Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Wed, 18 Jul 2018 10:35:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing? http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/07/quality-content-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/07/quality-content-marketing/#respond Mon, 16 Jul 2018 10:38:29 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24494 Quality in Content Marketing

Quality in Content Marketing

Have you heard the good news about quality content? It’s the latest innovation that’s sweeping the nation. It’s going to revolutionize your content marketing efforts. If your current strategy is to crank out crappy content, then quality content is going to blow your KPIs away!

Okay, sarcasm aside: Every content marketer knows their content needs to be good to be effective. We call it “quality,” or “value,” or “usefulness.” But all of these traits can vary widely depending on your audience. For example, conventional wisdom might say that 500-word blog posts don’t connect with readers. But that word count may be just the right length for the people you want to reach.

So, when we get into the specifics, quality is relative and highly subjective. But it’s possible to define quality content marketing in a more universal way:

Quality content demonstrates to your audience that you are listening to them.

It’s that simple. Well, one step further:

Quality content demonstrates that you’re listening and you care.

We often think about what action we want readers to take. That’s a valid question; in fact, it’s the foundation of content marketing strategy. But for quality content we need to consider the flip side: How will the reader’s life be better after reading this content? Or, to really boil it down: What’s in it for them?

That’s the essence of quality content. And here’s how you can make sure your content passes the test. First, at the broadest level, there are two minimum requirements for quality:

All Content Marketing Should Be ...

#1: Hyper-Relevant

We talk a lot about best answer content at TopRank Marketing, content that:

  • Serves a proven search need
  • Addresses a customer’s burning questions
  • Is substantial and comprehensive

Basically, it means that you’re putting in time and effort into researching your audience, what they need and how they’re searching for it. Then you’re crafting content that acknowledges that search and makes a genuine attempt to give them exactly what they’re looking for.

#2: Non-Promotional

It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. Quality content has to be non-promotional. Now, some brands take this advice to heart, but create content that’s still promotional, just with a thin veneer of solving a problem. They’ll publish a “10 Ways to Be Better at X,” but each way just leads to their solution. That’s a cheat.

Real customer-centered content gives away valuable information that people can use even if they never buy from you.  For example, here’s Quicksprout’s “Advanced Guide to Content Marketing.” It’s massive. It’s ungated. Only a tiny fraction of it is related to the solutions they sell.

Advanced Guide to Content Marketing Example

Of course, your content mix should include some bottom-of-funnel content that will show how your brand solves a problem. But the majority of your content should focus on the reader.

[bctt tweet="It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

So, quality content demonstrates to your reader that you’re listening and care about them. It does this by being hyper-relevant and non-promotional. It’s a good working definition, but still a little vague. Here are five ways you can approach content to guarantee quality:

Five Ways to Create Quality Content

#1: Tell a Story

Humans are storytelling animals. We're wired to process narratives, to get pleasure from a good tale and retain the information within it. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. Tell a story that shows your reader you understand what their world is like. Tell a story that shows you understand what they wish their world was like. Even better, make them (or someone very much like them) the star of the story.

[bctt tweet="We're wired to process narratives. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Read: Be Honest Like Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling

#2: Show Vulnerability

One of the quickest ways to make an emotional connection is to reveal your own shortcomings. Everyone has moments of failure; they’re what makes us human. Use your brand’s failings, and the lessons learned from them, to connect with the reader and help them improve.

The Buffer team is great at the kind of honest, meaningful discussion I’m talking about here. Their “5 Times We Failed at Diversity Big Time (and How We Fixed It)” is a good starting example.

Buffer Quality Content Example

#3: Help Them Look Smart at Work

What do most working people have in common, regardless of industry, function or seniority level? We all want to look good in front of our boss. If you are the boss, you want to look good in front of shareholders. Everyone can benefit from a little competitive edge, a tip or a trick or a bit of wisdom they can pull out at the next meeting.

#4: Help Make Their Job Easier

Another thing all working people have in common is that we would prefer to not work so hard. Anything that can help us get the job done quicker, with less effort, without sacrificing quality, is incredibly valuable. Keep that idea in mind when writing checklists, tools and tips, or how-to posts. It’s not just “here’s how you do this,” it’s “here’s how you do this better, regardless of your current skill level.”

#5: Help Them Improve Themselves

Your audience’s lives are bigger than their interaction with your brand. They’re bigger than the pain points your brand has the expertise to solve. If you can reach out to the broader sphere of their life experience, you can bring quality in new and unexpected ways.

This piece from LinkedIn's* Jason Miller, “How to Survive a Mid-Career Crisis in Marketing,” is a stellar example. It’s a guide that’s not really about marketing at all; it’s about finding your true voice and pursuing passion. Bonus: Notice that the piece tells a story and shows vulnerability, too.

LinkedIn Quality Content Example

Quality Is Job One

Have you ever said to anyone, “I consumed some quality content the other day?” I sincerely hope not. Instead, you likely said, “I saw the greatest article,” or “Check out this cool video.” When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise.

That’s the only type of content we should be in the business of making. Not just because it gets better results — it does, but that’s only part of the equation. When we create quality content, that means the work we do is useful, valuable, and meaningful. Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time doing otherwise.

[bctt tweet="When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Create content that connects. Check out these 10 powerful lessons in resonance from some of the industry's top marketing minds.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
Quality in Content Marketing

Quality in Content Marketing Have you heard the good news about quality content? It’s the latest innovation that’s sweeping the nation. It’s going to revolutionize your content marketing efforts. If your current strategy is to crank out crappy content, then quality content is going to blow your KPIs away! Okay, sarcasm aside: Every content marketer knows their content needs to be good to be effective. We call it “quality,” or “value,” or “usefulness.” But all of these traits can vary widely depending on your audience. For example, conventional wisdom might say that 500-word blog posts don’t connect with readers. But that word count may be just the right length for the people you want to reach. So, when we get into the specifics, quality is relative and highly subjective. But it’s possible to define quality content marketing in a more universal way: Quality content demonstrates to your audience that you are listening to them. It’s that simple. Well, one step further: Quality content demonstrates that you’re listening and you care. We often think about what action we want readers to take. That’s a valid question; in fact, it’s the foundation of content marketing strategy. But for quality content we need to consider the flip side: How will the reader’s life be better after reading this content? Or, to really boil it down: What’s in it for them? That’s the essence of quality content. And here’s how you can make sure your content passes the test. First, at the broadest level, there are two minimum requirements for quality:

All Content Marketing Should Be ...

#1: Hyper-Relevant

We talk a lot about best answer content at TopRank Marketing, content that:
  • Serves a proven search need
  • Addresses a customer’s burning questions
  • Is substantial and comprehensive
Basically, it means that you’re putting in time and effort into researching your audience, what they need and how they’re searching for it. Then you’re crafting content that acknowledges that search and makes a genuine attempt to give them exactly what they’re looking for.

#2: Non-Promotional

It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. Quality content has to be non-promotional. Now, some brands take this advice to heart, but create content that’s still promotional, just with a thin veneer of solving a problem. They’ll publish a “10 Ways to Be Better at X,” but each way just leads to their solution. That’s a cheat. Real customer-centered content gives away valuable information that people can use even if they never buy from you.  For example, here’s Quicksprout’s “Advanced Guide to Content Marketing.” It’s massive. It’s ungated. Only a tiny fraction of it is related to the solutions they sell. Advanced Guide to Content Marketing Example Of course, your content mix should include some bottom-of-funnel content that will show how your brand solves a problem. But the majority of your content should focus on the reader. [bctt tweet="It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"] So, quality content demonstrates to your reader that you’re listening and care about them. It does this by being hyper-relevant and non-promotional. It’s a good working definition, but still a little vague. Here are five ways you can approach content to guarantee quality:

Five Ways to Create Quality Content

#1: Tell a Story

Humans are storytelling animals. We're wired to process narratives, to get pleasure from a good tale and retain the information within it. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. Tell a story that shows your reader you understand what their world is like. Tell a story that shows you understand what they wish their world was like. Even better, make them (or someone very much like them) the star of the story. [bctt tweet="We're wired to process narratives. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"] Read: Be Honest Like Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling

#2: Show Vulnerability

One of the quickest ways to make an emotional connection is to reveal your own shortcomings. Everyone has moments of failure; they’re what makes us human. Use your brand’s failings, and the lessons learned from them, to connect with the reader and help them improve. The Buffer team is great at the kind of honest, meaningful discussion I’m talking about here. Their “5 Times We Failed at Diversity Big Time (and How We Fixed It)” is a good starting example. Buffer Quality Content Example

#3: Help Them Look Smart at Work

What do most working people have in common, regardless of industry, function or seniority level? We all want to look good in front of our boss. If you are the boss, you want to look good in front of shareholders. Everyone can benefit from a little competitive edge, a tip or a trick or a bit of wisdom they can pull out at the next meeting.

#4: Help Make Their Job Easier

Another thing all working people have in common is that we would prefer to not work so hard. Anything that can help us get the job done quicker, with less effort, without sacrificing quality, is incredibly valuable. Keep that idea in mind when writing checklists, tools and tips, or how-to posts. It’s not just “here’s how you do this,” it’s “here’s how you do this better, regardless of your current skill level.”

#5: Help Them Improve Themselves

Your audience’s lives are bigger than their interaction with your brand. They’re bigger than the pain points your brand has the expertise to solve. If you can reach out to the broader sphere of their life experience, you can bring quality in new and unexpected ways. This piece from LinkedIn's* Jason Miller, “How to Survive a Mid-Career Crisis in Marketing,” is a stellar example. It’s a guide that’s not really about marketing at all; it’s about finding your true voice and pursuing passion. Bonus: Notice that the piece tells a story and shows vulnerability, too. LinkedIn Quality Content Example

Quality Is Job One

Have you ever said to anyone, “I consumed some quality content the other day?” I sincerely hope not. Instead, you likely said, “I saw the greatest article,” or “Check out this cool video.” When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise. That’s the only type of content we should be in the business of making. Not just because it gets better results — it does, but that’s only part of the equation. When we create quality content, that means the work we do is useful, valuable, and meaningful. Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time doing otherwise. [bctt tweet="When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"] Create content that connects. Check out these 10 powerful lessons in resonance from some of the industry's top marketing minds. Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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Becoming a Better Marketer by Embracing Your Passions Outside the Office http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/07/becoming-better-marketers-outside-work/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/07/becoming-better-marketers-outside-work/#respond Wed, 04 Jul 2018 10:33:57 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24485 How Our After-Hours Passions Elevate Us as Marketers

How Our After-Hours Passions Elevate Us as Marketers

In the first post I ever wrote for the TopRank Marketing Blog, I reflected on the marketing lessons I’d picked up through my baseball blogging hobby. Helping build an online community at Twins Daily has instilled many important fundamentals that, I feel, make me better at my day job.

I’m always fascinated by this interplay. We spend so much of our time each week alongside our coworkers, but are often unaware of the interests and side hustles that drive them outside of the office. Those very passions can be such integral parts of who we are and how we operate.

More recently, this has been a topic of focus for our friends at LinkedIn*. In April, Jason Miller wrote a piece about following your dreams while staying committed to your career, and in June, Sean Callahan profiled a LinkedIn marketer who moonlights as a DJ.

The subject of Sean’s piece was Ish Verduzco (aka DJ Ishh), who says that spinning the turntables on weekends has helped him learn how to get in tune with online audiences as a social media marketer. Incidentally, Jason and Sean themselves are great examples of this dynamic — Jason is a rock-and-roll photographer whose creativity and energy infuse the content he produces, while Sean is the author of several children’s books with a knack for conveying information clearly and understandably.

These posts from LinkedIn inspired me to learn more about my own colleagues here at the TopRank Marketing office, and how their outside hobbies or passions help shape them professionally. So I asked around:

What activities occupy your time when you’re not at the office, and how do they help make you a more clever, curious, and courageous marketer?

Hopefully their answers will inspire other marketers to fully embrace their own passions, and think about ways in which their personal pursuits can fuel their professional success — or vice versa.

The After-Hours Passions that Elevate Our Team Members' Marketing Skills

Improving Through Improv

Josh NiteJosh Nite, Senior Content Marketing Manager

His jokes and puns are cherished staples during the workday, and Josh puts his sharp wit to good use after it ends by participating in improv shows and competitions. He believes that these comedy performances make him a better marketer for two primary reasons.

“First, they force me to carefully consider words, how they have an effect on people, how powerful they can be. Second, they're performed live in front of an audience, so I can see whether or not I'm making a connection. It really helps me have a mental image of the reader in mind when I'm writing content.”

Making a Habit of Being Helpful

Debbie Friez, Influencer Marketing Strategist

Debbie is very active at her church, Spirit Garage, where she applies her professional skills to help out with marketing functions.

“I serve on the marketing committee, so that has me looking for new ideas,” she says. “I subscribe to a few newsletters and I’m active in Social Media Shepherds, a group of church communicators.”

In turn, Debbie’s community work through church and other endeavors — she picks up garbage at local parks on Earth Day, participates in a book club, and serves cotton candy during street festivals, for example — helps her develop rock-solid relationships with influencers and clients.

Finding Focus on the Fairway

Anne Leuman, Content Strategist

As someone who regularly covers SEO-related topics on the TopRank Marketing Blog, Anne understands the importance of links (she recently wrote about examples of link-worthy content). And on the weekend, she likes to unwind by hitting the links.

“My No. 1 hobby outside of work is golf,” Anne says. “Golf, believe it or not, requires a great amount of imagination. If you can see a shot, you can make the shot. Playing the sport allows me to hone my imagination skills, leading to more creativity and well-thought-out content strategy.”

She also adds that the sport’s individualistic nature helps her focus on self-improvement. Bolstering your score on the golf course is all about looking inward and making the right personal tweaks, which is also true of content creation.

“Similar to working on my golf game,” she starts. “I'll take lessons, ask for advice, or spend hours writing each day to ensure I'm above par.”  

Managing to Make a Difference

Elizabeth Williams, Account Manager

As a mother raising two young children of mixed race, Elizabeth feels strongly about doing her part to create a more accepting and fair environment for individuals of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

“As a marketer sometimes it’s hard to see that direct impact on ‘making a the world a better place’ in your day-to-day. But, it’s something I crave. Having that reason behind what we do inspires us to keep going when we're feeling frustrated or overloaded.”

She continues: “My ‘making the world a better place’ is working toward MLK's dream — for a world where people will not be judged by the color of their skin. In my family, we experience racism nearly every time we're in public, whether it’s big or small.”

And so she commits much of her energy outside of work to advocating for the cause of social justice. A marketer’s understanding of how to engage and influence proves helpful in this regard.

“I love applying my knowledge of digital marketing to my activist communications,” she says.

Making Creativity is the Name of the Game

Patrick Pineda, Motion Designer

If you watched any of the awesome 8-bit videos he whipped up for our Content Marketing Combos series, you might peg Patrick as an avid video game enthusiast. But his real passion is for tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and World of Darkness.

Earlier this year, he collaborated with Anne to create a blog post around content marketing lessons from the realm of D&D, such as the value of originality, the pitfalls of corralling an audience, and the importance of customization — something that is incredibly important and top-of-mind for marketers today.

“The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick noted.

The Rabid Researcher

Lane EllisLane Ellis, Social & Content Marketing Manager

Working remotely from northern Minnesota, Lane conducts plenty of helpful research for the team at TopRank Marketing, and his proclivities in this area are deeply ingrained.

“Since 1994 I've been doing family history research, including several years as one of Duluth's few professional genealogists, which has taught me many research-related lessons that I try to apply to my social media and marketing career,” he explains.

As someone who was using the internet for research before many of us were using it at all, he’s very adept at quickly finding what he’s looking for.

Harnessing Healthy Results Like a Boss

Lee OddenLee Odden, CEO

Employees at TopRank Marketing are accustomed to the occasional week or two where Lee isn’t in the office, given the amount of traveling he does for speaking engagements around the world, but recently we’ve noticed that we’re seeing less of him — literally. The agency cofounder has been on a major health kick over the past several months, and the impact has been visibly evident in his physique.

“I've found diet, cardio and other exercise have direct correlations to goal-setting, discipline, quality of effort, time management, and optimization of marketing performance,” Lee explains.

In particular, he’s sees parallels in the ways success is measured for fitness and marketing. In neither case should vanity be the name of the game.

“I found it interesting not to focus on weight loss, but clothing size, energy level, and quality of life improvements since those are the real goals,” he says. “I think there are lessons there as a marketer in measuring performance. Views, shares and impressions are like sugary candy metrics that give spikes of endorphins, but don't really reflect the real goals of leads, deals, and revenue.”

What Drives You?

At TopRank Marketing, we’re lucky to have a team with diverse interests and hobbies. Working with these folks on a daily basis, it’s easy to see they are keeping their marketing skills sharp through after-hours activities, even if that’s not necessarily the inherent rationale.

Meanwhile, staying busy and focused on other things outside of work helps us stay refreshed and rejuvenated once we arrive each morning. So, I ask you, too: What passions outside of work make you better at your job?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Becoming a Better Marketer by Embracing Your Passions Outside the Office appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
How Our After-Hours Passions Elevate Us as Marketers

How Our After-Hours Passions Elevate Us as Marketers In the first post I ever wrote for the TopRank Marketing Blog, I reflected on the marketing lessons I’d picked up through my baseball blogging hobby. Helping build an online community at Twins Daily has instilled many important fundamentals that, I feel, make me better at my day job. I’m always fascinated by this interplay. We spend so much of our time each week alongside our coworkers, but are often unaware of the interests and side hustles that drive them outside of the office. Those very passions can be such integral parts of who we are and how we operate. More recently, this has been a topic of focus for our friends at LinkedIn*. In April, Jason Miller wrote a piece about following your dreams while staying committed to your career, and in June, Sean Callahan profiled a LinkedIn marketer who moonlights as a DJ. The subject of Sean’s piece was Ish Verduzco (aka DJ Ishh), who says that spinning the turntables on weekends has helped him learn how to get in tune with online audiences as a social media marketer. Incidentally, Jason and Sean themselves are great examples of this dynamic — Jason is a rock-and-roll photographer whose creativity and energy infuse the content he produces, while Sean is the author of several children’s books with a knack for conveying information clearly and understandably. These posts from LinkedIn inspired me to learn more about my own colleagues here at the TopRank Marketing office, and how their outside hobbies or passions help shape them professionally. So I asked around: What activities occupy your time when you’re not at the office, and how do they help make you a more clever, curious, and courageous marketer? Hopefully their answers will inspire other marketers to fully embrace their own passions, and think about ways in which their personal pursuits can fuel their professional success — or vice versa.

The After-Hours Passions that Elevate Our Team Members' Marketing Skills

Improving Through Improv

Josh NiteJosh Nite, Senior Content Marketing Manager His jokes and puns are cherished staples during the workday, and Josh puts his sharp wit to good use after it ends by participating in improv shows and competitions. He believes that these comedy performances make him a better marketer for two primary reasons. “First, they force me to carefully consider words, how they have an effect on people, how powerful they can be. Second, they're performed live in front of an audience, so I can see whether or not I'm making a connection. It really helps me have a mental image of the reader in mind when I'm writing content.”

Making a Habit of Being Helpful

Debbie Friez, Influencer Marketing Strategist Debbie is very active at her church, Spirit Garage, where she applies her professional skills to help out with marketing functions. “I serve on the marketing committee, so that has me looking for new ideas,” she says. “I subscribe to a few newsletters and I’m active in Social Media Shepherds, a group of church communicators.” In turn, Debbie’s community work through church and other endeavors — she picks up garbage at local parks on Earth Day, participates in a book club, and serves cotton candy during street festivals, for example — helps her develop rock-solid relationships with influencers and clients.

Finding Focus on the Fairway

Anne Leuman, Content Strategist As someone who regularly covers SEO-related topics on the TopRank Marketing Blog, Anne understands the importance of links (she recently wrote about examples of link-worthy content). And on the weekend, she likes to unwind by hitting the links. “My No. 1 hobby outside of work is golf,” Anne says. “Golf, believe it or not, requires a great amount of imagination. If you can see a shot, you can make the shot. Playing the sport allows me to hone my imagination skills, leading to more creativity and well-thought-out content strategy.” She also adds that the sport’s individualistic nature helps her focus on self-improvement. Bolstering your score on the golf course is all about looking inward and making the right personal tweaks, which is also true of content creation. “Similar to working on my golf game,” she starts. “I'll take lessons, ask for advice, or spend hours writing each day to ensure I'm above par.”  

Managing to Make a Difference

Elizabeth Williams, Account Manager As a mother raising two young children of mixed race, Elizabeth feels strongly about doing her part to create a more accepting and fair environment for individuals of all ethnicities and backgrounds. “As a marketer sometimes it’s hard to see that direct impact on ‘making a the world a better place’ in your day-to-day. But, it’s something I crave. Having that reason behind what we do inspires us to keep going when we're feeling frustrated or overloaded.” She continues: “My ‘making the world a better place’ is working toward MLK's dream — for a world where people will not be judged by the color of their skin. In my family, we experience racism nearly every time we're in public, whether it’s big or small.” And so she commits much of her energy outside of work to advocating for the cause of social justice. A marketer’s understanding of how to engage and influence proves helpful in this regard. “I love applying my knowledge of digital marketing to my activist communications,” she says.

Making Creativity is the Name of the Game

Patrick Pineda, Motion Designer If you watched any of the awesome 8-bit videos he whipped up for our Content Marketing Combos series, you might peg Patrick as an avid video game enthusiast. But his real passion is for tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and World of Darkness. Earlier this year, he collaborated with Anne to create a blog post around content marketing lessons from the realm of D&D, such as the value of originality, the pitfalls of corralling an audience, and the importance of customization — something that is incredibly important and top-of-mind for marketers today. “The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick noted.

The Rabid Researcher

Lane EllisLane Ellis, Social & Content Marketing Manager Working remotely from northern Minnesota, Lane conducts plenty of helpful research for the team at TopRank Marketing, and his proclivities in this area are deeply ingrained. “Since 1994 I've been doing family history research, including several years as one of Duluth's few professional genealogists, which has taught me many research-related lessons that I try to apply to my social media and marketing career,” he explains. As someone who was using the internet for research before many of us were using it at all, he’s very adept at quickly finding what he’s looking for.

Harnessing Healthy Results Like a Boss

Lee OddenLee Odden, CEO Employees at TopRank Marketing are accustomed to the occasional week or two where Lee isn’t in the office, given the amount of traveling he does for speaking engagements around the world, but recently we’ve noticed that we’re seeing less of him — literally. The agency cofounder has been on a major health kick over the past several months, and the impact has been visibly evident in his physique. “I've found diet, cardio and other exercise have direct correlations to goal-setting, discipline, quality of effort, time management, and optimization of marketing performance,” Lee explains. In particular, he’s sees parallels in the ways success is measured for fitness and marketing. In neither case should vanity be the name of the game. “I found it interesting not to focus on weight loss, but clothing size, energy level, and quality of life improvements since those are the real goals,” he says. “I think there are lessons there as a marketer in measuring performance. Views, shares and impressions are like sugary candy metrics that give spikes of endorphins, but don't really reflect the real goals of leads, deals, and revenue.”

What Drives You?

At TopRank Marketing, we’re lucky to have a team with diverse interests and hobbies. Working with these folks on a daily basis, it’s easy to see they are keeping their marketing skills sharp through after-hours activities, even if that’s not necessarily the inherent rationale. Meanwhile, staying busy and focused on other things outside of work helps us stay refreshed and rejuvenated once we arrive each morning. So, I ask you, too: What passions outside of work make you better at your job? Let us know in the comments section below. Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Becoming a Better Marketer by Embracing Your Passions Outside the Office appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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How to Rally Around ROI & Prioritize Your Digital Marketing Efforts in the Face of Budget Cuts http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/07/prioritize-digital-marketing-after-budget-cuts/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/07/prioritize-digital-marketing-after-budget-cuts/#respond Mon, 02 Jul 2018 10:17:37 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24475 Prioritizing After Marketing Budget Cuts

Prioritizing After Marketing Budget Cuts

Ask any marketer if they’ve ever had to contend with the shrinking or deep cutting of their budgets, odds are you’ll get a deep sigh and a “more than once” response.

Organizations are always looking for efficiencies and ways to tighten their financial belt, and marketing departments are among the first to be placed on the chopping block because it all comes down to ROI—something many modern marketers find hard to prove

In fact, according to a recent report from Demand Gen Report and BrightFunnel, 58% of B2B organizations surveyed said their current ability to measure and analyze marketing performance “needs improvement” or worse.

So, if you’re staring down a budget reduction, don’t panic. This is the time to evaluate and prioritize your efforts so you can revamp your integrated digital marketing strategy to include a tactical mix that will not only refocus your strategy to reach your objectives, but also improve how you measure and achieve ROI.

[bctt tweet="If you’re staring down a #marketing budget reduction, don’t panic. This is the time evaluate, prioritize, and focus. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Here are four key actions you’ll want to take:

#1 - Evaluate your existing data against your goals.

While it may seem obvious, the first step is to evaluate how you’re performing against your objectives; what’s working and what’s not. However, you can’t rely solely on high-level or vanity metrics like overall traffic. In order to really dig into what’s working, you need to map each of your tactics and/or channels to closed business—and total revenue numbers if you can.

Not only will this help you focus on where to revamp and hone your strategy, but also put you in a better position to consistently measure as you move forward. So, when the next budget cut comes along, you can better prove the ROI of your marketing activities and make a stronger case for keeping your budget.

#2 - Narrow your targeting.

Every marketer knows that understanding your audience is key to developing and executing a strategy with impact. But audience characteristics, preferences, and habits—as well as the market you operate within—can change overtime. As a result, you may be wasting precious marketing dollars on the “wrong” people. So, it’s time to redefine and zero-in on who your ideal customer or buyer is and who are most likely to convert.

With the budget and resources you do have, it may be worth investing time and money in a survey or analysis of your existing client or prospects to better understand their preferences and pain points.

This will not only give you a clearer picture of what channels or tactics are working—but which may have the most potential based on who your customer is, where they’re interacting with your brand or other brands, what they’re interested in, and what moves them to a conversation.

[bctt tweet="If you're facing #marketing budget cuts, it may be worth using the resources you do have to analyze your customers and prospects to hone in on their needs, preferences, and paint points. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#3 - Place safe bets if your data is limited.

Effective measurement is a problem that’s plagued marketers for years. As a result, you may not have all the data to inform your decision making. In this case, we’d suggest making some “safe marketing bets” based on tried-and-true tactics.

For example, email marketing. Email marketing is perhaps the oldest digital marketing tactic around, but still one of the most effective. Not only does it deliver helpful information to your clients and prospects, when segmented and constructed correctly, it helps nurture them toward the sale. In fact, three-quarters of companies say email offers “good” or “excellent” ROI.

In addition, SEO and content marketing are consistently rated by marketers as top channels with the best ROI.

That said, be careful not to stake your success on simply following what’s “always” worked. The safe bets you place should be a temporary strategic solution as you work to get better measurement and data practices in place so you can continuously optimize your strategy.

#4 - Invest in efficiency.

Efficiency isn't about doing more in less time, but rather making the most of your time by doing the right things. As the old saying goes: Work smarter, not harder. From our perspective, there’s three core investments to consider:

1. Technology

Whether you want to optimize your workflow or automate time-consuming processes, investing in the right technology for your needs can make a major positive impact on efficiency.

2. Training

Your marketing spend is likely not the only item that took a hit. You may have also needed to cut internal resources. As a result, investing in training for the team you do have is a good play—whether you want someone to expand their skill set or level up his or her existing skills—to help your team work more efficiently and ultimately drive more ROI with less.

3. An agency partnership

Oftentimes, partnering with an agency can help you stretch your budget for maximum ROI. Rather than solely relying on your in-house team for expertise, execution, and strategy—an agency can be a robust extension. You get access to an entire team of digital marketing experts, made up of individuals with a range of skill sets—and often at a lower cost than having the equivalent depth of knowledge as internal hires.

[bctt tweet="Efficiency isn't about doing more in less time, but rather making the most of your time by doing the right things. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Focus on the Opportunity, Not the Loss

Budget cuts are no fun. But they’re not the end of the world. After all, we marketers can be scrappy—and we live to innovate.

So, use recent or near future cuts to redefine your marketing strategy from both a tactical and measurement standpoint, and work to put better measurement in place. Hopefully, this will not only help you avoid bumps in momentum as you deal with less financial resources, but also help you get better ROI data so you can defend against future cuts.  

How can you prove the value of your content marketing efforts to your CMO? Check out our three steps to proving content marketing ROI.

The post How to Rally Around ROI & Prioritize Your Digital Marketing Efforts in the Face of Budget Cuts appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
Prioritizing After Marketing Budget Cuts

Prioritizing After Marketing Budget Cuts Ask any marketer if they’ve ever had to contend with the shrinking or deep cutting of their budgets, odds are you’ll get a deep sigh and a “more than once” response. Organizations are always looking for efficiencies and ways to tighten their financial belt, and marketing departments are among the first to be placed on the chopping block because it all comes down to ROI—something many modern marketers find hard to prove In fact, according to a recent report from Demand Gen Report and BrightFunnel, 58% of B2B organizations surveyed said their current ability to measure and analyze marketing performance “needs improvement” or worse. So, if you’re staring down a budget reduction, don’t panic. This is the time to evaluate and prioritize your efforts so you can revamp your integrated digital marketing strategy to include a tactical mix that will not only refocus your strategy to reach your objectives, but also improve how you measure and achieve ROI. [bctt tweet="If you’re staring down a #marketing budget reduction, don’t panic. This is the time evaluate, prioritize, and focus. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"] Here are four key actions you’ll want to take:

#1 - Evaluate your existing data against your goals.

While it may seem obvious, the first step is to evaluate how you’re performing against your objectives; what’s working and what’s not. However, you can’t rely solely on high-level or vanity metrics like overall traffic. In order to really dig into what’s working, you need to map each of your tactics and/or channels to closed business—and total revenue numbers if you can. Not only will this help you focus on where to revamp and hone your strategy, but also put you in a better position to consistently measure as you move forward. So, when the next budget cut comes along, you can better prove the ROI of your marketing activities and make a stronger case for keeping your budget.

#2 - Narrow your targeting.

Every marketer knows that understanding your audience is key to developing and executing a strategy with impact. But audience characteristics, preferences, and habits—as well as the market you operate within—can change overtime. As a result, you may be wasting precious marketing dollars on the “wrong” people. So, it’s time to redefine and zero-in on who your ideal customer or buyer is and who are most likely to convert. With the budget and resources you do have, it may be worth investing time and money in a survey or analysis of your existing client or prospects to better understand their preferences and pain points. This will not only give you a clearer picture of what channels or tactics are working—but which may have the most potential based on who your customer is, where they’re interacting with your brand or other brands, what they’re interested in, and what moves them to a conversation. [bctt tweet="If you're facing #marketing budget cuts, it may be worth using the resources you do have to analyze your customers and prospects to hone in on their needs, preferences, and paint points. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#3 - Place safe bets if your data is limited.

Effective measurement is a problem that’s plagued marketers for years. As a result, you may not have all the data to inform your decision making. In this case, we’d suggest making some “safe marketing bets” based on tried-and-true tactics. For example, email marketing. Email marketing is perhaps the oldest digital marketing tactic around, but still one of the most effective. Not only does it deliver helpful information to your clients and prospects, when segmented and constructed correctly, it helps nurture them toward the sale. In fact, three-quarters of companies say email offers “good” or “excellent” ROI. In addition, SEO and content marketing are consistently rated by marketers as top channels with the best ROI. That said, be careful not to stake your success on simply following what’s “always” worked. The safe bets you place should be a temporary strategic solution as you work to get better measurement and data practices in place so you can continuously optimize your strategy.

#4 - Invest in efficiency.

Efficiency isn't about doing more in less time, but rather making the most of your time by doing the right things. As the old saying goes: Work smarter, not harder. From our perspective, there’s three core investments to consider:

1. Technology

Whether you want to optimize your workflow or automate time-consuming processes, investing in the right technology for your needs can make a major positive impact on efficiency.

2. Training

Your marketing spend is likely not the only item that took a hit. You may have also needed to cut internal resources. As a result, investing in training for the team you do have is a good play—whether you want someone to expand their skill set or level up his or her existing skills—to help your team work more efficiently and ultimately drive more ROI with less.

3. An agency partnership

Oftentimes, partnering with an agency can help you stretch your budget for maximum ROI. Rather than solely relying on your in-house team for expertise, execution, and strategy—an agency can be a robust extension. You get access to an entire team of digital marketing experts, made up of individuals with a range of skill sets—and often at a lower cost than having the equivalent depth of knowledge as internal hires. [bctt tweet="Efficiency isn't about doing more in less time, but rather making the most of your time by doing the right things. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Focus on the Opportunity, Not the Loss

Budget cuts are no fun. But they’re not the end of the world. After all, we marketers can be scrappy—and we live to innovate. So, use recent or near future cuts to redefine your marketing strategy from both a tactical and measurement standpoint, and work to put better measurement in place. Hopefully, this will not only help you avoid bumps in momentum as you deal with less financial resources, but also help you get better ROI data so you can defend against future cuts.   How can you prove the value of your content marketing efforts to your CMO? Check out our three steps to proving content marketing ROI.

The post How to Rally Around ROI & Prioritize Your Digital Marketing Efforts in the Face of Budget Cuts appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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How to Select the Right Type of Video for Your B2B Marketing Goals http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/06/types-b2b-video-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/06/types-b2b-video-marketing/#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 10:05:32 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24365 Types of B2B Video & When to Use Them

Types of B2B Video & When to Use Them

Mugatu is onto something ...

Video Marketing is So Hot Meme

According Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Content Marketing Report, 72% of B2B marketers use pre-produced video content, 17% use video live-streams, and 4% create documentaries or short films. Combined, this makes video one of the hottest types of content among B2B marketers.

And it’s not without results, either. Video marketing boasts some impressive stats, including:

  • Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users. - Aberdeen Group
  • Video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs. - Brightcove
  • Embedding videos in landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%. - Eyeview Digital
  • Social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined - Brightcove
  • 51.9% of marketing professionals name video as the type of content with the best ROI - HubSpot

It seems like a no-brainer, right? But like with most things in marketing, it’s knowing where to start and what to create that’s the hard part.

As with any marketing tactic, you want to choose the right content type and style to engage and nurture your audience. Plus, the content you create needs to align with and support your marketing goals—video is no different.

To help you figure out how to get started with video marketing and how to incorporate it into your integrated marketing mix, we’re breaking down the many types of videos for marketing and when to use them.

1. Teasers

The name implies it all—these videos are short, sweet, and meant to give audiences just a glimpse of what’s to come. More specifically, teasers are short videos that promote other content, services, products, or events and generate excitement or interest in them. At no longer than 10-30 seconds, this means you have to do your best with the time given to you through high-energy language, fast-paced content, and plenty of information; motion graphics are an especially great teaser format.

Teasers are great for generating excitement and are very short in length, making them a great fit for social media promotion, where you’ll be looking to generate buzz for an asset (i.e. eBooks, podcasts, infographics, blog posts, webinars). The biggest thing to remember about teasers is that they need to have a call to action that promotes another piece of content. The goal of a teaser is to spur action in an audience, whether that’s registering for a webinar, downloading an eBook, or listening to a podcast episode.

Length: 10 to 30 seconds

Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media

Best Assets: eBooks, Podcasts, Infographics, Blog Posts

Example: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions*, Secret Sauce eBook

2. Trailers & Previews

Trailers and previews are another type of short video content. However, where trailers differ from teasers is that a trailer actually features a sample of the content its promoting. For example, a teaser might use new visuals and graphics to get people excited, but a trailer will actually feature a preview of what’s to come. Just take a look at movie trailers—most of them show you scenes directly from the film.

If you’ve already created the content, you’ve already done most of the work for a trailer or preview. Just take content included in your videos, infographics, eBooks, and other assets and edit them into a trailer format that gets people interested. While trailers perform well on social, they’re also a great addition to landing pages as landing page videos have been found to increase conversions by 80% or more. Depending on where you’re planning to have this content live, decide if and when a CTA is appropriate.

Length: 30 seconds to 2 minutes

Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media, Landing Pages

Best Assets: eBooks, Podcasts, Long-Form Video, Infographics

Example: Eloqua, Journey to Modern Marketing

3. Explainers

We’ve already covered videos that are used to promote other pieces of content—teasers and trailers. But what about when you have a standalone topic you want to cover in a video? Maybe you want to create a tutorial on how to use your software or educate your audience on how to launch an employee wellness program. This type of marketing video is called an explainer. Explainers are original pieces of content that educate and inform the audience on a subject.

The best explainer videos focus on appealing to an audience’s curiosity by answering common questions or solving popular pain points. In providing useful and compelling information, the video helps add to your brand’s authority. As a video that can stand on its own two feet while offering helpful advice, explainer videos can make a great complement to a power page or blog post. They also perform well on social channels as it’s a quick and easy way for you audience to absorb a lot of information. And because all of the value is within the video itself, explainers typically don’t have a call to action. But again, depending on where you plan to have this content live, make a decision on if a CTA makes sense.

Length: 30 seconds to 3 minutes

Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media, Power Pages, Blog Posts

Example: Slack*, “So Yeah, We Tried Slack”

4. Video Essays & Companion Videos

Can you cover a topic in-depth in under three minutes? When you need to dive deeper than an explainer video allows, video essays are the perfect type of video to turn to. Video essays are original, long-form video content that explores a subject in-depth. A good video essay might be an 8 minute discussion that covers your thoughts on new changes in the market or new trends like cryptocurrency.

Because of their length, video essays are the perfect place to showcase your brand’s thought leadership and expertise through education and entertainment. In covering all sides of an issue or topic, you have more opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, improving trust and credibility among your audience. Jam-packed with valuable information, video essays are a great addition to power pages, blog posts, and social media channels.

But what if you’ve already covered the topic in-depth for a power page, blog post, or eBook? Should you still make a video essay? The answer is yes as 59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text. Given this information, your video essay could perform better than your existing content in terms of generating leads or strengthening engagement. In this situation, take your existing eBook, blog, or power page and turn it into a video essay, giving your audience an alternate channel to consume your content.

Length: 1 minute to 10 minutes

Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media, Power Pages, Blog Posts

Example: HubSpot, What Is the Difference Between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)?

Your Directorial Debut

Video is rapidly becoming the preferred way to consume content for many audiences with 82% of all web traffic expected to be video by 2021. If you’re not making videos as a part of your content marketing strategy, you could be missing out on an enormous opportunity to improve your organic traffic, landing page conversions, social engagements, and more.

And to make sure your videos are helping you reach your marketing goals, it’s important that you select the right types of marketing videos and content they will support. Using the guide above, you’ll be able to pair your video and content together in a way that fuels results.

Video can be time consuming to strategize, produce, and distribute. To help you become a more efficient and effective video marketer, check out our additional tips, examples, and guides:

*Disclosure: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and Slack are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post How to Select the Right Type of Video for Your B2B Marketing Goals appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
Types of B2B Video & When to Use Them

Types of B2B Video & When to Use Them Mugatu is onto something ... Video Marketing is So Hot Meme According Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Content Marketing Report, 72% of B2B marketers use pre-produced video content, 17% use video live-streams, and 4% create documentaries or short films. Combined, this makes video one of the hottest types of content among B2B marketers. And it’s not without results, either. Video marketing boasts some impressive stats, including:
  • Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users. - Aberdeen Group
  • Video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs. - Brightcove
  • Embedding videos in landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%. - Eyeview Digital
  • Social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined - Brightcove
  • 51.9% of marketing professionals name video as the type of content with the best ROI - HubSpot
It seems like a no-brainer, right? But like with most things in marketing, it’s knowing where to start and what to create that’s the hard part. As with any marketing tactic, you want to choose the right content type and style to engage and nurture your audience. Plus, the content you create needs to align with and support your marketing goals—video is no different. To help you figure out how to get started with video marketing and how to incorporate it into your integrated marketing mix, we’re breaking down the many types of videos for marketing and when to use them.

1. Teasers

The name implies it all—these videos are short, sweet, and meant to give audiences just a glimpse of what’s to come. More specifically, teasers are short videos that promote other content, services, products, or events and generate excitement or interest in them. At no longer than 10-30 seconds, this means you have to do your best with the time given to you through high-energy language, fast-paced content, and plenty of information; motion graphics are an especially great teaser format. Teasers are great for generating excitement and are very short in length, making them a great fit for social media promotion, where you’ll be looking to generate buzz for an asset (i.e. eBooks, podcasts, infographics, blog posts, webinars). The biggest thing to remember about teasers is that they need to have a call to action that promotes another piece of content. The goal of a teaser is to spur action in an audience, whether that’s registering for a webinar, downloading an eBook, or listening to a podcast episode. Length: 10 to 30 seconds Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media Best Assets: eBooks, Podcasts, Infographics, Blog Posts Example: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions*, Secret Sauce eBook

2. Trailers & Previews

Trailers and previews are another type of short video content. However, where trailers differ from teasers is that a trailer actually features a sample of the content its promoting. For example, a teaser might use new visuals and graphics to get people excited, but a trailer will actually feature a preview of what’s to come. Just take a look at movie trailers—most of them show you scenes directly from the film. If you’ve already created the content, you’ve already done most of the work for a trailer or preview. Just take content included in your videos, infographics, eBooks, and other assets and edit them into a trailer format that gets people interested. While trailers perform well on social, they’re also a great addition to landing pages as landing page videos have been found to increase conversions by 80% or more. Depending on where you’re planning to have this content live, decide if and when a CTA is appropriate. Length: 30 seconds to 2 minutes Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media, Landing Pages Best Assets: eBooks, Podcasts, Long-Form Video, Infographics Example: Eloqua, Journey to Modern Marketing

3. Explainers

We’ve already covered videos that are used to promote other pieces of content—teasers and trailers. But what about when you have a standalone topic you want to cover in a video? Maybe you want to create a tutorial on how to use your software or educate your audience on how to launch an employee wellness program. This type of marketing video is called an explainer. Explainers are original pieces of content that educate and inform the audience on a subject. The best explainer videos focus on appealing to an audience’s curiosity by answering common questions or solving popular pain points. In providing useful and compelling information, the video helps add to your brand’s authority. As a video that can stand on its own two feet while offering helpful advice, explainer videos can make a great complement to a power page or blog post. They also perform well on social channels as it’s a quick and easy way for you audience to absorb a lot of information. And because all of the value is within the video itself, explainers typically don’t have a call to action. But again, depending on where you plan to have this content live, make a decision on if a CTA makes sense. Length: 30 seconds to 3 minutes Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media, Power Pages, Blog Posts Example: Slack*, “So Yeah, We Tried Slack”

4. Video Essays & Companion Videos

Can you cover a topic in-depth in under three minutes? When you need to dive deeper than an explainer video allows, video essays are the perfect type of video to turn to. Video essays are original, long-form video content that explores a subject in-depth. A good video essay might be an 8 minute discussion that covers your thoughts on new changes in the market or new trends like cryptocurrency. Because of their length, video essays are the perfect place to showcase your brand’s thought leadership and expertise through education and entertainment. In covering all sides of an issue or topic, you have more opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, improving trust and credibility among your audience. Jam-packed with valuable information, video essays are a great addition to power pages, blog posts, and social media channels. But what if you’ve already covered the topic in-depth for a power page, blog post, or eBook? Should you still make a video essay? The answer is yes as 59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text. Given this information, your video essay could perform better than your existing content in terms of generating leads or strengthening engagement. In this situation, take your existing eBook, blog, or power page and turn it into a video essay, giving your audience an alternate channel to consume your content. Length: 1 minute to 10 minutes Where to Use It: Paid and Organic Social Media, Power Pages, Blog Posts Example: HubSpot, What Is the Difference Between Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)?

Your Directorial Debut

Video is rapidly becoming the preferred way to consume content for many audiences with 82% of all web traffic expected to be video by 2021. If you’re not making videos as a part of your content marketing strategy, you could be missing out on an enormous opportunity to improve your organic traffic, landing page conversions, social engagements, and more. And to make sure your videos are helping you reach your marketing goals, it’s important that you select the right types of marketing videos and content they will support. Using the guide above, you’ll be able to pair your video and content together in a way that fuels results. Video can be time consuming to strategize, produce, and distribute. To help you become a more efficient and effective video marketer, check out our additional tips, examples, and guides: *Disclosure: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and Slack are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post How to Select the Right Type of Video for Your B2B Marketing Goals appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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Digital Marketing Spotlight: An Interview With Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAP http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/06/influencer-marketing-ursula-ringham/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/06/influencer-marketing-ursula-ringham/#respond Mon, 04 Jun 2018 10:15:48 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24348 Influencer Marketing Interview Ursula Ringham

Influencer Marketing Interview Ursula Ringham

They say curiosity killed the cat, but in Ursula Ringham’s case, curiosity is her special gift—both personally and professionally.

“I’m a fiercely curious person who loves storytelling,” Ursula told me. “I guess it’s my hidden talent; I can strike up a conversation with a stranger and get them to tell me their full life story. I’ll talk to anyone. I want to know people and how they think.”

Her curiosity and “love of story” have guided her throughout her marketing career—from early positions at Adobe and Apple to self-publishing a thriller novel to her latest role as Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP*.

“I’m no millennial, but I have the millennial mindset,” she says. “You have to go after what you want. You can’t let fear decide your future. And I know if I put my mind to something, I can do it.”

As influencer marketing booms and social media marketing experiences a quasi midlife crisis, I sat down with Ursula to talk misconceptions, tools, and tips on both marketing fronts.

Q&A with SAP’s Ursula Ringham

Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAP1. Tell me about yourself. How did you come into the digital marketing space and eventually join SAP?

I was in the right place at the right time. As you know, I worked at Adobe and Apple, so I had a career in high-tech early on. I actually left Apple right before the first iPhone came out, and I stayed at home with my kids for about eight years.

When it was time to get back in, honestly, no one would hire me. They’d say: “You have great experience from back in the day, but you can’t compete.” Things had changed.

But even when I was at home, I was always doing something—I did some consulting and also worked on my passion for writing. That’s when I wrote and self-published my thriller novel, “Privileged Corruption.” I took creative writing classes, attended conferences and events when I could—and this is still something I do today; attend events to continue to develop because I still have several books in me.

Then in 2012, I was talking with a girlfriend and she said she needed someone to write customer success stories. And while I didn’t have the exact experience, I could write and I thought: “I can do anything if I put my mind to it.”

So, I got a job as a contractor; someone took a chance on me. And that someone was at SAP.

2. You have extensive experience with social media. What have you found to be the universal truths of social? (The things that stay the same no matter what platform or algorithm changes occur.)

Authenticity and storytelling; you need to own your brand—but you need to do it strategically.

As an individual on social or through your brand channels, you need to share the truths about who you are in a way that connects with your audience.

For me, these are the “five truths” I share with my following:

No. 1: My work.

Tell a story that enables people to come with you on the journey. Your audience doesn’t want to hear that your company just released a new product or service. They want to know how you’re solving problems or making a difference.

No. 2: My family.

I don’t give every detail here—just sprinkle some things in. This is how people see a different side and get to know me. You have to give something personal.

No. 3: My passion.

You have to share something you love. Dogs, skiing, Star Wars, poetry—the list goes on. Share something you’re passionate about because you’ll be able to form connections with people who have the same passions.

No. 4: Sports.

Whether you’re a sports fanatic or simply tolerate them, it’s something everyone can connect with and discuss—whether it’s your child’s little league baseball game or the NBA Finals.

No. 5: Third-party voices.

It could be an article from my favorite journalist or the latest commentary on the royal wedding. The point is to share things that you and your audience find interesting.

The bottom line here is: Be authentic. Be yourself (or your brand). But be strategic.

[bctt tweet="As an individual on #socialmedia or through your brand channels, you need to share the truths about who you are in a way that connects with your audience. - @ursularingham" username="toprank"]

3. What do you think is most misunderstood about influencer marketing?

For one, people often think that influencer marketing is all about celebrities hawking a product. It’s truly not about that—especially in the B2B realm. It’s about highlighting experts who have real experience on the business challenges a brand’s audience faces.

Secondly, it’s not always about the number of followers or connections an influencer has. Some people think: “Oh my God. We have to work with this person. They have a million followers.” Your influencers have to be able to relate to your audience and that skill isn’t necessarily determined by a large following.

Thirdly, influencer marketing is not a one-and-done tactic. You want it to be for the long haul, so influencer relationships are everything. You need to dig deep to learn who your influencers are and the expertise they bring, and build a relationship by consistent and thoughtful engagement.

Lastly, influencers can be found within your own company. Your employees can be influencers. People often forget this. You can and should combine internal and external influencers.

4. What’s one “influencer marketing must” that marketers often overlook?

You must have a call to action. What’s the point? What’s your end goal? How are you defining success? Where are you sending them?

Whether your goal is brand awareness or lead gen, if you’re telling a story that has people on the edge of their seat, you need to give them a natural next step to continue their journey.

[bctt tweet="Regardless of your goal, if you’re telling a story that has people on the edge of their seat, you need to give them a natural next step to continue their journey. - @ursularingham #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

5. Let’s say you’ve run into a long-lost marketer friend who’s considering working with influencers. Where do you tell them to start? What do you tell them to be cautious of?

The main thing is: If you want to succeed, you have to be in it to win it. You have to be on social media, you have to be engaged, you have to follow influencers, you have to engage with them, and you have to read, watch, or listen to their content. And all of this is before, during, and after you reach out for the first ask.

When it comes to vetting who you want to work with, start by digging into their social channels.

Twitter is a great place to learn about the topics and types of content they’re interested in. LinkedIn is great for this, too, but that’s where you can really vet whether they have the expertise and background to make a partnership a good fit. Facebook and Instagram are where you can see if you really want to work with them since you’re typically able to see more personality there.

As for something to look out for, as you’re viewing their social posts, see if they’re just sharing the same things on every channel. A post on Instagram with 10 hashtags will not work on Facebook. Every channel is different and if you keep seeing the same post, it’s like: Where are you? Where’s the authentic side?

Finally, you should be very selective on who you work with. You need to make sure they’re a good fit. Sometimes I’ll actually reach out to a mutual connection or a colleague at a different company to see if they’ve worked with an influencer before and get their read on them.

[bctt tweet="If you want to succeed at #influencermarketing, you have to be in it to win it. You have to commit. - @ursularingham" username="toprank"]

6. Where do you think GDPR and data privacy as it relates to social media and influencer marketing will have biggest impact on how brands engage? (What do brands need to consider?)

GDPR is going to be the stake in the ground for all data privacy—bar none. As GDPR kicks off, we’ll start to see lawsuits and controversies in the news and people will become increasingly aware and engaged. In the U.S., we’re already becoming more aware of data privacy issues, especially after Cambridge Analytica.

But bottom line, GDPR will be really important. And as a result, our influencers will become even more important and valuable. They’re going to be our trusted brand ambassadors; our trusted voices. They’ll be a huge asset because people don’t trust brands outright—they trust people.

[bctt tweet="In light of #GDPR, influencers will become even more important and valuable. They’re going to be our trusted brand ambassadors; our trusted voices. - @ursularingham #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

7. What’s in your social media marketing toolbox? (What platforms, tools or best practices are your must-haves for success?)

On the personal front, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. A key best practice for me here is tailoring the content and the messaging for each platform because my audience is different for each.

In addition, I post in the moment, every day. Authenticity is important, so I rarely use scheduling tools.

Now, for the brand marketers out there, you absolutely need a social media scheduling and management tool. You need help. And there are so many tools out there like Hootsuite or Buffer, but do your research and select one that meets your brand’s needs from a management and budgetary perspective.

8. How about your influencer marketing toolbox?

Brands engaging in influencer relations and marketing need a tool to help organize, identify, and manage relationships with influencers. A spreadsheet won’t get you very far. Tools can help you keep up with what your influencers are doing and sharing, so you can regularly engage and continue to build relationships.

Like with social media management tools, there are several options like Traackr or Onalytica, so do your research and pick one that’s the best fit.

9. Finally, what are you most excited for in your new role as Head of Global Influencer Marketing for SAP?

Building a world-class influencer program that helps SAP become a Top-10 brand. And we’ll do it through innovative storytelling. We make incredibly innovative products, so we need to tell our stories in innovative ways. And working with influencers will help us do that.

I love pushing the envelope. I love innovative content. And I’m excited about what can happen when we think a little differently.

10. Any final words for other marketers out there?

In marketing, story is everything. But in order to tell a compelling story, you have to be immersed. Bring empathy and understanding, bring purpose, and bring insight—the latter of which influencers can certainly help with.

Finally, embrace curiosity, think and do things differently, and embed yourself in your craft if you want to innovate.

[bctt tweet=".@ursularingham's message to #marketers: Embrace curiosity, think and do things differently, and embed yourself in your craft if you want to innovate." username="toprank"]

Ready to Take the Influencer Marketing Dive?

As Ursula so eloquently said, in order to succeed at influencer marketing, you have to be in it to win it. You have to commit. So, why not start with immersing yourself in influencer marketing tips, tactics, and strategies.

Check out some of these helpful posts to get you more in the know and help you make the leap:

Finally, a big thank you to Ursula for sharing her story and insights. You rock! If you want to connect with Ursula, follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Digital Marketing Spotlight: An Interview With Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAP appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
Influencer Marketing Interview Ursula Ringham

Influencer Marketing Interview Ursula Ringham They say curiosity killed the cat, but in Ursula Ringham’s case, curiosity is her special gift—both personally and professionally. “I’m a fiercely curious person who loves storytelling,” Ursula told me. “I guess it’s my hidden talent; I can strike up a conversation with a stranger and get them to tell me their full life story. I’ll talk to anyone. I want to know people and how they think.” Her curiosity and “love of story” have guided her throughout her marketing career—from early positions at Adobe and Apple to self-publishing a thriller novel to her latest role as Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP*. “I’m no millennial, but I have the millennial mindset,” she says. “You have to go after what you want. You can’t let fear decide your future. And I know if I put my mind to something, I can do it.” As influencer marketing booms and social media marketing experiences a quasi midlife crisis, I sat down with Ursula to talk misconceptions, tools, and tips on both marketing fronts.

Q&A with SAP’s Ursula Ringham

Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAP1. Tell me about yourself. How did you come into the digital marketing space and eventually join SAP?

I was in the right place at the right time. As you know, I worked at Adobe and Apple, so I had a career in high-tech early on. I actually left Apple right before the first iPhone came out, and I stayed at home with my kids for about eight years. When it was time to get back in, honestly, no one would hire me. They’d say: “You have great experience from back in the day, but you can’t compete.” Things had changed. But even when I was at home, I was always doing something—I did some consulting and also worked on my passion for writing. That’s when I wrote and self-published my thriller novel, “Privileged Corruption.” I took creative writing classes, attended conferences and events when I could—and this is still something I do today; attend events to continue to develop because I still have several books in me. Then in 2012, I was talking with a girlfriend and she said she needed someone to write customer success stories. And while I didn’t have the exact experience, I could write and I thought: “I can do anything if I put my mind to it.” So, I got a job as a contractor; someone took a chance on me. And that someone was at SAP.

2. You have extensive experience with social media. What have you found to be the universal truths of social? (The things that stay the same no matter what platform or algorithm changes occur.)

Authenticity and storytelling; you need to own your brand—but you need to do it strategically. As an individual on social or through your brand channels, you need to share the truths about who you are in a way that connects with your audience. For me, these are the “five truths” I share with my following: No. 1: My work. Tell a story that enables people to come with you on the journey. Your audience doesn’t want to hear that your company just released a new product or service. They want to know how you’re solving problems or making a difference. No. 2: My family. I don’t give every detail here—just sprinkle some things in. This is how people see a different side and get to know me. You have to give something personal. No. 3: My passion. You have to share something you love. Dogs, skiing, Star Wars, poetry—the list goes on. Share something you’re passionate about because you’ll be able to form connections with people who have the same passions. No. 4: Sports. Whether you’re a sports fanatic or simply tolerate them, it’s something everyone can connect with and discuss—whether it’s your child’s little league baseball game or the NBA Finals. No. 5: Third-party voices. It could be an article from my favorite journalist or the latest commentary on the royal wedding. The point is to share things that you and your audience find interesting. The bottom line here is: Be authentic. Be yourself (or your brand). But be strategic. [bctt tweet="As an individual on #socialmedia or through your brand channels, you need to share the truths about who you are in a way that connects with your audience. - @ursularingham" username="toprank"]

3. What do you think is most misunderstood about influencer marketing?

For one, people often think that influencer marketing is all about celebrities hawking a product. It’s truly not about that—especially in the B2B realm. It’s about highlighting experts who have real experience on the business challenges a brand’s audience faces. Secondly, it’s not always about the number of followers or connections an influencer has. Some people think: “Oh my God. We have to work with this person. They have a million followers.” Your influencers have to be able to relate to your audience and that skill isn’t necessarily determined by a large following. Thirdly, influencer marketing is not a one-and-done tactic. You want it to be for the long haul, so influencer relationships are everything. You need to dig deep to learn who your influencers are and the expertise they bring, and build a relationship by consistent and thoughtful engagement. Lastly, influencers can be found within your own company. Your employees can be influencers. People often forget this. You can and should combine internal and external influencers.

4. What’s one “influencer marketing must” that marketers often overlook?

You must have a call to action. What’s the point? What’s your end goal? How are you defining success? Where are you sending them? Whether your goal is brand awareness or lead gen, if you’re telling a story that has people on the edge of their seat, you need to give them a natural next step to continue their journey. [bctt tweet="Regardless of your goal, if you’re telling a story that has people on the edge of their seat, you need to give them a natural next step to continue their journey. - @ursularingham #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

5. Let’s say you’ve run into a long-lost marketer friend who’s considering working with influencers. Where do you tell them to start? What do you tell them to be cautious of?

The main thing is: If you want to succeed, you have to be in it to win it. You have to be on social media, you have to be engaged, you have to follow influencers, you have to engage with them, and you have to read, watch, or listen to their content. And all of this is before, during, and after you reach out for the first ask. When it comes to vetting who you want to work with, start by digging into their social channels. Twitter is a great place to learn about the topics and types of content they’re interested in. LinkedIn is great for this, too, but that’s where you can really vet whether they have the expertise and background to make a partnership a good fit. Facebook and Instagram are where you can see if you really want to work with them since you’re typically able to see more personality there. As for something to look out for, as you’re viewing their social posts, see if they’re just sharing the same things on every channel. A post on Instagram with 10 hashtags will not work on Facebook. Every channel is different and if you keep seeing the same post, it’s like: Where are you? Where’s the authentic side? Finally, you should be very selective on who you work with. You need to make sure they’re a good fit. Sometimes I’ll actually reach out to a mutual connection or a colleague at a different company to see if they’ve worked with an influencer before and get their read on them. [bctt tweet="If you want to succeed at #influencermarketing, you have to be in it to win it. You have to commit. - @ursularingham" username="toprank"]

6. Where do you think GDPR and data privacy as it relates to social media and influencer marketing will have biggest impact on how brands engage? (What do brands need to consider?)

GDPR is going to be the stake in the ground for all data privacy—bar none. As GDPR kicks off, we’ll start to see lawsuits and controversies in the news and people will become increasingly aware and engaged. In the U.S., we’re already becoming more aware of data privacy issues, especially after Cambridge Analytica. But bottom line, GDPR will be really important. And as a result, our influencers will become even more important and valuable. They’re going to be our trusted brand ambassadors; our trusted voices. They’ll be a huge asset because people don’t trust brands outright—they trust people. [bctt tweet="In light of #GDPR, influencers will become even more important and valuable. They’re going to be our trusted brand ambassadors; our trusted voices. - @ursularingham #InfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

7. What’s in your social media marketing toolbox? (What platforms, tools or best practices are your must-haves for success?)

On the personal front, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. A key best practice for me here is tailoring the content and the messaging for each platform because my audience is different for each. In addition, I post in the moment, every day. Authenticity is important, so I rarely use scheduling tools. Now, for the brand marketers out there, you absolutely need a social media scheduling and management tool. You need help. And there are so many tools out there like Hootsuite or Buffer, but do your research and select one that meets your brand’s needs from a management and budgetary perspective.

8. How about your influencer marketing toolbox?

Brands engaging in influencer relations and marketing need a tool to help organize, identify, and manage relationships with influencers. A spreadsheet won’t get you very far. Tools can help you keep up with what your influencers are doing and sharing, so you can regularly engage and continue to build relationships. Like with social media management tools, there are several options like Traackr or Onalytica, so do your research and pick one that’s the best fit.

9. Finally, what are you most excited for in your new role as Head of Global Influencer Marketing for SAP?

Building a world-class influencer program that helps SAP become a Top-10 brand. And we’ll do it through innovative storytelling. We make incredibly innovative products, so we need to tell our stories in innovative ways. And working with influencers will help us do that. I love pushing the envelope. I love innovative content. And I’m excited about what can happen when we think a little differently.

10. Any final words for other marketers out there?

In marketing, story is everything. But in order to tell a compelling story, you have to be immersed. Bring empathy and understanding, bring purpose, and bring insight—the latter of which influencers can certainly help with. Finally, embrace curiosity, think and do things differently, and embed yourself in your craft if you want to innovate. [bctt tweet=".@ursularingham's message to #marketers: Embrace curiosity, think and do things differently, and embed yourself in your craft if you want to innovate." username="toprank"]

Ready to Take the Influencer Marketing Dive?

As Ursula so eloquently said, in order to succeed at influencer marketing, you have to be in it to win it. You have to commit. So, why not start with immersing yourself in influencer marketing tips, tactics, and strategies. Check out some of these helpful posts to get you more in the know and help you make the leap: Finally, a big thank you to Ursula for sharing her story and insights. You rock! If you want to connect with Ursula, follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn. Disclosure: SAP is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Digital Marketing Spotlight: An Interview With Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAP appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Inform Your Content Strategy Using SEO Insights http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/05/seo-insights-content-strategy/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/05/seo-insights-content-strategy/#respond Wed, 30 May 2018 10:35:27 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24322 SEO Data Insights for Content Strategy

SEO Data Insights for Content Strategy

Marketers know that quality content and smart SEO are essential for driving toward their marketing goals, but that doesn’t mean success is easy to come by. With 53% of B2B marketers reporting their content marketing is only moderately successful, and another 23% reporting it as not at all or minimally successful, it appears that the majority of B2B marketers are struggling to see noteworthy results.

So, how can marketers improve their content marketing and achieve success?

The answer is in the data. More specifically, it’s in the insights you can glean from your data, especially SEO-related data.

Every marketer has access to this data. And it’s time to take that data, analyze it, and use it to inform your content strategy to create customized, relevant, and insightful content that is more valuable to your target audience. But knowing where to start on your data-informed and insight-driven content marketing journey isn’t always clear.  

To start creating more insight-driven content, search data can offer a gold mine of insights. Below we offer six SEO insights you can use to drive your strategy and results.

#1 - Nail down your audience’s search intent.

It's no secret that keyword data can tell you a lot about what your audience is on the hunt for. But it's the intent behind those search terms that really matters. Intent is what will enable you to create more valuable, “best answer” content for your audience.

For example, when looking in Google Search Console, if you see that one of your posts is ranking really well for a specific query, but has a low time on page, that could be an indicator that your content doesn’t match up with your audience’s intent. Because of this, your organic audience is probably bouncing from the page. If you can optimize that post to align with their search intent, you’ll likely increase the odds that they’ll stick around.

You can also use search intent to identify new content opportunities or gaps. When researching potential keywords in Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush, do your own recon and search the term in an incognito browser window. What content is ranking at the top for each query? What questions is it answering? What is so compelling about that page? (i.e. structure, video or other visual assets, etc.) Is there anything missing? Once you’ve analyzed what has made that page successful and helpful, you can apply those same tactics to your own content.

SEM Rush for SEO Research

#2 - Take advantage of older, high-performing content.

Both SEO and content are in it for the long haul. Your content needs to be long-living to maximize its SEO value and drive significant organic results. Plus, with frequent algorithm changes to search engines, what might have been a poor performer in the past could be your top piece of content in the future. Because of this, your existing content actually holds a lot of potential.

Using Google Analytics or Search Console, you can review the current keyword rankings, impressions, and clicks for your existing content. To draw insight from this data, you should ask yourself:

  • Are there any posts that have multiple page one rankings?
  • What is each page ranking for?
  • Which posts have the highest organic CTR or number of impressions?

These answers will help you surface your top performers that have the most SEO value. Once identified, you can link to those pages in future content to share that value and further boost your content’s organic performance.

#3 - Low volume doesn’t mean low value.

A common practice for marketers is to look to search volume data to determine target keywords and new content opportunities. Because search volume indicates the number of people searching for any given topic or question, it’s tempting for marketers to go after those searches with a high volume. Who wouldn’t want to capture all 500 monthly searches, right?

While it’s tempting to go after high-volume search terms, it’s not always the best choice. And with the rise of voice search, search queries are getting longer and longer.

When reviewing potential keyword targets, pay special attention to the long-tail variations of your short-tail topical areas to find the real questions people are asking (tools like answerthepublic.com are perfect for revealing this). Of the long-tail variations you identify, which ones have the least amount of competition? Is the estimated Cost Per Click high or low? This practice can help you find a niche, relevant keyword with a low competitive score that could be a quick, easy page one ranking that you didn’t have before.

Still want to go after those high-volume, competitive terms? We’ll walk you through how to rank for competitive keywords.

#4 - Review inbound links to find top performers.

Linking is an important component to any SEO strategy as it helps indicate to search engines that you are an authoritative and credible source of information. The better sites you have linking to your content, the better chance they have to rank higher in the SERPs. But what insights can it provide?

In looking at the number of sources linking to your content, you can see which topics others find the most helpful, giving you a framework you should try to replicate in future content. In addition, you can create supporting blog posts that further promote or amplify your most linked to content. To see your inbound link data and check the credibility of the sites they originate from, try using Moz’s Open Site Explorer. If you want to quickly find your most linked to pages, use the Top Pages view of the tool as shown below.

Moz Open Site Explorer

#5 - Track the behavior of your search traffic.

Once someone finds you through search, what do they do next? Do they bounce? Do they complete a form-fill? In mapping the next steps your audience takes for each keyword group, you can better understand where they are in the funnel and customize additional content that helps move them from stage to stage.

To do this, use the Behavior Flow report in Google Analytics and filter your audience segment to organic traffic to see how your organic audience is navigating your site. Using this method, you can see which pages are bringing the most people in from search engines and where they go next. If you’re seeing incomplete calls to action or audience drop-off, this is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes into play.

Through CRO and A/B testing tools like Google Optimize or Optimizely, you can make small changes to your existing content (e.g. CTA placement, content length, etc.) and see what resulted in more conversions — micro or macro, depending on what stage of the funnel your content is aimed at.

As for what this means for your content strategy, you should look for what specific changes moved the needle or caused a dip in performance. Armed with the results, you can take what worked well and apply it to both your past and future content.

#6 - Uncover new content opportunities with in-site search.

If someone isn’t finding what they need on your site, they probably tried searching for it. This could mean you have a ripe content opportunity resting right under your nose. Make sure to regularly pull data from your own site’s internal search bar — you just may find a new keyword or topic you haven’t covered yet. If you’re uncovering a lot of potential opportunities with this method, prioritize them using the number of times someone used that search term.

Not sure where to find that information? Log into Google Analytics and click on the Site Search report listed under Behavior. Here you can view data on the search terms used, how often they’re used, and a host of other data points. Using data from our own Site Search report (see below), it looks like a blog template might be a good idea for a future post or downloadable asset.

Google Analytics

Stay Data-Informed & Insight-Driven

Believe it or not, data shouldn’t drive your content strategy. Data is open to interpretation, which is why marketers need to be data-informed, not data-driven. Digging into why something failed or took off is more important than tossing out a failed tactic or doubling down on a successful one. Without this analysis and insight, you could be making rash decisions that don’t produce the results you’re looking for.

Instead, content marketers need to use insights to inform their strategy, not create it. For more insight on how to use data to your advantage, check out these data-informed content marketing tips.

The post How to Inform Your Content Strategy Using SEO Insights appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
SEO Data Insights for Content Strategy

SEO Data Insights for Content Strategy Marketers know that quality content and smart SEO are essential for driving toward their marketing goals, but that doesn’t mean success is easy to come by. With 53% of B2B marketers reporting their content marketing is only moderately successful, and another 23% reporting it as not at all or minimally successful, it appears that the majority of B2B marketers are struggling to see noteworthy results. So, how can marketers improve their content marketing and achieve success? The answer is in the data. More specifically, it’s in the insights you can glean from your data, especially SEO-related data. Every marketer has access to this data. And it’s time to take that data, analyze it, and use it to inform your content strategy to create customized, relevant, and insightful content that is more valuable to your target audience. But knowing where to start on your data-informed and insight-driven content marketing journey isn’t always clear.   To start creating more insight-driven content, search data can offer a gold mine of insights. Below we offer six SEO insights you can use to drive your strategy and results.

#1 - Nail down your audience’s search intent.

It's no secret that keyword data can tell you a lot about what your audience is on the hunt for. But it's the intent behind those search terms that really matters. Intent is what will enable you to create more valuable, “best answer” content for your audience. For example, when looking in Google Search Console, if you see that one of your posts is ranking really well for a specific query, but has a low time on page, that could be an indicator that your content doesn’t match up with your audience’s intent. Because of this, your organic audience is probably bouncing from the page. If you can optimize that post to align with their search intent, you’ll likely increase the odds that they’ll stick around. You can also use search intent to identify new content opportunities or gaps. When researching potential keywords in Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush, do your own recon and search the term in an incognito browser window. What content is ranking at the top for each query? What questions is it answering? What is so compelling about that page? (i.e. structure, video or other visual assets, etc.) Is there anything missing? Once you’ve analyzed what has made that page successful and helpful, you can apply those same tactics to your own content. SEM Rush for SEO Research

#2 - Take advantage of older, high-performing content.

Both SEO and content are in it for the long haul. Your content needs to be long-living to maximize its SEO value and drive significant organic results. Plus, with frequent algorithm changes to search engines, what might have been a poor performer in the past could be your top piece of content in the future. Because of this, your existing content actually holds a lot of potential. Using Google Analytics or Search Console, you can review the current keyword rankings, impressions, and clicks for your existing content. To draw insight from this data, you should ask yourself:
  • Are there any posts that have multiple page one rankings?
  • What is each page ranking for?
  • Which posts have the highest organic CTR or number of impressions?
These answers will help you surface your top performers that have the most SEO value. Once identified, you can link to those pages in future content to share that value and further boost your content’s organic performance.

#3 - Low volume doesn’t mean low value.

A common practice for marketers is to look to search volume data to determine target keywords and new content opportunities. Because search volume indicates the number of people searching for any given topic or question, it’s tempting for marketers to go after those searches with a high volume. Who wouldn’t want to capture all 500 monthly searches, right? While it’s tempting to go after high-volume search terms, it’s not always the best choice. And with the rise of voice search, search queries are getting longer and longer. When reviewing potential keyword targets, pay special attention to the long-tail variations of your short-tail topical areas to find the real questions people are asking (tools like answerthepublic.com are perfect for revealing this). Of the long-tail variations you identify, which ones have the least amount of competition? Is the estimated Cost Per Click high or low? This practice can help you find a niche, relevant keyword with a low competitive score that could be a quick, easy page one ranking that you didn’t have before. Still want to go after those high-volume, competitive terms? We’ll walk you through how to rank for competitive keywords.

#4 - Review inbound links to find top performers.

Linking is an important component to any SEO strategy as it helps indicate to search engines that you are an authoritative and credible source of information. The better sites you have linking to your content, the better chance they have to rank higher in the SERPs. But what insights can it provide? In looking at the number of sources linking to your content, you can see which topics others find the most helpful, giving you a framework you should try to replicate in future content. In addition, you can create supporting blog posts that further promote or amplify your most linked to content. To see your inbound link data and check the credibility of the sites they originate from, try using Moz’s Open Site Explorer. If you want to quickly find your most linked to pages, use the Top Pages view of the tool as shown below. Moz Open Site Explorer

#5 - Track the behavior of your search traffic.

Once someone finds you through search, what do they do next? Do they bounce? Do they complete a form-fill? In mapping the next steps your audience takes for each keyword group, you can better understand where they are in the funnel and customize additional content that helps move them from stage to stage. To do this, use the Behavior Flow report in Google Analytics and filter your audience segment to organic traffic to see how your organic audience is navigating your site. Using this method, you can see which pages are bringing the most people in from search engines and where they go next. If you’re seeing incomplete calls to action or audience drop-off, this is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes into play. Through CRO and A/B testing tools like Google Optimize or Optimizely, you can make small changes to your existing content (e.g. CTA placement, content length, etc.) and see what resulted in more conversions — micro or macro, depending on what stage of the funnel your content is aimed at. As for what this means for your content strategy, you should look for what specific changes moved the needle or caused a dip in performance. Armed with the results, you can take what worked well and apply it to both your past and future content.

#6 - Uncover new content opportunities with in-site search.

If someone isn’t finding what they need on your site, they probably tried searching for it. This could mean you have a ripe content opportunity resting right under your nose. Make sure to regularly pull data from your own site’s internal search bar — you just may find a new keyword or topic you haven’t covered yet. If you’re uncovering a lot of potential opportunities with this method, prioritize them using the number of times someone used that search term. Not sure where to find that information? Log into Google Analytics and click on the Site Search report listed under Behavior. Here you can view data on the search terms used, how often they’re used, and a host of other data points. Using data from our own Site Search report (see below), it looks like a blog template might be a good idea for a future post or downloadable asset. Google Analytics

Stay Data-Informed & Insight-Driven

Believe it or not, data shouldn’t drive your content strategy. Data is open to interpretation, which is why marketers need to be data-informed, not data-driven. Digging into why something failed or took off is more important than tossing out a failed tactic or doubling down on a successful one. Without this analysis and insight, you could be making rash decisions that don’t produce the results you’re looking for. Instead, content marketers need to use insights to inform their strategy, not create it. For more insight on how to use data to your advantage, check out these data-informed content marketing tips.

The post How to Inform Your Content Strategy Using SEO Insights appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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Be Like Honest Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/05/building-trust-content-marketing-storytelling/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/05/building-trust-content-marketing-storytelling/#respond Mon, 28 May 2018 10:41:05 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24315 How to Build Trust Through Content Marketing Storytelling

How to Build Trust Through Content Marketing Storytelling

Pardon me for telling the same old story once again ...

Storytelling is a fundamental staple of content marketing.

This isn’t news. It has become a central talking point throughout the business world, and one we’ve discussed quite frequently here on the TopRank Marketing Blog.

Compelling narrative is impactful for fairly obvious reasons: it captivates a reader, keeps them engaged, and tends to leave a lasting impression. The psychological power of storytelling has endured from ancient times, and outweighs any new technology or tactic that comes along.

But one of the less-discussed benefits of storytelling might be among the most important in today’s context: it builds trust with your customers and prospects. Today, we’ll examine how this dynamic works and why every marketer should be on board.

Storytelling Was Abraham Lincoln’s Greatest Strength

Abraham Lincoln, President and Storyteller“Four score and seven years ago…”

With these six words, Abraham Lincoln launched the Gettysburg Address, one of the most famous speeches in American history. He set up a persuasive argument in favor of human equality by calling to mind the nation’s origins, and the principles that formed its foundation.

Last year at Quartz, Dacher Keltner wrote about how good leaders tell stories that make people trust them with power, citing Lincoln as a prime example.

Keltner suggested that the 16th president’s “ability to shape moving narratives about the Civil War and the organizing principles of the United States was … crucial to navigating the fractious politics of his presidency.”

Modern marketers are not tasked with bridging a divided country, but we do face an uphill battle in this crowded, fractured digital setting. And with trust toward media, organizations and institutions diminishing, stories present an underrated vehicle for fostering connections and establishing credibility.   

Lisa Saffran, who teaches Storytelling in Public Health at the University of Missouri, explains that storytelling injects an element of humanity, which might be particularly helpful for B2B companies:

“Human beings are primed to tell stories but also to listen for the person behind a story being told. Storytelling, whether it’s reporting the news or writing a memoir, involves the active selection and ordering of some information and the omission of other information. Principles of selection inform what questions we ask and which answers we might receive. This directing, ordering and selecting reflects a human consciousness at work, a person with beliefs, assumptions and suspicions.”

Everywhere you look, the tactic is becoming more ingrained.

[bctt tweet="With trust toward media, organizations and institutions diminishing, stories present an underrated vehicle for fostering connections and establishing credibility. - NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #Storytelling" username="toprank"]

Stories Are Growing More Ubiquitous

Every content creator should consider themself a storyteller. When we write, we are invariably sharing a story: about our solution, about our customers, about the pains we can help solve. And the integration of narrative is extending beyond marketing copy.

Sales professionals are incorporating stories into their presentations and pitches. Companies use stories to attract quality talent. The video marketing movement is largely driven by storytelling and its innate resonance, reflected by the rapid growth of ‘Stories’ on social media platforms.

When people hear or see stories, their brains light up in different ways, tapping both the rational and emotional areas. Tying multiple pieces of information together in a coherent, chronological, and — above all — relatable way makes the message far more affecting. The content suddenly becomes experiential instead of merely educational.

It’s also what an audience craves. As Rachel Gillett wrote for Fast Company:

“Our brains are insanely greedy for stories. We spend about a third of our lives daydreaming–our minds are constantly looking for distractions — and the only time we stop flitting from daydream to daydream is when we have a good story in front of us.”

We can satiate this appetite by putting a good story in front of the people we want to reach. But it’s not that simple.

When it comes to building influence through storytelling, there are a few considerations worth keeping front-and-center.

[bctt tweet="Tying multiple pieces of info together in a coherent, chronological, & relatable way makes the message far more affecting. The content suddenly becomes experiential instead of merely educational. - @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #Storytelling" username="toprank"]

How to Maximize Storytelling as a Trust-Building Tool

Stories serve many purposes in marketing. In our current environment, building trust may be the most vital among them. If this is the goal, make sure you adhere to these imperatives.

#1 - Be Genuine, Authentic, and Transparent

Lincoln didn’t gain the nickname “Honest Abe” for nothing. Despite his physique, the gangly 6-foot-4 politician didn’t have a reputation for spinning tall tales (at least not in misleading ways).

Storytelling backfires when it strikes people as false or disingenuous. Share real anecdotes and back them with third-party evidence or quotes. Telling hard truths, even if it means acknowledging a shortcoming in your business, can be tremendously beneficial in the long run.

Even more than being true to the facts, you must be true to yourself, and your brand.

In his book, All Marketers are Liars, Seth Godin lays this out this first tenet of telling a great story:

“A great story is true. Not true because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. Consumers are too good at sniffing out inconsistencies for a marketer to get away with a story that’s just slapped on.”

[bctt tweet="A great story is true. Not true because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. - @ThisIsSethsBlog #ContentMarketing #Storytelling " username="toprank"]

#2 - Make It Meaningful to Your Audience

You know who you’re trying to reach. Hopefully you know a fair amount about them and their circumstances. When crafting a story, you must ask yourself if there’s a relevant hook that will make it applicable for them personally.

As Ashley Zeckman has written here in the past: “Your customers should be able to see themselves in the story that you are telling through content.”

This dynamic makes case studies, customer testimonials, and content featuring industry thought leaders and influencers — featuring first-person perspectives from businesses very similar to the ones you target as prospects — tremendously powerful.

But even beyond that, it’s crucial to outline situations, scenarios, and challenges that your audience can relate to. Empathy is essential to gaining trust.

[bctt tweet="Your customers should be able to see themselves in the story that you are telling through content. - @azeckman #ContentMarketing #Storytelling" username="toprank"]

#3 - Implement Recurring Themes

As you can tell from the opening sentence of this post, and many of the links scattered throughout, this is not the first time we’ve discussed storytelling on this blog. But we only continue to focus on it because of its critical importance in content marketing today. And hopefully this ongoing emphasis helps crystallize this significance.

There’s an actual psychological phenomenon behind this: our brains give preference to the familiar. Once a seed or idea has been planted through effective and memorable narrative, people are more likely to notice and internalize it going forward.

In other words, telling the “same old story” isn’t such a bad thing, so long as you can find new angles and dimensions to explore. A robust, ongoing, expanding narrative has the capability to continually reinforce trust and confidence.

[bctt tweet="Telling the “same old story” isn’t such a bad thing, so long as you can find new angles and dimensions to explore. - NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #Storytelling" username="toprank"]

What’s Your Story?

via GIPHY

As you contemplate your brand narrative and how you’ll present it going forward, I encourage you to keep these three cornerstones in mind: authenticity, relevance, and familiarity. When storytelling incorporates all three elements successfully, it can build trust in ways unparalleled by other methods.

Storytelling can not only build trust, but also influence with your audience. Check out our post Cracking the Code: 3 Steps to Building Influence with Content Marketing for actionable tips and insights.

At TopRank Marketing, storytelling is a core component of our content marketing approach. Give us a shout if you’d like to hear the whole story.

The post Be Like Honest Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
How to Build Trust Through Content Marketing Storytelling

How to Build Trust Through Content Marketing Storytelling Pardon me for telling the same old story once again ... Storytelling is a fundamental staple of content marketing. This isn’t news. It has become a central talking point throughout the business world, and one we’ve discussed quite frequently here on the TopRank Marketing Blog. Compelling narrative is impactful for fairly obvious reasons: it captivates a reader, keeps them engaged, and tends to leave a lasting impression. The psychological power of storytelling has endured from ancient times, and outweighs any new technology or tactic that comes along. But one of the less-discussed benefits of storytelling might be among the most important in today’s context: it builds trust with your customers and prospects. Today, we’ll examine how this dynamic works and why every marketer should be on board.

Storytelling Was Abraham Lincoln’s Greatest Strength

Abraham Lincoln, President and Storyteller“Four score and seven years ago…” With these six words, Abraham Lincoln launched the Gettysburg Address, one of the most famous speeches in American history. He set up a persuasive argument in favor of human equality by calling to mind the nation’s origins, and the principles that formed its foundation. Last year at Quartz, Dacher Keltner wrote about how good leaders tell stories that make people trust them with power, citing Lincoln as a prime example. Keltner suggested that the 16th president’s “ability to shape moving narratives about the Civil War and the organizing principles of the United States was … crucial to navigating the fractious politics of his presidency.” Modern marketers are not tasked with bridging a divided country, but we do face an uphill battle in this crowded, fractured digital setting. And with trust toward media, organizations and institutions diminishing, stories present an underrated vehicle for fostering connections and establishing credibility.    Lisa Saffran, who teaches Storytelling in Public Health at the University of Missouri, explains that storytelling injects an element of humanity, which might be particularly helpful for B2B companies:
“Human beings are primed to tell stories but also to listen for the person behind a story being told. Storytelling, whether it’s reporting the news or writing a memoir, involves the active selection and ordering of some information and the omission of other information. Principles of selection inform what questions we ask and which answers we might receive. This directing, ordering and selecting reflects a human consciousness at work, a person with beliefs, assumptions and suspicions.”
Everywhere you look, the tactic is becoming more ingrained. [bctt tweet="With trust toward media, organizations and institutions diminishing, stories present an underrated vehicle for fostering connections and establishing credibility. - NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #Storytelling" username="toprank"]

Stories Are Growing More Ubiquitous

Every content creator should consider themself a storyteller. When we write, we are invariably sharing a story: about our solution, about our customers, about the pains we can help solve. And the integration of narrative is extending beyond marketing copy. Sales professionals are incorporating stories into their presentations and pitches. Companies use stories to attract quality talent. The video marketing movement is largely driven by storytelling and its innate resonance, reflected by the rapid growth of ‘Stories’ on social media platforms. When people hear or see stories, their brains light up in different ways, tapping both the rational and emotional areas. Tying multiple pieces of information together in a coherent, chronological, and — above all — relatable way makes the message far more affecting. The content suddenly becomes experiential instead of merely educational. It’s also what an audience craves. As Rachel Gillett wrote for Fast Company:
“Our brains are insanely greedy for stories. We spend about a third of our lives daydreaming–our minds are constantly looking for distractions — and the only time we stop flitting from daydream to daydream is when we have a good story in front of us.”
We can satiate this appetite by putting a good story in front of the people we want to reach. But it’s not that simple. When it comes to building influence through storytelling, there are a few considerations worth keeping front-and-center. [bctt tweet="Tying multiple pieces of info together in a coherent, chronological, & relatable way makes the message far more affecting. The content suddenly becomes experiential instead of merely educational. - @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #Storytelling" username="toprank"]

How to Maximize Storytelling as a Trust-Building Tool

Stories serve many purposes in marketing. In our current environment, building trust may be the most vital among them. If this is the goal, make sure you adhere to these imperatives.

#1 - Be Genuine, Authentic, and Transparent

Lincoln didn’t gain the nickname “Honest Abe” for nothing. Despite his physique, the gangly 6-foot-4 politician didn’t have a reputation for spinning tall tales (at least not in misleading ways). Storytelling backfires when it strikes people as false or disingenuous. Share real anecdotes and back them with third-party evidence or quotes. Telling hard truths, even if it means acknowledging a shortcoming in your business, can be tremendously beneficial in the long run. Even more than being true to the facts, you must be true to yourself, and your brand. In his book, All Marketers are Liars, Seth Godin lays this out this first tenet of telling a great story:
“A great story is true. Not true because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. Consumers are too good at sniffing out inconsistencies for a marketer to get away with a story that’s just slapped on.”
[bctt tweet="A great story is true. Not true because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. - @ThisIsSethsBlog #ContentMarketing #Storytelling " username="toprank"]

#2 - Make It Meaningful to Your Audience

You know who you’re trying to reach. Hopefully you know a fair amount about them and their circumstances. When crafting a story, you must ask yourself if there’s a relevant hook that will make it applicable for them personally. As Ashley Zeckman has written here in the past: “Your customers should be able to see themselves in the story that you are telling through content.” This dynamic makes case studies, customer testimonials, and content featuring industry thought leaders and influencers — featuring first-person perspectives from businesses very similar to the ones you target as prospects — tremendously powerful. But even beyond that, it’s crucial to outline situations, scenarios, and challenges that your audience can relate to. Empathy is essential to gaining trust. [bctt tweet="Your customers should be able to see themselves in the story that you are telling through content. - @azeckman #ContentMarketing #Storytelling" username="toprank"]

#3 - Implement Recurring Themes

As you can tell from the opening sentence of this post, and many of the links scattered throughout, this is not the first time we’ve discussed storytelling on this blog. But we only continue to focus on it because of its critical importance in content marketing today. And hopefully this ongoing emphasis helps crystallize this significance. There’s an actual psychological phenomenon behind this: our brains give preference to the familiar. Once a seed or idea has been planted through effective and memorable narrative, people are more likely to notice and internalize it going forward. In other words, telling the “same old story” isn’t such a bad thing, so long as you can find new angles and dimensions to explore. A robust, ongoing, expanding narrative has the capability to continually reinforce trust and confidence. [bctt tweet="Telling the “same old story” isn’t such a bad thing, so long as you can find new angles and dimensions to explore. - NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #Storytelling" username="toprank"]

What’s Your Story?

via GIPHY As you contemplate your brand narrative and how you’ll present it going forward, I encourage you to keep these three cornerstones in mind: authenticity, relevance, and familiarity. When storytelling incorporates all three elements successfully, it can build trust in ways unparalleled by other methods. Storytelling can not only build trust, but also influence with your audience. Check out our post Cracking the Code: 3 Steps to Building Influence with Content Marketing for actionable tips and insights. At TopRank Marketing, storytelling is a core component of our content marketing approach. Give us a shout if you’d like to hear the whole story.

The post Be Like Honest Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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Calling All Content Marketers: Sound Off in Our Content Marketing Planning Survey! http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/05/content-marketing-planning-survey/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/05/content-marketing-planning-survey/#respond Mon, 14 May 2018 10:30:11 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24259 2018 Content Planning Survey

2018 Content Planning Survey

We’re all in this together.

Granted, it might not always feel that way. The current environment we operate in as marketers is a competitive one. But we do have the power to collectively drive our discipline forward, toward greater efficiency and productivity. This begins with sharing knowledge, and improving our understanding of the most prevalent challenges and obstacles being faced.

In this spirit, we’ve partnered with our clients and friends at DivvyHQ to whip up a new 2018 Content Planning Survey, and we’d love your input.

What’s Inside the Survey

The idea is to gather data from a wide range of marketers in efforts to form a clear and accurate picture of how today’s content teams operate and where the key opportunities lie.

[bctt tweet="“One thing marketers can do to improve their content planning is stop planning each piece of content. The key to an effective editorial plan is committing to a publishing cadence.” @brennermichael" username="toprank"]

Topics covered in this quick, five-minute survey:

  • Content planning processes and tools
  • Content team structure and collaboration
  • Content marketing tactics and metrics

Insights Content Marketers Will Gain

The more responses added from pros in the trenches like yourself, the more useful the results will be. Among the enlightening findings from DivvyHQ’s 2017 Content Planning Report:

  • 64% of respondents cited “developing a comprehensive content strategy” as a top challenge
  • Only 10% identified “creating clear defined objectives” as a successful aspect of planning
  • 58% of respondents said they were “too busy” to collaborate with peers
  • The most utilized content marketing tactics were email (89%), blog articles (88%) and video (80%)
  • 28% of respondents said they do not conduct regular content planning meetings

[bctt tweet="“There is such a thing as a bad slow in marketing. But there is a critical need for a good slow, too.” @annhandley" username="toprank"]

So please, add your voice by filling out the survey. The best part? While you aren’t required to provide an email address, if you do, you’ll receive exclusive early access to the report generated from the aggregated information.

A Fresh Look at Content Planning for 2018

What’s changed this year? Where will we be able to identify trends and prevalent changes in focus? By submitting your own survey, you can be among the first to find out.

Armed with these insights, you’ll be able to better assess how your team measures up against the content marketing world at large, helping to guide your strategy onward and upward.

Together, we can take content to new heights.

The post Calling All Content Marketers: Sound Off in Our Content Marketing Planning Survey! appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
2018 Content Planning Survey

2018 Content Planning Survey We’re all in this together. Granted, it might not always feel that way. The current environment we operate in as marketers is a competitive one. But we do have the power to collectively drive our discipline forward, toward greater efficiency and productivity. This begins with sharing knowledge, and improving our understanding of the most prevalent challenges and obstacles being faced. In this spirit, we’ve partnered with our clients and friends at DivvyHQ to whip up a new 2018 Content Planning Survey, and we’d love your input.

What’s Inside the Survey

The idea is to gather data from a wide range of marketers in efforts to form a clear and accurate picture of how today’s content teams operate and where the key opportunities lie. [bctt tweet="“One thing marketers can do to improve their content planning is stop planning each piece of content. The key to an effective editorial plan is committing to a publishing cadence.” @brennermichael" username="toprank"] Topics covered in this quick, five-minute survey:
  • Content planning processes and tools
  • Content team structure and collaboration
  • Content marketing tactics and metrics

Insights Content Marketers Will Gain

The more responses added from pros in the trenches like yourself, the more useful the results will be. Among the enlightening findings from DivvyHQ’s 2017 Content Planning Report:
  • 64% of respondents cited “developing a comprehensive content strategy” as a top challenge
  • Only 10% identified “creating clear defined objectives” as a successful aspect of planning
  • 58% of respondents said they were “too busy” to collaborate with peers
  • The most utilized content marketing tactics were email (89%), blog articles (88%) and video (80%)
  • 28% of respondents said they do not conduct regular content planning meetings
[bctt tweet="“There is such a thing as a bad slow in marketing. But there is a critical need for a good slow, too.” @annhandley" username="toprank"] So please, add your voice by filling out the survey. The best part? While you aren’t required to provide an email address, if you do, you’ll receive exclusive early access to the report generated from the aggregated information.

A Fresh Look at Content Planning for 2018

What’s changed this year? Where will we be able to identify trends and prevalent changes in focus? By submitting your own survey, you can be among the first to find out. Armed with these insights, you’ll be able to better assess how your team measures up against the content marketing world at large, helping to guide your strategy onward and upward. Together, we can take content to new heights.

The post Calling All Content Marketers: Sound Off in Our Content Marketing Planning Survey! appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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5 Reasons Why B2B Content Marketing Works & 5 Reasons It Doesn’t http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/05/why-content-marketing-works/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/05/why-content-marketing-works/#respond Wed, 09 May 2018 10:30:07 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24234 Why Content Marketing Works & Why It Doesn't

Why Content Marketing Works & Why It Doesn't

It’s no secret that content marketing is a widely adopted tactic. In fact, over 90% of B2B Marketers say they’re using it to reach their larger business goals, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Content Marketing Report. However, just 24% of B2B marketers rate their content marketing as extremely or very successful.

Why is content marketing working extremely well for some marketers, but not for others? What makes content marketing so effective, and what holds (your content marketing efforts) back?

Well, let’s talk all about it. Content is at the center of everything we do here at TopRank Marketing. And below we dive into some of the key reasons why content marketing efforts succeed or fall short. Hopefully, this insight can help you level up your own content marketing strategy in a way that amplifies your results.

5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Works

#1 - You’re solving a problem.

While this is a fundamental marketing concept, it needs mentioning. Simply put, content marketing works when you’re able to create and deliver content that solves a specific, relevant problem for your audience.

Buyers are increasingly self-directed in their research and purchasing decisions, taking their questions to search engines to find answers. That’s why it’s no surprise that many searches start with question words like how, what, where, when, and why. Your audience is looking for content that can provide them with the best answer, tutorial, guide, checklist, or another resource that can help solve their problems.

So, when your content delivers exactly what your audience is looking for and where they’re looking for it, you can gain traffic, foster engagement, and nurture them to action.

[bctt tweet="Simply put, #ContentMarketing works when you’re able to create and deliver content that solves a specific, relevant problem for your audience. - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

#2 - You’re targeting your ideal audience.

Successful marketing is rooted in being able to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time and on the right platform. The “spray and pray” method, where you’re blasting out content and hoping that your message sticks, can’t help you do this. But when done right, content marketing allows brands to target specific buyer personas and reach their ideal audience.

When content is personalized to address buyer pain points and common questions, you can capture more qualified traffic and leads, which increases the overall value of your content marketing efforts. In our experience, successful content marketers start by defining buyer personas, identifying their relevant pain points, and mapping them to content they might find helpful based on SEO opportunities and where they are in the sales funnel (e.g. checklists, definitions, infographics, etc.).

#3 - When you leverage customer data and insights.

We live in the age of big data. Every marketer has data. Every marketer knows data holds power. And the most forward-thinking marketers are leveraging data and their practical knowledge to draw insights that can be acted upon in their marketing strategy.

With data pouring into services like Google Analytics, you can see where your audience is dropping off, how they spend their time on your site, or what content has the best conversion rate. In addition, there are many public, third-party data providers that can be paired with your own data to gain more insight. Armed with this information, you can optimize your content marketing strategy based on your analysis to generate better results.

#4 - You’re climbing the rankings.

We all know that search engines help audiences find content. But without content, a brand has little SEO value.

As a result, successful content marketers don’t rely only on their brand’s main website pages to draw in organic traffic. Brands that are baking SEO in from the start are able to create strategic content in many forms across their owned digital channels to expand their footprint, greatly increasing their chance of attracting more organic traffic to drive results.

#5 - You’re showing credibility, not telling.

How do customers know that you’re an authority in your industry? Or that you’re a credible source of information?

When done well, content marketing allows you to become the best answer for your audience, showing them over and over again that you have the goods. This builds trust between you and your audience as they start to see you as an expert on the subjects you discuss. And because trust is strong, you can more effectively influence customers on their purchasing decisions.

Creating expert content that is seen as authoritative has other benefits as well. In fact, a study from inPowered found that expert content lifted awareness by 88% more than branded content, and increased purchase consideration by 38% more.

Building trust through credible content comes in many forms. Of course, capitalizing on SEO is an important piece of the puzzle. But successful marketers understand that tactical integration of a variety of content types is key. Among some of those different credibility-boosting tactics are influencer content, employee interviews, and original research and studies.

[bctt tweet="#ContentMarketing allows you to become the best answer for your audience, showing them over and over again that you have the goods. " username="toprank"]

Read: 8 Ways to Build Credibility & Trust with Content Marketing

5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Doesn’t Work

#1 - You don’t have the resources.

Content marketing is not a “one and done” marketing tactic. Brands who start publishing and can’t stick to a schedule may find that their audience becomes disinterested, causing traffic to dip and search engines to notice the lack of publishing. 

But maintaining consistency is easier said than done for most marketers. Each piece of content can take hours to research, edit, beef up with keywords, and crosslink to other pieces of content. All of this time quickly adds up, consuming additional resources and adding on to your content marketing costs.

Whether you decide on a daily, weekly, or monthly posting cadence, the key is to stick with it.

[bctt tweet="#ContentMarketing is not a “one and done” marketing tactic. - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

#2 - You’re putting out quantity, not quality.

Another key to content marketing success is quality. Why? Your audience and search engines demand high-quality, authoritative content. Brands that don’t dedicate enough time or effort to their content, and making sure that it truly serves a purpose, likely find their audiences don’t want to listen to what they have to say.

With your audience tuned out, search engines could also see your content as less valuable, decreasing your rankings and impressions. And then you're left asking:

via GIPHY

Read: The Content Marketing Juggling Act: How to Consistently Create Quality, Engaging Content

#3 - Your competition is growing.

Everywhere you look today, you’re confronted with content. Content lives in our social media news feeds, email inbox, text messages, and more. Brands and media outlets alike are all competing for an individual’s attention through content, creating a very saturated market that is ripe with competition. And if you’re executing content marketing, you could quickly start competing with yourself.

For example, brands who post too frequently could decrease their overall engagement with their audience. Or, they could start creating content that’s similar to things they’ve published in the past, cannibalizing from their own work. CoSchedule experienced this dip in engagement when increasing their blog posts from two to three each week. The increase in blog posts per week resulted in a decrease of 236 social shares per post, and a decrease in page views per blog post.

#4 - The impact of your content is hard to see.

With metrics that don’t directly translate to revenue, proving the value of content marketing can be difficult. CMOs want to hear about the business you’ve been able to generate, not the page views you’ve garnered or your average session duration. While those things are valuable, they don’t prove that you’ve grown the business, supported your sales team, or produced new leads.

As an example, it’s challenging to prove that just because someone read your latest eBook that they felt motivated enough to purchase your software or use your services. Because the impact of content is so difficult to measure, brands struggle with determining if their content is working or not. In fact, this is likely what contributes to only 35% of B2B marketers reporting that they measure content marketing ROI.

#5 - You're impatient.

Generally speaking, content marketing does not produce immediate, short-term results like a traditional promotion or sale would. Content marketing strategies are designed to reach your audience at multiple touch points during their journey.

Of course short-term wins are often achieved with a strategic content marketing plan, but at the end of the day, content marketing really is a long-term play. It’s about producing long-term value and strengthening your client relationships.

As a result, this means you need time to really grow their content ROI into something that’s worth raving about and produces a positive return. So, if you aren’t in it for the long-haul, success will elude you.

[bctt tweet="If you aren’t in it for the long-haul, #ContentMarketing success will elude you. - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

A Tailor-Made Content Strategy

From SEO value to thought leadership, there are a lot of reasons why B2B content marketing works for brands. But there are plenty of reasons it fails. Content is hard to tie into your pipeline and there are a lot of competitors vying for your audience’s attention.

But if you can create a content marketing strategy that overcomes those challenges and takes advantage of those benefits, you could see amazing results from your campaigns.

Not sure how you should start altering your strategy? Try starting by using these six questions you should use to guide your content marketing strategy.

The post 5 Reasons Why B2B Content Marketing Works & 5 Reasons It Doesn’t appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
Why Content Marketing Works & Why It Doesn't

Why Content Marketing Works & Why It Doesn't It’s no secret that content marketing is a widely adopted tactic. In fact, over 90% of B2B Marketers say they’re using it to reach their larger business goals, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Content Marketing Report. However, just 24% of B2B marketers rate their content marketing as extremely or very successful. Why is content marketing working extremely well for some marketers, but not for others? What makes content marketing so effective, and what holds (your content marketing efforts) back? Well, let’s talk all about it. Content is at the center of everything we do here at TopRank Marketing. And below we dive into some of the key reasons why content marketing efforts succeed or fall short. Hopefully, this insight can help you level up your own content marketing strategy in a way that amplifies your results.

5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Works

#1 - You’re solving a problem.

While this is a fundamental marketing concept, it needs mentioning. Simply put, content marketing works when you’re able to create and deliver content that solves a specific, relevant problem for your audience. Buyers are increasingly self-directed in their research and purchasing decisions, taking their questions to search engines to find answers. That’s why it’s no surprise that many searches start with question words like how, what, where, when, and why. Your audience is looking for content that can provide them with the best answer, tutorial, guide, checklist, or another resource that can help solve their problems. So, when your content delivers exactly what your audience is looking for and where they’re looking for it, you can gain traffic, foster engagement, and nurture them to action. [bctt tweet="Simply put, #ContentMarketing works when you’re able to create and deliver content that solves a specific, relevant problem for your audience. - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

#2 - You’re targeting your ideal audience.

Successful marketing is rooted in being able to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time and on the right platform. The “spray and pray” method, where you’re blasting out content and hoping that your message sticks, can’t help you do this. But when done right, content marketing allows brands to target specific buyer personas and reach their ideal audience. When content is personalized to address buyer pain points and common questions, you can capture more qualified traffic and leads, which increases the overall value of your content marketing efforts. In our experience, successful content marketers start by defining buyer personas, identifying their relevant pain points, and mapping them to content they might find helpful based on SEO opportunities and where they are in the sales funnel (e.g. checklists, definitions, infographics, etc.).

#3 - When you leverage customer data and insights.

We live in the age of big data. Every marketer has data. Every marketer knows data holds power. And the most forward-thinking marketers are leveraging data and their practical knowledge to draw insights that can be acted upon in their marketing strategy. With data pouring into services like Google Analytics, you can see where your audience is dropping off, how they spend their time on your site, or what content has the best conversion rate. In addition, there are many public, third-party data providers that can be paired with your own data to gain more insight. Armed with this information, you can optimize your content marketing strategy based on your analysis to generate better results.

#4 - You’re climbing the rankings.

We all know that search engines help audiences find content. But without content, a brand has little SEO value. As a result, successful content marketers don’t rely only on their brand’s main website pages to draw in organic traffic. Brands that are baking SEO in from the start are able to create strategic content in many forms across their owned digital channels to expand their footprint, greatly increasing their chance of attracting more organic traffic to drive results.

#5 - You’re showing credibility, not telling.

How do customers know that you’re an authority in your industry? Or that you’re a credible source of information? When done well, content marketing allows you to become the best answer for your audience, showing them over and over again that you have the goods. This builds trust between you and your audience as they start to see you as an expert on the subjects you discuss. And because trust is strong, you can more effectively influence customers on their purchasing decisions. Creating expert content that is seen as authoritative has other benefits as well. In fact, a study from inPowered found that expert content lifted awareness by 88% more than branded content, and increased purchase consideration by 38% more. Building trust through credible content comes in many forms. Of course, capitalizing on SEO is an important piece of the puzzle. But successful marketers understand that tactical integration of a variety of content types is key. Among some of those different credibility-boosting tactics are influencer content, employee interviews, and original research and studies. [bctt tweet="#ContentMarketing allows you to become the best answer for your audience, showing them over and over again that you have the goods. " username="toprank"] Read: 8 Ways to Build Credibility & Trust with Content Marketing

5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Doesn’t Work

#1 - You don’t have the resources.

Content marketing is not a “one and done” marketing tactic. Brands who start publishing and can’t stick to a schedule may find that their audience becomes disinterested, causing traffic to dip and search engines to notice the lack of publishing.  But maintaining consistency is easier said than done for most marketers. Each piece of content can take hours to research, edit, beef up with keywords, and crosslink to other pieces of content. All of this time quickly adds up, consuming additional resources and adding on to your content marketing costs. Whether you decide on a daily, weekly, or monthly posting cadence, the key is to stick with it. [bctt tweet="#ContentMarketing is not a “one and done” marketing tactic. - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

#2 - You’re putting out quantity, not quality.

Another key to content marketing success is quality. Why? Your audience and search engines demand high-quality, authoritative content. Brands that don’t dedicate enough time or effort to their content, and making sure that it truly serves a purpose, likely find their audiences don’t want to listen to what they have to say. With your audience tuned out, search engines could also see your content as less valuable, decreasing your rankings and impressions. And then you're left asking: via GIPHY Read: The Content Marketing Juggling Act: How to Consistently Create Quality, Engaging Content

#3 - Your competition is growing.

Everywhere you look today, you’re confronted with content. Content lives in our social media news feeds, email inbox, text messages, and more. Brands and media outlets alike are all competing for an individual’s attention through content, creating a very saturated market that is ripe with competition. And if you’re executing content marketing, you could quickly start competing with yourself. For example, brands who post too frequently could decrease their overall engagement with their audience. Or, they could start creating content that’s similar to things they’ve published in the past, cannibalizing from their own work. CoSchedule experienced this dip in engagement when increasing their blog posts from two to three each week. The increase in blog posts per week resulted in a decrease of 236 social shares per post, and a decrease in page views per blog post.

#4 - The impact of your content is hard to see.

With metrics that don’t directly translate to revenue, proving the value of content marketing can be difficult. CMOs want to hear about the business you’ve been able to generate, not the page views you’ve garnered or your average session duration. While those things are valuable, they don’t prove that you’ve grown the business, supported your sales team, or produced new leads. As an example, it’s challenging to prove that just because someone read your latest eBook that they felt motivated enough to purchase your software or use your services. Because the impact of content is so difficult to measure, brands struggle with determining if their content is working or not. In fact, this is likely what contributes to only 35% of B2B marketers reporting that they measure content marketing ROI.

#5 - You're impatient.

Generally speaking, content marketing does not produce immediate, short-term results like a traditional promotion or sale would. Content marketing strategies are designed to reach your audience at multiple touch points during their journey. Of course short-term wins are often achieved with a strategic content marketing plan, but at the end of the day, content marketing really is a long-term play. It’s about producing long-term value and strengthening your client relationships. As a result, this means you need time to really grow their content ROI into something that’s worth raving about and produces a positive return. So, if you aren’t in it for the long-haul, success will elude you. [bctt tweet="If you aren’t in it for the long-haul, #ContentMarketing success will elude you. - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

A Tailor-Made Content Strategy

From SEO value to thought leadership, there are a lot of reasons why B2B content marketing works for brands. But there are plenty of reasons it fails. Content is hard to tie into your pipeline and there are a lot of competitors vying for your audience’s attention. But if you can create a content marketing strategy that overcomes those challenges and takes advantage of those benefits, you could see amazing results from your campaigns. Not sure how you should start altering your strategy? Try starting by using these six questions you should use to guide your content marketing strategy.

The post 5 Reasons Why B2B Content Marketing Works & 5 Reasons It Doesn’t appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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32 B2B Content Marketing Case Studies for 2018 http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/05/b2b-content-marketing-case-studies-2018/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/05/b2b-content-marketing-case-studies-2018/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 10:15:38 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24174 One of the great honors of working in the marketing agency world is seeing your work recognized. For me, an even greater honor is seeing the work of our clients and my team recognized and that’s exactly what happened at the 2018 Killer Content Awards. This year the award in question went to our client Cherwell [...]

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B2B Content Marketing Case Studies

One of the great honors of working in the marketing agency world is seeing your work recognized. For me, an even greater honor is seeing the work of our clients and my team recognized and that’s exactly what happened at the 2018 Killer Content Awards.

This year the award in question went to our client Cherwell Software. Thanks to amazing work by Alison Munn and the Cherwell Software team (pictured above), as well as our team at TopRank Marketing, their integrated influencer content program drove 22% of all new sales pipeline revenue in 2017.

But this post isn’t about just one B2B content marketing story. It’s about 32 stories from an impressive collection of B2B brands. These award winners are case studies for content marketing that we can all learn from. A BIG THANKS goes to the team at B2B Marketing Exchange for sharing raw case study data and both Anne Leuman and Lane Ellis from my team at TopRank Marketing for their collaboration on word-smithing the content and capturing the images of this post.

Check out the case studies below covering a range of categories including:

  • Measurable ROI, Nurture Campaign
  • Multi-Touch Campaign
  • Account-Based Marketing Campaign
  • Sales Enablement Campaign
  • Buyer-Focused Content, Bundled Content
  • Influencer Content
  • Interactive Content
  • Short-Form Content
  • Video Content
  • Research-Based Content
  • Agency Partnership
  • Social Amplification

32 B2B Marketing Case Studies Featuring Killer Content and Performance Results

Ciox Health
#1 – Ciox Health

Project: Ciox Health partnered with Content4Demand to uncover new growth opportunities with target audiences (e.g. law firms). After creating detailed personas, they developed highly tailored content messaging for all stages of the buyer’s journey. The final campaign featured an infographic, interactive quizzes, interactive listicles, checklists, Q&A sessions, and mixed media video.

Results:

  • Reached 1,884 potential prospects
  • 42.8% open rate
  • 14.5% CTR

Equifax
#2 – Equifax

Project: Equifax developed a multi-touch campaign consisting of more than seven touch points, including emails, social posts, blogs, webinars, and promotional emails. Quarterly webinars were the centerpiece of the campaign, allowing Equifax to capitalize on existing economic trends and CreditTrends reporting that were relevant to their target audience.

Results:

  • Increased webinar registrations by over 200%
  • Nearly doubled webinar attendees

The Kount
#3 – Kount

Project: The Kount team, a provider of award-winning anti-fraud technology, created the Fraud360 worldwide tours, regular webinars, and video ads, which were designed to provide market-specific content and tailored insights that focused on specific trends and industries.

Results:

  • Average of 450 registered webinar attendees per session
  • Thousands of views on video ads
  • Reached thousands of professionals in target regions, including Asia, Australia, and EMEA

Xactly
#4 – Xactly

Project: In order to prove its knowledge of buyer pain points and the effectiveness of its solutions, Xactly rolled out the Power of X campaign. Using customer testimonials and product demos, Xactly strived to nurture existing relationships and drive demand through an integrated, buyer-focused campaign across all segments, featuring a landing page hub, social promotion, direct mail, customer videos, and webinars.

Results:  280 leads generated

SAP Ariba
#5 – SAP Ariba

Project: SAP Ariba wanted to create a complete lifecycle nurture program for each of its targeted personas: Procurement, Supply Chain, Finance, and IT. Working with DemandGen, SAP Ariba mapped all 80 emails appropriately and used non-promotional language to emphasize their “thought leadership” content.

Results:  454% higher open rate

ADP
#6 – ADP

Project: To identify potential buyers and convert readers into sales opportunities, ADP developed a flagship Research Nurture Program. The program leverages website analytics, marketing automation, and scoring to identify key buyer personas, customize content, and send nurture emails for longer-term engagement.

Results:

Generated thousands of influenced sales opportunities
Millions of dollars forecasted in total opportunity pipeline

Bottomline Technologies
#7 – Bottomline Technologies

Project: Bottomline Technologies breathed new life into its quarterly awareness email campaigns by introducing themes that aligned with pop culture events. By making subtle tweaks, the company was also able to create relevant messaging for different lines of business (e.g. strategic finance, controller, accounts payable), including infographics, white papers, and checklists.

Results:

  • 1,000 infographic downloads within 24 hours
  • 62% of downloads were net-new contacts

Veracode
#8 – Veracode

Project: Veracode created the Application Security Program Journey multi-touch campaign to drive awareness and generate demand for application security. The integrated, multi-touch campaign consisted of various content mapped against the buyer’s journey, as well as multiple inbound and outbound promotional tactics.

Results:

  • 4,000 inquiries
  • 479 opportunities
  • 241 wins

Optum
#9 – Optum

Project: To promote the launch of its new brand, OptumIQ, Optum created Data In Focus, an event to attract decision makers and influencers in person and via a livestream. Over a six-week period leading up to the event, the company unveiled key event details via an integrated campaign utilizing email, paid and organic social, digital advertising, retargeting ads, direct mail, and more.

Results:

  • 5,022 external registrations
  • Exceeded registration-to-attendee conversion rate goal by 33%
  • 13.6 million impressions
  • 886 marketing contacts

Broadridge
#10 – Broadridge

Project: With a sales cycle that can be quite lengthy, Broadridge sought to create a campaign that would steadily educate target buyers — finance executives and operations/IT leaders — on their value proposition. The full-funnel campaign included interactive infographics, eBooks, executive briefs, and Q&A’s that addressed buyer pain points. Broadridge paired this campaign with an internal guide to educate sales on the campaign goals, individual assets, and follow-up conversation starters to ensure quality interactions with buyers.

Results:

  • 2,133 MQLs
  • 6,995 content downloads

Grant Thornton
#11 – Grant Thornton

Project: The Growth and Future of Industry campaign from Grant Thornton was created to help business leaders understand ways to accelerate growth and manage disruption. With over 60 pieces of content and an extensive social media campaign, it is the single biggest research program and thought leadership campaign the company has ever undertaken. Grant Thornton also leveraged paid media — a first for the company — to improve campaign reach and visibility among clients and prospects.

Results:

  • Exceeded reach goal by 4x
  • Exceeded conversion rate goal by 7.5x
  • Industry-specific reach and conversion goals were also exceeded

Open Text
#12 – OpenText

Project: The OpenText Digital Disruption thought leadership campaign was launched to engage enterprise executives in a fun and engaging way as they strive to understand and embrace digital disruption. The campaign used a re-designed microsite to house a variety of assets with a fun superpower theme, allowing visitors to easily consume content — even binge it all in a single sitting.

Results:

  • 9:12 average session duration
  • Increased social traffic to the microsite by 1,062%

Cherwell Software
#13 – Cherwell Software 

Project: Cherwell Software partnered with TopRank Marketing to develop a comprehensive influencer program for the IT service management industry. A 24-page eBook called IT Service Management 2020, kicked off the campaign, featuring influencer opinions about the future of the ITSM industry. To generate pre-launch interest, Cherwell produced and promoted several blog posts, an infographic, and co-hosted a webinar with the influencers.

Results:

  • 100% share rate with influencers
  • 240% greater download rate than the average gated asset
  • 29% increase in web traffic to Cherwell.com from social
  • Leads from the campaign contributed to 22% of the revenue pipeline for 2017

Paycom
#14 – Paycom

Project: Paycom collaborated with best-selling author, keynote speaker and futurist Jacob Morgan on a series of content to give HR professionals a closer look into why employee engagement scores are at an all-time low despite increased employer investment. The campaign featured a two-part podcast, a webinar, and a series of thought leadership blog articles — all featuring Morgan.

Results:
255 live attendees, 30 of which signed up for a Paycom consultation
1,172 podcast downloads
494 podcast page views
1,410 blog post page views

Blackbaud
#15 – Blackbaud

Project: To differentiate the company’s two fundraising solutions, Blackbaud launched their Choose Your Solution campaign. The campaign featured an interactive quiz to help arts and cultural organizations identify the right fundraising solution based on their needs, and to help qualify leads faster and bypass repetitive introductory questions asked by sales reps.

Results:

  • 36 influenced opportunities that resulted in $34,000 in pipeline
  • 42% MQL-to-opportunity conversion rate

Uberflip
#16 – Uberflip

Project: Uberflip created an interactive marketing maturity assessment and companion eBook that asked marketers to take a hard look and identify where they stand in their marketing path. The assessment enabled Uberflip to provide their sales team with better MQLs and gain more information about existing accounts.

Results:

  • 907,843 impressions and 1,297 clicks on social media in just three months
  • 38% question completion rate
  • 64% average lead submission rate

Siemens PLM Software
#17 – Siemens PLM Software

Project: To educate customers and prospects on digital twins and digital threads, Siemens PLM Software created a thought leadership initiative. This initiative included creating a series of blog posts answering common buyer questions on digital twins and threads.

Results:

  • 3,800 page views across articles
  • Ranking No. 2 on google for “value of the digital twin” and No. 14 for “digital twin technology”

CAS
#18 – CAS

Project: In order to help scientists and research leaders at research and development organizations define important problems and highlight the opportunities additional time could give them, CAS, a division of the American Chemical Society, developed the Where Does Your Time Go? infographic.

Results:

  • Generated 489 leads
  • 20,400 views

Oracle
#19 – Oracle

Project: Oracle developed The Modern Finance Leader blog series to establish itself as a leader in the world of finance. The blog targets finance executives across North America, EMEA, and APAC and provides content designed to educate and inform the audience on the latest trends and topics in finance.

Results:

  • 330 posts published
  • 90,000 unique visits
  • 500,000 page views
  • 63% increase in web traffic quarter over quarter

Bottomline Technolgies
#20 – Bottomline Technologies

Project: Bottomline Technologies partnered Content4Demand to develop an interactive eBook designed to showcase how three organizations — from manufacturing, healthcare, and property management industries — used their Paymode-X network to elevate efficiency and improve their bottom line.

Results:

  • 54.3% email open rate, 39.8% CTR, 73.4% click-to-open rate
  • 362 downloads through content syndication
  • 4 MQLs, 2 SAOs, and $3.2 million in associated pipeline

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
#21 – Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield

Project: Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield collaborated with Skyword to revamp an existing piece of content, titled: The Benefits Guide. In response to new audience needs, Anthem pivoted the asset away from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) focus and replaced it with a newsroom that conveyed news and decisions relevant for plan holders.

Results:

  • 103% increase in page views and 102% increase in search views from Q2 to Q3 in 2017
  • 798,000 total page views from 2016 to 2017

SAP
#22 – SAP

Project: SAP launched its #LifeAt video campaign to highlight their many innovators, game-changers, and true entrepreneurs, but SAP also sought to humanize the brand for its target audience. The SAP team partnered with the video marketing agency Aftermarq to produce video stories of SAP SMB clients of varying lengths.

Results:

  • 4.5 million impressions
  • 31% view-through rate for 5:00 videos
  • 21% view-through rate for 1:00 videos

LinkedIn
#23 – LinkedIn

Project: LinkedIn’s Live with Marketers campaign is a live talk show by marketers for marketers, designed to resolve pain points around top-of-mind topics such as marketing attribution, ROI optimization, and driving business impact on social media.

Results:

  • 12,000 registrants
  • 5,000 live attendees
  • Increased projected revenue from deals closed through this series versus traditional webcasts

Matrixx Software
#24 – MATRIXX Software

Project: MATRIXX Software designed its 150 Points of Opportunity campaign to differentiate their content from that of their competitors, while also showcasing how their product delivers value to customers. The campaign featured a 44-page eBook and five standalone videos.

Results:

  • 77% return rate to the MATRIXX website
  • 43% increase in average session duration
  • 25% growth in C-suite interaction and target account engagement rate

Tempur Sealy
#25 – Tempur Sealy Hospitality

Project: Tempur Sealy Hospitality was looking for a way to present their high-quality mattresses to B2B buyers in the hospitality industry without having to lug around a physical sample. The company worked with The Mx Group to create an interactive mattress cutaway tool that allowed sales reps to digitally present and sell various mattresses to hospitality customers online and at industry trade shows.

Results: Achieved a 90% adoption rate with the sales force

LookBook HQ
#26 – LookBookHQ

Project: In an effort to re-engage lost opportunities and give the sales team more prospects that were more likely to convert, LookBookHQ created their Caveman campaign. The campaign consisted of an interactive digital experience built on the LookBookHQ platform, a direct mail component, and follow-up email outreach from sales.

Results:

  • Booked 300 meetings
  • Generated more than 50 new opportunities
  • Saw a 56% overall conversion rate, up 27% from the previous year

Channel Advisor
#27 – ChannelAdvisor

Project: ChannelAdvisor decided to create two unique ABM campaigns that targeted strategic accounts via direct mail. The two campaigns provided over 250 prospects with pre-loaded Amazon devices, featuring ChannelAdvisor skills and apps that educated prospects on e-commerce strategies that were relevant to them.

Results:

  • Achieved an ROI of 130%
  • 39% of generated opportunities were net-new

Trapeze Group
#28 – Trapeze Group

Project: Trapeze Group kicked off an ABM pilot with the objective to identify top accounts with which to deepen engagements and create personalized one-to-one messaging and campaigns — ultimately influencing closed-won opportunities. The ABM pilot has since been rolled out to 60 target accounts.

Results:

  • 111% increase in session duration
  • 100% response rate to the direct mail component

Harland Clarke
#29 – Harland Clarke

Project: To drive awareness for the company’s new product, GRC Spotlight, Harland Clarke created the “Keeping Up with Kevin” campaign. The star and subject matter expert for the campaign, Kevin Malicki, participated in video blogs that were shared over social media — primarily LinkedIn — to help deliver tips and real-world scenarios in the GRC space.

Results:

  • 33,000 LinkedIn impressions
  • Increased Malicki’s LinkedIn connections by 22%
  • Increased Malicki’s LinkedIn profile views by 110%

Ipswitch
#30 – Ipswitch

Project: Ipswitch created the “Defrag This” podcast and blog to help provide a trusted knowledge base for IT professionals that offers audience-centric content via social channels.

Results:

  • Nearly 200% growth in blog subscribers
  • 174% increase in monthly visitors to the blog
  • 133% increase in organic traffic to the blog

Radius
#31 – Radius

Project: Radius’ Revenue Ops campaign was designed to help educate prospects in marketing and sales operations on how their role in B2B business is evolving — from simple execution to providing data and insights to help drive revenue. The campaign was fueled by an eBook that Radius co-created with companies such as Heinz Marketing, Engagio, Forrester, and more.

Results:

  • 500 eBook downloads in the first two days
  • Engaged more than 300 top-tier accounts
  • Influenced more than $5 million in pipeline

Emma
#32 – Emma

Project: Emma wanted to learn what makes today’s marketers tick, as well as promote collaboration and learning within the community. The company surveyed roughly 200 marketers and interviewed more than 25 industry experts to gauge the goals, concerns, and pressures facing marketers, then compiled the data into its first Email Marketing Industry Report.

Results:

  • Over 41,000 unique views
  • Contributed to 37% of the company’s content downloads

Top Takeaways for B2B Content Marketers

Themes of success from this collection of B2B content marketing examples include: data informed personas, personalization, interactive content, integrated content, thought leadership and influence. Of particular note was the use of live video by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

As interactive content has become a more common feature in award-winning B2B content in 2018, I think video will take that spot in 2019.

There’s a lot to learn from with award winning content marketing programs and I congratulate all the B2B brands that brought him Finny’s this year. The awards give recognition to great work and they also give us a look inside what’s really working in the industry.

Have you noticed a B2B content marketing campaign this year that was remarkable? If so, please share in the comments why you thought it was special.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2018. | 32 B2B Content Marketing Case Studies for 2018 | http://www.toprankblog.com

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A Non-Agency Guy Reflects on His First Year at TopRank Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/working-at-toprank-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/working-at-toprank-marketing/#respond Mon, 23 Apr 2018 10:30:59 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24131 TopRank Marketing Team

TopRank Marketing Team

Liking where you work is not an optional luxury. At least it sure shouldn't be.

Spending 40 hours of every week at a place you dread is a tough way to go through any stretch of life. I've been there and I'm sure many of you have as well — especially if you work in digital marketing, which can often be a fast-paced, demanding, and stressful field.

So last year, when I decided to pursue a new professional venture, finding the right culture fit was a huge priority for me. As I started exploring the possibility of joining the TopRank Marketing team, I had some reservations; not because of anything specific to the company, but because it’s an agency.

I hadn't work at agencies much in the past. I was familiar with the stereotypes, the paradigms, the lamentations. While confident in my skill set being very applicable in this world, I couldn't help but wonder if it was the right world for me.

Would the constant reality of client demands stifle my creativity? Would the permeating structure of workflow management systems prove suffocating? Would I be intimidated as a newbie working alongside people who've been in such a setting forever?

Well, as you can tell, I took the plunge. And I'm very glad I did. I'm coming up on my one-year anniversary here at TopRank Marketing and can happily say that up to this point, it has been an extremely rewarding experience, unhindered by those negative agency archetypes mentioned above.

If you're a talented writer, strategist, SEO or analyst considering a career move, I highly recommend checking out TopRank Marketing — even if you've never worked in an agency. Here are five reasons I've felt right at home.

#1 - Business Casual

I'm not just talking about dress code. The environment here here strikes the right balance between business and casual. In the years prior to coming aboard, I'd spent time working downtown at a big corporate bank as well as at an ultra-leisurely tech startup, so I've experienced both ends of the spectrum and didn't love either extreme.

I know from speaking to others that certain agencies can veer a little too far in the direction of informality, with flip-flops and Monday morning mimosas and lax attendance standards. From my view, these kinds of things can quickly become distractions, preventing people from being seriously focused on their work. At TopRank Marketing, the vibe is laid back enough that it's always comfortable and easygoing, but not so much that anyone is apt to lose sight of their duties or commitments.

#2 - Cool Clients

Working with big-league clients also helps us keep our eyes on the prize. One thing that has become quite clear to me in my time at TopRank Marketing is that we are very deliberate about the businesses we engage as an agency. There's a strong emphasis on finding the right fits and aiming high.

Partnering with recognizable and respected enterprise companies such as Dell, LinkedIn, and SAP keeps us on our toes and challenges us to raise the bar. I'm continually impressed by the innovation and big thinking on display in these organizations.

During client meetings, I get to interact with sharp people and I find there's a high degree of mutual respect. I haven't personally encountered exasperations with companies that just don't "get it," which I hear a lot about from friends and peers working at other agencies.

#3 - Awesome Team

Not only do our clients keep me on my toes — so do my coworkers. To me, this is probably the most invigorating aspect of working at TopRank Marketing. Each day I get the chance to absorb knowledge from tremendously adept and skilled pros in various disciplines. This is by design; attracting and retaining high-caliber talent is central to our operation.

The collaborative culture enables our team to collectively reach new heights. I'm fortunate to build out my own expertise by learning from our specialists in search, SEO, strategy, analytics, design, content and more. Hopefully I'm able to impart some of my own knowledge as well. 

#4 - Growth Opportunities

Just a few months after starting here at TopRank Marketing, I was able to attend Digital Summit Minneapolis and rub shoulders with some of the industry's biggest names as a representative of our agency. It was a cool opportunity right out of the gates, and speaks to the windows that are opened for anyone with such aspirations. I've also gotten to write several times for the renowned TopRank blog, providing me with a platform for visibility and brand-building in the marketing community.  

As employees we are adamantly encouraged to branch out, gain new competencies, take on speaking engagements, and become public faces for the agency if they show that initiative. There's a very legitimate and earnest focus on personal development that I believe to be rare.

#5 - Taking Pride

It's honestly cool to tell people where I work.

I've quickly learned that TopRank Marketing has a stellar rep, fueled in large part by our CEO Lee Odden, who regularly appears as a keynote speaker all around the world promoting our brand and extolling our talent. Being able to work with prestigious international clients gives me a daily feeling of impact and accomplishment. There's also a certain thrill inherent to being on the cutting edge with so many tactics and frontiers — most notably B2B influencer marketing at the moment.

I Guess I’m an Agency Guy Now

I'm not going to say it's easy, nor that every day is free of stress or struggle. But I’m not sure I would even want that. I will say that on those more difficult days, I always have the support and structure necessary to overcome.

I had no idea what to expect with my first real venture into the agency world, but what I’ve found at TopRank Marketing is an accommodating environment, meaningful work, amazing colleagues, clear avenues for growth, and a real sense of pride.

That pretty much covers the checklist I had coming in. If yours looks similar, and you think you’ve got a professional skill set befitting one of our openings, you should get in touch and see if TopRank Marketing might be a match for you. Even if the word “agency” makes you bristle a little bit.

I might be biased, but not without good reason.

The post A Non-Agency Guy Reflects on His First Year at TopRank Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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TopRank Marketing Team

TopRank Marketing Team Liking where you work is not an optional luxury. At least it sure shouldn't be. Spending 40 hours of every week at a place you dread is a tough way to go through any stretch of life. I've been there and I'm sure many of you have as well — especially if you work in digital marketing, which can often be a fast-paced, demanding, and stressful field. So last year, when I decided to pursue a new professional venture, finding the right culture fit was a huge priority for me. As I started exploring the possibility of joining the TopRank Marketing team, I had some reservations; not because of anything specific to the company, but because it’s an agency. I hadn't work at agencies much in the past. I was familiar with the stereotypes, the paradigms, the lamentations. While confident in my skill set being very applicable in this world, I couldn't help but wonder if it was the right world for me. Would the constant reality of client demands stifle my creativity? Would the permeating structure of workflow management systems prove suffocating? Would I be intimidated as a newbie working alongside people who've been in such a setting forever? Well, as you can tell, I took the plunge. And I'm very glad I did. I'm coming up on my one-year anniversary here at TopRank Marketing and can happily say that up to this point, it has been an extremely rewarding experience, unhindered by those negative agency archetypes mentioned above. If you're a talented writer, strategist, SEO or analyst considering a career move, I highly recommend checking out TopRank Marketing — even if you've never worked in an agency. Here are five reasons I've felt right at home.

#1 - Business Casual

I'm not just talking about dress code. The environment here here strikes the right balance between business and casual. In the years prior to coming aboard, I'd spent time working downtown at a big corporate bank as well as at an ultra-leisurely tech startup, so I've experienced both ends of the spectrum and didn't love either extreme. I know from speaking to others that certain agencies can veer a little too far in the direction of informality, with flip-flops and Monday morning mimosas and lax attendance standards. From my view, these kinds of things can quickly become distractions, preventing people from being seriously focused on their work. At TopRank Marketing, the vibe is laid back enough that it's always comfortable and easygoing, but not so much that anyone is apt to lose sight of their duties or commitments.

#2 - Cool Clients

Working with big-league clients also helps us keep our eyes on the prize. One thing that has become quite clear to me in my time at TopRank Marketing is that we are very deliberate about the businesses we engage as an agency. There's a strong emphasis on finding the right fits and aiming high. Partnering with recognizable and respected enterprise companies such as Dell, LinkedIn, and SAP keeps us on our toes and challenges us to raise the bar. I'm continually impressed by the innovation and big thinking on display in these organizations. During client meetings, I get to interact with sharp people and I find there's a high degree of mutual respect. I haven't personally encountered exasperations with companies that just don't "get it," which I hear a lot about from friends and peers working at other agencies.

#3 - Awesome Team

Not only do our clients keep me on my toes — so do my coworkers. To me, this is probably the most invigorating aspect of working at TopRank Marketing. Each day I get the chance to absorb knowledge from tremendously adept and skilled pros in various disciplines. This is by design; attracting and retaining high-caliber talent is central to our operation. The collaborative culture enables our team to collectively reach new heights. I'm fortunate to build out my own expertise by learning from our specialists in search, SEO, strategy, analytics, design, content and more. Hopefully I'm able to impart some of my own knowledge as well. 

#4 - Growth Opportunities

Just a few months after starting here at TopRank Marketing, I was able to attend Digital Summit Minneapolis and rub shoulders with some of the industry's biggest names as a representative of our agency. It was a cool opportunity right out of the gates, and speaks to the windows that are opened for anyone with such aspirations. I've also gotten to write several times for the renowned TopRank blog, providing me with a platform for visibility and brand-building in the marketing community.   As employees we are adamantly encouraged to branch out, gain new competencies, take on speaking engagements, and become public faces for the agency if they show that initiative. There's a very legitimate and earnest focus on personal development that I believe to be rare.

#5 - Taking Pride

It's honestly cool to tell people where I work. I've quickly learned that TopRank Marketing has a stellar rep, fueled in large part by our CEO Lee Odden, who regularly appears as a keynote speaker all around the world promoting our brand and extolling our talent. Being able to work with prestigious international clients gives me a daily feeling of impact and accomplishment. There's also a certain thrill inherent to being on the cutting edge with so many tactics and frontiers — most notably B2B influencer marketing at the moment.

I Guess I’m an Agency Guy Now

I'm not going to say it's easy, nor that every day is free of stress or struggle. But I’m not sure I would even want that. I will say that on those more difficult days, I always have the support and structure necessary to overcome. I had no idea what to expect with my first real venture into the agency world, but what I’ve found at TopRank Marketing is an accommodating environment, meaningful work, amazing colleagues, clear avenues for growth, and a real sense of pride. That pretty much covers the checklist I had coming in. If yours looks similar, and you think you’ve got a professional skill set befitting one of our openings, you should get in touch and see if TopRank Marketing might be a match for you. Even if the word “agency” makes you bristle a little bit. I might be biased, but not without good reason.

The post A Non-Agency Guy Reflects on His First Year at TopRank Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/content-marketing-lessons-dungeons-dragons/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/content-marketing-lessons-dungeons-dragons/#respond Wed, 18 Apr 2018 10:17:37 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24118 Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

It’s probably not news to you that 91% of B2B brands use content marketing to attract, engage, nurture, and convert their audience. However, it might be surprising to learn that only 9% of those brands rate their content marketing as “sophisticated.” Sophisticated meaning that their content marketing is successful, scales across the organization, and provides accurate measurement to the business. This puts a lot of pressure on content marketers to elevate their game and provide more worthwhile and valuable content experiences.

Patrick PinedaAs an adept Dungeon Master (DM) of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) games, TopRank Marketing’s Motion Graphic Designer, Patrick Pineda, can relate.

It might sound a little odd at first, but Dungeon Masters and content marketers are more alike than you think. Responsible for creating meaningful and memorable experiences through content that takes people on a journey, you can see the similarities arise. Just like content marketers need to help guide people through the buyer journey, the Dungeon Master needs to guide players through a journey of their own.

After serving his friends as the go-to Dungeon Master, Patrick has learned a thing or two from creating lengthy campaigns—some successful, some not—that are both engaging and challenging. Discover Patrick’s lessons from the dungeon and how you can apply them to your content marketing campaigns and programs down below.

What Is a Dungeon Master?

For the unfamiliar, a Dungeon Master is the organizer for the wildly popular, 40-year-old tabletop role-playing game, “Dungeons & Dragons.” Not only do DMs organize the game, but they are also responsible for the game rules, details, and challenges. According to Patrick, the player experience hinges on a DM’s ability to create meaningful content that’s fun to explore.

One thing Dungeon Masters are not responsible for, however, are the players’ actions.

Like the self-directed buyers of today, D&D players are able to choose their own paths. As a result, DMs are challenged to make sure players finish the game. And just like your audience won’t read every piece of content you put in front of them, the same happens in a D&D game. Certain story elements DMs put together will never see the light of day because every player has a different play style, completes tasks in different orders, and takes different actions.

“The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick claims.

Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly resonated for me.

5 Content Marketing Lessons From the Dungeon

Having created D&D campaigns that ruled and bombed, here are Patricks top five tips for developing content that resonate with your audience.

#1 - Your audience values originality.

If Patrick creates a campaign that plays to common tropes like a damsel in distress or small town disappearances, the story becomes predictable. But worse than that, the players feel condescended to as the game starts to feel dumbed down.

“Cliches and stereotypes will make players groan. It’s important when creating a campaign that I shake it up and play against common conventions,” Patrick says.

When examining your content and the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original and play with your audience’s expectations. For example, listicles with social media tips are a dime a dozen. Your audience might be more interested if you flip the idea on its head with social media mistakes. In changing it up, you’re giving your audience something new that they haven’t read before, capturing their interest.

[bctt tweet="When examining your content & the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original & play with your audience’s expectations. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Appeal to curiosity.

When it comes to creating an adventure for players to navigate, the DM has a seemingly impossible job. They need to create a unique and compelling world that is able to hold players’ attention—something not easily done. In fact, campaigns have taken Patrick days to put together. But that doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

“I’ve spent hours upon hours creating content for a campaign. But 80% of what I create may never see any playtime. It’s ultimately the players’ choice as to what tasks they want to complete and what quests they want to go on,” Patrick points out.

While the D&D world needs to have a unique and compelling narrative, it also needs to appeal to a player’s curiosity to ensure they keep playing the game and play the parts of the game that you want them to.

How does this apply to content marketing? Well, as you know, just because you’re producing content, doesn’t mean that your audience will find it. To find the answers they’re looking for, they might scour the internet, social media, and trusted experts for more information. Having an integrated content strategy that has multiple touch points throughout the buyer journey and an omni-channel approach, helps ensure you’re reaching your target audience whenever and wherever they may be searching.

Weaving SEO, social media, and influencer marketing into your content marketing strategy helps improve the reach and engagement of the content you’re producing. Through SEO, your organic rankings and click-through-rates will start to rise, improving your organic traffic. Social media messages that are well written and value-based help attract larger audiences from their social feeds. And, finally, tapping into industry influencers exposes your content to a wider network of like-minded individuals, as well as adding authority and credibility.

#3 - Avoid corraling your audience.

Nobody likes to be told what to do, including D&D players. While the DM writes the game and serves as a referee, they cannot influence a player’s actions. And if a DM attempts to, they could quickly lose a player’s interest.

“As a DM, it can be tempting to intervene and make sure that your players are playing the game the way you intended. But this is the one thing you cannot do.” Patrick emphasizes.

This is true in content marketing, too, as making calls to action (CTAs) with zero context can be a turn-off for your audience. If you insert a CTA before your audience can learn what’s in it for them, whether it’s downloading an eBook, listening to a podcast, or subscribing to your blog, they’re less likely to do it. In fact, QuickSprout found that placing a CTA above the fold on a page decreased their conversion rate by 17% and attributed it to their audience not fully understanding why they should complete the action.

Instead, make sure that your CTAs have plenty of context and explain what the audience will gain by filling out your form, reading another blog post, etc. This helps ensure that your content satisfies your audience’s quest for knowledge.

#4 - Customize content for your audience, not the other way around.

As we mentioned previously, the players are in charge of their actions and how they choose to play the game, making it impossible for DMs to have control over the game experience. This makes it important for DMs to know their audience ahead of time, so they can include important sought-after details into different game components.

“I’ll ask players before we start what they hope to get out of the game, whether it’s take down an enemy or just to have fun. Knowing this ahead of time, I can tailor the game to what each player wants to have happen,” Patrick says.

For content marketers, this lesson should hit close to home. You need to know your audience well in advance in order to deliver personalized content. If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people.

After taking a look at your own audience’s characteristics and interests in Google Analytics, create unique personas for each of your audience members. This allows you to create content that is tailored for each person you hope to attract and engage. For example, if one of your target personas is a Director of Business Development, creating custom content that addresses a unique pain points like identifying new business opportunities or tips from the experts on how to strengthen their existing client relationships.

[bctt tweet="If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#5 - Chart your course.

There is a lot going on in a D&D game. And for the DM, that number is amplified as you have to remember every detail about your players, what’s been completed, and what could come next.

“To make sure I’m on top of the game and can portray characters well, I chart the game’s relationships instead of story elements. If I focus on the story, it could quickly become useless as players might do things out of order or in a non-linear fashion. By focusing on the relationships and where they fit in the narrative, the game becomes more fluid and flexible for the players and I can keep track of their journey,” Patrick says.

Tracking the journey isn’t the only thing Patrick notes, however. He also documents player strengths, weaknesses, and stats as the game progresses.

“I keep a character sheet that details each player’s play style. For example, if a player is investing their skill points in intelligence, I can tailor future encounters in the game to focus on problem-solving instead of combat. The opposite is true for a player who invests in raw strength,” Patrick notes.

Through detailed charts, maps, and grids, Patrick is able to make sure that his players have a personalized, seamless experience for every campaign they play, regardless of how they play it.

Customer Journey & Dungeons and Dragons Journey

By taking the same approach with your content marketing, you can identify opportunities for customization and develop a strategy for weaving your content into the buyer’s journey. For example, by knowing which pieces of content attract a larger audience or drive more conversions, you can use that information to inform your content development and map your content to different stages of the funnel (see below).

Grid Assigning Content to Buyer Stages

To collect this data on your content and audience, review your Google Analytics behavior and conversion dashboards to find our which pieces of content excel at attracting, engaging, or converting your audience. Metrics like page views and entrances are good indicators for attraction, whereas time on page or number of pages per session can help you understand engagement. And, finally, the number of conversions through conversion tracking is the best way to find your top converting content. Armed with this knowledge you can create content plans that are tailored for your audience’s unique buyer journey.

Your Audience Is the Hero

A good Dungeon Master enables players to become the hero of the story through a personalized game with a compelling, original narrative. As a content marketer, it’s your responsibility to create content that transforms your audience into heroes as well, helping them solve seemingly impossible problems with your expert, best-answer advice.

Through an integrated content strategy with originality, personalization, and “best answer” content that’s mapped to the buyer journey, you can become the perfect Content Master for your audience.

For more ideas on how to become a masterful content marketer, check out these 25 content marketing tips, including how to tackle writer’s block, repurpose content, utilize storytelling, and more.

The post What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons It’s probably not news to you that 91% of B2B brands use content marketing to attract, engage, nurture, and convert their audience. However, it might be surprising to learn that only 9% of those brands rate their content marketing as “sophisticated.” Sophisticated meaning that their content marketing is successful, scales across the organization, and provides accurate measurement to the business. This puts a lot of pressure on content marketers to elevate their game and provide more worthwhile and valuable content experiences. Patrick PinedaAs an adept Dungeon Master (DM) of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) games, TopRank Marketing’s Motion Graphic Designer, Patrick Pineda, can relate. It might sound a little odd at first, but Dungeon Masters and content marketers are more alike than you think. Responsible for creating meaningful and memorable experiences through content that takes people on a journey, you can see the similarities arise. Just like content marketers need to help guide people through the buyer journey, the Dungeon Master needs to guide players through a journey of their own. After serving his friends as the go-to Dungeon Master, Patrick has learned a thing or two from creating lengthy campaigns—some successful, some not—that are both engaging and challenging. Discover Patrick’s lessons from the dungeon and how you can apply them to your content marketing campaigns and programs down below.

What Is a Dungeon Master?

For the unfamiliar, a Dungeon Master is the organizer for the wildly popular, 40-year-old tabletop role-playing game, “Dungeons & Dragons.” Not only do DMs organize the game, but they are also responsible for the game rules, details, and challenges. According to Patrick, the player experience hinges on a DM’s ability to create meaningful content that’s fun to explore. One thing Dungeon Masters are not responsible for, however, are the players’ actions. Like the self-directed buyers of today, D&D players are able to choose their own paths. As a result, DMs are challenged to make sure players finish the game. And just like your audience won’t read every piece of content you put in front of them, the same happens in a D&D game. Certain story elements DMs put together will never see the light of day because every player has a different play style, completes tasks in different orders, and takes different actions. “The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick claims. Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly resonated for me.

5 Content Marketing Lessons From the Dungeon

Having created D&D campaigns that ruled and bombed, here are Patricks top five tips for developing content that resonate with your audience.

#1 - Your audience values originality.

If Patrick creates a campaign that plays to common tropes like a damsel in distress or small town disappearances, the story becomes predictable. But worse than that, the players feel condescended to as the game starts to feel dumbed down. “Cliches and stereotypes will make players groan. It’s important when creating a campaign that I shake it up and play against common conventions,” Patrick says. When examining your content and the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original and play with your audience’s expectations. For example, listicles with social media tips are a dime a dozen. Your audience might be more interested if you flip the idea on its head with social media mistakes. In changing it up, you’re giving your audience something new that they haven’t read before, capturing their interest. [bctt tweet="When examining your content & the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original & play with your audience’s expectations. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Appeal to curiosity.

When it comes to creating an adventure for players to navigate, the DM has a seemingly impossible job. They need to create a unique and compelling world that is able to hold players’ attention—something not easily done. In fact, campaigns have taken Patrick days to put together. But that doesn’t come without its drawbacks. “I’ve spent hours upon hours creating content for a campaign. But 80% of what I create may never see any playtime. It’s ultimately the players’ choice as to what tasks they want to complete and what quests they want to go on,” Patrick points out. While the D&D world needs to have a unique and compelling narrative, it also needs to appeal to a player’s curiosity to ensure they keep playing the game and play the parts of the game that you want them to. How does this apply to content marketing? Well, as you know, just because you’re producing content, doesn’t mean that your audience will find it. To find the answers they’re looking for, they might scour the internet, social media, and trusted experts for more information. Having an integrated content strategy that has multiple touch points throughout the buyer journey and an omni-channel approach, helps ensure you’re reaching your target audience whenever and wherever they may be searching. Weaving SEO, social media, and influencer marketing into your content marketing strategy helps improve the reach and engagement of the content you’re producing. Through SEO, your organic rankings and click-through-rates will start to rise, improving your organic traffic. Social media messages that are well written and value-based help attract larger audiences from their social feeds. And, finally, tapping into industry influencers exposes your content to a wider network of like-minded individuals, as well as adding authority and credibility.

#3 - Avoid corraling your audience.

Nobody likes to be told what to do, including D&D players. While the DM writes the game and serves as a referee, they cannot influence a player’s actions. And if a DM attempts to, they could quickly lose a player’s interest. “As a DM, it can be tempting to intervene and make sure that your players are playing the game the way you intended. But this is the one thing you cannot do.” Patrick emphasizes. This is true in content marketing, too, as making calls to action (CTAs) with zero context can be a turn-off for your audience. If you insert a CTA before your audience can learn what’s in it for them, whether it’s downloading an eBook, listening to a podcast, or subscribing to your blog, they’re less likely to do it. In fact, QuickSprout found that placing a CTA above the fold on a page decreased their conversion rate by 17% and attributed it to their audience not fully understanding why they should complete the action. Instead, make sure that your CTAs have plenty of context and explain what the audience will gain by filling out your form, reading another blog post, etc. This helps ensure that your content satisfies your audience’s quest for knowledge.

#4 - Customize content for your audience, not the other way around.

As we mentioned previously, the players are in charge of their actions and how they choose to play the game, making it impossible for DMs to have control over the game experience. This makes it important for DMs to know their audience ahead of time, so they can include important sought-after details into different game components. “I’ll ask players before we start what they hope to get out of the game, whether it’s take down an enemy or just to have fun. Knowing this ahead of time, I can tailor the game to what each player wants to have happen,” Patrick says. For content marketers, this lesson should hit close to home. You need to know your audience well in advance in order to deliver personalized content. If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people. After taking a look at your own audience’s characteristics and interests in Google Analytics, create unique personas for each of your audience members. This allows you to create content that is tailored for each person you hope to attract and engage. For example, if one of your target personas is a Director of Business Development, creating custom content that addresses a unique pain points like identifying new business opportunities or tips from the experts on how to strengthen their existing client relationships. [bctt tweet="If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#5 - Chart your course.

There is a lot going on in a D&D game. And for the DM, that number is amplified as you have to remember every detail about your players, what’s been completed, and what could come next. “To make sure I’m on top of the game and can portray characters well, I chart the game’s relationships instead of story elements. If I focus on the story, it could quickly become useless as players might do things out of order or in a non-linear fashion. By focusing on the relationships and where they fit in the narrative, the game becomes more fluid and flexible for the players and I can keep track of their journey,” Patrick says. Tracking the journey isn’t the only thing Patrick notes, however. He also documents player strengths, weaknesses, and stats as the game progresses. “I keep a character sheet that details each player’s play style. For example, if a player is investing their skill points in intelligence, I can tailor future encounters in the game to focus on problem-solving instead of combat. The opposite is true for a player who invests in raw strength,” Patrick notes. Through detailed charts, maps, and grids, Patrick is able to make sure that his players have a personalized, seamless experience for every campaign they play, regardless of how they play it. Customer Journey & Dungeons and Dragons Journey By taking the same approach with your content marketing, you can identify opportunities for customization and develop a strategy for weaving your content into the buyer’s journey. For example, by knowing which pieces of content attract a larger audience or drive more conversions, you can use that information to inform your content development and map your content to different stages of the funnel (see below). Grid Assigning Content to Buyer Stages To collect this data on your content and audience, review your Google Analytics behavior and conversion dashboards to find our which pieces of content excel at attracting, engaging, or converting your audience. Metrics like page views and entrances are good indicators for attraction, whereas time on page or number of pages per session can help you understand engagement. And, finally, the number of conversions through conversion tracking is the best way to find your top converting content. Armed with this knowledge you can create content plans that are tailored for your audience’s unique buyer journey.

Your Audience Is the Hero

A good Dungeon Master enables players to become the hero of the story through a personalized game with a compelling, original narrative. As a content marketer, it’s your responsibility to create content that transforms your audience into heroes as well, helping them solve seemingly impossible problems with your expert, best-answer advice. Through an integrated content strategy with originality, personalization, and “best answer” content that’s mapped to the buyer journey, you can become the perfect Content Master for your audience. For more ideas on how to become a masterful content marketer, check out these 25 content marketing tips, including how to tackle writer’s block, repurpose content, utilize storytelling, and more.

The post What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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6 Top Marketing Challenges Solved by Influencer Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/marketing-challenges-solved/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/marketing-challenges-solved/#respond Mon, 16 Apr 2018 10:22:10 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24113 Whether you’re a new Marketing leader at a company in need of establishing wins quickly or part of a growing organization with ambitious revenue goals, the challenges within marketing today are greater than ever. To help make sense out of these challenges, I’ve listed 6 of the top obstacles to brands achieving effectiveness out of [...]

The post 6 Top Marketing Challenges Solved by Influencer Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Marketing Challenges Solved by Influencer Content

Whether you’re a new Marketing leader at a company in need of establishing wins quickly or part of a growing organization with ambitious revenue goals, the challenges within marketing today are greater than ever.

To help make sense out of these challenges, I’ve listed 6 of the top obstacles to brands achieving effectiveness out of their marketing and how collaborating with influencers on content help solve each problem.

1. Challenge: Ad Blocking

600 million devices are using ad blocking leading to a loss of $22 billion in ad revenue for publishers (PageFair). If buyers don’t ever see your ads, what chance do you have?

Challenge solved: Contrary to ads, influencers are liked and because people pay attention to the influencers they follow, shared brand messages are far more likely to attract and engage buyers.

When you subscribe to the idea that everyone is influential about something, especially with their friends, co-workers and social connections, this statistic from Nielsen (83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over advertising) becomes very powerful.

Collaborating with influencers on content that the influencers then promote to their subscribing community can become a powerful differentiator for any marketing program.

Of course not all customers use ad blocking and there are incredible opportunities to be realized with sophisticated ad targeting. That’s why when properly executed, influencer content can be leveraged for both organic and paid promotions.

2. Challenge: Information Overload

Consider this: 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years. That’s 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day (IBM). In fact, 74gb of media are sent to the average consumer on an average day (USC/ICTM).

The sheer number of choices faced by consumers and general distrust has turned brand marketing into noise for many customers.

Challenge solved: Influencers are Focused. One of the most compelling reasons a person is influential is because of the specificity in the topics they cover. Because of that specialization, buyers anticipate rather than ignore or feel overwhelmed by what their trusted influencers share.

While some influencers distribute their content on multiple channels, their personal brand focus plus consistency and trust equals a signal that buyers pay attention to.

3. Challenge: Google “Hates” SEO

Search Engine Optimization bloggers have been positing this question for 10+ years. With Google algorithm and platform updates including Florida, Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon, RankBrain, Mobile, Possum, Fred and the thousands of launches, live traffic experiments, side-by-side experiments and over 130,000 search quality tests, it makes you wonder: is this all for improving the customer experience or is some of it to thwart SEO?

Challenge solved: Google actually likes influencer content. Another key ingredient to why someone is influential is their credibility and authority. An influencer’s specific expertise and their ability to provide insights, answers and even research based perspectives all deliver on the Google’s expectation that content be useful.

Beyond influencer content being useful, there’s the practice of making content worth linking to. Influencers typically have a subscribed audience, many of which publish themselves. When influencers publish and promote content, it naturally attracts links.

By optimizing content for search and activating influencers, brands can create opportunities to help customers find trusted content and everybody wins.

4. Challenge: Buyers Don’t Trust Brands

Or ads. This is a hard pill to swallow: 42% of consumers distrust brands and 69% distrust advertising according to a study by (Ipsos Connect).

Challenge solved: Influencers are trusted.  A recent study by Fullscreen and Shareblee via MarketingCharts found that nearly 40% of 18-34-year-olds are more likely to trust what an influencer says about a brand than what the brand says about itself. Additionally, Twitter reports that users trust influencers nearly as much as their friends.

Collaborating with influencers on content can bring authenticity, credibility and trust to that content. When influencers share that content, the effect of their audiences’s trust goes even further.

5. Challenge: Content Doesn’t Scale

According to the annual study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, some of the top content challenges marketers included: 60% producing engaging content, 57% producing content consistently.

Challenge solved: Creator Influencers are experts at creating content. Influencer content creation and storytelling skills come in many forms: blogging, podcasting, video, images, and sometimes interactive.

Brands can extend the media creation skills of their marketing departments by partnering with creators with specialized skills. In addition to skill, creator influencers have an audience to promote the content to.

6. Challenge: Organic Social is Dead

Not only is Facebook organic reach down 52% (MarketingLand) but declarations that organic reach on Facebook is outright dead for brands are being stated by many credible industry publications, including Digiday.

Challenge (partly) solved: Influencers have optimized social popularity. Influencers create the kinds of signals that social network algorithms reward with higher visibility. Influencers understand what resonates with their audience in terms of topic, content type and promotion. Those same influencers also have an active audience that engages with their shared content. This is a powerful combination for triggering social network algorithms to prioritize influencer content in the feed.

Influencer Marketing is no silver bullet. Neither is content marketing or any kind of marketing approach.

But when influencers are intelligently researched, qualified and engaged during the planning phases of a content marketing program, the benefits of the collaboration can include improved content in a variety of ways:

  • Authenticity – Choose influencers that represent your customers and the resulting message will be a lot more genuine to what buyers actually care about.
  • Variety – Including experts beyond your marketing department can generate a greater span of content ideas.
  • Quality – Tapping expertise can boost the quality beyond what marketing department copywriters might be able to produce.
  • Quantity – Engaging a group of influencers on an ongoing basis can boost the volume of content. Factor in repurposing and you’ll create even more content options without increasing spend.
  • Reach – Trusted, credible experts promoting content can reach audiences that are very difficult to connect with through any other way.
  • Trust – The credibility, expertise and authority of influencers that collaborate with a brand over time can grow trust for the brand.

On top of that, there are efficiency benefits. We have implemented influencer content campaigns where influencers have contributed anywhere from 20% to 80% of the content for the entire campaign.

Then there are the effectiveness benefits. For an organic influencer content campaign, achieving a 50% share rate amongst influencers is impressive. We’ve had many programs with over 100% share rate. Why? By communicating effectively, setting expectations and making content that contributors are proud to be a part of.

The reality is that influencer content programs can deliver value across the entire customer lifecycle, not just awareness. That means improved engagement and conversions.

There are many more challenges for marketing than the six above. I didn’t get into martech shock (too much tech), difficulty in finding qualified marketing candidates, measurement challenges or the implications of the lockdown on data represented by GDPR in the EU and recent attention being given Facebook by lawmakers. But addressing the six above should give the vast majority of marketers reading this an advantage.

Establishing relationships with qualified, capable influencers can bring a tremendous amount of value to a company’s content marketing effectiveness. When influencer marketing is thoughtful, ongoing and properly managed, it becomes a force multiplier that is difficult to duplicate.

Are you planning a content marketing program right now? Who are your best influencers? Who are your best employee advocates? Which industry media do you have the attention of? Which of your customers are most likely to advocate for your brand? Do you know if they are influential? Do you know which of your prospective customers are influential?

Answering these questions can open the door to content marketing success for your brand and mutually valuable relationships with the people that actually influence your customers.

 


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2018. | 6 Top Marketing Challenges Solved by Influencer Content | http://www.toprankblog.com

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3 Reasons B2B Marketers Need Optimized & Influencer Activated Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/b2b-content-seo-influence/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/b2b-content-seo-influence/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 10:12:15 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23997 We’ve all read the headlines about the death of organic social media and BuzzSumo’s recent report on the huge drop in social sharing reinforces the news that the free for all days of social media are coming to a close. Add to that the distrust of branded content and advertising and it’s easy to see [...]

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B2B content optimized influencer activated

We’ve all read the headlines about the death of organic social media and BuzzSumo’s recent report on the huge drop in social sharing reinforces the news that the free for all days of social media are coming to a close. Add to that the distrust of branded content and advertising and it’s easy to see that marketers need to rethink their approach.

If buyers are not engaging with brand social media and content, then where is their attention?

This is not a new question and the way we’ve been finding the answer is through insights about buyer preferences for solutions content: discovery, consumption and action.

The Customer Information Journey. Buyers pulling themselves through the majority of the research process for finding solutions do so with content. But where do they discover that content? What are their preferences for content types, topics and platforms for consumption? What sources do they trust? Of equal importance is what signals of credibility produce the confidence to inspire action within that content?

Customer Empathy. As B2B marketers are faced with an ever growing list of demands for content and channels, empathy with the customer experience is more important now than ever. What’s also important are the solutions for attracting, engaging and inspiring action that actually work.

Optimized And Influencer Activated Content. At TopRank Marketing we are fortunate to work with an innovative team and brave clients that trust our advice on how to optimize B2B buyer experiences. By leveraging integrated SEO, Content and Influencer programs, we’ve been able to achieve marketing performance results like 500% more leads and generating 22% of all sales pipeline revenue for the year tied to a single integrated content program.

To help marketers make the shift from dead end social media and brand-centric content that buyers don’t trust, here are 3 reasons why now is the time for B2B brands to capitalize on content optimized for search and influence:

1. Keyword Topics are King:

Customers ignoring social and brand content means they’re paying attention to something else. It comes down to trust and credibility. At every stage of the buying cycle from awareness to consideration to purchase, buyers use search engines to find solution content.

With virtually every B2B marketer on the content marketing bandwagon, many marketers are so focused on creating content they’re not allocating much more than an afterthought of paid social and ads to content promotion.

With content optimized for the solutions information and keywords that buyers are looking for, B2B brands can be useful at the very moment of need. That kind of credibility is what drives confidence, engagement and action.

The challenge: Is your content optimized for specific solutions keywords / topics? Have you done the homework to find out if those are the keywords buyers are using? That are in demand? Are you creating topical hub and spoke content for focused internal linking that drives organic search visibility? Is your content “the best answer” for what customers are looking for?

2. Influence is Queen:

B2B marketing industry research shows buyers trust peers and experts more than advertising. Whether it’s a question to an expert in a forum or reading authoritative advice in an industry publication, B2B buyers seek useful information from credible sources.

B2B brands are still behind when it comes to engaging influencers to add expertise and credibility to content. Our research with Traackr and Altimeter found that only 11% of B2B companies have ongoing influencer programs vs. 48% of B2C companies. B2B content without influencer contributions is like eating a baked potato plain. Boring! Including influencer contributions to B2B content is like adding your favorite toppings (salt, butter or sour cream) to that potato.

The challenge: Who are your brand’s influencers? Who is actively evangelizing your products or services? Which influencers could really make a difference for your marketing if they were associated with your brand? What are you doing to build quality, ongoing relationships with industry experts?

3. Activate Influencers & Optimize for Search:

When content programs leverage keyword and topic research to optimize content and use those same topics to help identify credible industry experts to contribute to that optimized content, it creates information that is both trusted and credible.

Many B2B brands do optimize their content for customer focused keywords. And others are moving from experimentation to implementing ongoing influencer programs. B2B brands that integrate both SEO and influence into their content marketing create a compelling opportunity to be found when it matters most and to be trusted when it matters more.

The challenge: Are you leveraging your keyword research for SEO to also find influencers that are relevant for the same topics? Are you engaging those influencers to co-create content on those topics? Are you inspiring the influencers to publish keyword rich content on their websites linking back to your brand? Are those influencers also engaged for earned media in industry publications and blogs on target topics with links back to your brand?

With an understanding of keyword demand, B2B marketers can tap into the opportunity to be the best answer for buyers with content at the very moment of need. Even better is that influencer contributions to that optimized content will give it the credibility and engagement needed to inspire action.

Here are a few steps to get started with an Optimized and Influencer Activated Content Marketing Program:

  1. Identify top, relevant search keywords
  2. Create hub and spoke content architecture (big topic & derivatives)
  3. Map keywords to to content
  4. Keyword optimize content + links
  5. Leverage keywords to identify & recruit relevant influencers
  6. Ask influencers keyword rich questions
  7. Incorporate influencer contributions in mapped content
  8. Encourage influencer promotion and linking to content
  9. Implement media and blogger relations using influencer content
  10. Repurpose content according to best performing keywords/influencers

You can go a lot deeper than this and there are a number of sub-steps, but this list should provide a good overview. Of course we specialize in B2B programs that integrate SEO, content and influencers, so feel free to check out our influencer content marketing case studies for inspiration.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2018. | 3 Reasons B2B Marketers Need Optimized & Influencer Activated Content | http://www.toprankblog.com

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B2B Podcasting: What, Why and How http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/b2b-podcasting-what-why-how/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/b2b-podcasting-what-why-how/#respond Wed, 14 Mar 2018 10:30:11 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23970 The What, Why & How of B2B Podcasting

The What, Why & How of B2B Podcasting

Okay, B2B marketers, time for a pop quiz:

  1. Which content marketing tactic can hold an audience’s attention for a half hour or more at a time?
  2. Which tactic inspires an audience to subscribe to your content and make a regular appointment to consume it?
  3. Which tactic can help boost thought leadership, raise awareness and engage influencers in your industry?
  4. Which tactic is in the title of this blog post?

The answer, of course, is podcasting. These long-form audio programs first emerged in the early 2000s. Back then, they were a niche format for hobbyists and tech nerds (like me). But the rise of the smartphone brought podcasts to the masses. Now, there are hundreds of hours of programming available on every conceivable subject, in every genre from true crime to horror to musical.  But we haven’t hit content shock for podcasts it’s still a growing market.

If your brand is looking to boost thought leadership and reach a new audience, now is the perfect time to add a podcast to your content marketing mix. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

What Is a Podcast, Anyway?

There’s a wide variety of types of podcast out there, so it can seem tricky to find a definition that covers everything. Some are live interviews or panel discussions; some are fully scripted and produced audio plays; some are cryptic monologues about a bizarre southwestern town.  But they all share two attributes:

  1. There are multiple recordings for each title, and
  2. They’re organized in an RSS feed you can subscribe to.

Whatever genre the audio is, whatever platforms it’s available on, as long as you have multiple recordings brought together by an RSS feed, you have a podcast.

Why Should B2B Content Marketers Care about Podcasts?

The way that people consume podcasts make them an ideal channel for your high-quality content. People tend to listen while working out, driving, cooking dinner — in other words, podcasts fill sizable chunks of otherwise idle time. You wouldn’t expect someone to read your white paper or eBook during their morning commute, but they might settle in with your latest episode.

The demographics for podcast listeners are attractive for B2B marketers, too. Edison Research’s Podcast Consumer 2017 report found that:

  • 24% of people ages 18-54 listen to podcasts monthly
  • Podcast listeners are almost evenly split between men and women
  • Podcast listeners tend to be affluent, educated consumers
  • In the 25-54 demographic, monthly listening has grown year over year for the past four years

In other words, your target audience is likely spending a significant amount of time listening to podcasts already. And those who already listen to at least one podcast are likely to be on the lookout for more.

What Marketing Goals Can a B2B Podcast Serve?

Podcasts work best for the attract and engage phases of the customer journey. You can use your podcast to build brand awareness and establish thought leadership in your industry. Thoughtful, valuable content can help your brand stand out from the competition, and encourage listeners to build a relationship with the brand.

The most successful B2B podcasts tend to be in the Q&A or panel discussion style. Hosts can welcome new guests each week to share their insight. This type of format is perfect for influencer marketing: You can boost your internal subject matter experts, form relationships with influencers in the industry, even feature your potential prospects.

The Dell Luminaries* podcast is a great example of thought leadership B2B podcasting. Each episode features a guest with useful and often fascinating — thoughts to share with the audience. Some guests are internal experts at Dell, while others are influential entrepreneurs and executives from across the tech industry.

Dell Luminaries Podcast

Since podcasts have a low barrier of entry, they’re a good way to reach a niche audience, too. SAP’s recently-launched Customer Support Podcast * is a worthy example. Each episode features quotes from a wide array of influencers, internal and external.

SAP Customer Support Podcast

These podcasts succeed because they do what all great content does: deliver valuable information to a specific audience in an entertaining format.

How Do I Get Started?

It’s never been easier to launch a podcast. There are dozens of free and low-priced tools available to streamline every part of production, from recording to amplification. Here’s a quick rundown.

#1: Recording

To start recording, all you really need is a laptop and a decent-quality USB microphone. We get professional-sounding results with a Blue Yeti. For my personal podcast, I use an MXL 770. Either are more than adequate to get you started. Later you can invest in a whole sound studio’s worth of mixing boards, microphones, and accessories if you like, but start simple.

If you plan to interview guests on the show, likely you will be recording remotely over Skype, Google Hangout, or another VOIP. Don’t try to record your guest’s audio through your computer speakers or phone; have them create their own recording on their end, then edit the conversation together. We've been experimenting with Zencastr, which handles recording and VOIP coordination automatically, and have been pleased with the results.

For recording software, Audacity is still the best entry-level program. It’s free, has a host of useful features, and you don’t have to be a sound engineer to get great audio.

#2: Syndication

Once your audio is recorded and edited, you need a place to host the file, and an RSS feed to submit to podcast directories.  You can host the files locally and create your own RSS feed in raw html, but there are plenty of free-to-cheap platforms that can handle the grunt work. Most use an uploading interface similar to publishing on WordPress. So if you know how to upload a blog, you can create a podcast feed.

We have had good results with both Libsyn and Podbean. Both have free options and inexpensive paid plans with a few added features, and both provide stats that can help you track listenership.

Most importantly, they both will walk you through the process of listing your podcast on various directories: Google Play, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and more. That’s a crucial step in making sure your podcast is available on your audience’s preferred listening platform.

#3: Amplification

Once your podcast is published, there are a few easy ways to get the word out and start building your audience. First, activate your existing blog audience: Post a blog post for each episode with the audio embedded (Libsyn and Podbean both enable live-streaming embedded audio). Include an optimized title and meta description and a transcript or SEO-optimized introduction. And, of course, make sure to include a call to action to subscribe!

If your podcast includes influencers, create social media assets for them to share, including messaging and custom images. Share the podcast on your social channels as well, making sure to tag your influencers.

Cast Your Pods to the Wind

Podcasts are a rare type of content marketing: Interest in them is steadily growing, people go out of their way to seek out new content, and they’re relatively cheap and easy to produce. B2B marketers are constantly challenged to deliver the right content to people in the right format to earn their attention. If your target audience has a morning commute, a workout schedule, or other quiet time to fill, your podcast may be just what they’re waiting for.

Try these 10 marketing podcasts to make your own free time more productive.

*Dell and SAP are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post B2B Podcasting: What, Why and How appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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The What, Why & How of B2B Podcasting

The What, Why & How of B2B Podcasting Okay, B2B marketers, time for a pop quiz:
  1. Which content marketing tactic can hold an audience’s attention for a half hour or more at a time?
  2. Which tactic inspires an audience to subscribe to your content and make a regular appointment to consume it?
  3. Which tactic can help boost thought leadership, raise awareness and engage influencers in your industry?
  4. Which tactic is in the title of this blog post?
The answer, of course, is podcasting. These long-form audio programs first emerged in the early 2000s. Back then, they were a niche format for hobbyists and tech nerds (like me). But the rise of the smartphone brought podcasts to the masses. Now, there are hundreds of hours of programming available on every conceivable subject, in every genre from true crime to horror to musical.  But we haven’t hit content shock for podcasts it’s still a growing market. If your brand is looking to boost thought leadership and reach a new audience, now is the perfect time to add a podcast to your content marketing mix. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

What Is a Podcast, Anyway?

There’s a wide variety of types of podcast out there, so it can seem tricky to find a definition that covers everything. Some are live interviews or panel discussions; some are fully scripted and produced audio plays; some are cryptic monologues about a bizarre southwestern town.  But they all share two attributes:
  1. There are multiple recordings for each title, and
  2. They’re organized in an RSS feed you can subscribe to.
Whatever genre the audio is, whatever platforms it’s available on, as long as you have multiple recordings brought together by an RSS feed, you have a podcast.

Why Should B2B Content Marketers Care about Podcasts?

The way that people consume podcasts make them an ideal channel for your high-quality content. People tend to listen while working out, driving, cooking dinner — in other words, podcasts fill sizable chunks of otherwise idle time. You wouldn’t expect someone to read your white paper or eBook during their morning commute, but they might settle in with your latest episode. The demographics for podcast listeners are attractive for B2B marketers, too. Edison Research’s Podcast Consumer 2017 report found that:
  • 24% of people ages 18-54 listen to podcasts monthly
  • Podcast listeners are almost evenly split between men and women
  • Podcast listeners tend to be affluent, educated consumers
  • In the 25-54 demographic, monthly listening has grown year over year for the past four years
In other words, your target audience is likely spending a significant amount of time listening to podcasts already. And those who already listen to at least one podcast are likely to be on the lookout for more.

What Marketing Goals Can a B2B Podcast Serve?

Podcasts work best for the attract and engage phases of the customer journey. You can use your podcast to build brand awareness and establish thought leadership in your industry. Thoughtful, valuable content can help your brand stand out from the competition, and encourage listeners to build a relationship with the brand. The most successful B2B podcasts tend to be in the Q&A or panel discussion style. Hosts can welcome new guests each week to share their insight. This type of format is perfect for influencer marketing: You can boost your internal subject matter experts, form relationships with influencers in the industry, even feature your potential prospects. The Dell Luminaries* podcast is a great example of thought leadership B2B podcasting. Each episode features a guest with useful and often fascinating — thoughts to share with the audience. Some guests are internal experts at Dell, while others are influential entrepreneurs and executives from across the tech industry. Dell Luminaries Podcast Since podcasts have a low barrier of entry, they’re a good way to reach a niche audience, too. SAP’s recently-launched Customer Support Podcast * is a worthy example. Each episode features quotes from a wide array of influencers, internal and external. SAP Customer Support Podcast These podcasts succeed because they do what all great content does: deliver valuable information to a specific audience in an entertaining format.

How Do I Get Started?

It’s never been easier to launch a podcast. There are dozens of free and low-priced tools available to streamline every part of production, from recording to amplification. Here’s a quick rundown.

#1: Recording

To start recording, all you really need is a laptop and a decent-quality USB microphone. We get professional-sounding results with a Blue Yeti. For my personal podcast, I use an MXL 770. Either are more than adequate to get you started. Later you can invest in a whole sound studio’s worth of mixing boards, microphones, and accessories if you like, but start simple. If you plan to interview guests on the show, likely you will be recording remotely over Skype, Google Hangout, or another VOIP. Don’t try to record your guest’s audio through your computer speakers or phone; have them create their own recording on their end, then edit the conversation together. We've been experimenting with Zencastr, which handles recording and VOIP coordination automatically, and have been pleased with the results. For recording software, Audacity is still the best entry-level program. It’s free, has a host of useful features, and you don’t have to be a sound engineer to get great audio.

#2: Syndication

Once your audio is recorded and edited, you need a place to host the file, and an RSS feed to submit to podcast directories.  You can host the files locally and create your own RSS feed in raw html, but there are plenty of free-to-cheap platforms that can handle the grunt work. Most use an uploading interface similar to publishing on WordPress. So if you know how to upload a blog, you can create a podcast feed. We have had good results with both Libsyn and Podbean. Both have free options and inexpensive paid plans with a few added features, and both provide stats that can help you track listenership. Most importantly, they both will walk you through the process of listing your podcast on various directories: Google Play, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and more. That’s a crucial step in making sure your podcast is available on your audience’s preferred listening platform.

#3: Amplification

Once your podcast is published, there are a few easy ways to get the word out and start building your audience. First, activate your existing blog audience: Post a blog post for each episode with the audio embedded (Libsyn and Podbean both enable live-streaming embedded audio). Include an optimized title and meta description and a transcript or SEO-optimized introduction. And, of course, make sure to include a call to action to subscribe! If your podcast includes influencers, create social media assets for them to share, including messaging and custom images. Share the podcast on your social channels as well, making sure to tag your influencers.

Cast Your Pods to the Wind

Podcasts are a rare type of content marketing: Interest in them is steadily growing, people go out of their way to seek out new content, and they’re relatively cheap and easy to produce. B2B marketers are constantly challenged to deliver the right content to people in the right format to earn their attention. If your target audience has a morning commute, a workout schedule, or other quiet time to fill, your podcast may be just what they’re waiting for. Try these 10 marketing podcasts to make your own free time more productive. *Dell and SAP are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post B2B Podcasting: What, Why and How appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Succeed at B2B Content Marketing with More Credible Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/win-b2b-content-marketing-credible-content/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/win-b2b-content-marketing-credible-content/#respond Wed, 28 Feb 2018 11:30:42 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23848 Creating Credible B2B Content

Creating Credible B2B Content

Ask any B2B marketer about their top digital marketing challenges and one of the first answers you’ll likely receive is: Getting in front of the right audience at the right time. In fact, Ytel’s 2018 State of B2B Marketing Communications survey revealed that 55% of respondents agreed that they have a hard time getting their message and content in front of their target audience.

Why is that? Well, there’s more content at buyers’ fingertips than ever before, search engines are getting in touch with their human sides, and organic visibility on social media is effectively extinct. But, let’s real talk for a minute, marketers—this is all old news. In today’s digital marketing landscape, creating meaningful connections with your audience on any channel really comes down to trust and credibility.

Consumers are increasingly numb to advertising and marketing messages—and they’re actively trying to avoid it all. Last year, PageFair reported that adblocking usage had grown by 30% globally. In addition, Facebook’s recent decision to de-emphasize brand content was in response to users saying that posts from businesses, brands and media were crowding their News Feeds.

However, buyers are increasingly looking to those they know and those they think they know for insights, answers and recommendations. Multiple reports have shown that somewhere around 90% of consumers trust influencers or individuals over straight branded content. In addition, according to a recent report from CMI and SmartBrief, 40% of B2B decision-makers say that credibility trumps the source of the information.

This means B2B brands and marketers need to double-down on creating quality, credible content to drive marketing objectives and wins. But how? By infusing credible voices, perspectives and insights from influential sources—namely industry experts and thought leaders—into the content marketing game plan.

[bctt tweet="#B2B brands & marketers need to double-down on creating quality, #crediblecontent to drive #marketing objectives & wins." username="toprank"]

To highlight how creating more credible content with influencers can help your B2B brand get in front of interested buyers, create an engaging experience, and inspire action, take a look at these three examples from the TopRank Marketing playbook of successful client influencer content marketing programs.

Case Study #1 – Introhive: Reaching, engaging and inspiring a niche audience.

Introhive is a leading customer relationship management (CRM) solutions provider. Working across a variety of industries, Introhive aims to help their clients gain and effectively leverage customer intelligence in a way that can grow their business.

The Situation: The legal sector is one of Introhive’s focus industries. However, it’s an industry that’s been reluctant to adopt CRM technologies. Why? Oftentimes business development isn’t an established department within law practices, making it hard to justify investments in a “sales” technology. But law firms large and small have growth aspirations—and Introhive wanted to empower them to realize those opportunities.

Another challenge with attorneys and other legal professionals is that they often build their careers on evidence and witness testimony. Essentially, this industry is by nature hard to reach without offering credibility, authority and proof.

The Solution: With two unique challenges to overcome, our team knew that engaging other legal professionals to share their expertise and insights on business development, we could not only showcase the Introhive brand, but also needed to provide their audience with unique, relevant and trustworthy insights.

TopRank Marketing worked with the team at Introhive to develop an integrated influencer content program that began with a survey of legal community members. Conducting the survey helped facilitate building influencer relationships, while also collecting valuable data that could be used to further bolster campaign content. Other pieces of the integrated content marketing mix included an eBook—our anchor asset—blog posts, organic social amplification, paid social, and email.

Introhive Credible Content Case Study

The Results: For starters, we saw 15% more eBook downloads in the first month than the benchmark asset had in its lifetime. During the same time period, the accompanying blog content garnered over 600% more views compared to benchmarks for average blog content. Finally and without specifics available, the Introhive team reports that the program has delivered “medium to huge” marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Suffice it to say, this program leveraged credible content within influencers and research to generate substantial results. 

Read the full Introhive integrated influencer campaign case study.

Case Study #2 – Cherwell: Increasing brand visibility and thought leadership in a competitive space.

Cherwell Software is a leading IT service management (ITSM) company with a mission to help their customers leverage intuitive technology to enable better, faster and more affordable innovation.

The Situation: Since its inception a little over a decade ago, Cherwell has been rapidly gaining traction in the competitive ITSM space—but they’re still one of the newer kids on the block with other new competitors emerging rapidly. To continue their growth and fend off competition, Cherwell wanted to expand its marketing channels, increase brand awareness, engage industry thought leaders and—of course—eventually drive leads.

The Solution: Given Cherwell’s position in the competitive ITSM space, the team at TopRank Marketing worked to design an influencer content campaign that was highly-targeted to key the decision-makers they wanted to reach. How? We knew in order to stand out in news feeds and build near-instant credibility with our content, we needed to understand what influences the target audience the most.

To uncover the people, publications, and content topics and types that “moved” our audience the most, as well as where they spent time on social media, we designed a new research tool—the RITHM report. 

Using insights from the RITHM report to inform the content marketing approach, the resulting campaign included an eBook anchor asset, blog posts, an SEO-driven landing page, paid and organic social media.

Cherwell Credible Content Case Study

The Results: According to Alison Munn, Social Media and Digital Marketing Lead at Cherwell: “Not only did this program meet the defined goals and objectives, but the results and process exceeded my expectations!”

With this campaign responsible for 22% of new revenue for Cherwell in 2017, it was a recent winner of the B2B Marketing Exchange "Killer Content Award".

You can learn more about this program in the case study video below:

[embed]https://youtu.be/cUf_a7RL9NY[/embed]

Case Study #3 – SAP SuccessFactors: Driving awareness and action by connecting to a specific audience pain point.

SAP SuccessFactors is a leading human capital management (HCM) suite that helps human resources (HR) professionals unleash the full potential of their workforce through transformation and engagement, and ultimately drive results across the business.

The Situation: For this niche human resources audience, employee wellness programs are part of the strategy to unleash the potential of their employees. However, the pain point for many organizations is finding a holistic solution in one place that also provides understanding of the true impact their efforts can have on the workplace. SAP wanted to drive awareness around their holistic solution, while also educating and engaging their audience.

The Solution: TopRank Marketing partnered with SAP SuccessFactors to craft an multi-pronged, influencer-driven content campaign that would not only raise awareness around their solution, but also provide their audience with credible, relevant, and actionable insights.

This campaign was anchored with an influencer eBook that featured insights from 10 top workplace culture, wellness, and technology experts, as well as internal experts from SAP SuccessFactors. In addition, other tactics such as a well-optimized landing page, social media promotion, and customized motion graphics were part of the mix.

SAP Credible Content Case Study Example

The Results: For downloads, we saw a  272% increase over SAP’s established benchmark. In addition, the accompanying landing page boasted a 68% conversion rate. Lastly, organic social promotion of the content—from the brand and influencers—drove 86% of overall views and 69% of overall conversions.

Read the full SAP SuccessFactors influencer-driven content campaign case study.

The Big B2B Takeaway for Credible Content

We’re in an era of a distrust and indifference to B2B marketing messages—which means if buyers don’t find your content credible and trustworthy, they’ll move on.

From skepticism to standing out in a crowded and more seasoned field, each of the aforementioned brands were living the trends and looking for a way to capture the attention of their audiences.

By cleverly leveraging influencers to create more credible and authoritative content and more trusted amplification, these brands were able to deliver their audiences with thoughtful opinions and diverse insights, bolster brand authority and make more meaningful connections with their audiences. But perhaps the most exciting campaign result was that building credibility led to audience activation—or conversions in other words.

To put it simply, with the right strategy, insights and influencer infusion, credible content can help brands win over your audience at every stage of the buyer journey.

[bctt tweet="With the right strategy, insights & influencer infusion, #crediblecontent can absolutely help brands win over your audience at every stage of the buyer journey. @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"]

Want to learn more creating more credible content? Check out our post on building credibility and authority with content marketing.

The post How to Succeed at B2B Content Marketing with More Credible Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Creating Credible B2B Content

Creating Credible B2B Content Ask any B2B marketer about their top digital marketing challenges and one of the first answers you’ll likely receive is: Getting in front of the right audience at the right time. In fact, Ytel’s 2018 State of B2B Marketing Communications survey revealed that 55% of respondents agreed that they have a hard time getting their message and content in front of their target audience. Why is that? Well, there’s more content at buyers’ fingertips than ever before, search engines are getting in touch with their human sides, and organic visibility on social media is effectively extinct. But, let’s real talk for a minute, marketers—this is all old news. In today’s digital marketing landscape, creating meaningful connections with your audience on any channel really comes down to trust and credibility. Consumers are increasingly numb to advertising and marketing messages—and they’re actively trying to avoid it all. Last year, PageFair reported that adblocking usage had grown by 30% globally. In addition, Facebook’s recent decision to de-emphasize brand content was in response to users saying that posts from businesses, brands and media were crowding their News Feeds. However, buyers are increasingly looking to those they know and those they think they know for insights, answers and recommendations. Multiple reports have shown that somewhere around 90% of consumers trust influencers or individuals over straight branded content. In addition, according to a recent report from CMI and SmartBrief, 40% of B2B decision-makers say that credibility trumps the source of the information. This means B2B brands and marketers need to double-down on creating quality, credible content to drive marketing objectives and wins. But how? By infusing credible voices, perspectives and insights from influential sources—namely industry experts and thought leaders—into the content marketing game plan. [bctt tweet="#B2B brands & marketers need to double-down on creating quality, #crediblecontent to drive #marketing objectives & wins." username="toprank"] To highlight how creating more credible content with influencers can help your B2B brand get in front of interested buyers, create an engaging experience, and inspire action, take a look at these three examples from the TopRank Marketing playbook of successful client influencer content marketing programs.

Case Study #1 – Introhive: Reaching, engaging and inspiring a niche audience.

Introhive is a leading customer relationship management (CRM) solutions provider. Working across a variety of industries, Introhive aims to help their clients gain and effectively leverage customer intelligence in a way that can grow their business. The Situation: The legal sector is one of Introhive’s focus industries. However, it’s an industry that’s been reluctant to adopt CRM technologies. Why? Oftentimes business development isn’t an established department within law practices, making it hard to justify investments in a “sales” technology. But law firms large and small have growth aspirations—and Introhive wanted to empower them to realize those opportunities. Another challenge with attorneys and other legal professionals is that they often build their careers on evidence and witness testimony. Essentially, this industry is by nature hard to reach without offering credibility, authority and proof. The Solution: With two unique challenges to overcome, our team knew that engaging other legal professionals to share their expertise and insights on business development, we could not only showcase the Introhive brand, but also needed to provide their audience with unique, relevant and trustworthy insights. TopRank Marketing worked with the team at Introhive to develop an integrated influencer content program that began with a survey of legal community members. Conducting the survey helped facilitate building influencer relationships, while also collecting valuable data that could be used to further bolster campaign content. Other pieces of the integrated content marketing mix included an eBook—our anchor asset—blog posts, organic social amplification, paid social, and email. Introhive Credible Content Case Study The Results: For starters, we saw 15% more eBook downloads in the first month than the benchmark asset had in its lifetime. During the same time period, the accompanying blog content garnered over 600% more views compared to benchmarks for average blog content. Finally and without specifics available, the Introhive team reports that the program has delivered “medium to huge” marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Suffice it to say, this program leveraged credible content within influencers and research to generate substantial results.  Read the full Introhive integrated influencer campaign case study.

Case Study #2 – Cherwell: Increasing brand visibility and thought leadership in a competitive space.

Cherwell Software is a leading IT service management (ITSM) company with a mission to help their customers leverage intuitive technology to enable better, faster and more affordable innovation. The Situation: Since its inception a little over a decade ago, Cherwell has been rapidly gaining traction in the competitive ITSM space—but they’re still one of the newer kids on the block with other new competitors emerging rapidly. To continue their growth and fend off competition, Cherwell wanted to expand its marketing channels, increase brand awareness, engage industry thought leaders and—of course—eventually drive leads. The Solution: Given Cherwell’s position in the competitive ITSM space, the team at TopRank Marketing worked to design an influencer content campaign that was highly-targeted to key the decision-makers they wanted to reach. How? We knew in order to stand out in news feeds and build near-instant credibility with our content, we needed to understand what influences the target audience the most. To uncover the people, publications, and content topics and types that “moved” our audience the most, as well as where they spent time on social media, we designed a new research tool—the RITHM report.  Using insights from the RITHM report to inform the content marketing approach, the resulting campaign included an eBook anchor asset, blog posts, an SEO-driven landing page, paid and organic social media. Cherwell Credible Content Case Study The Results: According to Alison Munn, Social Media and Digital Marketing Lead at Cherwell: “Not only did this program meet the defined goals and objectives, but the results and process exceeded my expectations!” With this campaign responsible for 22% of new revenue for Cherwell in 2017, it was a recent winner of the B2B Marketing Exchange "Killer Content Award". You can learn more about this program in the case study video below: [embed]https://youtu.be/cUf_a7RL9NY[/embed]

Case Study #3 – SAP SuccessFactors: Driving awareness and action by connecting to a specific audience pain point.

SAP SuccessFactors is a leading human capital management (HCM) suite that helps human resources (HR) professionals unleash the full potential of their workforce through transformation and engagement, and ultimately drive results across the business. The Situation: For this niche human resources audience, employee wellness programs are part of the strategy to unleash the potential of their employees. However, the pain point for many organizations is finding a holistic solution in one place that also provides understanding of the true impact their efforts can have on the workplace. SAP wanted to drive awareness around their holistic solution, while also educating and engaging their audience. The Solution: TopRank Marketing partnered with SAP SuccessFactors to craft an multi-pronged, influencer-driven content campaign that would not only raise awareness around their solution, but also provide their audience with credible, relevant, and actionable insights. This campaign was anchored with an influencer eBook that featured insights from 10 top workplace culture, wellness, and technology experts, as well as internal experts from SAP SuccessFactors. In addition, other tactics such as a well-optimized landing page, social media promotion, and customized motion graphics were part of the mix. SAP Credible Content Case Study Example The Results: For downloads, we saw a  272% increase over SAP’s established benchmark. In addition, the accompanying landing page boasted a 68% conversion rate. Lastly, organic social promotion of the content—from the brand and influencers—drove 86% of overall views and 69% of overall conversions. Read the full SAP SuccessFactors influencer-driven content campaign case study.

The Big B2B Takeaway for Credible Content

We’re in an era of a distrust and indifference to B2B marketing messages—which means if buyers don’t find your content credible and trustworthy, they’ll move on. From skepticism to standing out in a crowded and more seasoned field, each of the aforementioned brands were living the trends and looking for a way to capture the attention of their audiences. By cleverly leveraging influencers to create more credible and authoritative content and more trusted amplification, these brands were able to deliver their audiences with thoughtful opinions and diverse insights, bolster brand authority and make more meaningful connections with their audiences. But perhaps the most exciting campaign result was that building credibility led to audience activation—or conversions in other words. To put it simply, with the right strategy, insights and influencer infusion, credible content can help brands win over your audience at every stage of the buyer journey. [bctt tweet="With the right strategy, insights & influencer infusion, #crediblecontent can absolutely help brands win over your audience at every stage of the buyer journey. @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"] Want to learn more creating more credible content? Check out our post on building credibility and authority with content marketing.

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4 Tips for an Out-Of-This-World B2B Marketing Agency Partnership http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/out-of-this-world-agency-partnership/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/out-of-this-world-agency-partnership/#respond Tue, 07 Nov 2017 11:30:56 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23214 Who was the first person to set foot on the moon? Of course the answer is Neil Armstrong — who else? But, actually, the question really is “who else?” In order for Armstrong to walk the moon, there were innumerable individuals who contributed something large or small to get him there. His mom and dad, [...]

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Who was the first person to set foot on the moon? Of course the answer is Neil Armstrong — who else?

But, actually, the question really is “who else?” In order for Armstrong to walk the moon, there were innumerable individuals who contributed something large or small to get him there. His mom and dad, Mission Control, fellow astronaut and crew member Buzz Aldrin, a nation of taxpayers — and the list goes on.

What’s the point? Simply put, there’s no doubt that Armstrong was an amazing pioneer, but he didn’t get to the moon — or back home — alone. It took a team.

Being a marketing pioneer in the B2B technology space is no different. You need to have skills and ambition of your own, but you also need an amazing team by your side.

“The technology industry is synonymous with rapid pace and constant change, and technology marketers are expected to lead that change,” trusted colleague and client Angela Schwecke, Senior Director of Global Audience Marketing at SAP SuccessFactors, said. “Success depends on many factors, but the most important is choosing the right team, not the least of which is your agency.”

So, how can you be sure you have the right team aboard your mission? Let’s blast off and explore the four critical characteristics of an outstanding partnership with a marketing agency, plus snag some pointers from marketers like you on how to make your client-agency partnership soar.

Always-On, “Snoopy Cap” Communication

It’s no secret that astronauts must wear protective, pressurized suits to keep them safe whenever they exit a spacecraft. And as you might expect, constant communication with their team is critical. So, their space suit comes equipped with a Communications Carrier Assembly, which is often called: the “Snoopy Cap.”

Just like astronauts must stay in direct, always-on communication during spacewalks for safety and effectiveness, so too must a client and agency to be successful.

In the B2B space, you’re likely fielding communications from a variety of stakeholders inside and outside of your Mission Control center. As a result, you need an agency partner who can cut to the chase — with good news and opportunities.

Expect your agency to regularly share what is happening with your results. In a perfect world, your results would always give you over-the-moon warm-fuzzies. But if the results aren’t where you’d like them, expect your agency to acknowledge that directly and bring you an action plan. A great partner should serve up solutions — not problems.

Flight Surgeon Trust

In the early days of space exploration, astronauts-in-training avoided their flight surgeons at all costs. Just one sneeze in front of their doc might get them grounded. Today, things are different. Flight surgeons have strong partnerships with astronauts. From riding along during training exercises to flying in T38s, flight surgeons do everything they can to ensure astronauts stay on flight status. Once in flight, astronauts can feel safe putting their health in their flight surgeon’s hands because they’ve become a trusted partner.

In our experience, top-performing marketing programs are rooted in a similar, strong, trusting client-agency partnership. To select an agency, listen to your gut during the sales process. If you’re feeling uncomfortable or pressured up front, it might not be a fit.

Then look for signals that instill confidence from Day 1 of your partnership:

  • Are they asking critical questions to completely understand your objectives, priority metrics, audience, industry, brand voice, key messages and more?
  • Do they understand your marketing mix and how their contribution fits in?
  • Are they genuinely interested in how your brand can solve problems for your customers?
  • Are they familiar with the intricacies of your industry?

Once you’re feeling comfortable with your agency, don’t be afraid to give them the joystick. You hired them for a reason. Let them push boundaries and you might be surprised how high you can soar.

Mission-Specialist Thought Leadership

A “mission specialist” is an astronaut with specific expertise who comes aboard a spaceflight to lead a particular research project. These individuals may not be able to fly a space shuttle, but they are the absolute best at what they do.

Expect your agency partner to be the mission specialist and a strategic thought leader on your team. Esteemed marketer and client, Katie Levinson, Senior Product Marketing Manager at LinkedIn Elevate, said partnering with a strategic thought leader is her top priority when solidifying a long-term partnership.

“I like agencies who bring fresh new ideas to the table, and the ideas are based on the goals of my business and their knowledge of my target audience,” she said.

Schwecke also added that your agency partner in the B2B tech space should be able to help you lead marketing change, have their pulse on modern marketing hallmarks and be able to create star-studded communications.

“Tech marketers must look for an agency that not only embraces, but embodies change,” she said. “Many agencies will claim to have B2B tech capabilities, but spend time drilling down on those details.”

“Look for a team that embraces modern marketing hallmarks like digital, social, and influencer marketing,” Schwecke added. “You’ll be able to find a few. But rarer still, will be the agency that understands the how those marketing elements can be combined to create new and disruptive communications. If they are passionate about that, you have a winner.”


Tech marketers must look for an agency partner that embraces & embodies change. @aschwecke
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Your agency should continue to earn their seat in the cockpit by bringing forward new ideas and by iterating on tactics based on learnings. You don’t want an agency that is going to sit still.

“We Have Lift Off” Execution

Perhaps one of the most iconic quotes from the launch of the Apollo 11 mission — the mission that would land humans on the moon — is “We have lift off.” As it relates to choosing a trusted agency partner, the former characteristics discussed don’t mean much if your agency can’t execute.

Many agencies can show you a beautiful presentation, but if they are not driving results aligned with your objectives then what’s the point?

When it comes to selecting an agency that can execute the mission, Levinson said: “I look for attention to detail, creative thinking, and the ability to stick to a timeline (or beat it) as key for success long-term.”

She also noted it was important for an agency to drive optimization after tactics are implemented:

“Along with this, the ability to optimize content and other programs through performance metrics is key,” Levinson said. “It’s not enough to launch a program — an agency needs to help you understand if it’s successful and how to make the next project even better.”


The ability to optimize through performance metrics is key. - @kplevins on working with an agency
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Look for a partnership where your agency leads the charge with thoughtful execution, quickly followed by measurement and optimization.  

Astronaut Training Never Stops

No astronaut can be flight-ready without intensive, ongoing training. If you really want to fly, take some advice from stellar content marketer and longtime client, Emily Miller, Content Strategy Lead at Pantheon.io:

“Working with an agency is a two-way street,” she said. “It is important as a client to make sure you’re upholding your end of the agreement. You can’t expect the agency to be successful if you aren’t willing or able to put in the energy to make sure they understand your business. That includes sending timely and constructive feedback, as well as doing your homework before meetings to make sure you’re both getting the most out of the time.

“From the agency side, I always appreciate when account managers document meetings and follow up with what was discussed and who has ‘homework’ so that we aren’t re-hashing the same thing each meeting.”


It is important as a client to make sure you’re upholding your end of the agreement. Emily Miller
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You can help your agency become a trusted extension of your marketing team by:

  • Providing frequent, constructive feedback – even if the conversation isn’t easy
  • Setting clear expectations for what you are looking for and when
  • Extending your trust, allowing the agency space to think big

Need a New Support Team?

If this article left you wanting more from your agency partner, don’t be afraid to reach out. Our team of smart, creative and results-focused professionals are ready to take on your biggest challenges and bring new ideas to your content, SEO, social media, digital advertising and influencer marketing. Pop on your “Snoppy Cap” and send some radio waves our way today.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | 4 Tips for an Out-Of-This-World B2B Marketing Agency Partnership | http://www.toprankblog.com

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4 Spooky Marketing Lessons from Classic Halloween Monsters http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/marketing-lessons-halloween-monsters/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/marketing-lessons-halloween-monsters/#comments Tue, 31 Oct 2017 10:30:15 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23175 Halloween is objectively the best holiday of the fall-winter season. You don’t have to go broke buying people gifts. You don’t have to cook an enormous meal (then pass out after gorging on turkey). The only obligations for Halloween are to play dress up and eat candy! Not to mention I’m somewhat partial to the [...]

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Halloween is objectively the best holiday of the fall-winter season. You don’t have to go broke buying people gifts. You don’t have to cook an enormous meal (then pass out after gorging on turkey). The only obligations for Halloween are to play dress up and eat candy!

Not to mention I’m somewhat partial to the holiday’s aesthetic. Give me skulls and bats over tinsel and garland any day of the week, and twice on Friday the 13th.

Sure, there’s a horror/scary element to Halloween. But it’s a fun, safe kind of scary. If you’ve spent an hour on social media recently, you know there are scarier things than ghoulies and ghosties.

But Halloween isn’t just fun. It’s educational, too! I realized this year that some of my favorite Halloween monsters are hiding valuable lessons for marketers. For example…

#1: Dracula Rules Influencer Marketing

Count Dracula is often romanticized as a solitary figure, brooding in his castle. That image couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s constantly making new friends—and making those friends into vampires. The way Dracula builds a relationship is a solid lesson in influencer marketing.

Drac doesn’t just meet someone and immediately offer to make them immortal. He starts by getting to know them socially and paying them visits. Then he invites them to become a thrall, feeding on insects and getting a taste of the vamp life. Finally, when the relationship is mature, he converts them into full-fledged creatures of the night. It’s an easy sell by then, because he didn’t skip any steps in the relationship.

I don’t recommend making your influencers eat bugs, of course (unless they happen to enjoy doing so). But you should build relationships with influencers over a series of small, incremental steps. Start by socializing and promoting them, then ask for a small content contribution, and finally move on to co-creating together.

#2: Dr. Frankenstein Is Great at Repurposing

If you ask me, Dr. Frankenstein (the scientist, not his monster, of course) gets a bad rap. Yes, he took his research a little too far. Sure, he was a bit of an amoral lunatic. Okay, so he tampered in God’s domain a little. But you can’t deny that he got results!

In real life, after the hullabaloo died down, scientist would be scrambling to corroborate and replicate his findings. Frankenstein’s monster 2.0 and beyond would be far less “shambling horror” and more “hey, we finally beat death!”

Where others saw a pile of discarded body parts, Dr. Frankenstein saw the potential for new life. When we’re looking at a content calendar, we should be following in his footsteps. Repurposing content—up to and including stitching parts of old posts into a new one—can bring your old content to a new audience with a minimum of effort.

#3: The Wolfman Is a Content Strategy Object Lesson

Quick: What’s the wolfman’s biggest problem? No, it’s not that he’s vulnerable to silver. It’s not even that he turns into a brainless monster every full moon.

No, what always gets the wolfman in the end is his failure to plan ahead. He always ends up roaming the countryside chowing down on rabbits, and then someone sees him, and then out come the silver bullets. If he were to approach the problem strategically, he could spend each wolf session safely locked in a basement somewhere. He could live a full life 28 days out of the month, and no one would ever know he had a lycanthropy problem.

If you’re creating content without a content strategy, you’re practically begging the townsfolk to load up on silver buckshot. You may score the occasional win—like the wolfman gets a rabbit or two—but on the whole, it’s counter-productive. Plan your content in advance, with a rationale, research, and an amplification plan, and your content is far more likely to have a long and prosperous life.

#4: Dr. Jekyll Is Extremely Empathetic

Just how far would you go to get inside someone else’s head? You might walk a mile in their shoes, as the cliché goes. But honestly, how much can you know about someone just by borrowing their footwear? By that logic, every time I went bowling I’d learn about hundreds of people.

Dr. Jekyll takes empathy to the next level. He transformed himself into Mr. Hyde to learn exactly how a monster thinks. Granted, the experiment didn’t end well, but the lesson is still valid.

Marketers don’t have to undergo a monstrous physical transformation to feel empathy, of course. But we should be striving to learn as much about our audience as we can. That means learning about them beyond their interactions with the brand. The more we can use data to truly know our customers, the more relevant our content will be.

Practice Frighteningly Good Marketing

Sociologists and anthropologists would say that the monsters we create in folklore and fiction survive because they are a reflection of our deepest fears. For example, the wolfman is about loss of control, fearing the beast within us all. Dracula is about the fear of death and disease—and of creepy old guys lurking in castles.

I would argue that these monsters have such enduring power because at the heart of each story is an eternally relevant marketing lesson. Stay tuned for my next horror story, “The Beast that Wouldn’t Stop Sending Boilerplate Sales Emails.”

Is your skill at creating awesome content almost paranormal? Are you terrifyingly good at account management? TopRank Marketing is hiring.


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B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks: How We All Can Do Better http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/b2b-content-marketing-benchmarks/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/b2b-content-marketing-benchmarks/#respond Tue, 24 Oct 2017 10:30:01 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23127 B2B content marketing is having a moment—a moment that’s rapidly becoming a movement. We’re finally breaking free of the idea that “professional” means “boring.” Transparency and authenticity are becoming more than just buzzwords. Unique, emotionally compelling content used to be the outlier; soon it will be the norm. It’s thrilling to see B2B content marketers [...]

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B2B content marketing is having a moment—a moment that’s rapidly becoming a movement. We’re finally breaking free of the idea that “professional” means “boring.” Transparency and authenticity are becoming more than just buzzwords. Unique, emotionally compelling content used to be the outlier; soon it will be the norm.

It’s thrilling to see B2B content marketers find a new groove. As a creative, comedic weirdo myself, it’s a great time to be in the business. However, these industry-wide changes do come with significant challenges. As B2B marketing evolves, we need to continually adapt our procedures, KPIs, even our philosophy of marketing.

The whip-smart marketers at Kapost just published their 2017 B2B Content Strategy & Operations Benchmark. They surveyed hundreds of B2B marketers in diverse industries, from small businesses to enterprise organizations. Here are the challenges their research identified, and how B2B marketers can adapt to thrive.

Challenge: Lack of Communication/Alignment

You can’t score a touchdown if you don’t know where the end zone is. Unfortunately, it looks like a great deal of B2B content marketers are lost in the field. Kapost found that 22% of content creators didn’t know if their organization set lead generation goals, and 32% weren’t sure if they were meeting revenue goals. Perhaps most troublingly, 60% said they didn’t have visibility into how their content aligns to organizational priorities.

Solution: Clear Goals & KPIs

Content creators need to fully embrace their role as content marketers. It’s not enough to get a work order, fill in the appropriate number of pretty words, then release it into the ether. That’s commodity work, and it results in commodity content.

Everyone responsible for creating content should have a working knowledge of the entire process, from strategy through amplification to measurement and optimization. Every piece of content should have the following:

  • Proof that it serves an existing search demand
  • Specific target audience
  • Rationale for why this content will appeal to that audience
  • Amplification plan
  • Specific next-step goal (CTA) that maps to organizational goals

Content creators and management need to share responsibility for communication. Ideally, the whole team should be working on content strategy (including goal-setting) together.

Challenge: Organizational Silos

When teams and departments are isolated from each other, efficiency takes a hit. Marketers estimated that around 25% of their content is duplicative work, a troubling statistic in its own right. But it gets worse: Only 44% said they have complete visibility into other departments’ campaigns and content. The real amount of duplicated effort could be far higher.

These organizational silos are not only inefficient, they encourage over-specialization and information hoarding.

Solution: Centralized Content, Multi-Disciplinary Teams

If your organization has multiple marketing teams in different departments, it’s vital to centralize content strategy to a platform that everyone can access. Breaking down silos and working together will eliminate that redundant content and help departments find new synergies together.

TopRank Marketing recently restructured our teams. We used to have a content team, an SEO team, a design team, etc.—organized according to specialty. In the restructure, we formed “pods” across disciplines. Each pod has content, SEO, and design experts, and we all work together. Reaching across silos has helped our teams cross-train, learn from each other, and produce more strategic content.

Challenge: Calculating ROI

Measuring the impact of our marketing efforts continues to be a top concern for marketers. In Kapost’s survey, 54% of marketers listed proving ROI as one of the greatest barriers to success. Yet nearly half of respondents said they use vanity metrics like web traffic to track ROI, and a full 25% said they use no ROI-tracking metrics at all (Somewhere, Joe Pulizzi is weeping).

Solution: Get Serious about Revenue

Just as content creators need to learn the entire content marketing process, marketers need to learn the entire revenue process. We can’t skate by on nebulous metrics anymore. We’re living in the age of data, and we have to take control of that data to prove ROI.

It’s not enough, for example, to measure web traffic. Where is the traffic coming from? Are they in your target audience? Does an increase in traffic lead to an increase in conversions? What’s the monetary value of each conversion?

All of this data is available to us. We just have to use it. We can determine what percentage of traffic downloads an eBook. We can see how many who download a gated asset do a demo, and how many who demo ultimately make a purchase. Working backward, we can put a dollar amount on each micro-conversion.

All of this means dipping a toe – or diving headfirst – into what we previously thought of as the sales department’s responsibility. But it’s necessary for marketers to understand and own a piece of the entire revenue process, if we’re going to help meet revenue goals.

Challenge Accepted

B2B content marketing has done a lot of growing up in the past few years. But it’s clear that we can be more sophisticated in our efforts. For content creators, that means a greater understanding of strategy and goals, more communication with leadership and between teams, and a renewed focus on metrics that prove ROI. If we can overcome these challenges, we can exceed the benchmarks for 2018.

Ready to get smarter, more creative, and more focused on results? We’re here to help.


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Why to ROI: Proving the Value of B2B Influencer Marketing with Lee Odden http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/influencer-marketing-roi/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/influencer-marketing-roi/#comments Mon, 09 Oct 2017 10:30:16 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23042 Last week at Marketing Profs B2B Forum it was pretty clear B2B marketers are more interested in influencer marketing than ever before. Lee Odden’s session – Why to ROI: B2B Marketing Case Studies for Success– promises to deliver not only why influencer marketing is something we should all be talking about, but also how to [...]

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Last week at Marketing Profs B2B Forum it was pretty clear B2B marketers are more interested in influencer marketing than ever before.

Lee Odden’s session – Why to ROI: B2B Marketing Case Studies for Success– promises to deliver not only why influencer marketing is something we should all be talking about, but also how to use ongoing influencer marketing to deliver ROI to your business.

Some of us may still be thinking about influencer marketing as a B2C tactic. A Kardashian on Instagram touting the newest vitamin.

This isn’t exactly relevant to those of us in the B2B space.

Except, what if we think about influence more holistically. Lee points that you don’t have to be a Kardashian to be influential. From singing the praises of the battery life on your new iPhone8 or telling your coworker about the new software you’re testing in your department, we’re all influencing each other.

This holistic view of influencer marketing, thinking beyond the brandividual, is what will help you drive ROI within your influencer marketing.

5 Steps to Driving ROI with B2B Influencer Marketing

Step 1: Determine Why or Why Not

Spoiler alert – Lee thinks you should be doing influencer marketing if you’re a B2B marketer. And a lot of you are. 43% of marketers are experimenting with B2B marketing. But we’re still in the early days. Only 11% of B2B companies are running ongoing programs, compared to 48% of B2C companies.

So why are so many B2B marketers experimenting with influencer marketing? Largely, we believe that influencer marketing can help us with lead gen. 67% of marketers cited lead gen as a goal for influencer marketing. In fact, influencers can help us at each stage of the buying cycle, from awareness to purchase to advocacy.

So even though we’re just getting started. You believe in the why, and are very optimistic. 57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next 3 years.

In order to achieve true integration, and keep our budgets and resources growing for more influencer marketing, we need to drive ROI from those programs.

Step 2: Find ROI Opportunities

Lee shares several examples of B2B influencer campaigns generating major ROI. He highlights several opportunities to drive value for your brand and influencers.

  • Simple Content: Influencer co-created content doesn’t have to be complicated. Find 10 influencers, ask them one question and compile and their responses in an asset with 90% influencer contributed content. Gating the asset with an easy to fill out form, can drive big results in terms of MQLs.
  • Influencer Integrated Content: Influencer content can take multiple forms. In the previous example, it was 90% influencer created and gated. Influencer content can also be incorporated into an asset as seasoning, providing support or color for brand generated content.
  • Repurposing Content for ROI: You can drive more ROI by getting the most out of your influencer content with repurposing. Once you’ve done all the work of getting influencer contributions, use the full contributions in a guide, include preview snippets in a blog post, round up some key ideas with stats into an infographic, or leverage important topics for an influencer webinar. Content repurposing not only helps you get more mileage out of your content, it will help drive additional amplification to your core assets, creating opportunity for ROI.
  • Interactive Content: Interactive content is intrinsically more engaging. If the visitor has to act in order to consume the content, they are already activated to take the next steps to share, click or download.

Now that we talked about all the great opportunities for ROI, Lee shares sometimes when influencer marketing is not an opportunity, including:

  • Magic sales expectations: This is an outdated perception that mean treating influencer marketing like an ad buy, instead of an opportunity to create organic experience. This works for B2C, but not for B2B.
  • Lack of consensus on the strategy: In order to be successful, you must have agreement on who your influencers are and how you are leveraging them . If there is a disconnect between PR and marketing, it can dilute ROI and create a less than awesome experience for your influencers.
  • Lack of resources to commit: Influencer marketing isn’t something you want to throw an intern at. You need people and resources that can perform at a very high level.
  • Disregard for FTC compliance: Enough said.
  • Unable to measure inputs, outputs and performance: In order to show value and continue to grow budgets, you must be prepared to report on the results.

Step 3: Create profitable relationships & content

Once you have identified your opportunities, start putting together a plan to show ROI, including these critical considerations:

  • What will it cost to implement?
  • What will it cost you if you don’t secure relationships with the top influencers in your industry and the competition does?
  • What influencer engagement models should we start with?

Planning ahead for these considerations, will ensure your team is starting your influencer program with appropriate goals in order to show ROI.

Step 4: Leverage an Integrated Approach

We already know that influencer marketing doesn’t work when there is a lack of consensus on your influencer strategy. In order to truly maximize ROI, you should consider influencer programs across your organization. In a cross functional model you’ll be able to tap into all types of influencers, including journalists, affiliates and customers, illustrated in the model from Traackr below.

Step 5: Start with Best Practices for Measurement

For best practice measurement, first you need to align your goals with influencer specific measurement. You want to look beyond your typical content KPIs, like views and time on page, and include:

  1. Metrics for influencer performance, for example referral traffic, downloads, subscribers from a specific influencer
  2. Metrics for influencer community performance, for example number of conversations around your brand or campaign within the larger influencer community

Now Take it to the Next Level

Regardless if you are just starting to experiment with influencer marketing or  you already have an ongoing program, there is an opportunity to take it to the next level.

Think about where you might fit into the spectrum of influencer marketing maturity progression Lee shared.

Then consider how you can optimize your approach. Here are 3 ways to start moving:

Get Expert Help:

An expert may be an agency that specializes in influencer marketing or a consultant you bring in to help you get started. An expert may be able to help you with these things:

  • Research the market
  • Who are your influencers?
  • Develop a Strategy
  • Create a playbook and plan\

Invest in Tech:

The right technology can help you quickly and efficiently assess and improve your influencer marketing tactics, for example:

  • ID needs and specifications
  • Create a pilog
  • Identify, qualify and recruit
  • Measure & optimize

Activate:

Accelerate your influencer marketing efforts by activating your existing community and focusing efforts on what works best.

  • Start with employees, client and community
  • Invite co-creation
  • Scale what works

What is one way you are planning to take your influencer marketing to the next level this year?

For more insights into enterprise influencer marketing, check out our interactive infographic showcasing key insights from the Influence 2.0 report.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | Why to ROI: Proving the Value of B2B Influencer Marketing with Lee Odden | http://www.toprankblog.com

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