Entrepreneur recently cited a study by HiveFire, a Cambridge, Massachusetts based internet marketing software company. The topic was fascinating and I believe there was some good takeaways from HiveFire's report. That said, in reviewing the study, it brought to mind the following fabled quote:
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” –
Like many great writers, Mark Twain had the ability to turn a phrase with style and wit.
Let me emphasize that I think there are some good takeaways from the HiveFire research, which we will review and use to springboard to what we hope are GENUINE lessons to be learned that may benefit your marketing. But YOU DECIDE if the you think the analysis summarized below is a cleaver use of statistics.
According to HiveFire, content marketing is the new king.
They arrived at this conclusion having surveyed “nearly 400 marketing professionals about the state of the business-to-business, or B2B, market, and discovered that marketers are retreating from traditional marketing tactics such as search marketing and have made content marketing the most-used tactic in their brand-enhancing tool box.”
According to HiveFire's B2B Marketing Trends Survey Report twice as many B2B marketers now employ content marketing as they do print, TV and radio advertising.
The firm defines content marketing and it's use in this fashion: “Content Marketing is the creation and publication of original content, such as blog posts, photos, videos, website resource pages, case studies or white papers to enhance a brand’s visibility.”
"Caveat emptor" = Let the Buyer Beware!
Let me say straight out that we believe in content marketing, advocate it for many Manufactured Housing Industry clients or prospects and practice it routinely ourselves.
Part of what concerns me in the graphic above is there is no mention of social network marketing. One has to live offline and never speak to those who have smart phones or internet connections to think that Facebook, Linkedin, Twitters and rising Google Plus are among the social media tools being used by businesses to do B2B and Business to Consumer (B2C) marketing.
Blogging is inserted by some as a 'social networking tool,' though it crosses from that space into others, and could arguably deserve its own category.
Another missing item in the above chart is the lack of mention for email marketing.
Do you get emails from businesses trying to market their product or service to your operation? If you are online, of course you do. Let us not presume that this and social network marketing are in the only 13% (the 'other') category. I'm not saying they are 'lying,' but who were these nearly 400 companies being surveyed? And isn't the purpose of their white paper to promote the purchase of a software/service that helps some do their brand content marketing? Moreover, isn't content marketing tied closely to SEO Marketing?
Participating at trade show events such as the Louisville Manufactured Housing Show and the Great Southwest Home Show, I'd concur with HiveWire that event marketing has genuine value in our industry and others too.
The same questions apply to the above. If HiveWire surveyed firms who happen to like content marketing, their numbers may indeed be spot on! But the issue is which firms were surveyed, what are the tendencies of those firms, and did they skew the results they would have had if they had used a broader based cross section of the B2B marketing universe?
These charts, similar disclaimer/questions above. I know some firms that spend zero dollars on their definition of “content marketing.” I agree that they should be investing in it! More on that below.
Another fact they report of these marketers surveyed is that 79% of the content they share is being shared online. That makes sense. The Internet is the generally the lowest cost way of sharing content.
Now, let me share a different perspective, what we will call the 4 Kings of Online MarKeting.
First, Content Marketing is closely tied to SEO marketing. Anyone who is writing intelligently, is trying to use their content to capture a 'regular audience' they hopefully have or create, as well as to attract attention from search engines. Some content may not help your SEO much – as in the example of boldly cut and pasted content that is 'scraped' from other sites word for word without credit – even if it is 'good information.' The quality of the information, the originality of the content makes you look good AND it also has the advantage of improving your SEO over time. While there are SEO tactics like Google Ad words that can be purchased – and at times, is a good idea – and others that can enhance SEO, the bottom line is that good content and good SEO methods should go hand in hand. So Content is a King that ties in with good SEO. Such content is delivered online via traditional websites, CMS websites (Content Management Systems such as Joomla, Drupal, etc.), blogs, etc.
Email Marketing. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reports that “email marketing was expected to generate an ROI of $42.08 for every dollar spent on it in 2010. As such, it outperforms all the other direct marketing channels examined, such as print catalogs.” (EmailingMarketing). We recommend email marketing in both B2B and B2C marketing efforts. (FYI, the DMA statistics, and a MerchantCircle survey of over 8,000 local business owners in the US found email marketing cited by 35.8% as a Top 3 most effective marketing or advertising method. These facts are among other reasons I question the HiveFire numbers.)
Social Networking and Blogging: As of January, 2011, Econsultancy reported that