Infographics are taking over the earth! At least it seems that way. There has been an explosion of infographics on the web — in both B2C and B2B — literally illustrating that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. But before we get into what makes a good one, let's define what an infographic is and why they have reached the tipping point.
Infographics are graphical representations of content that would alternatively require a lot of words or that would be difficult to glean without previous knowledge of the subject. So, it is essentially visual shorthand for weaving a qualitative story, often from quantitative content.
The facility for rendering complex data in simpler terms is a coveted skill. The way in which people absorb content on the web these days is like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower. Attention spans are short and getting shorter as is time to focus and reflect. If content creators can distill complex narratives into compelling, easy-to-comprehend visuals, visitors to their websites are more likely to engage with them.
The key ingredients of a good infographic are:
- A cohesive and coherent story line
- A series of concise, clearly worded headlines from which one can "get the gist"
- Simple storytelling graphic style, Icons can work very well
- Simple, clean font style, avoid lots of flourishes
- Not trying to do "too much"
- Test out the graphic among lay people before releasing to a wider audience
Here are a few infographics I've come upon lately, which do a particularly good job making a lot of content easy to digest.
Not surprisingly, HubSpot has created and compiled a top ten collection of cool infographics related to the field of marketing. Each represents a different concept and is rendered in a different visual format. The configuration of text, graphics, fonts, icons and colors is chosen specifically to solve the visual problem. The great thing about Infographics is that they grow organically from the data so developing one is a unique creative experience yielding a unique result. Because of their custom nature, most infographics are not template based, although I've seen a few starter infographic toolkits mostly directed toward non-designers. These may be helpful for people not comfortable visualizing, but tend to yield more cookie cutter solutions.
This Fast Company interactive infographics depicts the multiple ways a business can rank its profits, such as by project, by state, by customer and so forth. This one is actually a collection of single infographics representing one view of company profits at a time, which can be accessed by simply clicking an arrow.
For sports fans, this infographic provides 10 years of data on whether spring training improves batting averages.
You can see that whatever the quantitative problem, there is a unique and compelling way to simplify and visualize it in an infographic. Have you seen any cool infographics lateley? Please share.
It’s a well-worn fact that B2C marketers set the trends that B2B businesses subsequently adopt. Between them there are usually several years of lag time. The case for B2B companies to adopt mobile marketing practices and a mobile-friendly web presence warrants an acceleration of that schedule in direct correlation to the speed at which mobility is reshaping the world. Here are some compelling arguments pointing towards the value of mobile to B2B businesses.
Don’t let the Trend Pass You By
Gartnerpredicts that by 2014, there will be a 90% mobile penetration rate and 6.5 billion mobile connections. Think about it, that’s about the number of people in the entire world! They go on to say that in 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. If that alone is not reason to maximize one’s mobile presence, here are some other things to consider.
Protecting and Enhancing Your Brand
“Many companies are still behind and are not optimizing the web experience for mobile, which is incredibly damaging for their brands," said Steve Woods, CTO of Eloqua in an article titled,
"There have been countless studies that show a consumer will abandon a website in less than five seconds if the experience is unsatisfactory,” said Woods. “Now that we know potential buyers are reading our emails and visiting our websites from their mobile devices, marketers need to make the appropriate adjustments.”
Take a look at your website on a smartphone. Is it hard to navigate, slow performing or requiring a lot of pinch and zoom just to get from one page to the next? Now imagine your customers, prospects and prospective employees experiencing this. Does the experience support your brand image as a tech-savvy, customer-focused organization?
Business executives search using their mobile phones seven times a day, much of which is for business, according to a Forbes survey.At RainCastle, we have noticed the beginning of a “hockey stick” increase of mobile users accessing our website and as a result are currently redesigning our own site using “Responsive Design” to make the mobile experience as easy and compelling as the desktop. Our clients who follow their website analytics are experiencing the same trend.
Rethink Your Content
When your B2B audiences are working remotely they are seeking information that is easy-to-access and fits on their phones or tablets, whether it is text, imagery or video. As a B2B, you now need to make sure that relevant content is manageable and accessible not only on the desktop, but on mobile devices as well.
Respond Quickly to The New Normal for User Behavior
In the new normal, customers’ patience has plummeted while expectations for speed, accessibility and personalization of content have skyrocketed. When was the last time you had a meeting with a business executive who wasn't checking their mobile device multiple times? Whether or not that offends you, can you afford not to be reaching these people through their chosen medium?
Establishing The Personalized User Experience
Mobile devices present a more personal, one to one medium than marketers have ever had. People wear them, carry them and keep them next to their beds at night. Why wouldn’t you want to create a relationship through a medium that provides that kind of access? Mobility is changing us, driving new habits, altering the way we live, connect and market.
So, don’t miss the (mobile) boat lest you want to live the “Life of Pi,” trying to tame the (mobile) Tiger.
The end of each year always serves as a time to reflect, and this year, I was pleased to see the growing B2B investment in content marketing and other online pull marketing techniques. It came to mind that there were a fair number of non-traditional case study examples highlighting this push, and that looking to these examples may encourage even more creative B2B planning in 2013.
So, who are these impressive B2B thinkers and what can we learn from them? Well, for that, I'm afraid, you'll actually have to read my post...
1. Rebellious content creators: Louis C.K. and Amanda Palmer
Changing the platform and dialog
We are all-too familiar with celebrities as brand spokespeople and product endorsers, but 2012 saw the rise of two artists that took on content creation to build their own brand personae. Using valuable content, guerrilla marketing, and personal outreach, comedian Louis C.K. and musician Amanda Palmer became two of the year’s most effective B2B marketers.
This year, Louis C.K. offered his stand-up special and tour tickets directly through his website, bucking the need for a distributors (and earning over 100,000 social media shares for that one page alone); sent out personally written emails to his fan database; and created, wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a new TV show, Louie, that gained him 5 Emmy nods and one win. As an actor, he strategically employed fresh content creation, effective content marketing, and personable email marketing to increase his brand recognition exponentially.
Folk singer Amanda Palmer took a more direct approach. Tired of dealing with creatively destructive and financially questionable labels, she took to social media to completely fund her next album. Using online funding platform Kickstarter, Palmer raised over $1 million in funding from close to 25,000 backers. But here's the kicker: she raised $11,000 of that in the first two hours from Twitter alone. Palmer used frequent YouTube postings, social media calls-to-action, and an upstart online platform to essentially move her career entirely to the internet. By providing her fans early on with the content they desired, she was able to gain enough traction and online support to launch herself as an independent artist and brand.
Key takeaway: When done right, content marketing can transform any B2B brand.
2. General Electric - "GE Works"
Bringing faces to a brand
GE has long been a leader in outstanding B2B marketing, but in 2012, with the launch of its global marketing initiative "GE Works," the company honed in on a strategic mission: to showcase not just technology, but the journey, people, and outcome of technology.
Using social media, including early adoption of platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, SocialCam and Viddy, more photo and video content, and strong data visualization pieces, GE was able to communicate its core business without alienating its audience. Its popular "Juice Train" video is a prime example: it follows a train delivering orange juice from Florida to New Jersey in a time-lapsed video, showing the on-board analytics provided by GE technology, and arriving at overarching meaning for the trip.
Did I also mention GE created a holographic game designed around one of its jet engines? Admit it, that's cool.
But perhaps the most unique initiative this year is the addition of a section on GE's website dedicated to showcasing the tech team, which features what each member is tweeting in a visually dynamic grid. Clicking on an individual member takes you directly to his or her Twitter feed, encouraging online interaction between consumers and company representatives, and creating stronger brand loyalty.
Key take away: In B2B, focus on connection to your audience rather than your services.
3. TED Talks
Using video to market smart content and grow knowledge
TED Talks, a division of TED, a nonprofit dedicated to "Ideas Worth Spreading," started as a way to showcase discussions and talks from the popular annual TED Conference. But what started in 2006 as an additional resource has grown into one of the biggest - and most prestigious - online learning resources available. In addition to a devotion to spreading knowledge, TED Talks has hit on one of the most valuable content marketing tools today: video.
Using video as its central platform, TED Talks has accumulated over 1 billion views as of November 2012, with the top video boasting over 13 million views. Instead of relying on old-school marketing techniques only (conferences that have no reach outside of the actual event), TED Talks utilized video marketing to complement the TED mission of spreading ideas; which, in effect, became a rather successful marketing initiative.
The dedication to this initiative was put on display this year, when the organization refused to showcase a talk that was "explicitly bipartisan" that failed to support a fair argument. Instead of feeding into controversy, TED Talks remained committed to using content marketing in line with its mission statement.
Key take away: Find the tactic that works for you and think in terms of mission.
Combining human elements with great design
In the year that Google+ was predicted to dominate (spoiler: it didn't), Pinterest emerged as not only the top social media platform, but also one of the largest traffic-driving websites in 2012. So, when I list Pinterest as a win, it's not in terms of what the platform can do for your business (which is a lot - just give me a call, I'll fill you in), but rather the enormous success it has had as a B2B company in the past year alone.
As of September, the site had 56 million users, is valued at $1.5 billion, and had been hailed as any company's dream new marketing tool. Why so popular? Because the user friendly design, easy sharing capabilities, and concentration on creativity were key in appealing to today's visual audience. Pair that with easy Facebook and Twitter sharing integration and a layout that allows you to pin, repin, or like from every page, and Pinterest became a social media juggernaut.
What's more, Pinterest's growth is based in a decidedly traditional strategy: local meetups. CEO Ben Silbermann held meetups personally to connect with like-minded individuals and get feedback for and support of the site. From there, he launched the "Pin It Forward" campaign - an initiative aimed at promoting the sharing capabilities of the site by encouraging friends to create pinboards in return for more site invites. Connecting users, in place of push marketing, became the definitive growth tactic.
Key takeaway: A beautiful website and word of mouth marketing can work hand-in-hand to create an integrated marketing strategy.
5. Cisco's Social Media Listening Center for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics
Connecting global participants and social media results
For the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Cisco set up a Social Media Listening Center (with headquarters in London and San Diego) to monitor conversation trends and negative vs positive feedback, and to identify ambush marketing and crisis management that could be dealt with immediately and effectively. Monitored 24/7, the listening center tracked social media conversations in 10 languages and ran "games time operations" to identify the misuse of the Olympics logo by non-sponsors online.
In doing so, Cisco was not only able to serve in its role as the official network infrastructure supporter for the Games, but were able to show concrete social media results in terms of the event itself and of Cisco's brand awareness before, during, and after. Because of this initiative, Cisco was able to prove social ROI on its sponsorship, and did a comparative analysis of the potential ROI of other Games sponsor.
Cisco and its Olympic marketing programs received 1,701 social mentions in the 10 days leading up to the games, and 2,609 times during the games, with 89% of the mentions during the games being positive.
Key take away: Don't use social media for promotion, use it for listening.
So there's my list of 2012 B2B marketing wins. Are there any that I missed? What are yours?
In the ever-expanding world of internet marketing, data is becoming increasingly available and valuable. Analytics are the benchmark of good reporting and proof of that ever-pesky ROI, and are even useful in highlighting more qualitative results, like brand loyalty and emotional connection.
In 2012, what is a marketer without data to streamline engagement, acquisition, and retention of customers and clients?
And, in 2012, what is a good marketer without the thirst to hone his or her craft by harnessing more effective data?
This is where B2B marketers especially have the ability to learn from each other’s experiences and accumulate shared perspectives.
In a partnership with Eloqua and CMO.com, research firm Software Advice has launched a 2012 B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey to ask questions on the future of lead generation, focusing primarily on:
- What demand-gen channels do your peers find most successful?
- Will they be spending more or less on leads next year, and for what channels?
- What content and offers deliver the best results?
Utilizing the input of B2B marketers, the report generated from the survey will highlight demand-gen programs compared across industry peers and experts.
As a marketing agency that continues to learn and evolve with each new project and client, this kind of crowdsourced data provides us an opportunity to compare our understanding with others in similar situations. As a result, we have an enhanced ability to improve upon our programs and client work.
Yes, this is all relatively straightforward. But so is this survey – hence the beauty in participating. And at times it’s important to remind ourselves of the resources at hand, and that there is still so much still yet to learn.
There’s still concern in the B2B community about just how important social media is in creating and sustaining relationships with partners and clients. But when it comes to building brand loyalty online, social media is the most beneficial tool available.
Your audience is most likely already using social media on a personal level and willingly participating in an online community. Connecting your brand identity with their online lives integrates your brand into their day-to-day activities, and cultivates brand loyalty through personal communication. In connecting this way, you are becoming more than a company or organization they follow. You have the opportunity to create lasting relationships, and lasting brand loyalty.
Research shows that online audiences are only becoming more active in involving brands in their lives through social media:
- 59% of adult Facebook users had "liked" a brand as of spring 2011, up from 47% the previous September. Uptake among the oldest users appears to have been a major factor in this rise – eMarketer Tweet This!
- From 2010 to 2012 the percentage of Americans following any brand on a social network has increased 106%, from 16% to 33% – Socialnomics Tweet This!
- 41% of B2B companies are acquiring customers through Facebook – Social Media Today, HubSpot Tweet This!
- 78.6% of consumers have joined a company’s community to get more information on the company – Universal McCann Tweet This!
- 66% of online company community members note that the community has made them more loyal to a brand – Universal McCann Tweet This!
However, creating a social media presence can backfire if you’re using it in the wrong way to cultivate brand loyalty. One big misstep brands can make is to transfer traditional direct marketing notions to online communities and correspondence:
Social media marketing is based largely in communicating with your online community –using pull vs. push marketing. Your followers are showing you voluntary brand loyalty, and it’s your responsibility to facilitate it further by being accessible to your community.
1. Becoming Accessible
Roughly 38-60% of US buyers expect their online complaints about brands to be answered via social media. It’s more convenient for a consumer active on social media to express a thought, question, or review of your brand through that channel than for him or her to pick up a phone and call a company contact to discuss an issue.
If there’s an online community you’re not tapping into, and your brand reputation is suffering as a result, social media can help rectify this by providing accessibility for those complaints and questions.
Technology research company Gartner sees webinars and conferences as a key form of B2B marketing. Because of this, they are constantly conducting outreach on Twitter to answer logistics questions, pinpoint additional resources, and engage ongoing conversations.
2. Rewarding Fans
Rewarding fans that regularly engage with you also enhances brand loyalty.
Cisco Systems conducts a regular Facebook contest called the SuperFan Spotlight that awards a Cisco fan by featuring him or her in the company’s cover photo.
Not only is Cisco paying attention to its active community members, but also it continues to interact with each highlighted fan after his or her win, as shown in the above comments. Cisco uses Facebook to contact its SuperFan, to send along complimentary gear, and to start a personal message between the fan and a specific Cisco employee. As a company, Cisco continues to be accessible before, during, and after rewarding fans.
This is an important indication that they are not interested in one-time contests or campaigns to generate brand awareness, but in keeping constant contact and communication with fans by continuing to be accessible to their needs and wants.
Rewards including fan recognition, special offers, and exclusive content, are only enhanced when utilized in a friendly and personable online environment.
3. Gaining Trust
Trust and loyalty go hand in hand in securing a consumer’s commitment to your brand. Once your brand is:
- Answering questions
- Engaging in conversations
- Providing immediate solutions and great client service
- Rewarding fan interaction
- Creating and providing exclusive content and offers,
Your online consumer base is going to have a much more positive impression of and endorsement for your brand. Trust breeds loyalty, which in turn breeds willingness on the part of your consumer to take the time to spread positive reviews online and through word of mouth.
Respecting client endorsements and maintaining your responsibility to listen to your fans creates an ongoing cycle of recharged brand loyalty. Social media allows for continued conversations instead of one-time, stale recommendations. You have the ability to continually revive brand loyalty by consistently listening and responding – by keeping the conversation flowing and always providing an answer or a solution.
How do you use social media to grow brand loyalty?
In my last blogpost, I talked about this being the Era of Design. I made the statement, “great design is about inventing and sustaining a vision.” I think that statement actually begins to describe the role of a brand more than design. Great design is about elegantly solving a particular problem, be it creative, technical or business in nature.
I think we are in fact in the era of “brand,” not necessarily “brands,” since there are other eras of brands, as viewers of Mad Men might attest.
Maybe more accurate is that we are in the era of brand loyalty.
Brand loyalty is generally a B2C term suggesting the establishment of brand preference. Today’s B2C brands often start with an idea, some kind of competitive differentiator, and often spend less time formally market testing, but rather, quickly assemble a website, and Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn presence, and proceed to make incremental improvements based on real time feedback from customers and others. From this real time digital dialogue, if handled with care, brand loyalty grows.
B2B firms generally deal with specific audiences, often technical, and generally build their businesses thus brands from word-of-mouth recommendation. Because they are historically relationship-based they often tend to be skeptical about what a website, internet marketing or social media can do for them.
What B2B businesses have been missing in their perception and practice of brand building, is that power of brand loyalty, which drives B2C brands. Today, it is not enough to just develop a brand voice through repositioning and execute a solid website as many B2B brands settle for, which is a recipe for brand stagnation. Unlike in the past, many customers want to have more interaction with their favorite companies and brands both online and offline.
Simply put, in order to utilize and promote your messaging to its fullest, you ultimately want the trifecta for a successful brand; ending in enhanced brand loyalty.
Brand loyalty comes from openly and consistently projecting your voice in an online dialogue with customers and others using available and ubiquitous vehicles like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. This is not new, but it is fast becoming unavoidable for B2B companies that have thus far avoided it under the assumption that personal relationships are all that is needed.
B2B company leaders are generally in their 30s and 40s, and are quite comfortable living in the digital space. In fact, many of today’s executives expect an active digital dialogue with those they are considering doing business with.
The increased expectation of brand accessibility provides companies with both an opportunity and an obligation to be more engaged. For relatively little effort, a brand that is not engaging customers online can get up to speed and turn a well-positioned yet quiet “relationship” company brand into an engaged organization that reaches out to customers in a daily dialogue that will result in better products and services and a bigger brand persona.
We will discuss how to build brand loyalty for B2B companies in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!
Last week’s post featuring illuminating statistics from the NEDMA Marketing Technology Summit brought on a slew of questions: how do you turn today’s marketing numbers into actionable campaigns?
To help make internet marketing seem less daunting, this is the first of several posts in which we will explore a few ways to kick off your efforts while addressing the pressing needs of the online consumer.
Email: 294 billion emails are sent each day – 90% of email sent out every day is classified as spam
Many small B2B companies are making their foray into internet marketing by starting with email marketing. It’s proven to be an effective tactic acquiring continuing business, and can be a great way to inform current and prospective clients of company updates and new services.
But what’s the best way to utilize this medium (which you absolutely should) without being included in that 90% spam?
- The first step is to always comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, which means including opt-outs in every email and honoring each opt-out, avoiding deceptive subject lines or misleading header information, and using a credible third-party email service platform.
- Once your email is compliant, make sure you have a clean list of current and prospective clients with up-to-date email addresses. A high hard bounce rate is an indicator of spam email, and is often associated with email lists that are purchased instead of organically grown.
In terms of marketing and content your email should have:
- Valuable and relevant content, including links to articles, whitepapers, case studies, and other website pages
- A few appropriate images and graphics – too many become crowded and unrecognized by the browser
- Little scrolling and a clean layout
- Clear descriptions and calls-to-action to prompt click-through
RainCastle's quarterly email newsletter is separated
into sections featuring different content including articles, blog posts,
whitepapers, and case studies
This welcome email from Living Social
has a prominent unsubscribe button,
clear call-to-action for a featured deal,
and contact information
Bing's email newsletter also has a clear
format, valuable content, a mobile version,
and social media integration
Stay tuned for the next post, in which we’ll address enlightening social media statistics and what you can do for your business.
Many of our client’s businesses and sales processes are relationship-based so traditionally that they have not engaged in specific marketing or lead generation programs. As the B2B world, like the rest of the world, becomes increasingly digital, internet marketing — of which lead generation can be a subset — is becoming the new sales. But lead generation programs and relationship-based sales and marketing need not be mutually exclusive. Instead, they can help a relationship-based approach by identifying additional potential clients and enable your company to initiate a relationship rather than waiting for your potential client to reach out (which could take months, which is more like years in internet time).
In addition, there are easy ways to incorporate lead generation and analytics into your website in ways that benefit your company but don’t necessarily affect your sales process.
Lead Generation for Recruiting and Human Resources
One off-the-cuff idea for lead generation usage is if you have a particularly demanding or traffic-driving careers section of your website. If you’ve taken the time to build out a platform to collect job applications, then tracking each submission and subsequent conversation manually is a waste of time.
By building and tracking your online application forms in terms of lead generation, you can:
- Compile a comprehensive, one-stop list of applicants for each position
- Track the website statistics of each applicant (pages viewed, number of visits to the site, when they first found your site, etc.)
- Create a database of all applicant contact information
- Easily send out response emails to individual applicants or designated groups
- Funnel qualified applicants through an application and interview process
- Track HR conversations with applicants and the status of their application
Using this strategy, your HR department can cohesively work through a position application process, keep up with communication with applicants, and have all necessary information readily at hand.
Customer Feedback and Inquiries as a Lead Generation Vehicle
Some clients of ours have opted to add links to their site pages that open an email browser and allow the visitor to contact an upper-level employee or manager. This is sometimes done to discuss a certain product, service, or solution the company provides. Instead of doing this, why not put a personalized form in front of it? This lead generation tactic can be just as personal as an email (which will still go through to the identified person), but still captures these inquiries as leads for:
- Maintaining a clean customer database for future communication (including email and newsletters)
- Tracking response rates of employees to customers
- Establishing what actions visitors to the site are taking
- Establishing recurring customer inquiries and visits
Deloitte uses an online RFP to track inquries
through a lead generation tactic
Contact Us can be a Lead Generation Tactic
Similarly, many Contact Us pages provide email addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information, but not a form that can track contact us inquiries in a non-manual way.
As a first step, creating a form for your contact us page will lead to better monitoring of:
- Visitor reasons for contact or other inquiries not addressed elsewhere
- Number of contact requests from the website vs. other channels
- Repeat visitor contact requests over time
- Funneling the visitor through receiving the information they have requested
RainCastle and Innosight, an innovation consulting firm,
created a comprehensive contact us form for their
About Us section that also lists phone numbers
and office locations
Without changing the relationship nature of how you sell, you can use your website and analytics even more effectively to increase your flow of leads. The results of these efforts will engender larger discussions about potential lead generation campaigns to increase sales and expand your client database.
Is your company using any lead generation campaigns? Do you want to start? Contact RainCastle to discuss creating and implementing lead generation campaigns that align with your marketing goals.
It's no secret that the Super Bowl hosts the most precious ad time of the year. Companies compete to create the most compelling ad; the one that will go viral and be remembered for years to come (Apple's "1984," the Budweiser frogs, and last year's "The Force" from Volkswagen are some of my personal favorites, and I'm not alone).
But while B2C Super Bowl ads have created legends, boosted sales, and promoting brand reputation, B2B companies are left behind in the dust.
B2C companies have a considerably easier task when approaching Super Bowl ads. Most of the best ads each year come from companies with a well-known product and household brand. Budweiser and Coca Cola sell drinks, Volkswagen, Ford, and Honda cars, Snickers (with their popular Betty White-infused "you're not you when you're hungry" ad) candy. The product is already known, which gives them more room for creativity in constructing an effectively entertaining ad. The audience already knows what they're selling.
When B2B companies try and take a similar approach and infuse humor into an ad in which they assume the audience understands their service, it results in some of the worst Super Bowl ads of the year.
One of the biggest ad disasters of last year's Super Bowl was the insensitive and puzzling Groupon ad campaign. At this point in time, Groupon was still getting its footing, and not many outside of the tech world knew about the daily deals website. But that didn't stop them from approaching their ad time as if they were Budweiser.
Their first spot, "Save the Money, Tibet," begins with Timothy Hutton speaking about the dangers Tibetan people and their culture face as images flash across the screen, only to find the actor in a Tibetan restaurant (courtesy of his Groupon) who clarifies "But they still whip up an amazing fish curry."
Video courtesy of YouTube
Not only did the company offend the majority of its audience with the audacity of such insensitive spots (see also "Save the Money, Whales), most people still didn't understand what Groupon was, or why they had the brand authority to promote such controversial ads. Essentially, Groupon didn't have the reputation to back up such a risky campaign, and their PR suffered greatly for it in the days following the Super Bowl.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there were the Salesforce Chatter.com "Still Doing Impossible Things" spots, which, while clearly trying to be creative (original animation visuals, a "baby" version of Will.i.am, a focus on technology and innovation) presented no clear theme, point of view, or service. They were unmemorable, except for the boredom they instilled in audience members.
Video courtesy of YouTube
Then there's GoDaddy.com's "The Contract." While they were the only B2B company to successfully showcase their "product" with a shot of their website, they resorted entirely to the old adage "sex sells," by showcasing their GoDaddy girls as apparently naked and redirecting the audience to their website for unrated footage.
Video courtesy of YouTube
Ultimately, the ad was lackluster and unoriginal. Although most of the audience could identify GoDaddy as a brand, their ad did nothing to promote their services, and was a turn-off to dedicated Super Bowl ad viewers.
Google is the only B2B company that has been able to avoid the Super Bowl curse, as their "Parisian Love" spot, a.k.a. "search on," was a heartwarming and inventive ad in a sea of crude comedy. By putting the spotlight entirely on their primary service (search) and using it to navigate and narrate a love story, Google pinpointed exactly what their audience sees them as: an indisputable lifestyle resource.
Video courtesy of YouTube
By tracking important life events through relevant Google searches, Google was able to capitalize on the necessity of their service in a surprisingly human way.
So, can B2B compete in the Super Bowl ad realm?
If Google can do it, you can do it.
There are clearly challenges that face any large B2B company considering buying Super Bowl ad time that aren't there for B2C companies. However, this means that any B2B company that can stand out positively can reap more benefits, as long as they include:
A clear explanation/showcase of their service
No assumptions about brand reputation
A demonstration of their value
This last one may be the most important. B2C companies can rely on comedy to enhance a campaign because their consumers have already made their products a part of everyday life. Budweiser doesn't have to show that it makes beer or necessarily prove that it has the best beer; as long as they have hilarious talking frogs, the brand is going to benefit from the sheer use of comedy.
B2B companies need to find a way to showcase value, innovation, and humanity in their ads that capture more dedication than comedy spots.
What do you think? Are there any B2B companies you would want to see advertise during the Super Bowl?
The trend in B2B Website Navigation
In two separate client meetings last week the same question arose: is it better to have deep scrolling web pages that require fewer clicks to arrive at desired content, or shorter pages requiring less scrolling but more clicks?
My first reaction has been that short pages requiring little or no scrolling are preferable to the user and longer, more content rich pages are better for search. Website user experience is a balance between the needs of humans and the demands of analytics software.
Challenging the conventional wisdom of web usability has been a consistent theme of mine this year as our clients have higher marketing goals and expectations for their websites. The huge increase in the amount of website content and multiplicity of pathways for accessing it, have made navigation a labyrinth for which we are the guides.
Inch deep and mile wide or mile deep, inch wide?
I asked a colleague to do an informal survey of B2B websites to see if we could discern a trend toward deep vs. wide, content-rich websites. While we found endless examples of deep, scrolling pages—with IBM being the quintessential example, we were hard pressed to find any sites that contain all content "above-the-fold," and relatively few requiring minimal scrolling.
IBM doesn't just provide endless copy for scrolling, but carefully
designs all graphics and layout aspects to accompany deep pages.
Salesforce.com was the best example we found of a user experience consisting of relatively shallow pages with a nice text to image ratio and clear click paths going down four levels.
In typical salesman fashion, salesforce.com keeps content short and simple on
each page to maximize reader interest and potential leads.
The long and short of it is that the current trend is for longer pages that tell more of an entire story through text, tabbed content and images.
That isn't an endorsement, just an observation. Salesforce.com is a legitimate example of a successful company that has maintained a refreshingly simple navigation scheme and has used imagery in harmony with text to make content easy to digest and not overwhelming.
Ease-of-use is still our mantra; the site's content and a client's personal preference will be the leading factors in whether the call is deep or wide.
What's your opinion on deep vs. wide navigation?