Business-to-business audience development dollars are increasingly digital, with digital content and mobile access increasingly the focus of many B2B trade publications. Sixty-one percent of marketers devote more than one-quarter of their budget to digital audience development, and a minority of marketers now spend 75% or more of their marketing budget on digital and mobile content.
Nearly three-quarters of B2B marketers are producing more content than they were a year ago, and social media budgets are expected to grow in 2014. A StrongView survey reported that 46% of marketers plan to increase social media spending this year. The major emphasis areas for B2B audience development dollars in 2014 are content marketing, visual branding, mobile content, and social media.
Content Marketing Is Major
Content marketing is expected to be even more important in 2014 than it was in 2013. Social Media B2B says that companies with blogs generate 67% more leads each month than companies that don’t. Content marketing, including blogging, is considered the most effective way of gaining trust and establishing authority with customers. A solid content marketing strategy ensures that companies continually create high quality content that is published to a variety of channels. Audience development through education rather than hard selling is expected to increase as search engine technology is increasingly able to see through search engine manipulating schemes to favor high quality content.
Location-based content marketing is expected to gain importance in 2014. This technology allows companies to deliver content directly to mobile users depending on their location as determined by GPS technology. In 2013, 93% of marketers used content marketing, and there is no reason to expect that figure to decrease in 2014.
Visual Storytelling and Branding
Company narratives increasingly include multimedia storytelling. Visual information not only makes articles and blog posts more interesting and valuable to readers, it also helps companies leverage image-based social media like Pinterest and Instagram. Other visual storytelling methods may be employed in the creation of infographics and SlideShare presentations.
The ”traditional” social media networks are more responsive to images as well, with Facebook posts that include images receiving 50% more interaction than strictly text-based posts. Pinterest is still growing at an impressive clip, and brands are expected to use Pinterest more extensively for branding initiatives in 2014. There are currently around half a million Pinterest business accounts, but that number is expected to be significantly higher at year’s end.
Mobility Continues to Be Hot
B2B companies can expect more people to access their sites and learn about their brands using mobile devices this year. Websites not only have to be optimized for search engines, but also for mobile devices through responsive web design, adaptive web design, and mobile apps. Expect brands to increasingly use mobile features like click-to-call, store locators, barcode scanners, and mobile coupons, and expect more mobile advertising campaigns in 2014. An increasing number of companies may develop mobile apps for audience development in the coming year. Apps engage customers and increase efficiency, allowing customers to engage easily and conveniently.
ROI Keeps Social Media at the Forefront
The necessity of a social media strategy to effective audience development has not gone away. In fact, ROI on social media is easier to learn with the advancement of social media analytics and reporting tools. Tools like HootSuite, Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, and Twitter Analytics will be indispensable for B2B companies to maximize ROI on social media strategies.
Video as part of social media strategy is important as well. While YouTube and Vimeo will continue to dominate, expect Vine and Instagram to become more important for the sharing of so-called microvideos. Vine videos are already four times more likely to be viewed by your audience as regular videos, and Instagram currently has a user base 10 times as large as Vine’s, and is now owned by Facebook, so you ignore Instagram at your peril.
You may not have thought of audio as part of your social media strategy, but it may be useful in your audience development efforts. Did you know that SoundCloud is the fourth largest social sharing platform? It grew tremendously during the second half of 2013, integrates with Google+, and allows users to choose Instagram images for ”cover art.” Any brand with audio content (such as spoken company profiles) can benefit.
Audience development dollars for B2B trade publications are increasingly going toward digital strategies in 2014. Content Marketing, visual and multimedia narratives, mobile friendliness, and solid social media strategies are strong pillars of audience development efforts this year. Monetizing audience development success through features like custom job boards are also likely to become stronger this year as publishers develop more solid business models to go along with the digital shift. RealMatch is there to help trade publication websites make the most of their audience development efforts with custom job boards that offer an exciting revenue sharing opportunity as well as a feature that is in itself a strong draw for websites.
Photo Credits: iosphere / freedigitalphotos.net, stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net