Why Have B2B Brands Fallen Behind on Social Media?

Take a look at 2016’s most influential brands on Facebook, according to Mavrck: Starbucks, Coca-Cola, MTV and Samsung Mobile top the charts, followed by brands like KFC, Nike and Target. What do these companies have in common? They’re all business-to-consumer.

These days, it’s rare to find a business not trying to make a social media splash. But why is it that B2C companies consistently outpace their business-to-business peers? According to Webbiquity, 88 percent of the B2B crowd uses Facebook—just 8 percent less than their B2C counterparts—so it’s not for lack of trying.

The problem is one of strategy. Because B2C companies like Verizon Communications and Sony Pictures were the early adopters, B2B companies patterned their approaches after their B2C peers.

But while B2C marketers don’t need such a targeted approach to draw new business—anyone can enjoy a Coke or crave KFC—B2B marketers can’t take the same top-of-the-funnel strategy. For niche business services, taking a generalized checklist approach to social media simply doesn’t work.
Why resist the checklist?

With a checklist mindset, social media management becomes a series of tasks: posting daily, responding to customers, adding friends and following clients. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these practices, unless you’re using social as a channel to find target prospects, you’re missing out on revenue.

B2B businesses that don’t use social to target specific leads or gather buying behavior insights are wasting their time. Intel, for instance, is proof that B2B brands can make social work for them: It has more than 25 million Facebook likes, and it regularly engages other brands with user-generated content to build relationships.

But most B2B companies aren’t like Intel. Rarely do B2B marketers even bother to measure the return on investment from their social investments.

According to Simply Measured’s 2016 State of Social Marketing Report, 61 percent of marketers indicate that measuring ROI is a challenge. Additionally, more than 33 percent say that tying social to business goals is a hurdle they must overcome. Only 9 percent of marketers can quantify the revenue driven by social media.
A better B2B social strategy

The first step to a better social strategy is abandoning the checklist mindset. It’s about choosing platforms strategically, being outward-looking and contacting top-scoring leads before they slip away.

Social media is a lot more than the sum of its separate platforms. Brands using a checklist approach often assume they need a presence on every site, but the truth is that your audience probably uses a couple of platforms and ignores others. If you’re a wheelchair manufacturer, for instance, your clients are hospitals and assisted living facilities, which likely aren’t on Snapchat or Instagram.

Don’t spread yourself thin by trying to be everywhere at once. Use customer segmentation data to predict which platforms they use or, better yet, survey your clients. Learn their pain points, company histories and partners. Spend your social budget efficiently by using these details to speak to their needs on their favored platforms.

By discovering your audience’s social habits, your strategy will naturally become more generous and outward-looking. Social success is all about listening and interacting. Blasting your own message on repeat is like talking about yourself at a cocktail party. The best friends (and clients) are found through give-and-take relationships. Mix up your content with links to clients’ blogs, helpful hints and questions to engage followers. With this approach, you’ll build your brand while answering questions and solving problems.

This is akin to when cocktail partygoers have settled down, taken off their dance shoes and started interacting in small groups. To forge connections with choice clients, use social media signals like hashtags, keywords, brand mentions and influencer mentions to identify target prospects.

Your goal is to offer personalized, resonant content that builds trust. Use Twitter’s direct-message feature to turn public tweeting into friendship. Let’s say, for example, your company provides marketing technology that helps with lead generation. If a marketer shares an article about #leadgen, you might send him your latest e-book about generating leads.

Once you’ve contacted target prospects through social, it’s time to capture their contact information in your marketing automation system for easy follow-ups. Connect your social media activities to your marketing automation or customer-relationship-management system to track socially engaged leads. To see ROI from your efforts, you need to see how many leads have been generated through social media, how many have closed and the revenue influenced by social media.

Social media activity is a great signal of buyer intent and should be a factor in your lead scoring model. Let’s say a lead just tweeted at your CEO. That person has shown interest in your brand, so you can increase his lead score. You could also draft an automated email and send the lead an article written by your own CEO on a similar topic. At Socedo, we’ve found that socially engaged leads have much higher email open and click-through rates than leads from other sources.

Social activity can also indicate when leads are further down the funnel. If a lead just posted about wanting a replacement for a competitor’s product, that’s a hot lead. Alert the appropriate sales representative to follow up and close the sale.

Social media is about human interaction, not a robotic, tick-the-boxes checklist. So ditch the list and craft a strategy around the clients you want to sign, and then get personal with them by starting conversations, sending content and nurturing those leads. You’ll see the difference in ROI almost immediately—and you’ll feel pretty popular, too.

Source: Social Times, article by Aseem Badshahhttp://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/why-have-b2b-brands-fallen-behind-on-social-media/644509)

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5 Clever Retail Offers That Won’t Eat Your Profits

Discounts and deals. These words bring up different reactions depending on who you ask. If you’re a consumer, these terms will likely generate excitement. You’ll perk up, and you’ll want to check out what the store has to offer.

But if you’re a retailer, you probably won’t get too excited. Sure, putting products on sale could generate traffic and customers, but it also lowers profit margins. And running sales too often may diminish your brand and attract shoppers who never want to pay full price for anything.

To avoid this, retailers must be smart about their discount strategies. Contrary to what some might think, it’s possible to run sales while maintaining a healthy profit margin and brand image. Take a look at the ideas below, and see if you can apply them to your business.

1. Reward profitable customers instead of deal-hunters.

Rather than sending offers to deal-hunters, determine who your best customers are — like your top spenders and frequent shoppers — and send them targeted offers. Doing so not only maximizes profitability but also helps increase loyalty among the shoppers who matter most.

If you’re planning to run a sale, go through your customer database first, and offer discounts to those who are likely to spend more. It’s also a good idea to analyze the types of customers who come through different marketing channels. From there, you could determine what offers to craft and how to promote them.

“Understanding customer lifetime value per marketing vehicle helps retailers craft the right offers while ensuring that they’re catering to customers who will keep purchasing and hopefully spend incremental dollars, says Antonella Pisani, founder of OfficialCouponCode.com

“In other words, it’s best for merchants to offer deals using marketing channels that attract customers who come back through free or cheap channels such as organic search, email, or brand keywords.”

2. Don’t put your flagship products on sale.

Avoid discounting your flagship or most desired products. Being selective with the items you put on sale protects margins for your best merchandise. It also elevates your top products so shoppers won’t see you as a deal-centric brand.

Thom O’Leary, President at Fixer Group Consulting, says that keeping specific items at full price enables retailers to continue driving revenue through sales without diminishing brand value. “Some online stores will run tons of sales, but never on their flagship items. They’ll even make it clear that those items are never on sale, or only on sale once per year. This is typically done on their most desirable or best-known items.”

He continues, “My client, SCOTTeVEST, does this. Their flagship vests almost never go on sale, and the strategy has worked out well for them.”

3. Avoid falling into a discount pattern.

Being predictable with when and how you run sales trains customers to wait for deals. One retailer that learned this the hard way is Bed Bath & Beyond. The home furnishings retailer got a little aggressive with their coupon strategy, mailing out tons of “20% off” coupons on a regular basis.

And while the effort did drive sales, it also lowered profits for the retailer. Last year, Bed Bath & Beyond made retail news when it announced on its Q3 earnings call that despite revenues increasing 1.7 percent, profits were down 10 percent, mostly due to its coupon-happy strategy.

Don’t let your company suffer the same fate. If you’re going to run sales, keep shoppers guessing via sporadic and short-term promotions. Or better yet, be more targeted with the promotions you’re putting out there. Segment your top customers then send them an unexpected offer such as exclusive access to a flash sale or a generous coupon. You’ll reap the rewards of an uptick in sales without training shoppers to wait around for a deal.

4. Offer conditional free shipping.

Have you considered offering free shipping? You should. A ComScore study found that 58 percent of shoppers purchased more items to qualify for free shipping, and 83 percent don’t mind waiting for a couple of days for delivery if shipping is free.

Clearly, free shipping can drive ecommerce purchases. Shipping incentives can increase average order value and — if implemented correctly — could protect your margins at the same time. That said, you have to be smart with how you structure the offer. Rather than offering the deal to everyone who buys from you, implement specific conditions for deal redemption.

For example, you could set a minimum order value before shoppers could redeem the deal. Another approach would be to offer free shipping for qualifying items. Some retailers offer free shipping for just a limited time. The right free shipping approach depends on your business. If you’re selling small items that are easy to pack, then you can probably offer free shipping at a lower spending threshold than a retailer that sells heavier products.

Be sure to study your shipping costs when crafting your deal. Remember, the key is to create an enticing offer without killing your profit margins.

5. Implement promotions that add value.

Deals aren’t only about discounts. Consider running promotions in which you add value to the sale instead of slashing product prices. For instance, you could offer a free product with every purchase. This is an excellent way to move inventory that you’re unable to sell. You could also add value through personalization. If you’re selling jewelry, for instance, why not throw in a free inscription?

Think about why your customers are buying a particular product. What do they want to do with it? Is there anything you could offer that would complement the item or would help customers get the most out of it? Find the answers to these questions, and use them to craft your value-added offer.

Your brand image and profit margins don’t have to take a hit every time you run a sale. By offering data-backed and well-thought out deals, you can effectively attract customers, drive sales and maintain decent profits at the same time.

Source: Entrepreneur. Article by Francisca Nicasio (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/278404)

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The 6 Online Marketing Strategies Every Entrepreneur Needs

The internet has radically transformed how we build and promote businesses: We have access to far more resources and far more potential than ever before. So, why do so many entrepreneurs end up neglecting these fruitful opportunities by forgoing marketing, or delaying it as an unnecessary expenditure?

There are a handful of online marketing strategies you need — as in, your startup won’t be able to thrive without them.
Criteria for “need”. You “need” these strategies? After all, isn’t marketing optional? Isn’t it possible to build a business even without an online presence? Technically, yes, but you’ll be missing out on enormous potential by doing so.

All the strategies I qualify as “necessary” exhibit the following traits:

  • Expected. People expect you to have these things in place, and if you don’t have them, they may think less of your company.
  • Accessible. None of these strategies is particularly hard or complicated; there may be a bit of a learning curve, but on some level, these are accessible strategies.
  • Affordable. You won’t have to spend much money on any of these strategies, making them easy to pick up even for tight-budget startups.
  • Valuable. These strategies all offer high potential returns, meaning that the cost for you, if you neglect them, will be significant potential.
  • Time-sensitive. The more time you invest in these strategies, the more powerful they become. The sooner you get involved, the bigger the payoff you can potentially get.

It’s the combination of these factors that makes your work in these areas necessary. These are the strategies I deem “necessary”:
1. Personal branding.

Successful businesses can generate a ton of momentum from successful entrepreneurs who lead them. Branding yourself, before your company, gives you the opportunity to leverage a more trustworthy, personal image to promote your brand.

It also gives you more power to meet and network with others, form more partnerships and lend a face to your otherwise faceless organization. And it’s free to do, from a monetary perspective, though you will need to invest a significant amount of time.
2. Content marketing.

Content marketing takes a variety of forms, and depending on how you form your strategy, could accomplish a number of different goals. For example, you could use white papers, ebooks and other long-form content to attract downloads, signups and conversions, or you could use an on-site blog to attract more inbound traffic to your site.

You could even use content as a form of help and troubleshooting, or some combination of these applications. Content marketing is incredibly versatile and useful, and, if it’s valuable, your customers will expect you to have at least some of it in place for them.

3. Search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is the process of making your site more visible in search engines, so you get more traffic from people searching for the products or services you offer. Much of your organic search position ranking comes from the technical structure of your site and your ongoing content development strategy.

So, SEO is not much more of an investment if you’re already creating new content regularly — and it’s well worth that extra investment if for no other reason than to make sure your site is properly indexed.

4. Conversion optimization.

Most of these strategies aim to get more people on your site, but what do those people do once they’re there? Conversion optimization helps you ensure you get more value out of each and every visitor by maximizing your rate of conversion.

Sometimes, this means including more conversion opportunities, and other times, improving the ones you already have.

5. Social media marketing.

Social media marketing isn’t the get-rich-quick scheme you may have been promised, but there is significant potential in building and nurturing a social media audience. Again, content will come into play heavily here, as it will likely be the factor that attracts your audience to begin with. Here, you stand to gain greater brand visibility, a greater reputation and far more inbound traffic with your syndicated links.

6. Email marketing.

Email marketing has astounding potential for ROI because it costs almost nothing to execute. Start collecting subscribers from your existing customer base, your social media followers and other new opportunities; from there, even a simple content newsletter can help you encourage repeat traffic to your site, facilitate more engagement with your brand and keep your brand top-of-mind with your audience.

There’s one other key advantage these strategies offer: They all work together. While they can be pursued individually, each connects with and feeds into the others in some way. If you pursue them all, complementing your efforts across these multiple areas, you’ll see an even higher potential return.

Source: Entrepreneur. Article by  Jayson Demers (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/278923)

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4 Online Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore

Online marketing trends come and go, digital marketing is constantly evolving, but for right now, it’s important that you take note of these trends below.

1. Snapchat isn’t just for kids.

Snapchat is quickly becoming the social media platform of choice — and it isn’t just the kids getting in on the action. They appear to have penetrated the adult demographic, as more brands are adding it to their social strategy.

Snapchat is participating in some very creative campaigns to attract the older crowd, like branded airport security trays.

2. Optimize for mobile first, not second.

Over the past few years there has been an emphasis on optimizing for mobile traffic, but mobile isn’t playing second fiddle any longer. Mobile traffic is what you need to focus on first.

It’s the dominant traffic source and if your customers can’t easily convert on your website via their phone you are dead in the water. Every little detail needs to be well thought out. Things like:

  • Can a potential customer easily contact my business with a few taps on his or her mobile device?
  • Can the purchase process be effortlessly completed on a mobile device?
  • Is my mobile experience more pleasant than my competition’s?

3. User experience is everything.

It doesn’t matter if you are ranking at the top spot in Google for every keyword you are targeting — a poor user experience will prevent conversions from happening. Every single industry needs to focus on improving user experience (UX), even ones that traditionally never thought about it.

Shi Guang, CEO of Surplus Industrial Equipment recently focused on improving the experience his website provided, stating, “It was never something we even thought about. We assumed that as long as we had an item listed on our website, our customers would find it. After giving our website an overhaul, focusing on improving that user experience, we have seen a tremendous spike in sales. Making it as easy as possible to locate and purchase every item we stock should be a top priority for every business owner.”

Poll your users and find out what they love and hate about your website. Use this information to create a UX that converts traffic and ultimately drives more revenue.

4. Email marketing isn’t dead — you just need to be smarter about your approach.


Spend the time and money to build an email list the right way — 100 percent opt-in. Your results will be much better because you are mailing to a list of highly targeted prospects that want to hear from you. Bigger is not always better. Your results will be better from an opt-in list of 1,000 than they would be from sending a mass email to 100,000 untargeted recipients.

Don’t always send emails that are entirely advertisements, either. Mix in some helpful information and fun. This helps you build a relationship with your audience, keeping them engaged and subscribed to your list.


Source: The Huffington Post. Article by Jonathan Long (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-long/4-online-marketing-trends_b_10930258.html)

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Your Store’s Daily Maintenance: What You Should Know

One of the biggest pros of using a fulfillment service like Printful for your store is that you don’t have to deal with storing inventory or shipping your products. You set up your store, submit your designs, and they handle the rest.

But that doesn’t mean you can completely set it and forget it. There’s some day-to-day maintenance you should do to make sure your store runs smoothly.

This guide covers everything you need to do to keep your store well oiled. From store setup, to updating orders, to supporting your customers.

Setting Up Your Store

If you haven’t set up your store, check out these resources that can help:

  • The Printful Resolution Series – This is a blog series that walks you through the entire process of setting up shop, from A to Z.
  • The Printful Checklist – Use this as a master to-do list for setting up your store.
  • Printful YouTube Channel – If you’re not sure how something works, chances are you’ll find a tutorial on our YouTube channel.
  • Sample Orders – You can’t stand by your product if you haven’t even seen it, so order samples (at 20% off with free standard shipping worldwide).
  • Design and Photography Services – If you need help creating your designs or taking product photos, we highly recommend checking out our in-house services.

Managing Your Orders
When your store is up and running and you start to make sales, you’ll have to manage your orders. This means keeping tabs on hold orders, unsynced or out of stock products, etc.

  • What is your Dashboard?

This is the home base for all of your orders. You can see how many orders have come in, the profit you’ve made and whether it’s gone up or down since the previous month.

Printful sends notifications if there are delays or problems with your orders, but it’s good practice to regularly check your Dashboard.

  • Handling Hold Orders

The most common reason why an order is put on hold is because the print file doesn’t match Printful’s guidelines.

How it works is the graphics team will put that order on hold and send you an email explaining why. Then you have to update the order with the requested fixes.

  • Hold Order

Once you’ve fixed the reason why the order is on hold, then reply to the hold email and let us know.

  • Orders for Unsynced Products

If you’ve chosen to manually import unsynced orders, you don’t have to sync all of your products at once. This is great if you have a lot of products and don’t want to sync them right away.

When an order comes in for an unsynced item, it’ll save as a draft and you’ll have to sync it before the order can go through.

We send you an email notification when an order for an unsynced item goes through. So keep an eye on your inbox and sync these orders ASAP so we can move forward with fulfillment.

To manage your import settings, go to your Dashboard -> Stores -> Edit -> Orders.

  • Managing Your Store’s Customer Support

Our customer service reps are here to help you, but you support your own customers. We don’t communicate with your customers directly – it’s up to you to manage their needs and expectations.

Be sure to respond to your customers’ questions and concerns, and get in touch with us for more help.

Want to keep your customers happy? Then check out this blog post for Printful policies you can copy to your store with a free, downloadable template.

  • Submitting Problem Reports and Getting in Touch with Us

If you have a problem with one of your shipments (for example, you received the wrong size), the best way to get in touch with us about it is to submit a problem report.

To do this, go to your Dashboard, and look up the order in question. Click on the order, and then click “Report.” Here you can describe what the problem is, and our support team will get back to you ASAP.

When submitting a problem report, it’s helpful for us if you add these things:

  1. The order number
  2. Photos of the product where the problem is clearly visible
  3. A photo of the packing slip

But that’s not the only way you can get in touch with us – we’re available by email, live chat, or phone. You can even text us to schedule a call time! Watch this video to learn how.

Source: The Printful. Article by Nora Inveiss (http://blog.theprintful.com/your-stores-daily-maintenance/?mc_cid=65663d80ee&mc_eid=5c9662932b)

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