Archives for September 2014

The death of a dishwasher and the rise of the Internet of Things

By Kate Lee | 09/29/2014 | 10:34 PM

A couple weeks ago our dishwasher died.  The death was not slow and painful, rather it was swift.  On Tuesday night it worked.  On Wednesday night it refused to even turn on.  There were no signs that our dishwasher was going to die on Wednesday night.  In fact, the only indicator that there was a problem with the dishwasher was that it stopped working.


This is what happens with conventional devices- they let us know that there is a problem by ceasing to function.  The result is that we are left with a device that needs to be repaired or, as was the case with my dishwasher, the need to purchase a new device. 

Repairing a device takes time.  Getting a new device takes time.  Both at home and in the workplace, downtime can be a problem. The Internet of Things (IoT) can eliminate downtime.

The IoT is broadly defined as the merging of the physical and digital worlds. It is a scenario in which people and/or objects can be uniquely identified with the ability to share information over a network without conscious intervention. Data is automatically transferred, analyzed and used to trigger an event.

Reports by Cisco, IDC, and Gartner predict that the IoT will have a profound impact on how the how supply chains will operate in the future.  One of the primary reasons the IoT will impact the future of the supply chain is the exponential growth of real-time data that will be generated by connected devices (more than 50 billion devices are predicted by 2020).

IoT devices can monitor their functions and alert the appropriate person if/when there is an impending issue, thus reducing or eliminating downtime.  It is even possible that an IoT device could order itself a replacement part (or replacement for itself). The benefits of this are immense.

Which social media channels should your B2B business use?

By Kate Lee | 09/23/2014 | 2:11 AM

The number of social media channels is astounding –and is growing daily.  Which of these channel(s) should your business leverage?  Here is what you should consider when determining which social media channels you should use for your B2B business.

Your ideal customer

Who is your ideal customer and on which social media sites are they active?  Taking time to understand who your customer is and understanding where they spend their time is invaluable.  If you want to reach potential and current customers you need to be where they are – you need to make it easy for them to find you and to engage with your business.


Identify which social media channels your competition is using.  Do these align with the channels your ideal customers are using? 

Don’t be follower.  If your research has shown that your potential customers are using a social media channel that your competitors are not using, don’t assume your competition knows something you don’t.  Play where your potential customers play.


What type of content do you have, and what type of content do you feel will best attract and engage potential customers?  Video, for example, is better suited for YouTube than Twitter.

Finally, it is essential that your business is an active participant on social media.  Only take on what your business can handle and/or consider outsourcing.

Why your B2B inbound marketing strategy isn't working

By Kate Lee | 09/16/2014 | 2:33 AM

I work with companies from the supply chain and logistics industries to identify and execute strategies that will grow their business.  Too often I see companies who have invested time and money into developing a B2B inbound marketing strategy and have fallen flat.  Here are six reasons why inbound marketing strategies tend to fail:

The ideal customer is not being targeted

A successful inbound marketing strategy will attract and engage the “right people” – ideal customers.  It is therefore essential that time is taken to understand who the ideal customer is, the needs of the customer, and the customer’s pain points.  Your company’s website, social media presence, and email communications, should speak to your ideal customer.

Content is not published consistently

A common pitfall is establishing a blog, but only publishing content on a sporadic basis.  To establish your company as an industry leader and gain leads, you need to publish content on a consistent basis.  For example, your company needs to commit to publishing blog content every Tuesday.

Content is not quality content

All content is not equal.  If you want your inbound marketing efforts to succeed, your content needs to be quality content.  Your content should be well-researched, sourced, and edited.  Grammatical errors and misspellings are inexcusable.

More isn’t always better

It is easy to sign up for a social media account.  I’ve seen many companies who have decided to jump into social media feet first and have established many social media accounts, only to become overwhelmed.  If you want your inbound marketing strategy to succeed, it is more important to be active on one social network than inactive on five.

Lack of strategy and commitment

A 2014 study of B2B marketers found that companies that have a strategy in place are more likely to consider their efforts effective than companies that do not have a stated strategy in place.  Companies that do not have a strategy in place, and who do not have someone in charge of the strategy tend to fail.

A focus on sales

Content that informs and educates attracts and engages.  Content that is “salesy” not only fails to attract and engage, it turns customers away.

Is your inbound marketing strategy falling flat?  Assess your strategy – honestly.  Has your company fallen prey to these common pitfalls?

Marketing metrics to measure success and drive strategy

By Kate Lee | 09/02/2014 | 1:01 AM

To grow your B2B business you need to take a comprehensive data driven approach to marketing.  Metrics enable you to measure success, drive strategy, and demonstrate the ROI of your marketing efforts.

What metrics should you track?

Given that your objective is to attract, acquire, and retain customers, the most effective metrics to track are those where the unit of focus is the prospect, lead, or customer.  These include the following:


Visits capture the number of visitors to your company’s website in a given period of time.  In addition to tracking the total number of visits, it is also important to track visits by source.  That is, how visitors come to your website.  Sources typically include direct traffic, organic search, referrals, social media, and email marketing.  


Reach is the number of people who can be reached through your marketing channels (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook).  This metric is a good indicator of how well the content you are publishing attracts new people to your network, and how well the content engages people within your network.  In addition to tracking your company’s total reach (the total number of people you can reach across all channels), you should also track reach by channel.


Leads are one of the strongest indicators of ROI.  By tracking leads by source, you can identify where your marketing efforts are most effective, areas where you can improve, and areas you could eliminate from your strategy.


Customers are also a strong indicator of ROI.  Like leads, customers should be tracked by source.

Conversion rates

Conversion rates measure the percentage of people who are moving from one marketing stage to the next.  An increase in your conversion rates implies an improvement in the quality of your content and/or traffic.  You should track the visit-to-lead conversion rate (How many of your website visitors are becoming new leads?) as well as the lead-to-customer conversion rate (Are you generating sales-ready leads?).


Ranking matters.  The top listing in Google's organic search results receives 33 percent of the traffic compared to 18 percent in the second position.  Two metrics you can track are your domain authority and your marketing grade.

Domain authority is a score ranging from 1 to 100 that represents how well a website will perform in a search engine ranking. The lower the score - the less likely it will be found.  Marketing grade is a holistic measure of a site's online presence as measured by HubSpot's Marketing Grader on a scale of 0-100.  A higher score is better.

How to track metrics for success

Having an established database to capture your marketing metrics is critical to success.  Here is a great template that can be downloaded to track your metrics, measure success, and drive strategy.  One of the great features about this template is that it generates graphs that can be used in your reports and presentations.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Elizabeth Hines

Elizabeth Hines

Elizabeth is a content strategist with 12+ years of experience in content development, branding, marketing, and communications. As the creative/editorial director at Fronetics, she oversees all efforts related to content and creative assets, including strategy design and brand development.

She has written extensively about supply chain and logistics, and has developed content strategies across a number of verticals, including the B2B space. Prior to joining Fronetics, Elizabeth worked at Boston University, Prospectiv, and Cengage Learning.


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