, 2017)

All-Device Experience

This focus on the mobile user’s experience does not mean that mobile-first is the only option for a strong B2B web design. Rather, we argue that a desktop user’s experience is just as important, particularly in B2B where we see more than half of our clients’ website traffic from non-mobile devices.* However, you don’t have to take our word (or research) on it.

Recent reports state that 83% of global consumers report multiscreen behavior, using an average of 2.23 devices at the same time. (Adobe, 2015)

Need more statistics? Check out our blog on Web Design and User Experience Statistics.

Communicate with Design

The design of your B2B website says a lot about your firm. Is it sending the right message? If your website is more than three years old, it’s worth asking this question. Brands evolve over time and it’s critical that the central component of your marketing strategy, your B2B website, reflects that evolution. Additionally, your target market wants your website to be well designed and nice to look at.

Studies have documented that 59% of global consumers would rather engage with web content that is beautifully designed as opposed to simply designed. (Adobe, 2015)

As the above statistic shows, it’s essential that your firm doesn’t skimp on the design of a website. If you are looking for clients with a minimum lifetime engagement of $10,000 + with your firm, it’s important to invest that much or more in the design of a professional website.

Site Performance Matters

Design matters, but site performance is the first step. If website visitors get frustrated with how long your website takes to load and leave before it loads, then the design has failed. The speed of a website has become more and more critical to the user experience, particularly for mobile users.

In fact, 53% of mobile visitors will abandon a website that takes longer than three seconds to load. (Google, 2016)

This can be broken down even further by how much the bounce rate increases as the load time increases:

The longer it takes your B2B web design to load, the more potential customers you are losing. Your web design strategy should include technical components for increasing the speed of your website and reducing load time.

SEO: Your Competition Is Doing It

Now, there are a lot of great reasons to include search engine optimization (SEO) in with your B2B website strategy: increased visibility, a better user experience, improved traffic, and targeting the right market. Another great reason to implement SEO is because it is essential for remaining competitive in most industries. Many of your competitors have implemented SEO on their websites, so it’s essential that you are also optimizing your firm’s website. You don’t want to ignore SEO just to watch all the traffic from your target market go to your competitor.

Keep in mind that SEO isn’t just about keywords either, it’s about optimizing the coding and display functionality of your website. As we have mentioned in previous blogs on SEO, Google and other search engines have stated that website optimized for mobile will perform better in searches.

A recent survey found that 62% of B2B marketers have optimized their brand’s blog for mobile in order to improve SEO.  (SocialMediaExaminer, 2016)

For B2B marketers, whether in competitive spaces or nice industries, SEO is essential to getting in front of a prospect when they are looking for your products or services. SEO should be built into all successful website strategies.

Get help with your B2B web design strategy. Schedule a consultation with our web design experts today.

*This is based on estimates gathered from Google Analytics over a 2-year period for B2B firms in a variety of industries.

5 Interesting Ways to Share Your Brand Story

Telling your brand story is more than just slapping dates together on an About Us page and throwing it up on the website with a stock image. Your brand story should be a major differentiator, something that sets you apart from your competition and compels your prospects to partner with you. It’s an opportunity to not talk about your products and services, but to talk about the real value of partnering with your firm.

When it comes to B2B branding and storytelling, there are a variety of ways to tell your brand story in a way that engages your target audience. Let’s look at 5 interesting ways to share your company’s brand story.

Reveal Your History

Your company was founded with purpose and that purpose was not simply to make money. The main purpose was to meet a need. An intriguing way to share your B2B brand story is by revealing the history behind the founding of your company. Answer questions like:

  • Why did we create this business?
  • What drove our success through the years?
  • How did we adapt to the market?
  • What needs did we focus on?
  • How did we expand or grow to meet the needs of more customers?

By building a story through the retelling of history, you draw your target audience in and reveal how the values of your company and your focus on the customer’s needs have driven your business. It’s a compelling method for letting your prospects know that they are the center of your business.

Showcase Your Founders

Many B2B companies are built on the drive, passion, and entrepreneurial spirit of a founder or founders. Particularly in the United States, we are obsessed with hearing the story of a successful entrepreneur who was driven by a passion, whether it’s a passion for innovation, customer service, technology, or knowledge. Telling your brand story by shining the spotlight on the founder(s) is a strategic way to craft an emotional connection with your audience. Answer questions such as:

  • What is their background/expertise?
  • What event(s) compelled them to found a company?
  • What was/is their vision for the company?
  • How do/did they interact with clients?
  • What are their main professional values?

Showcasing the founders of a company puts a human face behind a corporate entity and makes your brand relatable. This is particularly compelling if your company is older and the founders aren’t involved or running the brand any longer. This is essentially going back to basics and focusing on the genesis of your B2B brand.

Build a Timeline

There may be major events or accomplishments in your brand’s history that will resonate with your ideal target market. Weaving these events together is a great way to tell your brand story. A visual representation of the events arranged as a timeline is an easy to use, appealing way to convey the founding of your company, as well as major accomplishments or changes over the course of your brand’s history. Answer questions like:

  • What innovations did we bring to the industry?
  • Did we pioneer a technology or service?
  • What prestigious industry awards did we win?
  • What is our contribution to the industry?
  • Did we have significant periods of growth/change?

As you build your timeline (which doesn’t need to be extensive), think about the events or accomplishments that build credibility with your audience and establish you as the clear authority in the field. B2B branding should always include the audience as an active participant in the storytelling. Keep this in mind so you don’t alienate them.

Turn to Your Customers

If it wasn’t for your customers, you’d be out of business. This is a simple truth that you should always come back to in your branding and marketing. For many B2B firms, the customers are essential to building your brand. Their needs shape your service or product offerings. When it comes to the B2B industries, it’s less of a client-vendor relationship and more of a partnership. A cool way to share the story of your brand is to turn to your customers, their needs, and how your firm worked with them to provide solutions. Tell your story by telling the story of your customers. Answer questions such as:

  • What problems have we helped solve?
  • Are their specific cases where we have made a significant impact for a client(s)?
  • How do we help our clients be successful?
  • How do our values positively impact our clients?
  • What is our mission statement?
  • When has our service delivery showed exemplary results?
  • Where has customer service driven new processes and procedures?

Potential clients want to know what you bring to the table and what your brand is all about. A captivating brand story is told by real client partnerships and demonstrates innovative solutions.

Feature Your Employees

Your company may not have an extensive history, a ton of client case studies, or a memorable founder – but you always have your employees. Your employees are essentially your brand warriors. If they do a wonderful job of representing your brand and create loyal, dedicated clients – create your brand story around them, their attitudes, and their accomplishments. Focus on answering questions like:

  • How do our employees exemplify our brand?
  • What actions or attitudes do our clients rave about?
  • What positive feedback on employees have clients provided?
  • Why types of behaviors do our brand promote?
  • Who is our ideal employee and how do they represent the company?

Just like focusing on the founders, featuring your employees puts a human face on your organization. You are no longer a software company providing solutions to healthcare companies, you are a close partner who evaluates market challenges and provides customized solutions and a friendly face.

Your Brand Story

When it comes to B2B branding, your brand story is your chance to make a connection with your target audience and strengthen your relationship with your existing clients. It should not be an afterthought. It should be your answer to “Why should we work with you over company X?” Use your brand story to attract, engage, and compel. Be genuine and craft a brand story that your target market wants to read.

Need help drafting your brand story or refining your B2B branding? Schedule a personalized consultation today.


How to Align Marketing + Sales Strategies

It’s always been puzzling to me that marketing and sales can be at odds in an organization. I’ve always viewed them as two departments working towards the same objectives. Think about it. At the end of the day, marketing departments strive to provide MQLs (marketing-qualified leads) to the sales department that they can build a relationship with and hopefully turn into new clients.

The Breakdown Between Sales + Marketing

The breakdown seems to occur either a: when the sales team doesn’t value the MQLs or b: when marketing thinks sales is mishandling the leads.

The solution is to focus on aligning B2B marketing and sales strategies. Why?

Aligning sales and marketing strategies can:

  • Create a seamless customer experience
  • Increase conversions
  • Reduce waste and build efficiencies
  • Improve client retention
  • Maximize ROI
  • Build a better internal environment

Open Dialogue

The first thing B2B marketing and sales departments need to do is check their egos at the door. Both departments have a vested interest in attracting prospects, nurturing them, and turning them into new clients. As such, both departments can more effectively do their jobs with the support and help of the other department. An open dialogue between the two departments is essential to fostering a positive environment where the teams or individuals can align their strategies.

Get Input

Let me start by saying this is a two-way street. Sales should be providing input to marketing and marketing should be providing input to sales. This does not mean they are telling each other how to do their jobs, however, it does mean that they are providing valuable information that can help the other in being successful.

Marketing often has a pretty good idea of the company’s ideal client persona. However, the sales team works directly with these ideal clients and prospects every day. They understand their objections, challenges, and needs. We’ve found that the sales team is often a great resource for content topics and for input regarding marketing campaigns.

On the other side, marketing works hard on different initiatives to bring in qualified leads. Many of these leads are fairly warm and qualified, however, like any lead, they may need some nurturing. This a great spot for marketing to provide sales with a variety of materials, including blog posts and downloadable guides, to nurture prospects and make their job of closing the deal a little easier.

Share Objectives

How can your fellow coworkers support your efforts if they aren’t clued into your objectives? I always encourage marketing managers to discuss their objectives with the sales team. By simply sharing what you are trying to accomplish between your departments, you can get better support. Remember, you can’t get support for your initiatives if no one outside your department knows what they are.

Coordinate Plans

Have you ever been working on a project only to find another person in your organization is working on the exact same thing? Duplication of effort is a common issue affecting sales and marketing departments. Once you have shared your objectives, it’s a good idea to continually coordinate between marketing and sales. This enables you to discover any duplication, reduce wasted time, and streamline your processes and procedures.

For example, if the marketing team has a lead nurturing email campaign in place, it doesn’t make sense for the salesperson to also be calling the prospect to schedule a call. However, it might make sense to include the salesperson’s contact information within the campaign and make them aware of what the prospect is receiving and when, so they can properly handle a call or email from the prospect.

Compare Strategies

The next step to busting out of the internal silos is to compare overall strategies. This can be an eye-opening experience. If the sales strategy is to increase a certain book of business, then it’s important the marketing strategy also includes a focus on attracting that type of business. Similarly, if a particular product or service is popular, but the sales team isn’t incentivized to sell, that could impact the success of the marketing efforts for that service or product. Take a look at the B2B marketing and sales strategies for your organization. Ask if you are both working towards the same goals? Calling on the same mission statement? And using the same approach with prospects?

Report Back

The last stage in aligning the sales and marketing strategies is to report back to each other. The marketing team must get clear feedback on the MQLs they are sending to sales. (This must be data-backed and not anecdotal.) Much of this data can be found in your company’s CRM, but it’s helpful to talk to sales to see what closed, the final dollar amount, and the term of the relationship. Similarly, marketing should communicate their successes to sales to let them know how effective their campaigns are and if they are changing their approach or strategy based on the results they are seeing.

Communication

Communication is often the main conduit for aligning B2B marketing and sales strategies, creating a streamlined process, and improving a company’s overall ROI. Work with your teams internally to create a culture of communication and honest feedback. Creating a focus on the customer experience with both sales and marketing will help both teams to be successful and to build long-term relationships with clients and prospects.

Get help with your B2B marketing strategy – contact the experts at Bop Design today for a personalized review of your current strategy.


Great CTAs to Convert Website Visitors

A strong B2B website increases the visibility of your brand and attracts your ideal target market.

Once you have driven the right traffic to your website, it’s time to focus on converting those visitors into leads. In this blog, we are going to show you how to create great CTAs to convert website visitors into leads.

Clear & Direct

Calls-to-action (CTAs) should first and foremost be clear and direct. Don’t mince words in your CTAs and don’t overthink it. Be upfront and direct. There shouldn’t be any confusion about what your website visitor should do. When drafting CTAs, get feedback from others in your department, the sales team, or customer service. In some cases, they can help you pare down language so it’s even more direct.

Here are examples of clear, direct CTAs:

LEARN MORE

CONTACT

REQUEST QUOTE

GET PRICING

CLICK HERE

All these CTAs are short and state an action the website visitor should take. If you find yourself stuck, read the CTA options aloud to see where you can edit them down.

Find out how to capture website leads using these three easy methods.

Timely

There is a great analogy for conversion and lead generation. Great marketing is like dating. You don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date. That would be way too forward, off-putting, and a little scary. Well-crafted marketing strategies, like a website, build a relationship with a potential client that earns their trust and affinity. This analogy is particularly true for B2B website CTAs—they must be timely and not over-eager.

For example, while it’s OK to include Contact CTAs on your homepage, you want to include other well-timed CTAs that will build trust with your website visitor and let them get to know more about you. You don’t want to put a CTA reading BUY NOW at the end of a blog, but you do want to include a CTA to learn about your services, view other articles, or even download helpful digital guides.

The right CTA at the right time can be the key to establishing a strong, lasting relationship with your prospect.

Needs-Based

As a marketer, you want your website visitor to perform a particular action, but that’s a little selfish, isn’t it? What about the visitor and their needs? Don’t laugh, we are serious. Effective calls-to-action on B2B websites should also include needs-based directives. This requires a minor shift in mindset from “what do I want my website visitors to do?” to a new mindset of “what is in it for my visitor?”

Instead of DOWNLOAD OUR PRICING, consider something like SEE PRICING OPTIONS. Rather than READ BLOG about a blog covering 4 Tips on Marketing, try something from your B2B website visitor’s perspective, such as GET 4 TIPS. By switching the perspective from you to them, you make it a more personal experience. When website visitors feel that you understand their needs and are speaking their language, they are more likely to convert.

Is your website generating leads or duds? Learn more.

Unique

Placing a CONTACT US button on a website is a fairly standard practice. It’s clear, direct and simple. However, it’s OK to also get creative and focus on including unique CTAs in your B2B web design as well. Try out different variations on CTAs to see what your website visitors find more compelling.

For example, rather than VIEW PORTFOLIO, try out something different, like SEE THE DIFFERENCE or WATCH THE TRANSFORMATION. In a similar vein, rather than asking existing clients to UPGRADE SERVICES, try out a directive that will get their attention, such as TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL or LEVEL UP.

Remember that your website visitors are likely looking at the websites of your competitors as well, so don’t be afraid to try out new CTAs that aren’t like everyone else’s. The only warning here is not to get too cutesy or creative. Your CTAs should still be direct and easy-to-understand, not confusing or unclear.

Conclusion: Compel Action

It’s easy to stick with standard CTAs, but we suggest shaking it up a bit. Focus on creating CTAs that compel action, that entice website visitors to do something. Even if your website visitors aren’t reading every word on a page, they are likely reading your CTAs – make them count.

 


Maximize ROI: How to Promote Your B2B Website

When it comes to B2B marketing, a professional website is a necessary investment. You want the digital face of your firm to be professional, credible, and authoritative. Many firms that we work with want to maximize the ROI of their investment in their new website, and we couldn’t agree more.

Before a website launch, it’s important to put together a post-launch strategy that includes various channel campaigns to promote the website. The main goal is to get the website in front of the target market and to get them to engage with the website (and hopefully become a lead).

Below are six different tactics for B2B marketing professionals looking to maximize the ROI of their new website.

Paid Search Campaigns

Even the most well-optimized web design will take some time to get indexed and start ranking in search engines like Google and Bing. While organic SEO is a long-term, consistent strategy, we always recommend that B2B firms launch their website along with a pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaign. Regardless of whether you have a monthly PPC budget of $500 or $5,000, it’s essential to run an AdWords or Bing PPC campaign to drive relevant traffic to your website.

Just getting started with AdWords? Check out a Quick Intro to PPC & AdWords.

Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ad campaigns are designed to optimize your brand’s visibility to potential clients how have already been on your website.

Here’s how retargeting ads work:

  • A potential client visits your website
  • A tracking cookie is placed on their computer
  • The prospect leaves your website
  • As the prospect browses the internet, they are shown ads from your company

The main purpose of retargeting ads is to stay top of mind with potential clients. They have already shown interest in the products or services your company offers. In B2B marketing, retargeting ads ensure that even if your prospect isn’t ready to convert today, your firm is top of mind when they do want to convert in the future.

Social Media Marketing

Professionally designed websites typically include links to a firm’s social media so that potential and current clients can connect and engage with the firm. Social media is also a great way to get your followers to visit your firm’s website. We recommend to our clients that they promote their new website launch on their social media channels. A website launch is an exciting event that your followers will be interested in and is a great way to get clients and prospects to your website.

With all the time and resources you’ve invested in your new web design, it’s also worthwhile to pay to promote your update about your new website on social media. Even a budget of $150 – $300 on Facebook or LinkedIn allows you to choose your ideal audience to expand the reach of your post.

Learn more tips about how to amplify your content on social media.

Email Marketing

Unless you are a brand-new business, your B2B marketing team likely has a list of past, current, and/or potential clients and their email addresses. Another great avenue for promoting your new web design is to send out an announcement via email. The email should have a professional design and clearly match the branding on your new website. In the email, share why you’ve designed a new website and any benefits for your prospects or clients.

We’ve seen quite a few successful email campaigns announcing website launches and always recommend them to our clients. The only warning we have for our clients is to wait at least a few weeks to send the announcement. The reason for this waiting period is to ensure everything is functioning smoothly on the website and to allow time for any post-launch edits or updates to the site that may be necessary.

Find out how to create a newsletter your clients won’t hate.

Press Releases

Press releases have long been in the domain of public relations professionals. However, they are also a great fit for a comprehensive B2B marketing strategy where the goal is to drive traffic to the website, garner exposure for an event or new product/service, and publicize recent news about a company.

Press releases are a fantastic way to announce the roll-out of a new website and any other related newsworthy events or happenings. For example, a great strategy is to announce a new website launch along with a complete rebrand. Explaining why the company went through the rebrand and how the new web design fits into this new brand make for interesting, newsworthy press releases.

Company Events

Big or small events are a great avenue for creating hype around your new website launch and to get your employees, clients, vendors, partners, and prospects interested in the new web design. The promotional event doesn’t need to be a major affair. It can be as simple as brining in breakfast and having a company-wide meeting to announce the new website, explain the new design and website goals, as well as answer any questions about the new website. Or, if you’d like to make it a large affair to celebrate all the work and time spent on the new website, throw a large party where you invite clients, prospects, vendors, and employees. At Bop Design, we launched a new website in2016 and had a big party to celebrate – check out the live videos of the event.

Promote, Promote, Promote

It’s easy to lose steam about a website once it is launched due to the time and effort invested in the process. However, having a promotion strategy in place before the website launches ensures that your firm gets the maximum ROI from your new B2B website.

Looking for more ideas? Check out 5 Things You Must Do Immediately After a Website Launch.

Interested in learning more about how to design your new website or maximize your existing website? Contact us today for a complimentary consultation.


Is Your Website Generating Leads or Duds?

A strong B2B website does a lot of things: builds credibility, acts as the digital face of a brand, communicates a firm’s value propositions, educates potential clients, and engages current clients. It should also be a lead generation tool (often this is the most important role of a website). Whether your website is brand-new or has been around for a couple of years, it’s a good practice to evaluate its lead generation capabilities.

How do you determine if your website is generating leads or duds? We have seven questions you can answer to determine whether your B2B website is doing its job to produce quality leads.

What is the volume of leads?

Let’s start with the volume of leads. How many leads are you getting on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? For many B2B firms, the average size of a client deal is upwards of $25,000 and continues on for years. Due to this higher price tag, many B2B websites are considered successful if they drive 3 – 5 leads a month. However, if the average size of each client deal for your firm is under $1,000, you will likely want closer to 30+ leads a month from the website to hand off to sales.

It’s important to determine a realistic number of leads you want your website to generate each month so you can assess whether adjustments should be made to reach your goal.

Do the leads fall into your target market?

The next question takes a look at who is completing the forms on your website. Are the forms being completed by companies that fall into your target market? Or are the companies too small, too big, in the wrong industry, not in the ballpark for budget? While not every lead submitted is your absolute ideal client, the majority of leads should be companies that fall into your ideal client persona.

Are there enough CTAs?

When a website isn’t generating quality leads or any leads at all, we first take a look at the calls-to-action (CTAs) on the website. Are the CTAs clearly visible? The placement of CTAs on the website should be near the top of the website and should appear regularly throughout the web pages. If the only CTA on your website is a Contact Us page that appears in the sub-navigation, your B2B website is going to need more CTAs added.

Are the CTAs compelling?

Next, it’s important to look at the messaging of the CTAs. Do they compel a visitor to complete the desired action? Do they offer the potential client something they want?

Here are examples of poor CTAs:

  • Please get in touch with our team.
  • Learn about our services.
  • Get pricing.

Here are examples of compelling CTAs:

  • Get your custom quote today.
  • Talk to our solutions experts.
  • Download your free guide.
  • Live chat with our team.

Do the forms require too much information?

After evaluating the CTAs, it’s time to look at the forms themselves. What type of information are they trying to collect? It’s a good idea to review the form and evaluate what information is essential. Name and email are typically the most essential information, although phone number can be essential in certain cases. Eliminate any fields that aren’t valuable for qualifying the lead or that can be gathered later on in the sales cycle.

Also, if you are getting terrible, unqualified leads, the form can be a good place to include qualifiers. For example, if your software firm only works with firms of a certain size (based typically on budget and organization needs), you can include a form field that asks for the size of the firm or the number of people employed by the firm.

Stay away from long forms that require a lot of time to complete or need information that the decision maker may not have at their fingertips – especially if it isn’t essential to the initial lead qualification.

Have you implemented anti-spam tactics?

It’s not unusual for websites to get spam submissions. However, if you feel you are getting a lot of spam or have seen a spike in spam recently, you can roll out anti-spam tools on the form page. CAPTCHA is the best way to block computer generated spam from mixing with your real, quality leads. CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart. While it’s not flawless and you may still get some spam or sales pitches via your forms, it’s still the best way to deter spam submissions.

Do you need another CTA or form to divert non-sales leads?

Are you finding that you are getting a lot of form submissions that are legitimate but aren’t potential clients? For example, we’ve had clients who received a number of job applicants filling out forms that were intended to collect potential client leads. In this case, and in a variety of other cases, it is a good idea to create a CTA and form for job applicants to complete. Doing this is a two-fold win: first, you divert non-sales leads to another form that can be handled by someone outside of sales and marketing, and second, you can test whether the applicant follows directions.

Wrap-up

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of how to evaluate the success of your website’s lead generation, it’s a great start. It’s critical to evaluate your B2B website’s lead generation at regular intervals to ensure you are getting the most out of your website.

Interested in a personalized evaluation of your B2B website? Contact us to today to schedule your evaluation with a lead generation expert.


5 Marketing Resolutions for 2017

It’s a new year, which is an opportunity to refresh, change your perspectives, and make a new start. If you haven’t already drafted your 2017 marketing strategy, look at How to Prepare Your Marketing for 2017. If you haven’t put your B2B marketing strategy in place for the year, there are still several resolutions you can make about the execution of your firm’s strategy.

  1. Look at the Data

It’s a digital age with cookie placement, visitor tracking, engagement metrics, and more. The issue many marketers face is that they are overwhelmed with data coming from every angle and every channel. It’s almost too much data. In 2017, we suggest that marketers resolve to look at the data…the data that matters. What data matters?

This question can have different answers depending on your marketing and sales objectives – but a major metric we consider highly valuable is the number of quality leads. An effective marketing strategy doesn’t just drive a ton of potential customer leads. Rather, an effective B2B strategy drives quality leads from the ideal target market.

This year, resolve not to get lost in the sea of data, but to keep an eye on the important metrics and really LOOK at what they are telling you about your marketing efforts.

  1. Try New Things

We’ve said this before: technology is changing how clients learn about your firm’s services, engage with your firm, and evaluate your services. With the influx of new applications, software, devices, and wearables, it’s important to be open to trying new things, approaches, techniques, and channels. This doesn’t mean jumping on the bandwagon immediately for every new social network, sharing resource, or software tool. It does mean taking a careful look at new technologies and resources and evaluating their fit with your marketing and sales objectives.

Resolve to be open to new channels and technologies this year and set aside time for taking a careful look at how they do (or don’t) apply to your clients, services, and industry. A careful vetting process ensures you can maximize new technologies, while not wasting time on fads or useless tools.

  1. Cut What Doesn’t Work

“We’ve always done that.” This statement should never be the reason that you continue to use a certain channel or specific approach. At Bop Design, we like to try new things, especially tools and channels that have proven to be effective for other marketing agencies. In 2016, we tried several new things and the truth is that only a few things worked (i.e., generated traffic and leads). As a result, we’re filtering out what didn’t work – or we are changing how we handle the implementation of those tools.

In the upcoming 12 months, resolve to cut what has proven to be ineffective. If your quarterly direct mail campaign is no longer generating the rockstar leads it used to, cut it and redirect those resources to other channels that are generating leads.

  1. Be Client-Centric

Many of us are working on complex sales and marketing strategies that have a bunch of moving parts, deadlines, and guidelines for roll-out. Because of this, it can be very easy to forget that the focus should always be the client or prospect. At the center of everything we do should be our clients and prospects. Without them, there won’t be much for us to do.

Over the course of the year, continue to actively evaluate how your B2B marketing efforts are helping your current and potential clients. Before the launch of any major campaign, ask yourself, “Does this provide value for my prospects or clients?”

  1. Track, Measure, Repeat

Consistent tracking and evaluation are essential for gauging the effectiveness of B2B marketing efforts and wisely applying a budget. Even with a hectic schedule, it’s important to take a moment to stop, thoughtfully analyze results, and strategize how to move forward. Even when the metrics look great, you can find helpful insights for your overall marketing strategy.

Make 2017 the year that you set aside time to stop all activities, review your progress, and determine next steps forward.

Need help with your 2017 B2B marketing strategy? Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


A Quick Intro to PPC & AdWords

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If you want to drive more relevant traffic to your website, AdWords is often a quick, effective tactic. It can take years for your website to rank organically for targeted keyword phrases and AdWords allows your company website to rank immediately for search queries.

If you are new to AdWords or to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, you need to be very careful since it’s easy to exhaust an advertising budget quickly.

Here are some PPC best practices as you implement an AdWords campaign and maximize your budget.

  1. Be Highly Targeted with Keyword Matches. When targeting keyword phrases on a small budget, do not use broad match but instead use exact, modified broad and phrase match.

Broad match means that your ads will show up for search queries that are not ideal—Google essentially makes the decision for you on when the ads will show up. With more targeted matches like modified broad, phrase and exact, you can make sure your ads show up for ideal searches.

  1. Stack Your Bids. With modified broad, phrase and exact match, “stack” your bids with the highest bids on ideal keyword phrases. Typically, exact matches are ideal search queries, so bid highest for those matches with modified broad and phrase matches at a lower bid. You want to bid highest for the search queries that match exactly.
  1. Build Out Negative Keywords. If you are targeting modified broad and phrase matching, it’s critical to build out your negative keywords list so that your ads don’t show up for the wrong search queries. Be both proactive and reactive. There are many negative keywords you don’t want that you can proactively add before starting the campaign.

Often, negative keywords like “jobs,” “careers,” etc. don’t make sense unless you are using the campaigns as a recruiting tool. Also, more research based search queries like “how to” or “what is” are typically good to add to a negative keywords list. Always target positive keywords that are buying signals and remove negative keywords that are not.

  1. Pay Attention to Campaign Settings. Set up your campaign so that your ads are showing at optimal times and places. If you are a B2B company, typically you want your ads only showing during business hours or all day Monday through Friday. If you market a high-end, luxury product, utilize demographic targeting to show ads to locations with the top 10% household income. Adjusting the settings ensures that you are spending your ad budget efficiently.

These four PPC best practices make sure the launch of your AdWords campaigns are a success and you can start generating viable sales opportunities from paid search.

Interested in an AdWords consultation for your B2B firm? Contact us today to set up a consultation today.


5 SEO Tips to Drive Traffic to Your Blog

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Great job – you’ve written a blog and are ready to share it with the world. Now all you need to do is cut and paste it into your website’s backend – right? Not so fast! Always, always make sure to optimize your blog before hitting publish.

At Bop Design, we love content marketing. We love working with our clients to produce high-quality articles that their target market finds interesting and informative. However, we also want to make sure their target market can find the blogs, clicks on the blogs, and wants to stick around to see what other types of blogs are on the website.

This is where five simple search engine optimization steps come into the picture. The basic idea behind SEO is to get your high-quality content in front of the right audience AND get them to engage with that content. There is no trickery involved, but there is an element of finesse. Without further ado, here are five SEO tips for your next blog post.

Create an Engaging Title

We aren’t knocking the tried and true titles that start with “How to…” or “What to do…” We think these titles have their place, especially when they engage the audience. Content marketing doesn’t mean you have to be coming up with the most dramatic, creative titles. In fact, it simply means the title should be engaging. If your clients want to know how a particular service works or why they should consider product A over product B – use that in the title!

Put yourself in your prospective client’s shoes. Would you want to click on that article and read more? Or would you scan past it onto something more relevant and engaging?

Include One to Two Keywords/Phrases

Gone are the days of keyword stuffing. A better strategy is to focus on optimizing a blog post or web page for one term. Other relevant keyterms will naturally occur in the text if it is well-written, so don’t worry about including all your keyterms.

Additionally, we still recommend incorporating keyterms or phrases in your titles. However, if the title sounds too contrived with the keyterms, it’s OK to remove them – but you should consider including them in at least a few blog titles. Don’t forget that the search engines still bold keyterms from a search in the results (see the image below).

keyterms

Add a High-Quality Photo

A visual element added to a blog helps to not only break up text on a page, but is also a great way of supporting the thoughts and ideas presented in the blog. Be sure to choose an image that is high-quality and related to the blog topic. Remember that while images don’t show up in search engine results, they do appear with posts on social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Research has found that visuals increase a user’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80% (Source: HubSpot). If you want people to read your blog posts, make sure to include a photo.

Beware of taking images from the internet without permission. Copyrights do apply to images and that includes website usage. Save yourself a future headache or large monetary fine by either purchasing images from sites like iStock or sourcing copyright-free images from sites like Canva.

Link to Relevant Articles or Web Pages

If you’ve had a content marketing strategy for a few months or longer, you likely have a range of blog posts on your website. However, it’s unlikely that a user is going to search through all your blog posts to read relevant articles. Make it easy for them by linking to other relevant blog posts. We typically aim to include at least three links in each blog post, but that number can be higher or lower.

Internal linking is important to SEO for several reasons. It builds a network of similar pages on your website, increases your visitors time on site, and ups the number of pages each visitor views. All of these are positive indicators to search engines that your website is providing useful information for visitors – and increases the likelihood your website will rank in the results pages.

When linking to other articles, always ask yourself if the article is relevant and provides value. Keep in mind that you won’t be linking to articles on the exact same topic, but if someone is interested in how a particular service works, they may also be interested in pricing for that service, what the benefits of the service are, or case studies on that service. Don’t just link to random articles willy nilly, since that won’t provide much value for the reader and they will likely avoid clicking on other links if they think they are spammy.

Draft an Enticing Meta Description

Whether or not you draft a meta description for your blog post, one always appears in search results. Isn’t it better to have control over what that description says?

Earlier, I mentioned that search terms are bolded on the results page. For this very reason, we INSIST on including keyterms in blog meta descriptions. It’s not advice, it’s a best practice. If your article is well-written, it is a snap to write an enticing meta description that engages the searcher and invites them to click on the blog post. Check out the snippet preview of a meta description below.

snippet-preview

This meta description not only includes the keyterm (web design), it’s engaging. It asks a common question that our clients have and then starts to provide an answer. It’s your two-line elevator pitch to get your target audience to click on your blog post. Stay away from sensationalism or bait-and-switch techniques since those will boost your bounce rates and reduce the time on site.

There you have it: five easy SEO tips for your next blog post. Questions about search engine optimization and how it fits into your marketing strategy? Contact us today for a personalized consultation.


How to Prepare Your Marketing for 2017

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It’s already the end of the year. This is often the time of year when marketing managers are running around trying to finalize their budgets and plans for 2017 before the C-suite goes on their holiday vacations. Whether you are a seasoned B2B marketing professional or it’s your first time experiencing the excitement, we have four tips to help.

Show Me the Money

Yes, this tip harkens back to a rom-com starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renee Zellweger. When it comes to preparing for next year, you need to see what has worked this year. Show me where the money came from.

If you’ve implemented Google Analytics tracking on your website and you have a lead management system that tracks where your leads came from, this is a snap. Look at where the majority of leads came from. Now, look at where the quality leads came from. These may not be the same sources.

For example, if you ran LinkedIn ads, AdWords campaigns, and Bing ads – look at the leads generated by all three sources. AdWords may have sent the most leads, but Bing ads may have sent the highest quality leads that converted. Ideally, you are looking for efficient sources of leads.

Summary: Review your metrics, see what worked, and determine what didn’t work.

It’s a Whole New World

Technology, design, sales methods, messaging, audiences, and platforms all change and evolve. Once you know what has worked in the past for your B2B marketing efforts, it’s time to see what else is out there. New social media and video sharing platforms seem to launch almost every day. Are you using the most current platforms to reach your audience?

Now, please note that we are not telling you to go and try every new platform, approach, or technology out there. Rather, it’s a good time of the year to see what is new and what you could integrate into your B2B marketing strategy.

For example, if you are buying a lot of ad space through specific publications like Forbes or Entrepreneur, is it time to consider a programmatic advertising platform? Or, if you have a specific list of target accounts your sales team is working on, does an account-based marketing campaign make sense to supplement their efforts? If your sales efforts have focused primarily on direct mail and brochures, is it time to revamp your website and incorporate a digital newsletter?

Summary: See what’s new and if it is relevant.

Stop, Collaborate & Listen.

The end-of-year rush to put together a budget and strategy for next year’s marketing efforts doesn’t sound like the best time to slow down and listen, but it is. As a marketer, you are more likely to get support from sales, customer service, and delivery if you involve them in the overall process. As such, we recommend taking a quick breather from your planning to get input from other departments in your organization.

This does not need to be a day-long retreat where everyone does trust falls. Rather, it should be a one to two-hour meeting that involves key people (not necessarily department heads) from each department to provide input on what clients like, don’t like, and would find useful. These sessions are particularly helpful for creating an editorial calendar for blogging. However, in terms of an overall B2B marketing strategy, this meeting can help you discover where there may be holes in the marketing strategy or to simply get buy-in that the strategy works. We’ve always found at least one, typically good, surprise in these types of meetings.

Summary: Get input from each department.

Put a Plan in Place

Strategic planning for marketing can seem like an overwhelming bear of a task. However, like any strategy, the trick is to break it up into larger goals and then work backward from there. Armed with all the data from the previous three steps, you can determine your main goals for your strategies. From there, break down what campaigns will be used to accomplish those goals and what channels to target within each campaign. We find it’s helpful to have a marketing strategy and budget that focuses on monthly campaigns and includes an editorial calendar for content.

Summary: Write up a strategy and identify specific goals you hope to achieve.

What do you find to be your biggest challenge for marketing in 2017?


What Clients Want to See in Your Web Design

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A website is a great 24/7 sales tool. It’s a fantastic marketing means to generate leads, establish credibility, increase brand recognition, and build thought leadership – even after hours or when the salespeople are out.

To maximize the ROI of a B2B website, it’s important to consider what potential clients want to see in your website. If the website doesn’t consider the needs and wants of the target audience, it won’t accomplish the four things listed above.

How do you determine what clients want to see in your web design? The answer will be unique to your target marketing and industry, but we’ve laid out five typical things potential clients want to see to help you answer that question.

The Value of Your Services/Products

Don’t just list your services or products (although you should make it clear WHAT you offer). Think about the value of your services or products, particularly from you client’s viewpoint. Are you saving them time or money, streamlining their process, ensuring they are compliant, or filling some other need?

Once you determine the value of your products or services, be sure that you boil it down to a brief statement – about four to five words. Make sure this statement is clearly visible on your B2B website, since it will be one of the main things that will interest and attract potential clients. It’s also an essential element for differentiating your firm from all the competitors in your space.

Do you know what 5 Things A B2B Website Must Have?

Credibility + Trust Elements

A prospect won’t become a client unless they trust you and find your firm to be credible. Your website is the perfect place to start to build the credibility that will lead a prospect down the sales funnel.

Consider what matters to your industry.

  • Is it certifications from respected institutions, including degrees?
  • Is it government review and approval?
  • Is it some other type of third party validation, like publication in a well-known magazine?
  • Other great forms of credibility are awards for your products or services.

Carefully evaluate the types of trust elements your B2B firm has earned over the years. Determine which are the most appealing and convincing to your prospect. Keep in mind that your idea of most valuable may not be the most valuable to your target market.

Examples of Your Products/Services

Earlier, we mentioned ensuring your products or services are clearly listed on your B2B website. Part of this should include examples of the products or services you offer. There are a variety of ways you can showcase these examples. For example, Bop Design has a portfolio of our B2B web design work. If you have a service offering that doesn’t lend to a portfolio, create case studies about your service in action and the results of that service. Firms that sell products can share pictures of the product in use or even show videos of how to use the product.

Consumers today like to spend some time getting to know a product or service before they ever speak to a salesperson. Make it easy for a potential client to get to know your products or services in more detail before they reach out to you.

Contact Information

It’s important that your logo and name are featured on your website, but we make the case that it’s almost more important to have your contact information in a prominent place or places on your website. As an example, the Bop Design website has our phone number clearly listed at the top of the website, as well as a Contact button on the side of our web pages. Both are “sticky” which means they stay in the same spot when a user scrolls – always visible and easy to click on.

Avoid these 4 Simple Mistakes in Web Design.

Web design can be cool and interesting and lovely, but it must be functional. Always make sure that contact information – whether it’s a phone number or an address or an email – is highly visible on your B2B website. Don’t make potential clients hunt for it.

What Makes You Special

Potential clients searching for your products or services online want to know what makes your firm special. Why should they work with you rather than your competitor? Your B2B website is the perfect platform for clearly stating what makes your firm special. This isn’t going to be one element, rather, it’s going to be reinforced by multiple elements on your website – the images you use, the videos you host, your company history, your blog and your content offers. All these elements work together to spell out what makes your firm unique and the best firm to partner with.

Ready to get started on your B2B web design? Check out these 7 Best Practices of Web Design launching your project.

Interested in seeing what Bop Design can do for your firm? Contact us today for a complimentary website evaluation.


How to Amplify Your Content Using Social Media

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There is a trend in the marketing world to push out as much content as possible, based on the assumption that more content gets better results. However, this assumption is not necessarily true.

At Bop Design, rather than encouraging our clients to produce as many content marketing pieces as possible, we instead focus on producing high-quality, valuable blogs, articles, white papers, case studies, ebooks, guides, and infographics. While content creation must be consistent and on-going, it must also focus on producing high-quality pieces.

The upside to focusing on quality rather than quantity is that you’ll have more time to spend on creating content, fine-tuning it, and promoting it. One of the best ways to amplify your B2B content marketing efforts is via social media. Let me explain.

Share Content on Social Media

Once you have published a blog post, article or other content piece, it’s important to share it on social media. We typically recommend sharing the content on all your social media outlets to maximize exposure and be sure you are getting your content in front of as many of your followers (and their networks) as possible.

Make sure the caption for the content is enticing and compels readers to click to view more. Additionally, optimize the content on the website you are sharing it from so that it displays properly.

Post Multiple Times

When it comes to content marketing, posting a content piece to your social media sites multiple times is a great way to expand the audience it reaches. The posts should be spread out over a week or weeks and posted at various times. Remember that not everyone is on social media all day long. Posting content several times helps you reach as many people as possible.

Hashtags Make It Searchable

Hashtags are wildly popular on all types of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now LinkedIn. In addition to being a tool used to add commentary to posts, hashtags are a way to classify posts and make them part of the larger online conversation.

Did you know that hashtags make a post searchable? For example, if a financial firm includes the hashtag #TaxTips on their blog post about preparing taxes, a user who clicks on the hashtag will be able to see other posts on that social media network with the same hashtag. This is a great way to reach users who aren’t followers of your brand but are interested in the topics covered in your content marketing pieces.

We recommend checking a hashtag before using it to make sure it doesn’t have multiple meanings or refers to anything that would reflect poorly on your brand.

Pay to Promote

Organic reach for social media posts is declining at a rapid rate, mostly caused by the overwhelming amount of content being shared on social media. Because of this, even your  social media followers who want to read your content may not see it in their newsfeeds. The best way to supplement organic reach on social media? Paid reach.

Paying to sponsor content marketing posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn is a guaranteed way to get your content in front of your followers and target audience. We recommend running even a small sponsorship for all blog posts and premium content pieces to amplify that content and get it in front of the right people.

Have questions about using social media to boost your content marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments below.


A Simple Guide to a Content Strategy That Rocks

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Creating and executing a content marketing strategy is easy. You just start blogging, right?. Simple.

Not so fast. We can all agree that B2B content marketing is not rocket science, but it’s definitely not easy. Successful content marketing does require a clear, defined strategy in order to be effective.

We’ve created a simple 11-step guide to create a content strategy that rocks (and generates leads). Check out the quick-start steps below.

  1. Define Your Goals

You don’t know how to get there if you aren’t sure where you are going. What is the purpose of your content strategy? Do you want to generate leads, build brand recognition, attract investors, sell more widgets, or entice top talent to your firm?

Before you start clacking away on the keyboard on your first blog or social media post, set clear goals for your content strategy. If you have a clearly defined general marketing strategy, pull from that to see where content will fit in. Goals will also help with evaluating your efforts and the success of your strategy down the road.

  1. Allocate Resources and Budget

What are you working with? Do you have IBM’s budget and resources? Probably not. Have a frank discussion with your team or boss to determine what resources you will have access to and what type of yearly or monthly budget you are working with for your content marketing strategy.

Ask questions such as: Who will write these blogs? Who will post the blogs? Will I have access to a designer on a weekly basis? How many hours do I get from the designer? How much money do I have to create (hire a writer) and promote the content (via social media ads, native ads, account-based advertising)?

  1. Determine Capabilities

Once you know what resources and budget you have available, decide what you can and cannot do. Hiring a full-time writer is expensive. If you don’t have the budget for a full-time copywriter, decide if you can work with a freelance writer. If you don’t even have the budget for that, choose who will be writing content internally. Which subject matter experts do you have access to who are willing to write a blog, article, white paper, case study, etc.?

Also, based on your human resources and the size of your team, select what’s feasible to include in your strategy. If you only get five hours of a designer’s time each month, you can’t create a case study, an ebook, two blogs, and an infographic each month. Set realistic expectations for what can be achieved with your resources.

  1. Who Is Your Ideal Client?

You may need to talk to customer support and sales to answer this question. While you may work with large and small firms, maybe medium-sized businesses are the ideal match for your firm. If you don’t already have an ideal client profile created, make one.

For example, a software firm may define their ideal client as an experienced CTO at a mid-sized communications firm who only has a staff of three and isn’t able to manage the ongoing support needed for the software. Visualize who you are creating content for and any defining characteristics about them.

  1. What Are Your Client’s Pain Points?

Now that you know who your ideal client is and their general characteristics, define their pain points. Are they super busy? Are they under stress to find the right vendor-partner? Do they want to know how everything works? Do they need a solution that integrates easily? Are they worried about fines for non-compliance? Have they been burned by incomplete solutions in the past?

We recommend starting with two or three main pain points to focus on – anything over four starts to get convoluted. Your objective is to determine the most important and relevant pain points that your brand can address. If your solution isn’t the cheapest on the market, don’t focus on a pain point about cost concerns, because that is not your ideal client.

  1. Write Out Your Value Proposition

What do you offer to clients that is valuable to them? That is your value proposition. It’s often what distinguishes you from your competition as well. Write this down so it is clear and can be shared with any members of your content marketing team.

  1. Be a Thought Leader, Not a Follower

You are an expert on your product or service and your industry. Your content strategy should reflect that. It should also position you as the go-to source for your current clients and for potential clients. Your content should always be unique and should never be a regurgitation of what everyone else is saying. Always keep this in mind as you draft up your strategy.

Determine what subjects you want to be a thought leader on. Process implementation? How-tos? Research? Innovation?

  1. Outline Your Content Strategy

You’ve put in all the foundational work, now it’s time for your content strategy to take shape. Start with a rough outline of your content strategy. It can be as simple as pulling up a Word or Excel document and listing the types of content you want to create, along with a general monthly schedule.

Begin with a high-level overview and get more granular later on. This will help you to stay focused initially and not lose sight of your goals, ideal client’s pain points, and purpose.

  1. Create a List of Topics

After your rough strategy is created and slightly refined, write down a list of topic ideas. We suggest brainstorming with a representative from each department that has contact with your clients. This may include sales, client onboarding, account management, and fulfillment. You can either have an hour meeting with them all where you write down all the topics that come to mind or you can ask each representative to send you a list of frequently asked questions or topic ideas. Whatever works best for your firm’s culture.

  1. Build an Editorial Calendar

Once you are armed with about 40 – 50 topics, you can start an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar can be monthly, weekly, daily, or whatever timeline makes sense for your content marketing strategy. We typically work on a monthly basis for topics for our clients.

Take the topics that you culled from your internal team and group them by themes. Arrange your calendar around those themes and decide what will work best for a short blog, a longer article, a detailed white paper, or a straightforward ebook.

  1. Go!

Ready, steady, go! Launch your B2B content marketing strategy and start crafting that awesome content your clients love, your internal team uses, and your prospects want to download!

If you think your firm is failing at content marketing, see what you can do to turn your content marketing around.


Is Your Firm Failing at Content Marketing?

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It happens. You look at your Google Analytics traffic and the traffic to your blog is sad. No one is downloading your white papers and ebooks. You can’t get anyone to publish your guest blog articles. Your social media posts just sit and want for engagement and likes. No one in your company has the time or bandwidth to write a meaningful blog post. You feel like this whole content marketing thing is a hoax.

Don’t give up on content marketing just yet. If you feel like your firm is failing at B2B content marketing, there are several things you can do to turn it around.

Evaluate Your Strategy

Take a good look at your marketing strategy and your content plan. Wait, you don’t have a strategy? Check out Why Bother with a Content Marketing Plan before you go any further. If you have a strategy in place, look it over again. Is it too ambitious? Does it need more structure?

You can easily revamp your strategy by asking for input internally, especially from sales and customer service. Both sales and customer service work with prospects and clients on a daily basis and will have great input regarding common questions, typical objections, and what content would help close deals or educate clients. Also, make sure that your strategy has the resources and support to be properly executed.

Look at Your Competition

Check out what your competitors are doing with content marketing. In many cases, you may get some ideas from what they are (and aren’t) doing. We do not suggest copying anything that your competition is doing, but if they have a particular blog or white paper that has a lot of comments, questions, or likes – take that as a cue that your audience is interested in that particular topic.

Looking at your competitor’s B2B content marketing tactics can also help you to articulate what makes you different and what you should include in your content. For example, if they spend a lot of time discussing pricing and budget, focus on your value proposition of real-time customer service and long-term partnerships.

Get Help & Internal Buy-In

You can’t do this alone and you shouldn’t. Effective B2B content marketing typically takes a group effort to be effective. As a marketing professional, you know your product or services, but your engineers or support team may be better able to discuss how it works and/or solves a problem. Tap into internal resources, even if it’s an interview, to get the educational information you need to write a great blog post, ebook, or case study.

Internal support is essential to prioritizing content marketing. If your internal team doesn’t really believe in the effectiveness of B2B marketing, it will be difficult to get external interest. Share these B2B marketing statistics with the key influencers in your organization to get everyone on board with your content marketing strategy.

Pay to Promote Your Content

One of the main failures of content marketing is a lack of promotion. Social media is getting to be a “pay to play” space, meaning you’ll need to allocate part of your budget to promoting your blog posts, ebooks, guides, and case studies. The good news is that on many platforms – like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – once you pay to promote your post, the organic exposure goes up as well!

Many marketers create great content and then fail at putting that awesome content in front of their target market. Paying to promote your content marketing pieces is a surefire way to make sure your ideal prospect or client is seeing the valuable information you are sharing.

Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

We are quickly reaching a point of saturation with B2B content marketing. More and more firms are creating content and pushing it out on the internet. You don’t need to create more content to compete, you need to create better content. Make sure every piece of content you create is well written, offers new information, and has valuable insights for your target audience. Take the time to create irresistible content. Lastly, make sure it isn’t overly promotional. No one wants to read a 500-word advertisement.

Remember: content marketing is a long-term strategy, not a quick win. Invest the time, resources, and thought into creating a B2B marketing strategy that positions your firm as a thought leader and entices prospects to engage with your content.

What’s your biggest content challenge? Let us know in the comments.


5 Tips to Improve Your Website

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Your website is typically the central hub of a marketing strategy—it’s the place where you direct all traffic and is a resource for potential clients and your sales team. If your website is managed optimally, it can also be a great source for lead generation.

If you are considering launching a brand new B2B website design, read Does Your Website Stink? first. If you have recently updated your web design and are merely looking for how to improve upon your current website, check out these 5 Tips for Improving your B2B website.

  1. Add Fresh Content

Fresh content is essential to expanding your website content, sharing current information with visitors, and driving new traffic to your website. Google rewards websites that continually add fresh content (think SEO), so it’s important that your B2B website has a continuous stream of new, fresh content added to it.

Blogging is the best way to add fresh content to your website. It’s a great way to share current information on industry trends and helpful insight for your target audience. Another way to add fresh content is to create new website pages. This is particularly relevant if you are rolling out a new service or product.

  1. Use High-Quality Images

High-quality images do not mean giant, expensive photos. In fact, you will need to make sure the images you use are appropriate for web and aren’t slowing down the load time of your B2B website.

Ideally, your firm will have a library of custom images that showcase your products or services. However, for service-based industries, this can be difficult. The good news is that stock photography has evolved and photographers are tailoring image composition for use in web design. Images on a page or a blog are a great way to break up the text and communicate more about the content of the page or article.

  1. Give Away Information (But Collect Leads)

A B2B website should be a living, breathing resource center. This means it should host a good amount of information in various formats to attract, educate, and capture potential leads. Once your website is up and running, it’s important to create a library of information that is easy to download. This includes informational pieces like cases studies, white papers, ebooks, research, client testimonials, how-tos, FAQs, product guides, etc.

The best way to collect leads on your website is to trade a piece of content for an email address and name, which is referred to as “gating” content. However, not every piece of content should be gated. Typically, content geared toward potential leads at the top of the funnel should be ungated since your B2B firm is educating the lead and inviting them to get to know your firm while also establishing your authority in the field.

Content that is farther down the funnel, like case studies, should be gated as the prospect is closer to the consideration and decision phase of the sales funnel. At this point, the prospect is more willing to trade their email for the piece of content since they are ready to get the conversation started with your team.

  1. Tell Visitors What to Do

Calls-to-action are critical elements of a web design as they help a visitor navigate the site and help to tell your brand story. A successful B2B website will have a variety of different CTAs across the website depending on the web page, the action desired, and the part of the story.

When visitors land on your B2B website’s homepage, they may not know who you are or what products/services you have to offer. Great CTAs invite them to Learn More, View Our Portfolio, or Visit Our Blog. These CTAs act as directions to guide potential leads to the next step in your brand story (and keep them engaged). Check over the CTAs on your current website and make sure they match the potential client’s journey.

  1. Make It Easy

Ask yourself: Is our phone number on our homepage and every page? Is it at the top and the bottom of the page? Can visitors easily find how to contact us in one click? If the answer is no to any of these questions, it’s time to add more contact points to your website. You want it to be super easy to get in touch with your firm.

Do you have any questions about how to improve your B2B web design? Are you considering a new web design? Check out these stats first.


How to Shop for a New Website

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The time has come. You have finally been able to convince the executive team that your B2B firm’s existing website isn’t delivering any value (and may actually be hurting your brand’s image).

If you haven’t gotten to this point yet, stop and read What Your B2B Web Design Says About Your Firm.

Time to shop around for a new website! So, where should you start?

What Is Your Website’s Goal?

Your B2B website can have a variety of different functions and serve your firm in various ways, including as a lead generation machine, a credibility piece, a resource center, an online brochure, a customer service tool, etc.

Before you start building a new website, you need to know what you expect it to do for you. Determine the main function of the website and how it can add value or support your sales and marketing goals. The only thing to keep in mind is that the more you expect from your website, the larger it will become (and often the more expensive it will be to create/manage/maintain).

Not sure what your website needs? Here are 5 Important Questions to Ask Before Starting Your B2B Web Design Project.

Determine Must-Haves Vs. Would-Likes

Once you have established the goal(s) of your website, determine what you absolutely must have in the B2B web design, what you would like it to have, and what you do NOT want it to have/be. This doesn’t need to be a long, extensive list but it should be a clear list that takes into account all the stakeholders in your firm.

The best way to create this list is to have a quick internal meeting with all the necessary stakeholders (this does not mean everyone). Invite a knowledgeable representative from each department and let them know they are responsible for gathering information from their own team before the meeting. This pre-meeting work and a select group of attendees will make determining website requirements efficient and effective.

Figure Out a Budget Range

A web design budget may or may not be something you and your team control. If you control your budget and a new b2B web design is your priority, you can determine what type of website you can build. However, it’s more common that the budget is already set and you are simply given a maximum from finance.

It’s essential to know what your budget range is before you start reaching out to web design partners since it will determine if you can work with a freelance designer, need to do the work in-house, or can hire a professional web design agency.

Interested in creating your own website? Check out Why Can’t I Design My Own Website? first to see what you are getting yourself into.

Know Your CMS Needs

Choosing a content management system (CMS) can be a big decision to make, although many firms never even make this decision. Many firms leave it up to their developer to choose the CMS for them and just deal with the outcome. Unless the developer is going to me managing the website, implementing all B2B web design changes, and keeping the website updated – the decision should be made by you and your team.

At Bop Design, we only work with WordPress as a CMS. Why? Because, as one of the most popular CMSs out there, it has the largest support community, availability of plugins, and is the most user-friendly for updating. A quick tutorial is often all that anyone needs to start updating their WordPress website.

Read our WordPress Web Design FAQ to learn more.

Find, Meet, Greet, Listen

Now that you know what you need, it’s time to see what your options are for building your B2B website. It’s always a good idea to reach out to a handful of designers and agencies to see what they have to offer. Interview a shortlist of potential web design agencies, meet them in person if possible, and listen to what they have to say. Make sure every offer is tailored to the needs of your firm and will fit with all your requirements.

Download your free copy of The B2B Website Buyer’s Guide to begin your search.

Partner with the Right B2B Web Design Agency

The benefit of partnering with the right B2B web design agency is that the project will run smoother and the end result will fulfill all your needs. So what makes a web design company the right fit?

Here are few things to look for in agencies you are interviewing:

  • Culture Fit
  • Experience & Portfolio
  • Proper Resources
  • Budget
  • Responsiveness
  • Availability

Read our blog on What Makes a Web Design Company the Right Fit? to learn more.

Shopping for a new website should not be a grueling process, but it is important to be thorough. A little bit of work when shopping will save you and your team headaches later on in the B2B web design process.


Do’s and Don’ts of Online Reputation Management

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Many people have a negative view of online reputation management and with good reason. It’s fairly common for B2B marketing firms to place online reputation management way down on the list of priorities. That is until they get a bad review and it suddenly becomes an emergency situation and they are getting angry calls from the executives.

It’s more common than not. You are going about your business managing your B2B marketing strategy when a salesperson or executive pops by your desk with a panicked look telling you your firm has a terrible review on Yelp/Google/Facebook. Yikes!

Rather than waiting for this scenario to happen to you, we’ve got a few ideas about how to proactively manage your firm’s online reputation.

Do Claim Your Yelp and Google Business

Start by actively claiming your online profiles on various review sites such as Yelp (yes, even for B2B firms), Google Business, Facebook, etc. Whether you create these pages or not, they may already exist.

After you claim your business pages on these platforms, make sure the email associated with the alerts is checked regularly. Avoid using an “[email protected]” email address. Instead, use your email address or the address of the Marketing Director. This way any new reviews can be addressed quickly, efficiently, and before it causes internal panic.

Next, optimize your business profile on these platforms. Add high-quality images, company descriptions, contact information, videos, and a link back to your website.

Don’t Ignore Social Media

Your B2B firm’s online reputation isn’t solely based on reviews. It’s also based on comments, reactions, and shares of your content on social media. For example, if your B2B marketing includes posting to social media (which it should), a comment on a post that says something negative about your company affects your reputation. The same goes with blog comments.

In a recent presentation called “Hug Your Haters,” the online customer service expert Jay Baer shared statistics about what he calls the “Hatrix” (or who complains about your firm and why). According to a study he cited about complaints, 62% are considered “Offstage Haters” and 38% are “On-Stage Haters.” Off-stage haters typically complain to/about a company directly via email or phone. They want an answer and a resolution. However, on-stage haters complain about a company on social media and forums. These haters are looking for an audience and not really interested in an answer or a solution.

Online customer service has become more of a spectator sport over the past few years, so it’s important than your B2B firm isn’t ignoring social media and allowing a spectacle to take place. It’s also important to address both types of haters and to understand what is motivating them.

Do Respond Professionally

When responding to online reviews and comments, both positive and negative, always be professional. This does not mean your response should be a canned, generic response approved by legal. It does mean that every response should be personally tailored to the client and represent your B2B brand in the best light possible.

Online reputation management for B2B firms is an extension of your customer service department or values. Every interaction online is a chance to demonstrate your firm’s commitment to providing honest, thoughtful, caring service to each individual client. Keep this in mind when responding to anything online on behalf of your firm.

Don’t Get Rattled by Bad Reviews

Don’t let bad reviews cause panic or stress. Why? Bad reviews, even erroneous ones, can be great for business for several reasons:

  • They tell you what clients think of your products or services
  • They provide input for product/process improvements
  • They are an opportunity to showcase your customer service
  • They make good reviews credible

Bad reviews are a great way to hear what your clients honestly think of your products or services. They provide candid, honest feedback and can be used to improve what you have to offer. Reviews, good and bad, are also a great way to demonstrate how awesome your customer service is to potential clients. Lastly, they add credibility to all the good reviews you have – yes, it’s true. Think about it: if a company has 400 5 star reviews and not one bad review – do you trust that they are all genuine reviews? Probably not. However, if a company has 300 5 star reviews, 50 4 star reviews, and 10 – 15 2 star reviews – potential clients can see what the bad reviews say and compare them to the good reviews (hence building trust).

If you look at all the benefits that bad review offer (provided there is a balance of good and bad reviews), it makes managing and responding to them a less stressful affair.

Do Ask for Reviews

A B2B marketing strategy should include proactive online reputation management. Your sales and marketing team should be asking satisfied clients to leave reviews online. Make it easy by sending them the links to several platforms (like your Yelp, your Google Business page, or your Facebook page) and ask them to leave a review. Many clients, particularly in the B2B space are happy to leave a positive review if they are happy with your partnership.

Each request for a review should be personalized. Don’t send out a mass email asking for reviews as this will likely cause a spike in good and bad reviews and the review platforms will mark many of them as spam or won’t trust them. It’s better to have a steady stream of reviews over time, not all at once.

Don’t Pay for Reviews

We can’t stress this enough. Don’t pay for reviews, ever. Not only is this practice disingenuous, the reviews often look spammy or fake. This isn’t the type of impression you want to make on potential clients. Ideally, your firm should be personally asking for online reviews from happy clients and allow unsatisfied clients to provide feedback directly to your team (not via an online review platform).

We get asked a lot about online reputation firms. There are a handful of good ones out there that will simply provide the tools to effectively manage your reviews and increase the number of reviews you have from legitimate clients. However, there are a ton of shady reputation management firms out there that aren’t following best practices and their efforts could hurt your firm’s reputation in the long run. It’s important to carefully vet an online reputation management firm or tool to ensure it is following best practices so it adds value rather than hurts your firm’s brand.

Have other questions about reputation management? Let us know in the comments.


3 Social Media Tips for B2B Firms

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Social Media Day was a national event celebrated on June 30th, 2016. The event was started in 2010 by Mashable as a way to recognize the impact of social media on marketing and communications.

At Bop Design, we celebrated by attending Social Media Day in San Diego – a one-day conference to discuss all things social media, including tips from experts, industry trends, and effective strategies for incorporating social media into a marketing plan.

We’ve whittled down all the information gathered at Social Media Day and condensed it into 3 social media tips for B2B marketing professionals.

1. Keep an Active Presence on Social Media

This may seem like a no-brainer for B2C firms speaking directly to personal consumers, but it’s often tougher to get support for creating an active social presence for firms in B2B industries. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube continue to be excellent sources for promoting B2B marketing content and connecting with followers, potential clients, and existing customers.

It’s important to not only build a professional presence on select social media channels but to keep an active presence with continuous posts, responses, and updates. For B2B marketing purposes, it’s a good idea to have a presence on LinkedIn at the very minimum. In addition to LinkedIn, choose 1 – 2 other relevant networks to maintain an active presence. Don’t immediately branch out into all social platforms since that will be tougher to maintain an active presence on.

Once you have established your presence, keep it active by sharing relevant posts from industry publications, your supplies, and content that you create.

2. Start Running Paid Ads

Organic reach for businesses on social media is starting to approach 0%. In fact, during Social Media Day, Mike Stelzner of Social Media Examiner stated that Facebook organic reach for businesses is essentially over. The solution is to supplement organic posts with paid advertisements on social media networks.

This is good news for B2B marketing as social media ads can be highly targeted (down to income level and job title on some networks) and currently are affordable, even for smaller businesses.

There are two types of advertisements for B2B firms on social media: sponsored updates and ads.

Sponsored updates, also called promoted posts, enable businesses to boost the reach of content already published on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. In the example below, to pay to boost the reach of the blog, one would simply need to click on the “Boost Post” button and enter the information for your target audience, budget, and timeframe.

Boost Post

Sponsored updates are a great place to start with advertising on social media.

The second option is to create an ad that you can customize the text, landing page, and imagery associated with it. Many social networks have advanced advertising platforms, including LinkedIn. Below is an example of ads that can be created on LinkedIn to target a specific audience.

LinkedIn Ads

When you get started with creating new ads, make sure they look professional, consistent with your B2B marketing efforts, and always A/B test. What you think will work may or may not.

3. Look Into Live Video

Live, streaming video is all the rage and it’s not going away. Live video has reached a strong level of adoption for consumers (think Snapchat, Facebook Live, Periscope, etc.). There are definitely applications for B2B marketing strategies as well. Did you know that Facebook prioritizes live video over anything else in the newsfeed? This means that even if your page followers don’t see your regular posts, they will see your Facebook Live videos in their feeds.

There are rumors that YouTube is also going to get started with YouTube live as well. Whatever platform works best for your firm, it’s time to start thinking about a video strategy.

At Bop Design, we started experimenting with live video via Facebook Live. We recently had a new website launch for our agency but weren’t able to invite everyone to our San Diego headquarters. We didn’t want anyone to miss out so we live streamed the event.

Bop Design Video

You can see from the views that people did watch the event live (a modest amount – we know!) and have watched the saved recordings as well. An exciting event like a launch party or an announcement is a great idea for getting started with video.

Conclusion

There you have it – 3 new social media tips for marketing your B2B business. Have questions about anything we covered? Let us know in the comments below.


4 Tips to Build a Brand Your Clients Love

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Think about the brands you love. Why do you love them? What about them makes you follow them or remain loyal?

When it comes to your B2B brand, it’s important to remember that it’s not simply a mission statement written on a website or company policy book. Rather, your brand is the living, breathing essence behind your firm’s products or services.

What does it take to build a brand your clients love?

Be Authentic

The first step is to be authentic. Be who you are, not who your competitor is. IBM never tries to be like HP. Microsoft never tries to be like Apple. Your B2B branding should reflect who you truly are and there is a good reason for this. You can’t be everything to everyone.

Offer Value

Anyone can build a brand, but it takes effort and perseverance to create a B2B brand that clients love. The main thing you can do to create a brand that clients love is to offer value to them. What matters most to your ideal clients? What problem are you solving with your products or services?

For many B2B firms, they simply need to complete this sentence:

Our company was founded to ________ (fill in the blank).

Relate to Your Audience

In order for your brand to be loved, your B2B marketing and branding must be relatable. Clients must feel like they connect with your brand. The best way to accomplish this is to really understand who your audience is and perform research on what they want and don’t want.

The biggest issue we see with this is that B2B firms make assumptions about their clients. Ask your audience what they like and don’t like about your products or services. What you discover may surprise you.

Get Feedback on Your Brand Promise

You know what your brand promise is, but do your clients and prospects?

We advise against relying solely on your sales team. Rather than rely on anecdotal evidence (which is often proven wrong), rely on statistics and direct feedback from clients. Perform research using survey tools like Survey Monkey.

Surveys are a great way to find what clients understand about your brand, what they like, what they don’t like, and what they might have missed. All this input is great to re-evaluate your B2B brand and craft a brand that your clients love.

What’s your secret to building a brand clients love?