We specialize in e-media & custom content solutions. We connect buyers & sellers through custom content such as e-books, white papers, webinars, etc.

I’m not an SEO expert, and I never will be. Since we just published a new feature on DemandGen Report, however, dealing with how B2B marketers are using Pinterest, there’s an interesting SEO-related angle to this story that’s worth mentioning here.

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Is blogging over the hill as a content marketing tool? You might think so, judging from this University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth study.

For the past five years, the study has tracked how enterprises are using social media. Two groups are included: The Inc. 500, which compiles the fastest-growing private U.S. companies; and the Fortune 500, which is based on revenue.

The banner finding: “Blogging is declining for the first time since 2007 among the Inc. 500 companies,” according to a press release from the university’s Center for Marketing Research. Instead, it seems, these companies are increasingly turning to Facebook and Twitter as their go-to social media platforms.

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Maybe it’s because I’m looking harder these days, but I’m more impressed than ever with the quality of the content I see on many marketing-related blogs. Case in point: Jessica Malnik’s excellent post on “The Five Reasons Why Most Facebook Brand Pages Aren’t True Communities.”

The numbers, Jessica explains, tell the story. Only 1% of the “fans” on the biggest brand pages ever engage with the brand at all. Marketers, for their part, often allow their brands’ Facebook pages to echo with the sound of crickets — more than 80% of these pages are updated less than five times a month.

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by Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

The results of our 2012 Content Preferences Survey are now available via SlideShare. We asked scores of executives at top B2B companies to tell us how they find, use, share and evaluate marketing content, and they gave us some fascinating answers.

I won’t rehash the entire survey here – the SlideShare presentation tells the story.  But here’s an interesting point that deserves a closer look: The notion that “new” content formats like video and infographics are displacing “old” formats like white papers and E-books doesn’t seem to be correct.

As it turns out, the truth is a lot more complicated. We asked executives to rank nine different content formats as either “most valuable,” “somewhat valuable,” or “least valuable.” Most of these formats got a “least valuable” ranking in the single digits, and none of them ranked higher than 13% in that category.

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by Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

Contributing guest posts to other blogs can be a great way to bootstrap your own B2B blogging strategy. It gives you a great chance to build an audience by getting exposure on blogs that already have a strong following.

The idea is simple: When readers love your guest post, they’ll want more. When they want more, they’ll go looking for your web site and your original content. And when they find it, at least some of them will turn into repeat visitors – and prospects.

Since guest contributors give the host blog access to a rich and varied pool of original content, it’s a win-win situation. In fact, many of the biggest and most successful blogs, including those with a B2B focus, regularly feature guest contributors.

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by Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

Last week, I had a chance to hear Forrester Analyst Lori Wizdo speak at an online seminar: “Integrating Social in the Lead-to-Revenue Process.” She offered lots of great statistics about social media and B2B buyers, and quite a few useful tips.

When I listen to these things, however, there are always one or two points that stand out from the rest. Lori’s presentation was no exception.

This time, it was research that detailed what B2B buyers find most compelling when they engage with an online social community. Nearly half said they most valued the expertise that other participants offered; many others cited the quality of the discussion and topics as their biggest draws.

Here’s the shocker: Only 12% said “volume of activity” mattered to them, only 7% said the size of the community mattered, and a paltry 6% said they cared about how long the community has been around.

Now, let’s connect the dots with two more interesting numbers: 55% of B2B buyers cite online communities or forums as influencers on their buying decisions, and a whopping 86% say they engage on social channels while they’re working.

The bad news here is that B2B marketers who want to engage – really engage – with high-quality communities have their work cut out for them. After all, the easiest way to decide where to focus one’s efforts is to seek out the biggest or most active communities.

It’s a lot harder to figure out where the most influential people hang out or where people post the most insightful comments. When you trade quantity for quality, it takes more research and a studied eye to make the right decisions.

The good news is that putting in the work will pay off in the long run. B2B buyers seek out these communities specifically to research their options; they play a critical role in moving buyers from being merely curious to purchase-ready prospects.

So, where do you get started with a community-driven engagement strategy? Our advice is to begin with LinkedIn, where you can find B2B discussions on virtually every topic – and where the quality-over-quantity approach is often on prominent display. Hang out, pay attention, get a feel for how these groups work, and when you engage, engage carefully.

Remember that you’re a participant in a community, not a salesperson hunting for prospects. B2B buyers can spot the difference a mile away, and nothing will kill a community faster than a hard-sell attitude.

We’re big readers here at C4D. We’re especially fond of the blogs that we see lately covering content marketing in general and the B2B space in particular. It’s amazing how many smart people are thinking about – and writing about – these topics.

Each week, I’m going to highlight three of the best content marketing-related blog posts that I come across. Cut me some slack if I go back a few days on this first batch – it’s hard to pick when there’s such an embarrassment of riches.

Crafting killer CTAs. Ardath Albee opened our Content2Conversion event last month with a really good keynote address. In a recent blog post, Ardath follows up on a question she received during that session about how to create effective calls to action for B2B marketing content.

Ardath isn’t a fan of CTAs that basically invite prospects to get hassled by salespeople. You’re wasting your content on that kind of stuff. Instead, Ardath offers a great list of ways to think about creating CTAs that engage your prospects, invite them to learn more and set your company apart from the competition.

HIPAA and Dodd-Frank and SarbOx, oh my! Marketing expert David Meerman Scott recently covered the pushback he gets from marketers working in healthcare, financial services, and other highly regulated industries. They all tell him the same story: If we try to do content marketing, our lawyers will eat us alive. And if they don’t, the government will.

Get over it. Allowing lawyers to dictate your marketing strategy sounds to me like suicide by another name. David agrees – for example, he’s astounded at the disconnect between healthcare companies that are terrified of the Internet and healthcare consumers who use the Internet as a valuable information-gathering tool.

David offers a great case study that looks at one healthcare firm’s decision to shake off its paralysis and get involved with online content marketing. There’s great stuff here for B2B and B2C marketers alike.

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by Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

Content marketers often gate their content. But they almost never sell it. The very idea seems crazy.

Yet it’s possible that one very popular distribution platform doesn’t just allow marketers to sell their content – it practically demands selling content.

I’m talking about publishing for the Amazon Kindle. There’s a fascinating post over on Copyblogger about this possibility. (I won’t call it a trend – that would be a gross overstatement.) “Given the option between paying nothing and paying, let’s say, a dollar for the same product,” writes James Chartrand, “some people voluntarily choose the paid version.” In other words, when offered basically the same content for free online or for a small fee via Kindle, they’ll opt for the Kindle version.

Why would anyone pay a buck (or at least 99 cents) for content they can get for free elsewhere? Part of it is psychological: People aren’t used to paying for web content, but they are quite comfortable paying for an E-book. Part of it is the format, which is convenient and flexible.

But come on now. Can B2B marketers really get away with monetizing their content? More to the point, can they use the Kindle platform to reach a target audience and engage with prospects?

The jury is still out on this one. Chartrand offers just one example in his post, and that one doesn’t really go into details about how well it worked. And since it’s completely possible to give away content for the Kindle, I also wonder whether trying to monetize this content – even at a token price – is a smart move for B2B marketers.

What I do expect to see is more B2B marketers experimenting with free content for the Kindle and other E-book formats. It’s not so much the format itself that interests me, though, it’s the distribution channel.

If anyone can shed more light on these questions, please drop me a line or post a comment below. Is the Kindle the next frontier for B2B content marketing, or is this an idea whose time will never come?

by Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

This week’s Content2Conversion event in New York City was a huge success. I’m not saying that as a DemandGen Report editor – I’m saying it as somebody who has attended a lot of events over the years. It’s insanely hard to pull off these kinds of events, and this one went off incredibly well.

Some of the best sessions focused on two very hot topics: mobile content and video. Both are critical for B2B marketers, and they know it.

Or do they? Being vaguely aware that mobile content is important is one thing. But it’s another to really get just how little time there is to adapt or die. These two facts – both presented during Christina “CK” Kerley’s conference session – prove the point:

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by Matt McKenzie, Contributing Editor

I have been told that I’ve got a voice for print — and a face for radio. In spite of that, I sometimes get asked to host live webcasts. The fact is, webcasts are important content marketing tools; they’re great for engaging with your prospects, sharing quality information in an exciting format, and driving qualified leads.

Yet webcasts aren’t my favorite things to do. I’m one of those people who rank “public speaking” just ahead of “dying in a fire” on a list of scary things. One thing that I’ve learned, though, is that recording a podcast or webcast gets a LOT easier once you’ve done it a few times.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that before it got easier, I made my share of dumb mistakes. Here are some things I learned along the way to get more comfortable and confident hosting live webcasts.

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