Marketing insights and tips: What one marketing consultant took away from a recent B2B Marketing conference
So much to learn, so little time--which is why I was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet and learn from hundreds of other marketing professionals last month at Marketing Profs B2B forum. What's more we had a lot of fun and left with a lot of ideas that many of us are already putting into action.
B2B digital marketing best practices
Over two jam-packed days, we heard about best practices in areas like search engine optimization (SEO), content strategy, lead generation and lead nurturing, and social media. We learned about what's worked, what hasn't, and why from Marketing VPs that have been there, tried that.
Now, a day later, I'm summing up my notes and thought I'd share some of what I learned with those of you who couldn't get away. These insights just a sampling of all I took away from this great conference.
Three insights + three tips
For each session I attended you'll find three things I found interesting and three tips I found useful. The biggest "aha" was that sometimes the things that were the most interesting were also the things that should have been obvious...
- The ability to customize landing pages to specific targets can dramatically boost conversions.
- Having an automated tool makes customization much easier (and appears to be a "must" if you want to use your website for lead gen)
- Match expectations: ensure that landing page uses images and phrases consistent with the invitation to click through
- Want visitors to click through? Offer reports on market trends or price quotes
- Want to ensure prompt follow up? Pull leads that Sales hasn't called (within a pre-specified time
- Add social icons to your "thank you" page to encourage further interaction
Note: Due to a previous commitment, I only caught the last half hour of this session.
- Google's webmaster tools/blog is a treasure trove of useful information
- There's no tool yet that enables you to look up social keyword usage/trends
- Google is starting to penalize sites with long load times
- Want to increase the chances that Google will index all your pages? Submit your HTML and XML site maps to Google directly.
- Do you syndicate your content? Let Google know which page is original to avoid penalties
- Need a proxy for a social keyword tool? Look at tag clouds on relevant blogs and social bookmarking sites.
"Drowning in Data, Starved for Knowledge?" with Devyani Sadh, PhD 
Note: The recommendations offered in this session appear to require consultants, several tightly integrated software packages and teams of data analysts to implement and therefore may be beyond the reach of most small companies.
- Marketing 101 rules still apply, but analytics are key to concentrating your firepower where it will have the greatest impact.
- Larger companies that fail to invest in these resources may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage
- Where are the dashboards that will make the data presented in this session useful to the less technical users of the data?
- Strategy before tactics: Identify your target market and focus on them because there aren't enough resources to do everything. Then don't forget retention which is far more profitable than acquisition.
- Critical success factors: objectives and a plan, database strategy, metrics strategy, data mining strategy, integration strategy (of various online systems and of online and other data)
- Data sources in order of priority: customer contact data, preferred means and frequency of contact, purchase history, web transaction history, third-party demographic data (e.g. D&B), Campaign responses, survey data
"Blogging for Business Roundtable" with Galen DeYoung 
Since this was a Q and A session, I've just included tips:
- Use WordPress as your blogging platform because it has the most plugins
- Recommended WordPress plug ins: All in One SEO Pack, Sexy bookmarks, Robots Meta
- Use Google URL Builder to help you track analytics that are otherwise lost when you use URL shortening tools
- People forget to be interested in you, you need to remind them (sad, but true)
- Your content strategy needs to outline goals at every stage of the buying process and content that will help you achieve those goals.
- Content attracts more qualified leads, because searchers are often in "shopping" mode
- Add "best practices" to your case studies
- Teach your sales people how to write LinkedIn profiles that sell and use SlideShare to embed your sales presentations in their profiles
- Update the offers on your blog post
- Shoots off plants have a better chance of surviving than their seeds do. The success of mobile apps depends on branding done in other spheres. Self-contained apps are not likely to succeed.
- Your app needs to work on all phones since even the company with the largest share only has a small percentage of the market.
- Tools now exist to port applications built on one platform to another, although additional development work is still needed.
- Opt-in is mandatory. People are very protective of what they allow on their phones.
- Provide Sales with mobile versions of all sales aids for easy access. Make everything printable to a queue so that they can easily obtain hard copies when needed.
- Want to build a community? Use mobile because it's available 24 x 7.
"Six Pixels of Separation - How B2B Connects In a Connected World" with Mitch Joel 
- Google bought YouTube for its community
- 20% of searches have never been done before (opportunity for you to "claim" those terms!)
- The average Canadian spends 16 hours/month on YouTube and the average segment is just 4 minutes (American stats are comparable or higher)
- Become active n communities where your target audience lives
- Publish or Perish
- Invest heavily in Search
- Many of the pages the speakers presented were dense with text, consistent with their recommendation to ensure you have a lot of content
- Usability /Navigability is key
- Sepaton, a provider of high-speed data backup solutions, reminds visitors of its value proposition with flash images of trains, runners, and speedboats.
- Ensure that it's obvious what problem you solve on every page you publish
- Consider integrating what others are saying about you in social media on your site so visitors can validate your claims
- Include a call for action on every page
Now, here's the irony. You take two days out of your busy schedule to attend a conference--and then come back with many more things to add to the "to do" list.
Of course, the hope is that they'll pay for themselves over time--which I believe they will. Thanks to all the folks at Marketing Profs for a great conference ! Looking forward to next year.
This post originally appeared on the author's blog under the title B2B marketing insights and tips compliments of MarketingProfs 
One reader asked for more clarification/examples. Please see below. If you require additional clarification, please let me know.
1. An automated tool for landing pages is helpful because many companies end up adding or customizing multiple landing pages each day.
2. The speaker that mentioned that "shoots off trees do better than seeds" referenced Dragon as an example of an application that's already branded and would benefit from a mobile extension.