Your Marketing and Design Reading for The Weekend

This week, I came across several posts talking about trends of interest to SMB marketers, ranging from content marketing to mobile to social. I try to keep everyone at Affinity Express up-to-date on what “the experts” are saying about our various target segments and the services we provide. We use the knowledge to help us make choices in our future direction and even to validate past decisions. There is always a lot of information to digest but you can’t take your eye off the ball because things can change quickly. I hope you get some value out of this compilation from just the past few days.

Content Marketing the #1 Driver of Leads for B2B MarketersMarketing Graph

B2B Magazine conducted a survey of 440 B2B marketing professionals that revealed content marketing is the most important tool for generating leads (51%), coming out ahead of brand awareness (38%), thought leadership (34%) and sales (29%). Two-thirds of the respondents said they will be either “very” or “fully” engaged in content marketing by next year. This is a 100% increase over 2012 to 2013. As we work so hard to generate relevant content each week for our audience, it’s nice to know so many other B2B marketers agree with our choices.

Social media was named as the most important content, followed by articles, e-newsletters, white papers and blogs. Lower on the list were case studies, videos, in-person events, webinars, newsletters, online surveys and microsites. Ironically, despite the perceived importance of social media, interaction with this content was much lower on the list of criteria used to measure effectiveness, suggesting that B2B marketers are having trouble attributing sales to social media efforts. Gee, that’s not a challenge at all for us at Affinity Express!

The most important part of the post to me was the reminder about the 3 Rs of content marketing: reuse, re-purpose and regenerate. I have personally experienced the terror of worrying about what we are going to publish (Actually, it happens about once a week on Monday mornings!). But there are materials in existence that can be re-purposed or reformatted for different media, including trade show flyers, sales presentations, annual reports, user manuals, customer service materials and more. It’s all a matter of how you reinterpret what you have for a different audience or medium!

Report: SMBs dedicate bulk of digital spending to online marketing services

A report from Borrell Associates found that SMBs spend an average of $17,000 annually on online marketing services or 72% of their total online budgets, compared with 16% to online promotions and 12% to online advertising.

According to Borrell, the categories of spending within marketing services are maintaining a Web presence (52% of all spending or $202 billion this year), online public relations (12%), online marketing support (11.3%), online ad production (12.9%) and online consulting and research (12.1%).

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees will spend less than $500 a year—just enough for Web hosting and email list management. Mid-sized companies with more than 50 employees will spend $63,000 a year, covering other areas like SEO, video production, public relations and social media. Companies with over 5,000 employees account for the bulk of spending ($226.5 billion) in the $390 billion market for online marketing services.

What is really interesting to us at Affinity Express is who benefits from these investments by SMBs. Borrell lays out four major groups:

  • Media companies: Tend to sell only “advertising” products and include dozens of players, including, Supermedia, DexOne, Hearst and Gannett.
  • Local ad agencies: Manage a variety of marketing needs and typically buy advertising for local businesses, but are not as strong in digital media.
  • Services companies: Offer everything from printing (VistaPrint and Deluxe Corp.) to small business loans (American Express) or payroll and accounting services (Intuit/Quicken) and digital marketing services to customers.
  • Digital disruptors: Internet pure-plays like, Yodle and, which usually sell services directly to SMBs using telemarketing or locally salespeople.

It is exciting to see these numbers on the rise. Affinity Express is not in one of the categories above, but we serve these groups that support SMBs with our digital and print marketing production services, leveling the playing field for SMBs so they can cost-effectively market their companies online.

Borrell: Newspaper Revenue to Rise in 2013

It’s been a long time since I read some positive predictions about newspaper print revenues so this announcement was refreshing. According to Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates, newspaper print ad revenue is expected to grow slightly in 2013 and online ad revenue is expected to rise 30% next year.

Borrell has been predicting a turnaround in newspapers’ fortunes in their local markets. He believes print ad revenues will stabilize or grow slightly at most papers, a trend he expects to continue through 2017. But the results will be uneven, with small and mid-sized papers having the best growth prospects and major metros still declining in the range of 4 to 6 percent.

Targeted banner ads, which are related to content readers care about, and video will be the primary drivers behind the rise (increasing 105% and 43% respectively). The targeted display category is expected to continue growing at a fast pace for the next five years, rising from just under $5 billion in 2012 to more than $35 billion in 2017.

Borrell attributes the rise of video ads to a shift in how users consume their online content from “reading the Internet” to “watching the Internet.”

Where Mobile is Going in 2013: Five Trends to Watch

You can’t argue with the opening lines of this post, which point out that mobile technology has entered every aspect of our personal and professional lives. Do you even remember what it felt like to have to wait until you arrived to your office to check your voice mail? Probably not!

Here are some trends to monitor:

  1. App growth will not slow down. We are moving toward an “app internet,” where local devices like iPads run programs that link to resources in the cloud. Forrester estimates the worth of the app internet at $2.2 billion and says it will expand by 85%.
  2. More than ever, users will expect highly-integrated experiences between Web and mobile and back. Whatever devices they choose, they will consume seamlessly. At the same time, publishers will benefit from being able to profile, build user histories and target audiences.
  3. The cloud is coming to the office. Building on the adoption of technology by consumers, cloud storage devices will allow users to connect to media for work wherever they are.
  4. Content curation is king. Publishers will enable users to make content their own so it is more meaningful to them and becomes part of their workflow.
  5. The digital textbook is how the new generation of students will learn. Cripplingly-heavy backpacks will go away and students will interact with each other, their teachers and even authors of materials through interactive charts and graphs, embedded audio and visual media including video.

None of these seem very far-fetched but I just hope some of these trends make it possible for people to take a break and get away from work once in a while, rather than just carrying it with them everywhere at all times!

9 Social Media Fun Facts to Shock or Maybe Just Awe

This is a fun post with some interesting information. Some of my favorites are:

2. A surprising 23% of Facebook users check their account at least five times a day.

5. Only about a quarter of Facebook users follow brands on Facebook.

7. Almost half of users say Facebook has no impact on what they buy.

9. More than half of people have used Facebook on a mobile device.

So people are passionate and almost addicted to using Facebook wherever they might be, but it is not influencing purchases as much as businesses would like.

What marketing trends are relevant to you and your business? What trends have you heard lately and which intrigue or even frighten you? Have a great weekend.

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

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