- Direct mail
- Case studies
What are the latest trends for each of these top-performers?
1) Email content: One of the key elements of a successful automation strategy is email.
Here are some stats to consider if you ever thought email was on its way out (many have):
- “73 percent of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email.” (Hubspot)
- “Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue.” (Campaign Monitor)
- “78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months (Not Another State of Marketing, 2020)”
Given that email is alive and well, despite many predicting its eventual death, being good at it is essential to your overall marketing strategy in 2020.
According to 2019 research by Demand Metric, competition for inbox attention and email deliverability were a couple of the biggest email marketing challenges.
Here are some pointers to follow as you work through developing your email pathways and cadences for automation to help your deliverability and attention levels.
- Prime your IP. If you have a dedicated IP, you need to start campaigns by delivering small batches of emails to your top engaged prospects or customers. Slowly ramp up every day. As your emails are opened by more and more of your recipients, IP trust will be built.
- Check your Sender Score. Your score has a direct impact on the deliverability rates of your emails.
- Create narrow audience segments to provide a highly personalized experience to the recipient. The recipient must understand that you understand them, the company they work for and the struggles they have.
Here’s an article you can refer to if you wish to learn more about best practices for email deliverability.
For B2B segmentation, use firmographics including titles, business size, location, origination volume, origination channels, tech stack and more depending on what you’re selling.
This provides a basis for personalization. One of the biggest reasons for email blocking and complaints is irrelevant emails.
- Personalization by recipient name and company is no longer enough. According to Litmus’ 2019 State of Email survey, 89% of companies personalize by first name and company already, which means it’s expected.
To stand out, make better use of firmographics and use behavioral data as well. Examples of behavioral data include past interactions with your website, past interactions with your company and other first or third party data that can be woven into the message.
This level of enhanced personalization helps your open rates which builds IP trust.
2) Blogs: Company blogs continue to be a top priority for 53% of marketers according to Hubspot. And blogging is on the rise.
Google’s rollout of BERT back in December of 2019 allows it to better understand searches. It favors longer form, in depth content and accuracy of that content. The BERT update also enables a better understanding of natural language searches and knows how to value each word in a search phrase to provide the intended result.
To freshen up your blog in 2020, here are some key areas that should take priority.
- Length: Longer form blog posts, between 1,140 and 1,285 words, tend to be most favored by Google. Also, there has been a shift in consumer preference to more in-depth information.
To do well in searches, our recommendation is to pick a topic, narrow it down and then provide the best possible detail around that topic. If your content is shallow, that will be ferreted out by how searchers interact with it, including how long they stay on the page and whether they drill deeper into your site.
- Updating content: Make sure you update your content regularly to keep it fresh. Updating older posts is one of the best SEO tactics out there. It shows Google you’re keeping your site up to date which will lead to a boost in search ranking fairly quickly.
- Headlines for posts: Predictive headlines like “the future of” is one of the best performing phrases in B2B along with “how to use,” “here’s how,” and “need to know.” This is according to a study of 50,000 articles by Buzzsumo.
Finally, do I need to mention how important video has become in blog posts? Speaking of that…
3) Video: Studies show that people retain 95% of a video message compared to only 10% of a message they read (Insivia).
When you produce video, just like blogging, keep your focus narrow whether it’s a 30-second or 5-minute video.
In 2020, here are some video trends you should pay attention to.
- Less, many times is more. Don’t worry about high production quality so much as valuable content. The best content recorded with a smartphone and not over-produced does well in 2020. Your equipment doesn’t need to be the best and lighting doesn’t need to be perfect. If you shoot outside, your hair will blow in the wind and not look perfectly coiffed. That’s okay too. Natural is good.
- Go native: Once your video is shot, one of the best ways to get traction in social, besides paying for it, is to upload the native content directly to your social platforms. The platforms give preference to native content because they like visitors to stay on the platform rather than click and go to YouTube, Vimeo or somewhere else.
Also, when you edit and upload, pay attention to the orientation of the video. For example, Facebook likes square videos, Instagram likes vertical and LinkedIn likes landscape or square.
- Video length: As for video length, there’s a lot to consider such as whether it’s for demand generation or brand awareness. Some say the best performing videos on LinkedIn, for example, are less than 15 seconds. Video ads should be less than 30 seconds. But, an internal study by LinkedIn found longer videos that go deeper into a topic receive as many clicks as shorter ones. So what should you do then? Produce both and test!
- Optimization: Given the explosion of video, optimization is important so it is seen by the right audience. Make sure the title includes a target keyword and share a description of the content. You can go here to learn more about getting your YouTube videos to rank in 2020.
- Live video: Finally, live video is all the rage right now for those brave enough to do it! And the ones doing it are reaping the rewards.
Live video is the best way to convey who you are as a company, your brand, brand personality and authority. It keeps viewers engaged three times longer than a pre-recorded video on the same topic. Plus, it drives immediate, real-time social interaction with your audience and allows the audience to play a role in directing the conversation. The pre- and post-show promotional advantage of going live also creates a positive buzz around your brand.
There are several video types you should consider for diversity of content, including interviews/Q&A, behind-the-scenes, user-generated (people who love your company/service/product), announcements and tutorials.
4) Direct mail: Direct mail today is more effective than ever due to the technological ability to segment audiences and personalize all aspects of the messaging, including imagery. Accordingly, direct mail spend is seeing a resurgence due to the excellent response rates.
Direct mail should be part of a multi-channel approach. People engage with several channels, both digital and print, as they are made aware of your company and conduct investigations about home-buying, renovating or refinancing.
The same goes for lenders who seek out technology and other services to help them in the manufacturing of a mortgage. The right kind of mailer can garner nearly 100% recall. Combining that with a sophisticated digital strategy can go a long way to positioning your company as a top contender. Although, at the time of this writing, it is difficult to use direct mail as part of your B2B marketing strategy due to COVID-19 which has driven a mass migration to working from home.
There’s no question that customizing your pieces at the recipient level will give you the best results and lift to other digital campaign items.
5) Infographics: Infographics are all about data visualization. Especially when you are trying to communicate something that is a bit more complex, an infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than an article on the same topic. The reasons are clear…they create a visual impact, are easy to share and easy to digest in a minimal amount of time.
Infographics have changed in the last 10 years. Including elements that move and 3D illustrations are the latest trends.
Other trends come down to design elements used, including:
- Flat, simple characters
- Line art and outlines
- Neon and bright colors
- Muted and monochrome looks
6) White papers: White papers still make for some of the most valuable gated content. They are a great way to build trust in your company, drive new leads and make more sales due to the authority they convey.
However, they too have changed over the past decade and have come a long way since the downloadable PDFs you may be used to.
The keys to a great 2020 and beyond white paper include:
- Making it more interactive, include animation, bold graphics and video
- Making sure it is easily accessible and responsive to different devices (this is not possible with a PDF)
- Providing a narrative arc
- Using crowdsourced knowledge from within your company to provide the most in-depth expertise
- Providing a call-to-action for your company at the end, avoiding any type of self-promotion within the body of the paper itself
- Killer research
Pro Tip: Many times, companies will use a white paper to acquire leads and therefore provide it as gated content.
The traditional forms used to acquire this content require the visitor to share several pieces of personal information in order to receive the white paper. This causes friction. It slows down the sales process and makes people think twice as they fill out that form.
To make it easier, use a social login to gate your whitepaper. This way, with just one easy click, people will be able to access it.
7) Case studies: We all have great case studies, whether they’re in our heads or already written in a distributable format to our prospects, right?
If you really want your case studies to stand out in 2020, think about the different formats you can use to convey the same information.
Try putting your case studies into an infographic-type format, video or a podcast in addition to the tried and true PDF or leveraging the more aggressive formats I shared with respect to developing white papers. Think about how you can incorporate video and animation within the study.
All of these things will add to the experience and it will speak to your brand and quality as well.
It’s important that your case study, no matter what format, contains the following elements:
- Relatable to your ideal client
- Includes goals, needs and how you provided what was necessary to satisfy both
- Easy to read with plenty of well-placed, relevant imagery
- Results that relate back to real numbers or percentages in terms of increase in business, revenue, social amplification, etc.
- The specifics of what you offer that made all the difference