With 2015 entering its final weeks, December is a good time to reflect back on some of the year’s highlights. And in the world of B2B marketing, there were a lot of them!
The past 12 months have seen continued excellence from well-known brands, as well as surprising campaigns from unexpected sources. Here are a few of the best B2B marketing brands and their top campaigns from 2015.
Dun & Bradstreet
From content marketing to demand generation, Dun & Bradstreet are masterminds at transforming data into creative, engaging content.
One of its most impressive projects is a new thought-leadership blog targeting marketing executives. Connectors works by tackling high-level topics in an entertaining voice that’s always fresh, focused, and fun.
You can find everything from white papers to quizzes on Connectors, often tied in with timely pop culture or news topics. For instance, for Halloween it launched an infographic titled “Is Your Database the Walking Dead?”
This piece leveraged D&B’s existing content to drive sign-ups for its Data Health Scan, but in a way that was appropriate for the spooky season, gave fans of the AMC show a giggle, and, most importantly, provided valuable information to viewers. Plus, the art assets are top-notch.
“Go big or go home” is more than just a sports adage. IBM has launched some of its most inspiring content marketing this year, mostly around lofty technology and concepts.
The company is pushing new approaches to cognition in business, healthcare, security, education, culture, and more. This could be an overwhelming and confusing topic for those not well versed in computer science and systems, so IBM created a content marketing series to make the capabilities of cognitive operations more understandable.
The Outthink page of IBM’s website collects videos, websites, and slideshows that detail the potential impact in certain fields.
The Cognitive Era YouTube series spreads the idea across IBM’s channels. It highlights the company’s Watson service and has it chatting about music with Bob Dylan and about birthdays with a young cancer survivor.
Going a step beyond just posting clips, IBM has also moved to make the videos easy to engage with across platforms. The YouTube channel for the Outthink videos includes a special interface at the bottom that loops in mentions from Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. It also gives people a chance to chime in from their preferred social channels right on the video page.
The series only started about a month ago, so it’s likely that we’ll be seeing more big things from IBM heading into 2016.
Marketo has been one of the top content marketing experts for years, but most recently, the company has caught our eye for the B2B approach of its Definitive Guides.
These are premium pieces of content that deliver top-level insights on making the most of central business topics. You can find professional knowledge on anything from mobile marketing to lead scoring.
Marketo succeeded with these guides (some of which have generated thousands of shares) by presenting them as the best of the best, and they’re exactly what’s promised in the titles. Using a modifier like “definitive” both promises a degree of quality to the reader and secures Marketo’s spot at the top of the heap in marketing and sales expertise.
The team at Hootsuite has made a name for itself in content marketing with its well-written and well-supplied social media blog. Even the blog’s tagline emphasizes the impressive volume of posts: “baked fresh, several times a day.”
One of the best ways that the company has kept its posts as fresh as promised are with case studies and profiles. Social media is a fast-moving space, and there are always businesses trying new or exciting strategies.
The Hootsuite Social blog has built up its reputation as a place to find those stories. The company’s editorial team manages to get the inside scoop from high-profile places such as the University of Cambridge and the Toronto Film Festival.
At the same time, the company keeps a finger on the pop culture pulse. So, in addition to high-level insights, you’ll also find a social media proposal for rapper Kanye West’s potential 2020 presidential run. The blog also dug out great insights in an analysis of a Star Wars movie trailer.
That balance of tone and topics means that the Hootsuite blog is always highlighting something innovative in the social media sphere.
Salesforce is a content juggernaut, delivering a vast quantity of material across its many marketing channels.
Despite the company’s sprawling marketing properties, Salesforce has managed to keep a sense of consistency in its editorial voice over the years. That degree of commitment to a tone and theme has kept Salesforce a top role model in B2B marketing.
Every element of the company’s content marketing and its approach to dealing with customers is focused on success.
The consistent voice has even permeated Salesforce’s experiments with new media. Most brands have already developed formulas for blogs, white papers, or infographics, but Salesforce pushed the envelope this year by jumping on the podcast trend.
The Marketing Cloudcast offers the same type of focused insights and information you’d expect from Salesforce’s content marketing, but in a format that lets listeners get thoughts right from the proverbial horse’s mouth.
One of the best components of HubSpot’s thorough content marketing efforts has always been its Academy, and 2015 saw the company adding even more value to this already jam-packed resource.
The site collects all of the company’s educational materials, from documentation by developers to video classes about sales and marketing. Scanning through some of the resources on the Academy, such as the Inbound Learning Broadcast, reveal educational material from as far back as 2012.
While some businesses might balk at showcasing content that could be seen as out of date, HubSpot’s old content still has relevance. Even though the videos about lead nurturing are a few years old, that topic is still one that resonates with other businesses.
The key takeaway here is commitment to your topics. By thinking strategically at the start of any campaign, you may find that a surprising amount of content turns out to be evergreen.
Don’t tuck old items into hidden corners of your web presence—you never know who might find even your earliest work useful.
Beautiful design and smart partnerships are at the heart of one of the year’s best concepts from GE.
World in Motion is a gorgeous, interactive hub of information. Viewers can sort the content in this resource by geography, topic, or format. If you want to see slideshows about infrastructure or read articles about the latest tech happenings in China, GE has you covered.
Not only is the presentation of this beautiful, but GE has also shown how leveraging high-quality partnerships can create something astonishing.
While some of the content is from GE’s own properties, the company also outsourced material from prestige outlets such as The Economist and Quartz, an offshoot of Atlantic Media. The collaborative angle with Quartz was particularly potent, as the whole hub went on display there.
LinkedIn continues to set itself apart in the content marketing world by being equal parts professional social media network and thought leadership platform.
The company has cultivated a reputation as the place to go for all sorts of smart insight into the business world. That could take the form of posts published by experienced experts such as Google executive Laszlo Bock or “Evil HR Lady” Suzanne Lucas.
Or it could be an article from LinkedIn Pulse, the news aggregation app that got a major redesign this year. Or it could be one of the stylish white papers offered in the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions hub.
The wide availability of content options that LinkedIn advanced this year have helped the company hold its position as one of the best B2B brands.
SnapApp took content to interactive new places in 2015. The company made content marketing feel like playtime thanks to personality tests, calculators, and polls.
One of its most successful pieces was an interactive infographic titled “The Reason for the Season.” This evergreen campaign offered marketers a new way to think about how they could inspire and engage with their customers over the course of the year, creating unique takes on seasonal events.
The infographic launched with an array of related materials: a comprehensive guide, workbook, four season-specific worksheets, multiple pieces of interactive content, three webinars, and an interactive customer story.
The media platform’s approach brought more fun and positivity into topics that could feel stressful to a marketing team that faces the same recurring hurdles each year.
Not only did the Reason for the Season campaign get us thinking in new ways, but it also set the bar high for thorough coverage and accessibility in B2B materials.
Lenovo made big strides into interactive content this year, with quizzes and interactive video content that showed a lighter side of the tech company.
One of its best productions was the video series called Users Happen. This collection of videos tickled the funny bone with its all-too-familiar looks at the human errors bound to happen with the technology in any modern workplace.
Not only has Lenovo been working hard on content creation, but it also took steps to make sure its analytics keep pace. It has been working to track user engagement and score leads based on their interactions, metrics that have risen thanks to the “snackable” content it delivered this year.
Lenovo doubled its prospect engagement and dropped its unsubscribe rate by 50%. As a result of good content choices and back-end knowledge, Lenovo saw revenue attributable to marketing rise more than 58% year over year.
Many B2B operations are targeting the enterprise level, so it was a good year for payments company Square to stake its claim as a top resource for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
The company introduced the Town Square Business Resource Center this year, a project aimed at supporting smaller operations with work savvy. The Town Square serves as a one-stop shop for its target audience, delivering information on marketing, data insights, and customer services.
The hub drew accolades for blending a community-centric approach to the small business world with nuanced branding. Town Square profiles small business owners who have successfully used the company’s tools, and it has sections devoted to alternative payment systems and how to use the Square service.
The entire experience of browsing Town Square conveys the elegance, simplicity, and expertise that most of its users will tell you Square offers.
Who wouldn’t want to know more about the Monsters of Funnel? The clever team at LeadMD has created a rock ‘n’ roll take on improving the sales funnel.
Although this topic can often feel dry or rote, LeadMD injected so much fun and personality into its campaign that even people outside the B2B world might be curious to learn more.
The campaign centered on collaborations with thought leaders in the field, such as LinkedIn’s Jason Miller and Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing.
Monsters of Funnel included video discussions, an eBook, blog posts, and an active social media campaign to spread the word about how to address more complex elements of the funnel.
Storytelling, team building, and more got the rock-star treatment in this engaging campaign.
Another company bringing a tongue-in-cheek fun to the B2B space this year was DatAvail.
The company launched more than 37 different campaigns this year, and its delightful take on a Monopoly-style board game was one of the most original we’ve seen.
Datavailopoly nailed the type of resource that database administrators would both want to use and find hilarious. It managed to succeed even though in included highly analog components, such as the direct-mail pieces and magnets that kicked off the campaign.
As interest grew, the push expanded to include email campaigns, events, social media, and yes, a real board game.
Not only did Datavailopoly put the company on the map, but it also met crucial goals such as increasing social engagement, email open rates, and meeting requests.
The Best in Content Marketing
Want to see other great companies producing innovative content and techniques? Check out Kapost’s picks for the best in content marketing.