Tag Archives: b-to-b

Context matters with online B-to-B ads

Testing in the online world has never become easier or more affordable. It’s therefore no surprise that many assumptions about online ads are being reconsidered. Today, Enquirio and Google announced the validation of one such tenet. It had been assumed, through common sense and improved response rates, that an ad displayed in the context of similar subject matter will do better than one with no relationship to content.

What do we mean by contextual ad placement? The premise is that if I’m an executive who influences a decision to purchase construction equipment, and I see an ad as I review a construction industry portal site, I am more likely to recall the message — and the brand — than if I saw the same ad on an unrelated site.

In research by Enquirio and commissioned by Google, this assumption was validated. The research methodology included randomized test subjects, given tasks related to the content of the sites they were reviewing. Some sites contained ads that were relevant, others contained the same ads but had no connection to those ads’ subject matter.

Results were gathered in the form of questionnaire answers and aggregate eye scan heat maps of the sites being reviewed.

Two key take-aways:

  • Through contextually relevant business-to-business (B-to-B) ads, purchasers are 52% more likely to associate your message with your brand
  • With contextually relevant B-to-B ads, it is 28% more likely that your brand “will make the cut” and be shortlisted.

The Enquirio site has the whitepaper available for download.

Infoweek and TechWeb launch strikingly familiar b-to-b portal

This week InformationWeek and its affiliated TechWeb introduced CreateYourNextCustomer.com, a b-to-b portal for their reportedly “13.3 million business technology buyers.”

Here\'s the scope of what they coverI’ve signed up and looked over their downloads and other resources, and I have to say there appears to be some valuable material. The focus of the portal is to help marketing technology pros plan their campaigns and online media buys. This would happen, in part, by gaining access to their media partners’ planning tools.

Where have I seen that before?

Which brings up a little episode of deja vous. They tout a media planning widget, to “zoom in on the business technology marketing solutions you need.” This was of course designed independently of one of the projects that my team produced last year, but I have to say it’s uncanny the similarities!

Here’s a blurb in Yahoo Financial News on the site and its solution wizard (oh, wait — that’s what our creation is called!).

What are your thoughts on this portal? Will it serve a need? Or is it too blatant a sell-through device for their partners?

B-to-B Viral Marketing Case: Powerboat sales as a window to our current economic squall

Let’s say you’re a company that mines data in a quiet niche — one not known for analytic vigor. You’ve been doing it for years and do it wonderfully. For clients who appreciate your chops, you’re a godsend. But these clients are exceptional in the traditional retail business sector you serve.

How, how do you spread the word about your super-segmented lists and dead-on business intelligence services? Intuition says you find something to “go viral” around. But that requires some degree of topical relevance, if not outright sensationalism. How do you enliven something as dry as, say, boat purchase behavior (pun intended), to give it the life necessary to grab headlines?

The answer is what Info-Link does. They periodically publish one of the more pedestrian metrics they track: Quarterly sales in bellwether states. Below is their latest Bellwether Report, available on their site and distributed via a simple but effective opt-in email:

Info-Link Bellwether Report

You can explore various sales statistics by quarter (use the pull-down). Yes, the news is depressing. But it’s undeniably informative. And share-able. What information can your business repackage in such a way that people will want to share it?

ProjectStars CEO describes how this new site blends job board with social networking

I’m returning from a holiday hiatus with recharged batteries and major content changes to Digital Solid. Come back often or subscribe to find exclusive interviews with online news-makers, plus more news and tips you’ve told me you appreciate as marketers in an increasingly technological world.

Michael Beddows - CEO - ProjectStarsTo kick things off in 2008, I’m thrilled to bring you an interview with Michael Beddows, CEO of the new projectstars b-to-b online social network. This site is part project board, part social network and part blogging cooperative. It’s a novel mix that has already attracted an impressive critical mass of participants.

Q: projectstars has been around for almost four months. Has the growth you’ve seen in that time surprised you, or was it about what you were expecting?

MB: Considering that our marketing over the past few months has consisted entirely of word-of-mouth, we’re very pleased with both the quantity and quality of our membership growth. This organic growth has also provided us with some great feedback on how we can refine our equity blogging approach.

Q: In a blog entry you mention that there are generally three types of online communities, and they mirror the Malcolm Gladwell The Tipping Point connector types. Of the three, projectstars is a “Maven” network, where you’ve written, “Content is king … For those who are knowledgeable, these [Maven] sites are a great place to showcase expertise and get discovered.” Can you name other communities that follow this “maven model,” where members are encouraged to promote themselves and their expertise?

MB: LinkedIn has an Answers section where members can vie to be nominated as the “Top Expert.” The difference with projectstars is that our members are not restricted to a Q&A format and can participate in more engaging conversations. projectstars is also more amenable to search engine optimization, which means that our member contributions are more discoverable in search engines. It’s one thing to be seen as an expert within the confines of LinkedIn, quite another to be seen as an expert on the Internet at large.

Q: Your site says that you’re “blurring the line” between job sites and business/social communities. This is extraordinary enough, in that I’ve never seen another site that is certifiably both, as yours is. But what has struck me as more novel is that your business model sounds a lot like a cooperative. A week ago you conducted your first share giveaway, where 100 members with the most earned points receive their shares in the business. This sounds unique for a social network site. Is there any other community that you’ve modeled this against?

MB: We believe we are the first social network to offer members shares. We think this is the way any online community should operate as it’s the members who make the community. It’s quite possible that someday, many social networks and blog communities will become equity blogs, where members band together to form a cooperative.

Q: Speaking of blurred lines, I like the Facebook login feature, which allows anyone who is already part of Facebook to register with projectstars from a page within Facebook. I was curious how the tie-in would benefit me, and saw that friends in Facebook who are also on projectstars are immediately identified and added as a projectstars buddy. What a cool way to tie the two communities together. Has this Facebook connection helped spread the word about projectstars?

MB: With so many sites out there, anything which makes registration easier is good in our books, so the Facebook login helps in that respect. We are also developing a Facebook application so that your projectstars blogs will show up on your profile and others can vote on them – once this is completed we do expect that will help spread the word.

Q: Are you optimistic about future tie-ins with other social networks through OpenSocial? How is this work progressing?

MB: We are members of the OpenSocial development lists and are tracking progress closely, however OpenSocial specifications are still in development so we expect it will be later in Q1 2008 before we see anything from projectstars on this front. We are also investigating the possibility of projectstars itself being an OpenSocial container. projectstars members can already set up their own personalized page of projectstars content, RSS feeds, and widgets at my.projectstars.com so this would be an ideal place to host OpenSocial apps.

Q: Blogging is a great way for domain experts to show off their knowledge. On the other hand, many of these same people already have one or more blogs. Are you looking at ways to port “outside” blog content into your site, or do you simply want to encourage bloggers to move their tent within the walls of projectstars?

MB: We did investigate linking members blogs to the system, however there were two problems with this. First, the projectstars community structure means that automating where posts appear is not easily possible, and second we realize that although people do have their own blogs, they don’t always blog about one subject, and sometimes blog about personal/life issues. As we want to keep projectstars content focused on the topics provided by the 300 communities, we decided to enable blogging within the system.

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Social networks for business verticals are less-known benefactors of OpenSocial

The OpenSocial alliance among a variety of consumer social network sites (SNSs) — most notably MySpace — is designed to allow marketers to leverage as never before the word-of-mouth strength of a social graph. This story about the less-known business vertical SNSs (such as those catering to physicians and telecom professionals), reminds me of this exciting reality:

Any b-to-b site with an active community and the flexibility of adopting OpenSocial can reap the same benefits.

Below is Google’s somewhat dorky video explaining the OpenSocial API.

[youtube 9KOEbAZJTTk]

Also, here’s a terrific explanation of what a social graph is, why marketers should care, and what they should do with the sites they manage in light of this information.