2012: This is the year that was

As you may have gathered at Earnest we are in the business of B2B Marketing. Unfortunately we are not in the business of soothsaying. For that reason we have avoided the traditional list of 2013 predictions and taken a look back at what we can learn from the year that was.

Here’s our top 5

Inbound really does work – but make the visitors visible.

Call it what you want – social media, content marketing, inbound marketing – it has been the talk of the marketing town for the last few years. This year however, we really saw it come to life and bring real results.

The ‘Search Find Stop’ campaign we devised for NetNames had high value content at its heart – video animations, infographics and best practice guides to name a few. And it really paid off. We saw inbound visits from over 200 separate organisations to the microsite and one blog post even trigged a direct call from a global brand wanting to find out more.

All this would have been useless, however, without knowing who the inbound visits were from. Lead Forensics is a tool that we have started using this year – and it has been simply invaluable in revealing details of inbound visitors to campaign pages through its IP database – turning unknown visitors into warm prospects.

For what it’s worth we believe 2013 will be the year the inbound penny really drops. It looks likes businesses will be looking to put more budget behind it but marketing departments really need to stop worrying about the volume of content and concentrate on the value.

DM has definitely still got it – but it’s all in the integration

Last year we were blown away by the success of the ‘I AM’ campaign that we devised for Thunderhead – and were delighted in equal measure to find out the case study was the 5th most viewed piece of content on the B2BMarketing.net.

With high value DM at the heart of an integrated lead generation campaign, ‘I AM’ paved the way for a series of equally successful campaigns over the last 12 months.  With a response rate of 40%, high value DM proved its worth in the campaign we ran for InMobi.

However, simple use of DM cannot take all the credit. This year we have seen that familiarity really does breed intent – and where high value content has been seeded and ads have been served in the lead up to sending items out the response rate has been noticeably lifted. Strong call to actions have also been crucial to a campaigns success – offers of audits, consultancy and personalised reports have shown the best results in converting prospects into meetings.

While marketing automation systems have already underpinned campaign sites we have developed this year, it looks like systems, such as Eloqua, will become a de facto standard running any campaign but marketers really need to start getting their heads around the lead nurture piece and how to get the most out of these tools available to them.

Bye bye handshakes. B2B creative pays it dues.

For years B2B creative has been left in the shadows. Since the day we set up Earnest we have been on a mission to chase the humdrum out of B2B. No more handshakes. No more headsets and cheesy smiles. No more collections of pinstripe suits around the meeting table.

This year we have seen what a bit of creative magic can do to drive companies to bigger and better things.

Both in our rebrand of DX through which we bought the company together under the brand promise of ‘delivered exactly’ and through creating eye catching pop up DM pieces and animation to promote the Google maps offering (did we mention it won best use of creative at the B2B awards??) - We have produced some work we and our clients are really proud of.

As for next year; we hope developments in technologies and digital that we have seen this year continue and B2B creative stand up to the mark in making use of all that is available to them. Humdrum: no more.

Remember your audience are not all the same

Basic personalisation has always been an important aspect of any communication a business sends out to its current and potential customers. This year we have seen how taking things past the simple ‘Hello John’ salutation in an email can make interactions with prospects much more fruitful.

When St John Ambulance came to us at the start of the year with a brief to drive uptake of first aid at work course following a change in legislation we knew that blanket messaging, content and calls to action needed to be tailored depending on role in the organisation, industry, size or business and their risk status. And so we meticulously planned the campaign for each different audience, giving them tailored content and the tools to either get on the course or sell it into the business. The pre planning paid off in the results with 4 national brands looking to switch their training provider.

This year we have also seen the use of some clever real time personalisation that are each doing their little bit to add the je ne sais quoi to the customer experience – whether its personalising (nearly) all content for a return visitor using Eloqua or allowing marketing teams to analyse social data and make real time changes to their site using Autonomy.

Moving into 2013 we have an inkling that the businesses who will see profits rise will be those who crack the data and analytics issue to truly target their communications. Isn’t that right John?

Mobile may well be the new normal

Earlier this year we released the latest animation in our ‘Vital Statistics for B2B marketers’ series. As well as the video we created the infogaphic which, in part, focused on the changing consumption patterns B2B marketers – showing that there has been a 247% increase in mobile searches this year and 67% of business buyers want interesting and exclusive content through apps.

Mobile has certainly shaped our thinking on projects this year. We realise that content is being consumed in different ways and the rise of apps has meant that we have had to think of inventive offerings from businesses to add real value to their clients – whether it’s devising sales tools that can be used through mobile or content based apps for Capgemini.

It has been website development where we have seen mobile have the biggest effect – any campaign site, for example, that we have planned and designed this year has had mobile and tablet at front of mind and such as in the case as searchfindstop.com for NetNames.

Looking ahead to next year we believe 2013 is the year mobile finally gets taken seriously and we may even see a shift to thinking mobile first which is sure to have a dramatic effect, but while this very post is being written on a laptop the traditional devices cannot be forgotten.

 

So that was the year that was. And what a year it was. Along with our lessons learnt this year we have grown so we are popping at the office space seams, won awards and most importantly done reams of work we are proud to show off on our brand new website.

Here’s to 2013. Merry Christmas.

By Earnest 19 December 2012
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