B2B Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:41:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 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 [...]

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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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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

The post 3 Reasons B2B Marketers Need Optimized & Influencer Activated Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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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®.

]]>
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®.

]]>
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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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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Must-See Sessions & Top Tips for Finding Your Squad at #MPB2B http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/must-see-mpb2b/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/must-see-mpb2b/#respond Wed, 04 Oct 2017 09:30:46 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23029 For some people the happiest place on earth is Disneyland, for me, it’s the annual MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum in Boston. Last week, I ran a poll on Twitter to see what people were looking forward to most at the B2B Marketing Forum, and while many are interested in learning new B2B tactics and meeting [...]

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For some people the happiest place on earth is Disneyland, for me, it’s the annual MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum in Boston.

Last week, I ran a poll on Twitter to see what people were looking forward to most at the B2B Marketing Forum, and while many are interested in learning new B2B tactics and meeting other smart marketers (smarketers?), the vast majority are excited to see what Ann Handley has in store for this year’s conference.

There are two things that make this conference one of my favorites:

  1. The content is amazing.
  2. The people are amazing.

This is my third year attending MPB2B and my first year speaking, so I’d like to think that I’ve gotten the lay of the land by now. So, to help you out, I’ve compiled a list of must-see sessions (so you’re not scrambling for the next three days) and some top tips for finding your squad at this great event.

Must-See Sessions at MPB2B

Ardath Albee
CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist, Marketing Interactions

How to Create Binge-Worthy Content Experiences that Move Buyers to Buy

We all know that more content is being created than ever and many of us struggle to keep our increase our content engagement. Ardath Albee’s session promises to deliver on the secret of getting yours buyers to binge on your content, by connecting the dots and showing them the value of swift immersion.

Jon Miller
CEO & Co-Founder, Engagio

The Secret Sauce for Account Based Marketing

If you’re wondering how industry leaders are practicing ABM, what works and what doesn’t, this is the session for you. Jon Miller’s session will give you the inside scoop of how ABM works at Engagio and how you can orchestrate programs that get results.

Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing

From Why to ROI: B2B Influencer Marketing Case Studies for Success

How can B2B brands put influence to work in their marketing? Through three case studies, Lee Odden will demonstrate influencer strategy best practices and how to measure performance to satisfy both the why and the ROI of working with B2B influencers.

What You Know About Content Marketing—FoGetAboutIT—This Is ABM

On this panel, Lee Odden, Joe Chernov, Meagan French and Justin Gray will discuss the role of content through the lens of ABM. The conversation will also explore how hyper-personalized, value-driven content and sales offers completely reframe your outbound strategies and tactics.

Chris Moody
Content Marketing Leader, GE Digital

Content Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

You must show the value of your content marketing, in order to gain more budget and grow the success of your program

If you can spare 45 minutes and $1,000 to spend on content marketing, walk away from Chris Moody’s session with documented content strategy and an action plan for content success that you can start today.

Alex Rynne
Content Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

Your LinkedIn Marketing Tactical Plan

If you are looking for an actionable plan for driving brand awareness and revenue on Linkedin, then don’t miss Alex Rynne’s Thursday session.  Based on the results of dozens of A/B tests, find out what type of content performs best across LinkedIn Company Pages, Sponsored Content and InMail and how to run your own A/B tests to ensure your content is as relevant as possible to your target audience.

And walk away with a one-page plan to outline key metrics and determine the success of your LinkedIn plan.

Dayna Rothman
VP Marketing & Sales Development, BrightFunnel

Connecting Your Customer Journey to See More Success

In her session, Dayna Rothman will explain how to use measurement to optimize each stage of the buyer’s journey, make informed marketing decisions, and better understand what’s working—and what’s not. You’ll learn how your marketing team can utilize existing campaign data to dig deeper into performance and make intelligent decisions that will positively impact future pipeline and revenue.

Tim Washer
Creative Director, Cisco

Stop Boring Content with Comedy Writing Secrets

Join Tim Washer Friday morning for a lively session to help you hack the secrets of comedy writers to create content which is never boring. You will learn how to identify the common causes of dull content and tap into tactics for generating tons of creative ideas quickly.

Avoid corporate creativity deathtraps and use this session to spark creativity within your corporate team.

Ashley Zeckman
Director of Agency Marketing, TopRank Marketing

Scrappy B2B Creativity Hacks

What kind of marketer would I be if I didn’t encourage you to attend my own session? I will be taking the stage with Nick Westergaard and Andy Hunt to engage in an eye-opening discussion that will show you how you can leverage the latest content marketing tools to build your brand and grow your business without breaking the bank. In short, you’ll learn how to be scrappy.

Top Tips for Finding Your Squad

MarketingProfs has done an amazing job of connecting attendees to each other. And how could they not with an amazing Chief Content Officer like Ann Handley at the helm?

Getting the most out of a conference isn’t always about the content (although that’s important), it’s about meeting other like-minded marketers that you can connect with and learn from.

Below are three of my tips for finding your squad at an event like MPB2B:

#1 – Attend Social Events

I will be the first to tell you that being super social isn’t always easy. So while it may be tempting to sit in your room and fire of emails, peel yourself away from the comfy bed and make your way to one of the many social events surrounding the conference. These events offer a great opportunity to make new friends in a relaxed setting and learn a little bit more about what they do and why they are here. To help you out, here are a couple ice breakers:

  • What are you looking forward to most at this conference?
  • Have you attended before or is this your first time? (the marketer’s equivalent of “do you come here often?”)

#2 – Make New Friends in Session & at Lunch

While it can be tempting to sit with people you already know during sessions and lunch, don’t.

Instead, sit in a random row or at a random table and start a conversation with someone you don’t know. I have met some great people by plopping myself down at a table where I didn’t know a soul.

#3 – See Who’s Interacting Online

It’s amazing to think about the number of people you meet virtually, but have not met in real life. Events like MPB2B are a great opportunity to take those online conversations offline. See who is interacting on platforms like Twitter (or the event app) and set a designated time and place to meet.

What Are You Looking Forward to Most at MPB2B?

So now that you have some insights into what I’m looking forward to most, I’d like to know: what do you consider must-see sessions at MPB2B?


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50 Top B2B Marketing Influencers 2017 http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/50-b2b-marketing-influencers-2017/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/50-b2b-marketing-influencers-2017/#comments Tue, 03 Oct 2017 10:06:11 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23021 It’s October and you know what that means? Its B2B Marketing influencer speaker list time again. One of my all-time favorite conferences is MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston and for the past few years I’ve had some fun listing out a top list of speakers ranked by influence around the topic of “B2B marketing”. As [...]

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B2B Marketing Influencers

It’s October and you know what that means? Its B2B Marketing influencer speaker list time again.

One of my all-time favorite conferences is MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston and for the past few years I’ve had some fun listing out a top list of speakers ranked by influence around the topic of “B2B marketing”.

As usual, I used the influencer marketing platform Traackr to import the list of speakers from #mpb2b 2017 and rank them according to a combination of topical resonance and relevance as well as network reach related to “b2b marketing”.  Of course, use of their platform in this way is like 1% of what Traackr can do. I imagine they cringe every time I use their robust tool for such a simple list – but hey, they provide me with access and I use the tool as I see fit.

To clarify, my agency TopRank Marketing is also a paying customer of the Traackr platform for clients, where it is used in support of B2B influencer marketing programs for brands like SAP, BMC Software, McKesson and others in ways that are more in line with the platform’s capabilities.

B2B Marketing influencers network

This is a legit list that recognizes people creating content around B2B marketing that resonates with their social following. At the same time, sometimes people take lists a little bit too seriously, so let’s have a little fun here and there with some special “awards”.

First, here are some “compelling” stats about the people on this year’s list:

  • 40% are women
  • 14 are CEOs
  • 4 are CMOs
  • 6 are named Chris
  • 12 have beards

And the “Khaleesi of Content” Award goes to:

Ann "Queen of Content" Handley
Ann Handley @marketingprofs
Chief Content Officer
MarketingProfs

Here’s the 49 additional B2B marketing speakers that came up in the search for influencers:

Pam Didner @pamdidner
Senior Marketing Consultant, Author, Speaker
Relentless Pursuit

Michael Brenner @BrennerMichael
CEO
Marketing Insider Group
Winner of the “nicest guy you’ll ever meet in marketing” award

Lee Odden @leeodden
CEO
TopRank Marketing
Winner of the “Puts himself in his own list” award – actually, it’s legit

Ardath Albee @ardath421
CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist
Marketing Interactions

Katie Martell @KatieMartell
Marketing Consultant
Katie Martell, On-Demand Marketing
Winner of “I will always remember the marching band at B2B Forum” award

Christopher Penn @cspenn
Vice President of Marketing Technology
SHIFT Communications
Winner of the “You think you know AI? I AM AI!” award

Kerry O’Shea Gorgone @KerryGorgone
Director of Product Strategy, Training
MarketingProfs

Jon Miller @jonmiller
CEO and Co-Founder
Engagio
Winner of rocket scientist marketer AND serial entrepreneur award

Doug Kessler @dougkessler
Creative Director & Co-Founder
Velocity Partners
Winner of the “I swear and people love me for it” award

Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalgo
Founder & CEO
VisumCx

Joe Pulizzi @JoePulizzi
Founder
Content Marketing Institute
Also Co-Founder & Board Member, The Orange Effect Foundation
Winner of “I’m doing whatever I want from now on” award

Mark Schaefer @markwschaefer
Keynote speaker
Schaefer Marketing Solutions

Pawan Deshpande @TweetsFromPawan
CEO
Curata

Ashley Zeckman @azeckman
Director of Agency Marketing
TopRank Marketing

Mary Ellen Slayter @RepCapital
Owner
Rep Cap

James Thomas @jthomas_44
CMO
Allocadia Software

Chris Chariton @cchariton
Senior Director, Marketing & Business Development
GTM

Samantha Stone @samanthastone
Founder & CMO
The Marketing Advisory Network

Stephan Hovnanian @stephanhov
Content Solutions Architect
Bambu by Sprout Social

Raviv Turner @ravivturner
Co-Founder & CEO
CaliberMind

Heidi Cohen @heidicohen
Chief Content Officer
Actionable Marketing Guide

Tim Washer @timwasher
Creative Director, SP Marketing
Cisco
Winner of “deadpan everyman funnyman” award

Justin Gray @Jgraymatter
CEO
LeadMD

Nancy Harhut @nharhut
Chief Creative Officer
Nancy Harhut & Associates

Andrea Fryrear @AndreaFryrear
President and Lead Trainer
AgileSherpas

Tamsen Webster @tamadear
Founder and CEO, Strategic Speaking
Winner of “I’m on the same list as Tom” award

You Mon Tsang @youmon
Founder and CEO
ChurnZero

Bob Meindl @BobMeindl
Director, Marketing
Cisco

Mitch Joel @mitchjoel
President
Mirum Agency
Winner of “best looking bald man dressed in black” award

Bill Sebald @billsebald
Founder / Partner / SEO
Greenlane Search Marketing

Dayna Rothman @dayroth
VP Marketing & Sales Development
BrightFunnel
Winner of “coolest tattoos on a marketer” award. 

Chris Arrendale @Arrendale
CEO & Principal Deliverability Consultant
Inbox Pros

Chris B Wilson @DrSocialMedia
Inbound Consultant
HubSpot

Chris Marr @chrismarr101
Founder & Director
Content Marketing Academy
Winner of “the best accent, ever” award

Ahava Leibtag @ahaval
President
Aha Media Group

Derreck Kayongo @DerreckKayongo
CEO
Center for Civil and Human Rights

Jessica LaHaie @JessieLaHaie
Influencer Relations Coordinator
TechSmith Corporation

Brian G. Peters @Brian_G_Peters
Digital Marketing Strategist
Buffer

Michelle Huff @michelle_huff
Chief Marketing Officer
Act-On Software, Inc.

Meagan French @mkfrench
Founder and President
Lotus Growth

Tom Webster @webby2001
Vice President, Strategy and Marketing
Edison Research
Winner of “I’m on the same list as Tamsen and she’s kicking my butt” award

Scott Monty @ScottMonty
CEO & Co-Managing Partner
Brain+Trust Partners

Jason Hsiao @jason_hsiao
President & Co-Founder
Animoto

David Berkowitz @dberkowitz
Chief Strategy Officer
Sysomos

Alison Levine @Levine_Alison
Executive Producer — The Glass Ceiling, Follow Your Dream

Chris Goward @chrisgoward
Founder & CEO
WiderFunnel Marketing Optimization

Matt Childs @MattyChilds
Director of Digital Marketing Sales, North America
Brightcove

Melissa Case @startabuzz
Corporate Blog Manager
Citrix

Joe Chernov
Joe Chernov
@jchernov
CMO
InsightSquared
Winner of “most epic beard on a CMO” award

If you’re a conference organizer looking for influential speakers on all topics around B2B marketing, then this list might be a good reference for your 2018 planning.

And if you’re attending MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston this week, there’s an entire schedule of talented marketers enlisted to share their B2B knowledge bombs on you including this fine group.

Why to ROI B2B Influencer Marketing
TopRank Marketing will be participating in the B2B Forum with Alexis Hall and Dan Rasmussen attending. Ashley Zeckman and I will also be involved with multiple presentations including:

We hope to see you there!  If not, be sure to follow us on the conference hashtag #mpb2b and @toprank.


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Funny Content, Serious Business: How to Use Humor in Content Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/use-humor-content-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/use-humor-content-marketing/#respond Thu, 28 Sep 2017 10:30:47 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22997 Everyone likes a good joke. Everyone wants to be entertained. But when it comes to using humor in content marketing, people still hesitate. We are, after all, not here purely to entertain. Our content needs to serve a business purpose, inspire action, and rack up the sweet, sweet conversions. Can potential buyers really take your [...]

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Everyone likes a good joke. Everyone wants to be entertained. But when it comes to using humor in content marketing, people still hesitate. We are, after all, not here purely to entertain. Our content needs to serve a business purpose, inspire action, and rack up the sweet, sweet conversions.

Can potential buyers really take your brand seriously if you make them laugh?

I call this the Roger Rabbit/Goodfellas conundrum, best expressed by these two quotes:

How do you get the Roger Rabbit benefits of making people laugh, without becoming a Joe Pesci-esque laughingstock?

It can be done. You can still be funny and do serious business. The question is not whether to use humor in your content, but how you use it.

I believe humor serves a different purpose throughout the three loosely-defined stages of a buyer’s journey. Call them top, middle, and bottom of funnel. Or call them Attract, Engage, and Convert, as our team does. The idea is the same: How you use humor should change depending on your context.

Top of Funnel: Pure Comedy Gold

Top of Funnel content can be mostly comedy – designed exclusively to entertain people. This is what we call a “chocolate cake” or “dessert” post. The key difference between, say, a Buzzfeed post about funny tweets and your top-of-funnel content is that yours will be focused on a very specific audience.

Use humor as a way of showing your audience that you understand them. That you’re one of them. Make jokes only they will get, and you will invite them into your tribe.

That’s what I did with my “20 Jokes Only a B2B Marketer Will Get.” I called out the audience in the title, and made sure each joke used vocabulary and common experiences that only the intended audience would share. The result: One of the most-shared posts on the TopRank Marketing Blog this year.

Middle of Funnel: Humor + Value

In the middle of the funnel—what we call the “Engage” stage—comedy is still a welcome component of your content. But unlike, top of funnel, the comedy can’t be the main attraction. You’ve already brought your audience in. Now you have to provide value beyond a chuckle or two.

Start with a legitimately useful premise, and use humor to demonstrate personality and keep your content readable.  For example, the introduction to this post on video content marketing on a budget starts with a funny intro and a truly hilarious image. Images are a great way to introduce a little humor, by the way—especially if you’re on a WordPress blog and the image can show up in the excerpt.

You don’t have to confine humor to the introduction; just don’t forget the value. This post from Jason Miller at LinkedIn is a good example of a funny post that still has plenty to offer the audience. It uses the silly names and weird visuals of a BBC kids show to teach some solid content marketing lessons. And it gave Jason the excuse to make a personalized kid’s book cover:

Bottom of Funnel: Keep It Consistent

By the time your customer is almost ready to make a purchase decision, you don’t need to keep throwing out the punchlines. They’re already sold on your brand’s personality; now they need to make sure your solution is the perfect fit.

Bottom-of-funnel content is by necessity more utilitarian, more focused on your offering. But you shouldn’t suddenly become all business all the time. Aim for a consistent brand voice throughout the buyer’s journey. You can still be lighthearted and informal on a landing page or a contact form.

This “Content Marketing Kitchen” post, for example, is an announcement post that serves chiefly to drive traffic to a landing page. I dialed back the jokes but kept the tone light and personal. The result: A bottom-of-funnel piece that still kept people entertained, as the comments show:

Good Humor Isn’t Just an Ice Cream Brand

The same comedic approach won’t work for every brand or every audience. People who love zany one-liners from a fast-food company likely don’t want the same from their bank. It’s important to find the degree of comedy that puts you firmly on the Roger Rabbit side of the equation.

That said, if you keep your level of humor appropriate for the stage of the buyer’s journey, you can attract your audience, engage them with entertaining but valuable content, then convert with the same sense of personality and fun that attracted them to begin with.

Learn more about humor in content marketing from a master of the form in this interview with Tim Washer.

LinkedIn Marketing is a TopRank Marketing client.


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LinkedIn Native Video: What Works, What Doesn’t, What Marketers Need to Know http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/linkedin-video-need-know/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/linkedin-video-need-know/#comments Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:30:23 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22962 Video content is eating the internet. It started with video-specific platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. Then Twitter and Facebook added support for live and pre-recorded video. Now these insatiable moving pictures are becoming serious business: LinkedIn now supports native video. What would compel a buttoned-down, professional networking site like LinkedIn to embrace video? Simply put, [...]

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Video content is eating the internet. It started with video-specific platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. Then Twitter and Facebook added support for live and pre-recorded video. Now these insatiable moving pictures are becoming serious business: LinkedIn now supports native video.

What would compel a buttoned-down, professional networking site like LinkedIn to embrace video? Simply put, people—even businesspeople—want to watch. Fifty-nine percent of executives say that if text and video are available on the same topic, they’re more likely to choose video.

There’s no denying that marketers should embrace video content as a general rule. If your audience wants video, it’s wise for your brand to be the one supplying it. But why publish natively on LinkedIn?

Here are the upsides, downsides, and what-you-need-to-know-sides.

How to Create a LinkedIn Video

LinkedIn has been slowly rolling out its video capabilities, starting with a few influencers and expanding out from there. Most members who have the most recent version of the mobile app should have the capability now.

If your account has video enabled, you will see a camera icon available where you normally post to your feed. On mobile, you can create a video (not a live stream…yet) or upload from your photo gallery. On desktop, you can only upload a pre-recorded video. Nearly every common form of video file is supported.

To record a video, just tap the camera icon, give the app permission to access your camera, and go. To upload video, just navigate to the file you want to add and select it—there’s no learning curve there.

Your file must be at least three seconds long and no longer than 10 minutes, but LinkedIn suggests between 30 seconds and 5 minutes for better engagement. The maximum file size is five gigabytes, which should be plenty of space.

Your post will look…well, a lot like a post with an embedded video, just without the link out at the bottom:

Why Marketers Should Care about LinkedIn Video

You can already embed YouTube video in your LinkedIn feed posts, of course. But posting native video may get you more engagement. On Facebook, native videos typically get 10x more shares than embedded videos. If that trend holds for LinkedIn, you could be missing out on a substantial chunk of potential audience by linking to a YouTube video.

So native video matters—and for virtually all B2B marketers, LinkedIn matters. While Facebook videos can be dominated by memes and entertainment, the LinkedIn audience is specifically there for business. They’re browsing their feeds looking for something that can help advance their career, give them a competitive edge, or just do their jobs better. Useful, professional video content is likely to fare better on LinkedIn than on Twitter or Facebook.

The other reason to go native on LinkedIn video is LinkedIn’s analytical capability. Their demographic data is likely to be more useful to B2B marketers than Facebook’s data is. You can zero in on job function, job title, and seniority of the people who view your video. That data will help you adjust your strategy to hit and engage the right audience.

As native video is more widely adopted by its userbase, LinkedIn is likely to give it preferential treatment over embedded video. LinkedIn has already switched from a pure timeline feed to an algorithm-based feed. Just as Facebook currently gives pride of place to native videos, LinkedIn is likely to prioritize it in their feeds, too.

Downsides to LinkedIn Video

Since this is a new feature, there are some still some quirks to be ironed out, and a few features that are missing. These negatives won’t keep your video from being seen and appreciated, but they’re worth noting:

  1. No playback speed or picture quality settings. Users can’t customize the viewing experience the way they can on YouTube.
  2. It’s hard to link out. the URLs for a video-embedded post are unwieldy: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6316276929771245568/, for example.
  3. The video isn’t embeddable on other sites. It’s definitely intended for consumption on LinkedIn.
  4. Only members can post, not companies.
  5. There’s no dedicated video tab, which can make video content hard to find. I’m willing to bet some kind of tab or filter is in the works, but we don’t have it yet.

What to Use LinkedIn Video For:

Given the limitations of the format, it’s best to think of video on LinkedIn as an add-on to your current marketing strategy. Use it to build your personal brand, or go behind-the-scenes at your company, or interview co-workers and executives.

Many users are already using the format to do quick tips, like this video from Viveka Von Rosen. That kind of informal, live-shot video is an easy way to get started.

There are a few people attempting to create series on the platform, too. Building an audience for a series could be tricky without a dedicated video tab, but Mike Morgan’s Humans of LinkedIn series is making a go of it. If more people start serializing their videos, LinkedIn is likely to add tools that support the practice.

LinkedIn to the Future

If you’re marketing to a B2B audience, native video on LinkedIn is well worth a try. Instead of linking out to YouTube, upload the video natively to LinkedIn and keep an eye on how it performs. Make sure to include keywords and relevant hashtags in the post so your video is easier to find, keep an eye on your analytics, and let the data guide your next steps.

Need more help? Check out these easy ways to get started with video content marketing.

Disclosure: LinkedIn Marketing is a TopRank Marketing client.


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Behind the Marketing Curtain: An Interview with Social Customer Care Wiz Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/behind-the-curtain-dan-gingiss/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/behind-the-curtain-dan-gingiss/#respond Tue, 29 Aug 2017 10:30:26 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22836

Behind the Marketing Curtain with Dan Gingiss

Social media marketing has become an important part of any brand’s digital marketing mix, helping brands of all sizes foster customer connections and engagement. But as more consumers use social media to “ring the bell” and gain access to the person who can help solve their problems, many find the social bell is out of order when it comes to customer service.

For social media wiz Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s Corporation’s Senior Director of Global Social Media, customer service is arguably one of the most important pieces of social media marketing.

“Social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage,” Dan told me in a recent interview.

With more than two decades building up his marketing wizardry, Dan knows a thing or two about ushering people through the emerald social media gates and providing great social care—and no ruby red slippers are required for entrance.

With that said, as part of our Wizard of Oz-inspired Behind the Marketing Curtain interview series, today we’ll pull back the fabric and get to know more about how Mr. Gingiss arrived in the wonderful world of marketing, and share insights that can help inspire better customer service within your social media strategy, and perhaps kick a wicked habit or two.

Enjoy!

The Man Behind the Curtain

Dan Gingiss, Senior Director, Global Social Media, McDonald'sDan has spent most of his life and marketing career in the Chicago area—that’s his Kansas, he said.

“[Well], it’s not quite Kansas, but still the Midwest!” he joked.

And while Dan has been a marketer for more than 20 years, his numerous talents aren’t bound to any one industry. He also bills himself as a “pretty decent” pinball player and a grammar nerd—and he’s also a licensed bartender.

“[I got my bartender’s license] after taking a two-week night course after college and placing first in the speed drink-making contest,” he explained while also noting that there’s no fire or bottle flipping in his repertoire.

Dan is also a huge baseball fan—particularly when it comes to the Chicago Cubs club. But he’s arguably a pretty big Cleveland Indians fan, too; his all-time favorite movie is Major League.

“[It’s the] perfect combo of humor, a little bit of romance, and baseball!” he said.

As a marketer, he’s built his career as a marketing generalist. Borrowing a phrase from the John Fogerty song “Centerfield”—and keeping in line with his love of the game, Dan said: “I am a ‘put me in coach’ kind of guy. As a result, I’ve enjoyed domestic and global roles in B2C and B2B, product management, loyalty programs, and acquisition marketing.”

Over the last two decades, Dan has held positions at Discover Card, Humana, Diner’s Club International, and Mesirow Financial. Earlier this year, Dan joined McDonald’s Corporation as Senior Director of Global Social Media. He’s also a podcaster and the author of Winning of Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experience on Social Media.

So how did self-proclaimed marketing generalist land in a social media-specific role? We’ll cover that in the next section.

Following His Yellow Brick Road

As an undergrad student at the University of Pennsylvania, Dan was majoring in Psychology and Communications—meaning he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, he said. But, being the grammar nerd he is, he was the managing editor of the college newspaper. One evening, as he was pasting up the next day’s edition, he spotted an ad from MBI, Inc., a high-end collectibles company in Norwalk, CT that operates under The Danbury Mint brand.

“The ad promised to teach me ‘everything you need to know about direct marketing,’” he recalled. “So, I applied and they did.”

“On my first day of work, I was handed a bunch of product lines and told to create and execute marketing plans in direct mail, package inserts, and the Sunday coupons—that’s how I learned,” he said.

Four years later, Dan went back to school for his MBA and took his “first” marketing class. At that point, he realized that his undergrad studies provided the perfect foundation for becoming a marketer.

“Psychology and Communications are two perfect majors for a marketer because they are two skills that basically define what marketing entails—understanding your customer, and knowing how to speak to him or her,” he said.

But his journey was certainly not over. While spreading his wings as a marketing generalist over the years, in 2012 Dan found his true marketing passion: social media.

“[Mike Boush], the Chief Digital Officer at Discover Card, asked me to lead digital customer experience and social media even though I had no professional experience with either,” he recalled. “He recognized something in me even before I did: That I am most comfortable with my ‘customer hat’ on, thinking about every experience through the customer’s eyes. I also immediately fell in love with social media—especially Twitter—and never looked back.”

Dan’s Traveling Companions

Just as Dorothy found dear friends and encouragement in the Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion as she made her way to Emerald City, Dan’s yellow brick road was paved with a little help, too.

The aforementioned Mike Boush was one such individual who made an impact.

“He challenged me to become a “recognized leader” in social media,” Dan said.

Another was Jeff Reid, who was Dan’s boss at Humana.

“He asked me to create a personal goal (writing a book) and execute on it,” Dan explained.

Another mentor that came to Dan’s mind was the late Robin Carey of Social Media Today.

“She definitely had courage,” he said. “After meeting me once, she agreed to sponsor my brand-new podcast called ‘Focus on Customer Service.’ It was the first of its kind—dedicated solely to customer care in social media—and I had never recorded a podcast episode previously. Fifty-plus episodes later, that podcast spawned my book.”

“Robin believed in me when she didn’t have to, and I’ll never forget her for that,” he added.

Meeting the Wizard

At TopRank Marketing we believe in taking a smart, creative and results-focused approach in everything we do for our clients, as well as our own personal growth. Dan is certainly someone who exemplifies these qualities in his work as a social media marketing wizard. So without further ado, let’s dive into Dan’s tips for better social media marketing.

Good witch or bad witch? What’s one bad social media marketing habit marketers should drop?

Thinking that customer service is someone else’s problem. When we interrupt people’s social media feeds with marketing messages, we hope that they will engage with our fun and interesting marketing content. But sometimes, all we do is remind them that they had some other problem with our brand. Since social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage.

[bctt tweet="#SocialMedia is the only channel where customers can talk back, #marketers need to listen. @dgingiss" username="toprank"]

Dorothy’s ruby slippers were the key to achieving her end goal of returning home. What are a few tools you believe are key for social media marketing success?

Always be listening. People will generally tell you everything you need to know about your business—what’s working, what needs fixing, and what could be your next big hit. Marketers need to embrace the feedback, including compliments, questions, and complaints. Knowing your customer will definitely help you become a better marketer.

There are a number helpful social media marketing and listening tools out there—many of which I covered in the chapter on social customer care tools in my book—that can fit into any marketing budget and are worth the investment.

[bctt tweet="#Marketers need to embrace positive & negative feedback on #socialmedia. @dgingiss" username="toprank"]

Poppies. Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep! What creative tactics can marketers use to keep their social audience engaged?

Always be engaging, too. I know, so many rules! But consumers want to engage with brands on social media. That’s usually why they reach out in the first place. Companies that engage back can create loyal brand advocates that will tell their friends and followers on social media. We’ve all seen the studies—there’s nothing more believable than an objective friend talking positively about a brand. And I’ve personally seen 1:1 engagement rates even after a customer service inquiry that far surpass any marketer’s wildest dreams. Then scaling that becomes the challenge.

[bctt tweet="There’s nothing more believable than an objective friend talking positively about a brand. @dgingiss" username="toprank"]

What’s one thing you would ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? (More budget, more resources, better data?)

An end to social media marketers thinking of social as a “special” channel that gets to play by different rules. Other than that consumers can talk back, social is just another marketing channel. It’s not unfair to ask for a return on that marketing investment. It’s not unfair to point out that likes, comments, and retweets don’t mean anything if more people aren’t buying your company’s products. Social marketers need to understand that corporate marketing budgets are finite, and social is competing against more mature marketing channels that have shown results for decades.

[bctt tweet="#Marketers need to stop thinking #socialmedia is “special” channel that has different rules. @dgingiss" username="toprank"]

We’re Off to Meet More Wizards

I’d like to sincerely thank Dan for taking the time to open up about who he is, where he comes from and how he approaches content and comedy. Thanks, Dan!

Of course, TopRank Marketing’s journey to Emerald City is still underway. In the coming months, we’ll be bringing you more exclusive interviews and insights from industry wizards to add some smarts, heart and nerve to your marketing efforts.

Stay tuned for our next installment, my pretty!

What’s one thing you’d ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post Behind the Marketing Curtain: An Interview with Social Customer Care Wiz Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>

Behind the Marketing Curtain with Dan Gingiss Social media marketing has become an important part of any brand’s digital marketing mix, helping brands of all sizes foster customer connections and engagement. But as more consumers use social media to “ring the bell” and gain access to the person who can help solve their problems, many find the social bell is out of order when it comes to customer service. For social media wiz Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s Corporation’s Senior Director of Global Social Media, customer service is arguably one of the most important pieces of social media marketing. “Social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage,” Dan told me in a recent interview. With more than two decades building up his marketing wizardry, Dan knows a thing or two about ushering people through the emerald social media gates and providing great social care—and no ruby red slippers are required for entrance. With that said, as part of our Wizard of Oz-inspired Behind the Marketing Curtain interview series, today we’ll pull back the fabric and get to know more about how Mr. Gingiss arrived in the wonderful world of marketing, and share insights that can help inspire better customer service within your social media strategy, and perhaps kick a wicked habit or two. Enjoy!

The Man Behind the Curtain

Dan Gingiss, Senior Director, Global Social Media, McDonald'sDan has spent most of his life and marketing career in the Chicago area—that’s his Kansas, he said. “[Well], it’s not quite Kansas, but still the Midwest!” he joked. And while Dan has been a marketer for more than 20 years, his numerous talents aren’t bound to any one industry. He also bills himself as a “pretty decent” pinball player and a grammar nerd—and he’s also a licensed bartender. “[I got my bartender’s license] after taking a two-week night course after college and placing first in the speed drink-making contest,” he explained while also noting that there’s no fire or bottle flipping in his repertoire. Dan is also a huge baseball fan—particularly when it comes to the Chicago Cubs club. But he’s arguably a pretty big Cleveland Indians fan, too; his all-time favorite movie is Major League. “[It’s the] perfect combo of humor, a little bit of romance, and baseball!” he said. As a marketer, he’s built his career as a marketing generalist. Borrowing a phrase from the John Fogerty song “Centerfield”—and keeping in line with his love of the game, Dan said: “I am a ‘put me in coach’ kind of guy. As a result, I’ve enjoyed domestic and global roles in B2C and B2B, product management, loyalty programs, and acquisition marketing.” Over the last two decades, Dan has held positions at Discover Card, Humana, Diner’s Club International, and Mesirow Financial. Earlier this year, Dan joined McDonald’s Corporation as Senior Director of Global Social Media. He’s also a podcaster and the author of Winning of Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experience on Social Media. So how did self-proclaimed marketing generalist land in a social media-specific role? We’ll cover that in the next section.

Following His Yellow Brick Road

As an undergrad student at the University of Pennsylvania, Dan was majoring in Psychology and Communications—meaning he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, he said. But, being the grammar nerd he is, he was the managing editor of the college newspaper. One evening, as he was pasting up the next day’s edition, he spotted an ad from MBI, Inc., a high-end collectibles company in Norwalk, CT that operates under The Danbury Mint brand. “The ad promised to teach me ‘everything you need to know about direct marketing,’” he recalled. “So, I applied and they did.” “On my first day of work, I was handed a bunch of product lines and told to create and execute marketing plans in direct mail, package inserts, and the Sunday coupons—that’s how I learned,” he said. Four years later, Dan went back to school for his MBA and took his “first” marketing class. At that point, he realized that his undergrad studies provided the perfect foundation for becoming a marketer. “Psychology and Communications are two perfect majors for a marketer because they are two skills that basically define what marketing entails—understanding your customer, and knowing how to speak to him or her,” he said. But his journey was certainly not over. While spreading his wings as a marketing generalist over the years, in 2012 Dan found his true marketing passion: social media. “[Mike Boush], the Chief Digital Officer at Discover Card, asked me to lead digital customer experience and social media even though I had no professional experience with either,” he recalled. “He recognized something in me even before I did: That I am most comfortable with my ‘customer hat’ on, thinking about every experience through the customer’s eyes. I also immediately fell in love with social media—especially Twitter—and never looked back.”

Dan’s Traveling Companions

Just as Dorothy found dear friends and encouragement in the Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion as she made her way to Emerald City, Dan’s yellow brick road was paved with a little help, too. The aforementioned Mike Boush was one such individual who made an impact. “He challenged me to become a “recognized leader” in social media,” Dan said. Another was Jeff Reid, who was Dan’s boss at Humana. “He asked me to create a personal goal (writing a book) and execute on it,” Dan explained. Another mentor that came to Dan’s mind was the late Robin Carey of Social Media Today. “She definitely had courage,” he said. “After meeting me once, she agreed to sponsor my brand-new podcast called ‘Focus on Customer Service.’ It was the first of its kind—dedicated solely to customer care in social media—and I had never recorded a podcast episode previously. Fifty-plus episodes later, that podcast spawned my book.” “Robin believed in me when she didn’t have to, and I’ll never forget her for that,” he added.

Meeting the Wizard

At TopRank Marketing we believe in taking a smart, creative and results-focused approach in everything we do for our clients, as well as our own personal growth. Dan is certainly someone who exemplifies these qualities in his work as a social media marketing wizard. So without further ado, let’s dive into Dan’s tips for better social media marketing. Good witch or bad witch? What’s one bad social media marketing habit marketers should drop? Thinking that customer service is someone else’s problem. When we interrupt people’s social media feeds with marketing messages, we hope that they will engage with our fun and interesting marketing content. But sometimes, all we do is remind them that they had some other problem with our brand. Since social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage. [bctt tweet="#SocialMedia is the only channel where customers can talk back, #marketers need to listen. @dgingiss" username="toprank"] Dorothy’s ruby slippers were the key to achieving her end goal of returning home. What are a few tools you believe are key for social media marketing success? Always be listening. People will generally tell you everything you need to know about your business—what’s working, what needs fixing, and what could be your next big hit. Marketers need to embrace the feedback, including compliments, questions, and complaints. Knowing your customer will definitely help you become a better marketer. There are a number helpful social media marketing and listening tools out there—many of which I covered in the chapter on social customer care tools in my book—that can fit into any marketing budget and are worth the investment. [bctt tweet="#Marketers need to embrace positive & negative feedback on #socialmedia. @dgingiss" username="toprank"] Poppies. Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep! What creative tactics can marketers use to keep their social audience engaged? Always be engaging, too. I know, so many rules! But consumers want to engage with brands on social media. That’s usually why they reach out in the first place. Companies that engage back can create loyal brand advocates that will tell their friends and followers on social media. We’ve all seen the studies—there’s nothing more believable than an objective friend talking positively about a brand. And I’ve personally seen 1:1 engagement rates even after a customer service inquiry that far surpass any marketer’s wildest dreams. Then scaling that becomes the challenge. [bctt tweet="There’s nothing more believable than an objective friend talking positively about a brand. @dgingiss" username="toprank"] What’s one thing you would ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? (More budget, more resources, better data?) An end to social media marketers thinking of social as a “special” channel that gets to play by different rules. Other than that consumers can talk back, social is just another marketing channel. It’s not unfair to ask for a return on that marketing investment. It’s not unfair to point out that likes, comments, and retweets don’t mean anything if more people aren’t buying your company’s products. Social marketers need to understand that corporate marketing budgets are finite, and social is competing against more mature marketing channels that have shown results for decades. [bctt tweet="#Marketers need to stop thinking #socialmedia is “special” channel that has different rules. @dgingiss" username="toprank"]

We’re Off to Meet More Wizards

I’d like to sincerely thank Dan for taking the time to open up about who he is, where he comes from and how he approaches content and comedy. Thanks, Dan! Of course, TopRank Marketing’s journey to Emerald City is still underway. In the coming months, we’ll be bringing you more exclusive interviews and insights from industry wizards to add some smarts, heart and nerve to your marketing efforts. Stay tuned for our next installment, my pretty! What’s one thing you’d ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post Behind the Marketing Curtain: An Interview with Social Customer Care Wiz Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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6 Quick & Dirty SEO Research Tips for B2B Content Planning http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/seo-b2b-content-planning/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/seo-b2b-content-planning/#respond Mon, 21 Aug 2017 10:30:03 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22791 When it comes to crafting compelling content that informs, engages and inspires action, seasoned B2B digital and content marketers know our content needs to captivate both humans and search engines to be effective. After all, 81% of B2B decision makers conduct research before reaching out to a vendor, so we know our content needs to [...]

The post 6 Quick & Dirty SEO Research Tips for B2B Content Planning appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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When it comes to crafting compelling content that informs, engages and inspires action, seasoned B2B digital and content marketers know our content needs to captivate both humans and search engines to be effective. After all, 81% of B2B decision makers conduct research before reaching out to a vendor, so we know our content needs to meet them whenever and wherever they’re searching.

As a result, striking that “perfect balance” between SEO and user experience is a must—and that perfect balance is rooted in the content planning stage.

“SEO needs to be baked into the process early so that the optimization is as natural as possible,” Kevin Cotch, TopRank Marketing SEO analyst, says. “It can’t be treated as an afterthought. It’s not only more efficient to do your research up front, but it also enhances the content by helping you touch on the specific phrases your audience is using to search to solve their pain points or answer their questions.”

But there’s a little hitch—SEO research can be overwhelming for content creators. We’re often strapped for time and it’s easy to fall down a less-than-productive SEO rabbit hole. In addition, some of us may feel we don’t have the needed expertise or tools.

The good news is that you don’t need to fanciest tools or a dedicated background in SEO to craft great SEO-driven content. Below are a handful of helpful research tactics you can use to make the most of your time and create a content plan that’s flush with solid topics.

#1 – Perform incognito searches for your most important keywords.

Your team has likely developed a list of core keywords and topics that are incredibly important to your brand from a service and search standpoint. And you’ve likely begun to create content around those key topical areas and you’re seeing some movement in the SERPs. Naturally, your ultimate goal is to get your content to the top of Page 1 search results. But have you taken the time to dig in and draw insights from the content you’re hoping to dethrone?

Incognito searches using your priority keywords can help you uncover some of those important insights. An incognito search prevents your browser history or cache from impacting the results, allowing for a more accurate picture of search results. As my colleague Jesse Pickrain so eloquently said in one of my recent posts on finding B2B content marketing inspiration: “There’s gold in them thar SERPs.”

Once you’re served up with some results, spend about 10 to 15 minutes reviewing the content in the top three to five spots. Your goal should be to learn how the content is structured, identify the perceived value it provides your audience, the main pain points it addresses, and ultimately if you have the ability to create something better than what’s ranking at the top. In addition, take a peek at the “related searches” area so you can see other queries that match the search intent of your original search for more clarity and direction for planning your content.

Let’s take the keyword topic “content marketing planning” as an example. At first glance, I see the top results all offer frameworks or tactical guides.

Content Marketing Planning Search in Incognito Window

As I dig in, I can see that four of the top five are all in-depth, long-form pieces, and the content is organized using a range of heading tags and bulleted sections to make it easy to scan. But I also notice that “content marketing planning” isn’t an exact keyword match, rather “content marketing strategy” is present in nearly all of the pieces.

In addition, I can see that the related searches have several variations of “content marketing strategy.” After clicking around in those results, I can see that a lot of the same content is coming up in the top five, but there’s a broader mix as the queries get more specific.

Searches Related to Content Marketing Planning

Roughly 10 minutes later, I’ve pulled some very valuable insights:

  • Long-form content wins for this topic and search intent, and people are looking for detailed plans, examples and templates to make their lives easier.
  • More people are searching for strategy-related keywords, which tells me that “content marketing strategy” may be more relevant or have higher volume, but it’s likely a more competitive keyword term.
  • It’s going to be difficult to crack the top spots for short-tail keywords, but longer-tail or more specific, related search queries definitely have some opportunity.

Based on these insights, as well as my knowledge of existing content, I can start to flush out some relevant concepts that are on-topic and SEO-infused, and guided by the top-performing content that’s already out there. My goal now is to craft a concept that will provide a better answer than what currently exists.

#2 – Consult Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner tool for low-hanging opportunities or additional insight.

The Keyword Planner tool within Google AdWords is often a go-to research tool for SEO and developing paid search campaigns, providing cost-per-click data and average search volume estimates to help you judge competitiveness and relevancy.

When it comes to content planning, this data along with keyword topic and query suggestions, can help you identify low-hanging opportunities or further refine the other research you’ve already done.

Building off my previous example of “content marketing planning,” I know that my incognito search revealed that “content marketing strategy” was a heavily-related keyword from a search intent standpoint. I can now use the keyword planner to dive deeper into the competitiveness surrounding both variations, as well as related keywords, to further refine my concepts.

Keyword Planner Tool Example

#3- Review Google Search Console to see what keywords your existing content is already ranking for.

In my opinion, Google Search Console, formerly Google Webmaster Tools, is one of the most helpful SEO and content planning tools out there. From a technical standpoint, Google Search Console enables you to monitor and maintain your entire website’s presence in Google search results. But from a content planning perspective, Google Search Console allows you to see which queries actually caused your site’s content to appear in search results.

The best part? You can filter by page, allowing you to see how a specific piece of content is drawing visibility. This means you can not only find opportunities to optimize existing content with other related keywords it’s coming up for, but also identify gaps and related topics that can spawn additional content.

#4 – Look to evergreen content for inspiration.

Chances are you have some really solid, evergreen pieces of content that are driving in huge amounts traffic. Why? Because that content is doing a great job at providing the answers searchers seek—and you can build off that.

Use the Google Search Console tip to understand which queries are getting eyeballs on that content, and be on the lookout for:

  • Contextual nuances. Does it appear that your content isn’t the best answer for certain queries? If so, this is a golden opportunity to create new content that can better answer that query.
  • Content branches. You may find that some of the queries your content is coming up for centers on a specific section of your content. If so, that may be an opportunity to drill-in deeper on that specific topic.
  • Follow up questions. When you’re able to see the wide range of queries your existing content is coming up for, you can get a bigger picture of what questions your audience may ask next. If you identify next questions, you can create best-answer content and add add a call to action to that evergreen piece so readers can continue their journey.

#5 – Leverage free tools and Q&A platforms to uncover burning questions.

At TopRank Marketing, we believe that striving to be the best answer wherever and whenever your audience is searching is the key to creating content that resonates. Luckily, there are a number of free platforms and tools such as QuoraAnswer the PublicUbersuggest, and Keyword Tool.io that can provide quick answers and long-tail search opportunities.

Once you’ve discovered some of those burning questions, you can use the incognito search tip to understand what content already exists out there for that question, and determine how you can answer the question better and provide more value to searchers.

#6 – Use social media to get keywords and content topics directly from your audience.

Social media is all about giving people a place to share their thoughts and experiences with one another. So why not take advantage of your community’s willingness to share by asking engaging and thoughtful questions to tap into their insights?

A great example of this in action are Twitter polls, which allow people to weigh in on a specific topics as well as continue the conversation through the reply function. And, while they’re not exactly scientific, polls and social discussions can actually be a chunk of your content as you can feature the responses you get in the content to add more authenticity and perspective.

Don’t Fail to Plan

As the old adage goes: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And when it comes to crafting effective content, SEO needs to be part of the content marketing planning process if you want to drive results. Use these tips to help make it an easy and efficient part of the process.

What are some interesting ways you conduct SEO research for your B2B brand? Tell us in the comments section.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | 6 Quick & Dirty SEO Research Tips for B2B Content Planning | http://www.toprankblog.com

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How 6 B2B Brands Climbed to New Heights with Content Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/b2b-brands-content-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/b2b-brands-content-marketing/#comments Mon, 07 Aug 2017 10:30:55 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22700 Eighty percent of the fastest growing B2B companies employ content marketing, according to data from Mattermark and Drift.com. But not all B2B marketers are seeing fast results. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute surveyed B2B marketers and found that only 34% of them believe their content marketing strategies were effective or extremely effective. The remaining [...]

The post How 6 B2B Brands Climbed to New Heights with Content Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Eighty percent of the fastest growing B2B companies employ content marketing, according to data from Mattermark and Drift.com. But not all B2B marketers are seeing fast results.

In fact, the Content Marketing Institute surveyed B2B marketers and found that only 34% of them believe their content marketing strategies were effective or extremely effective. The remaining 66% of B2B marketers feel their content marketing efforts are unsuccessful.

If you’re among those 66 percent-ers, it’s okay. After all, failure is just a stepping stone on the path to success. To help you recalibrate your content strategy for high-flying results, we’ve highlighted how six B2B brands use content marketing to fuel their business and what you can learn from each one.

#1 – Cisco

Cisco, the worldwide leader in networking, set out in 2016 to emphasize their brand’s mission of transforming the way people work. One of the strategies they used to accomplish this was a content campaign called There’s Never Been a Better Time. In Never Better, Cisco used authentic customer stories to illustrate how they help power innovation across several industries. The end result was a campaign that reinforced their brand values and demonstrated to audiences that Cisco is the company that powers connections around the world.

B2B Marketer Takeaway: Use authentic stories to reinforce your content and increase brand advocacy as 80% of people consider authenticity of content as the most influential factor in following a brand.

#2 – IBM

IBM is the world’s eighth largest information technology company with scores of products and services. With such a wide array of offerings, IBM undoubtedly has countless customer personas. And somehow, IBM has managed to create custom content for nearly every one of them. With custom, relevant content for each persona, IBM is able to reach each their target audiences at the right time. Furthermore, IBM structured their content and organized their blogs to serve relevant parties with carefully planned metadata.

B2B Marketer Takeaway: Tailor and structure content for your target audience to attract the right people and increase conversions because personalized content delivers six times higher transactional rates.

#3 – Moz

As an industry leader in all things SEO, it’s no surprise that Moz has a killer content strategy. But one of their blogs may surprise you: YouMoz, the user generated SEO and online marketing blog. By encouraging guest posts from Moz’s end users—the SEO analysts and marketing managers of the world—Moz created a community of digital marketing experts. Fostering this community increased engagement in their brand and grew traffic to the blog.

B2B Marketer Takeaway: Great content doesn’t have to come directly from you. Guest blogging and other user generated content can be a huge boost for traffic and engagement considering sites with user generated content see a 26% increase in return visitors and a 90% increase in time spent on site.

#4 – MYOB

MYOB, a finance management tool for both large and small businesses in Australia, focuses their content strategy around educating their clients. After all, taxes are a hard code to break. One of the most successful resources they offer is the End of the Financial Year tool, where visitors click on important dates throughout the year to receive tax time to-do’s and tips. It’s an ingenious way for MYOB to demonstrate their expertise and reinforce their authority on business tax. We have no doubt that many clients and prospects have bookmarked this tool in their internet browser, making MYOB their go-to resource for tax time in Australia.

B2B Marketer Takeaway: Content marketing success is more than just blogging. It’s about creating useful content for your audience.

#5 – Classy

The fundraising platform, Classy, knows exactly who their client is: nonprofits. But they found out early on that their growth was directly impacted by how well their clients operated. To combat this, Classy created a content strategy centered around education. Their blog and resource center is loaded with eLearning courses, guides, and webinars on nonprofit marketing, fundraising, and operation. With this strategy, Classy’s clients are raising record-high dollar amounts and driving Classy’s growth.

B2B Marketer Takeaway: Help your clients become successful by educating them with guides, checklists, webinars, and more.

#6 – Slack

Slack, the fastest-growing business app to date, has set their sights on becoming the #1 productivity tool for businesses across the globe. To reach such a high goal, Slack turned to content marketing to grow awareness and engage new audiences. Our favorite strategy that is helping Slack close the gap is their Work in Progress podcast. The podcast has a wide reach and was even syndicated by SiriusXM radio. With a successful podcast on their hands, Slack saw an opportunity to amplify their success and created emails, blog posts, and other slices of content to boost traffic.

B2B Marketer Takeaway: Support your best content assets with complimentary pieces like social messages, blog posts, videos, and more to reach a larger audience.

Need Another Jolt of B2B Content Marketing Inspiration?

Check out our latest post on how our own content team finds B2B content marketing inspiration. Or if you’re looking for more content examples, get an in-depth look at 38 B2B content marketing case studies.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | How 6 B2B Brands Climbed to New Heights with Content Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

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New Report: 5 Statistics You Need to Know on How Content Influences Purchases http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/content-influences-purchases/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/content-influences-purchases/#comments Thu, 03 Aug 2017 10:30:00 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22687 How Content Influences the Purchasing Process

These days there’s no question that great content is a foundational element of any marketing strategy—especially in B2B. In fact, according to Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) 2017 benchmarking report, 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing to “attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

And thanks to yet another insightful report from CMI—the latter objective is our focus today.

Last week, CMI and SmartBrief released their How Content Influences the Purchasing Process report, featuring data and insights collected from 1,200 SmartBrief subscribers. The aim of the report was to dig into the minds of those who are actually consuming content, and uncover what types of content are most influential,  how decision-makers perceive vendor content, and more.

From a marketer’s perspective, the findings both reinforce and redefine how marketers should be crafting their B2B content marketing strategies. Below I share five key statistics from the report, and some associated takeaways that can help you both bolster and boost your content efforts to drive action by decision makers.

#1 - 81% say they generally conduct research before bringing a vendor in.

Marketers know that the modern buyer’s journey is becoming increasingly self-directed. After all, this shift is arguably what drove the emergence of content marketing in the first place. So, it’s no surprise that CMI and SmartBrief’s report revealed that an overwhelming majority of decision-makers are conducting their own research before making contact with a vendor.

The big takeaway: Simply put, decision-makers want to be educated. Thanks to the rise of the internet, social media and mobile technologies, buyers are more empowered than ever to take things into their own hands. As a result, marketers need to double-down on their efforts to guide people through the purchasing process by creating content for each stage of the sales funnel.

For the TopRank Marketing team, this means leveraging the Attract, Engage, Convert model, as well as an integrated mix of tactics, to craft customer-centric content that’s easy to find, consume and share.

[bctt tweet="Simply put, decision-makers want to be educated. #B2B #contentmarketing @cmicontent" username="toprank"]

#2 - 40% say credibility trumps the source of information.

Since decision-makers are often taking research into their own hands, it stands to reason that they’re consuming information from a variety of sources. According to the report, 66% of respondents admitted to using sources other than vendors to initially collect information.

But perhaps one of the most interesting revelations was that 40% say the information source isn’t a big concern. In the end, they just want good, credible information.

The big takeaway: As long as the content is credible, the source doesn’t matter. While an organization’s owned channels may never be a one-stop-shop for all prospects’ needs, the report encourages vendors to ensure their websites are up-to-date. In addition, since your prospects will likely come into contact with your brand in a variety of ways, marketers can take the lead on evaluating how their brand is being presented across all channels (i.e. printed materials, social media, third-party review sites, in-person events, using influencers in marketing, etc.) to ensure consistency and build credibility.

[bctt tweet="When it comes to gathering info for purchasing decisions, #content credibility > source. @cmicontent" username="toprank"]

#3 - 62% say they want content that speaks to their specific needs and pain points.

As marketers, it’s our job to dig deep to understand who our audience is, the challenges they face and the questions they’re asking. But perhaps we’re falling a little short in this area.

According to the report, the No. 1 most important quality for content during the purchasing process is that is speaks to the specific needs or pain points of the decision-maker. Product or service specifications, and educational rather than promotional, came in at No. 2 and No. 3 respectively.

The big takeaway: Give the people what they want by delivering best-answer content that is tailored to specific niches, scenarios, pain points or questions your prospects/customers are asking.

But where do you start? From my perspective, your first stop should absolutely be your sales team. These folks are in the trenches every day and can give you detailed insights on customer characteristics (i.e. job title, company name, company size, etc.), as well as the challenges they’re looking to solve. Then conduct keyword topic research, and analyze your website and social data to learn more about how your prospects are searching and how they’re engaging with your existing content.

[bctt tweet="Give the people what they want: best-answer #content tailored to specific niches. #B2B #contentmarketing" username="toprank"]

#4 - Just 21% rank blog posts as influential in their purchasing decisions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, CMI and SmartBrief found that 80% of decision-makers ranked peer recommendations as their No. 1 purchasing influencer. But the No. 2 spot went to original research, with 74% of respondents rating it as influential. Furthermore, many of the most “traditional” content marketing tactics such as eBooks (33%), blogs and articles (21%)  and email newsletters (21%) landed toward the bottom.

The big takeaway: It’s time to expand your content mix. To revisit CMI’s 2017 benchmark survey, social media content (83%), blogs (80%) and email newsletters (77%) were ranked as the top three most-used content marketing tactics. But as stated above, these are less influential in purchasing decisions.

So, if you want to really connect with decision-makers, it’s probably time to step up with more robust and engaging content offerings such as webinars, on-demand product demos and—if you have the bandwidth and budget—original research.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should completely abandon blogs or email marketing. Every organization’s content mix will be different depending on the industry and business objectives. Take stock of what you’re doing, and use the data and insights you have to draw some conclusions about what is and isn’t working. This will help you make decisions on where to ramp up your efforts, and where you can start dabbling with different content types.

[bctt tweet="Based on @cmicontent research, it may be time to expand your #contentmarketing mix." username="toprank"]

#5 - Just 5% say they share information with colleagues on social media.

Generally speaking, purchasing decisions are a group effort. But how are decision-makers communicating with one another? According to the report, the vast majority (82%) of decision-makers are sharing content via email with other colleagues. The next most popular channels are conference calls (64%) or through a shared document or folder (36%)—with social channels coming in at 5% or less.

The big takeaway: Social sharing metrics don’t give you the full engagement picture, so don’t fret if your shares are looking a little low. From my perspective, the bottom line here is the more you tap into the unique content needs and pain points of your audience, the better chance your content has at making an impression on all decision-makers.

[bctt tweet="#B2B decision-makers are sharing #content via email - not #social. @cmicontent" username="toprank"]

Want to Read the Full Report?

Get access to the free report here.

Are you surprised by any of the findings in the report? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post New Report: 5 Statistics You Need to Know on How Content Influences Purchases appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
How Content Influences the Purchasing Process

These days there’s no question that great content is a foundational element of any marketing strategy—especially in B2B. In fact, according to Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) 2017 benchmarking report, 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing to “attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” And thanks to yet another insightful report from CMI—the latter objective is our focus today. Last week, CMI and SmartBrief released their How Content Influences the Purchasing Process report, featuring data and insights collected from 1,200 SmartBrief subscribers. The aim of the report was to dig into the minds of those who are actually consuming content, and uncover what types of content are most influential,  how decision-makers perceive vendor content, and more. From a marketer’s perspective, the findings both reinforce and redefine how marketers should be crafting their B2B content marketing strategies. Below I share five key statistics from the report, and some associated takeaways that can help you both bolster and boost your content efforts to drive action by decision makers.

#1 - 81% say they generally conduct research before bringing a vendor in.

Marketers know that the modern buyer’s journey is becoming increasingly self-directed. After all, this shift is arguably what drove the emergence of content marketing in the first place. So, it’s no surprise that CMI and SmartBrief’s report revealed that an overwhelming majority of decision-makers are conducting their own research before making contact with a vendor. The big takeaway: Simply put, decision-makers want to be educated. Thanks to the rise of the internet, social media and mobile technologies, buyers are more empowered than ever to take things into their own hands. As a result, marketers need to double-down on their efforts to guide people through the purchasing process by creating content for each stage of the sales funnel. For the TopRank Marketing team, this means leveraging the Attract, Engage, Convert model, as well as an integrated mix of tactics, to craft customer-centric content that’s easy to find, consume and share. [bctt tweet="Simply put, decision-makers want to be educated. #B2B #contentmarketing @cmicontent" username="toprank"]

#2 - 40% say credibility trumps the source of information.

Since decision-makers are often taking research into their own hands, it stands to reason that they’re consuming information from a variety of sources. According to the report, 66% of respondents admitted to using sources other than vendors to initially collect information. But perhaps one of the most interesting revelations was that 40% say the information source isn’t a big concern. In the end, they just want good, credible information. The big takeaway: As long as the content is credible, the source doesn’t matter. While an organization’s owned channels may never be a one-stop-shop for all prospects’ needs, the report encourages vendors to ensure their websites are up-to-date. In addition, since your prospects will likely come into contact with your brand in a variety of ways, marketers can take the lead on evaluating how their brand is being presented across all channels (i.e. printed materials, social media, third-party review sites, in-person events, using influencers in marketing, etc.) to ensure consistency and build credibility. [bctt tweet="When it comes to gathering info for purchasing decisions, #content credibility > source. @cmicontent" username="toprank"]

#3 - 62% say they want content that speaks to their specific needs and pain points.

As marketers, it’s our job to dig deep to understand who our audience is, the challenges they face and the questions they’re asking. But perhaps we’re falling a little short in this area. According to the report, the No. 1 most important quality for content during the purchasing process is that is speaks to the specific needs or pain points of the decision-maker. Product or service specifications, and educational rather than promotional, came in at No. 2 and No. 3 respectively. The big takeaway: Give the people what they want by delivering best-answer content that is tailored to specific niches, scenarios, pain points or questions your prospects/customers are asking. But where do you start? From my perspective, your first stop should absolutely be your sales team. These folks are in the trenches every day and can give you detailed insights on customer characteristics (i.e. job title, company name, company size, etc.), as well as the challenges they’re looking to solve. Then conduct keyword topic research, and analyze your website and social data to learn more about how your prospects are searching and how they’re engaging with your existing content. [bctt tweet="Give the people what they want: best-answer #content tailored to specific niches. #B2B #contentmarketing" username="toprank"]

#4 - Just 21% rank blog posts as influential in their purchasing decisions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, CMI and SmartBrief found that 80% of decision-makers ranked peer recommendations as their No. 1 purchasing influencer. But the No. 2 spot went to original research, with 74% of respondents rating it as influential. Furthermore, many of the most “traditional” content marketing tactics such as eBooks (33%), blogs and articles (21%)  and email newsletters (21%) landed toward the bottom. The big takeaway: It’s time to expand your content mix. To revisit CMI’s 2017 benchmark survey, social media content (83%), blogs (80%) and email newsletters (77%) were ranked as the top three most-used content marketing tactics. But as stated above, these are less influential in purchasing decisions. So, if you want to really connect with decision-makers, it’s probably time to step up with more robust and engaging content offerings such as webinars, on-demand product demos and—if you have the bandwidth and budget—original research. Now, this doesn’t mean you should completely abandon blogs or email marketing. Every organization’s content mix will be different depending on the industry and business objectives. Take stock of what you’re doing, and use the data and insights you have to draw some conclusions about what is and isn’t working. This will help you make decisions on where to ramp up your efforts, and where you can start dabbling with different content types. [bctt tweet="Based on @cmicontent research, it may be time to expand your #contentmarketing mix." username="toprank"]

#5 - Just 5% say they share information with colleagues on social media.

Generally speaking, purchasing decisions are a group effort. But how are decision-makers communicating with one another? According to the report, the vast majority (82%) of decision-makers are sharing content via email with other colleagues. The next most popular channels are conference calls (64%) or through a shared document or folder (36%)—with social channels coming in at 5% or less. The big takeaway: Social sharing metrics don’t give you the full engagement picture, so don’t fret if your shares are looking a little low. From my perspective, the bottom line here is the more you tap into the unique content needs and pain points of your audience, the better chance your content has at making an impression on all decision-makers. [bctt tweet="#B2B decision-makers are sharing #content via email - not #social. @cmicontent" username="toprank"]

Want to Read the Full Report?

Get access to the free report here. Are you surprised by any of the findings in the report? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post New Report: 5 Statistics You Need to Know on How Content Influences Purchases appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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5 TopRank Marketing Team Insights for Finding B2B Content Marketing Inspiration http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/b2b-content-marketing-inspiration/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/b2b-content-marketing-inspiration/#comments Thu, 27 Jul 2017 10:30:41 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22644 These days, there’s little doubt among B2B marketers that content is the foundation of digital marketing success. After all, studies show that nearly all B2B buyers do some form of online research before making a purchasing decision. As a result, we content creators are tasked with turning out informative, engaging and inspiring content that helps [...]

The post 5 TopRank Marketing Team Insights for Finding B2B Content Marketing Inspiration appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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These days, there’s little doubt among B2B marketers that content is the foundation of digital marketing success. After all, studies show that nearly all B2B buyers do some form of online research before making a purchasing decision. As a result, we content creators are tasked with turning out informative, engaging and inspiring content that helps our brand be the best answer wherever and whenever our audience is searching.

But let’s face it, content folks. Despite being proven wordsmiths and marketers, our creative engine stalls from time to time. I’ll certainly admit that my computer screen and I have had some intimate moments—mostly me staring longingly at a blank document and praying the words will come.

So, what’s a B2B content marketer to do when our creative engine breaks down—or rather before it loses steam? Where can we find inspiration?

For me, my salvation lies in my fellow TopRank Marketing team members. As the old adage goes, two heads are better than one, so I often tap outside perspectives to kick-start my creative juices. So it’s only natural that this piece includes tips and insights from some of those team members.

Whether you’re planning content or looking to weave a creative metaphor into a piece, below my team members share how they overcome creative challenges and find content inspiration in the B2B space.

1. Mining for gold in SERPs.

“Lately I’ve been performing more incognito searches for priority keywords. Whether you need contextual clues surrounding search intent, or need to brainstorm ways to one-up your top competition with an even better answer, there’s gold in them thar SERPs.”

Jesse Pickrain, Senior Content Marketing Manager


There’s gold in them thar SERPs. - @jpickrain on finding #B2Bcontentmarketing inspiration
Click To Tweet


2. Finding the pulse.

“For me, it’s all about tapping into topics that are occupying our societal consciousness at the moment. What are people talking about? Where are they focusing their attention? Why are these matters so magnetic? I’ll peruse Google News, Buzzsumo and various blogs in efforts to press my finger on the proverbial pulse. It doesn’t even need to be business-related; sometimes entertainment and politics can provide valuable fodder enabling us to look at B2B marketing in new and enlightening ways.”

Nick Nelson, Content Strategist


Entertainment & politics can enable us to look at #B2Bmarketing in enlightening ways. @NickNelsonMN
Click To Tweet


3. Adding some visual stimulation.

“I go to free image sites like Pixabay and Pexels, and just browse the most recently added pictures. It’s a soothing stream-of-consciousness tour through visual content that will frequently spark a creative idea.”

Josh Nite, Content Marketing Manager


I go to free image sites & browse new pictures to inspire #content creativity. @NiteWrites
Click To Tweet


4. Giving the people what they want

I spend a lot of time researching and reading to stay on top of what is happening in the world of marketing. A lot of my inspiration comes from the stories I read from other smart marketers. I like to find a ways to help our team create content that aligns with the needs of our audience.

Like Nick, Buzzsumo is a fantastic tool for uncovering top stories (across multiple verticals) that people are sharing. You can also use the tool to identify who the top sharers are to see if they are either part of your target audience, or influence your target audience.

I also spend a significant amount of time reviewing the performance of our own content to see what is resonating most with our audience. This can help determine where we should invest more time and effort. (Give the people what they want!).

Ashley Zeckman, Director of Agency Marketing


Inspire your #B2B #contentmarketing by staying on top of the latest industry happenings. @azeckman
Click To Tweet


5. Being in the “brief”.

I routinely use Anders Pink to stay up on the latest news and find inspiration. This web app allows me to create a “briefing” where I can see everything trending in B2B content marketing. If I want to see what resonated the most with audiences, I can filter the briefing down further by limiting results to the past 24 hours, three days, or even three months.

Annie Leuman, Copywriter


I routinely use @AndersPink to stay up on the latest news & find #content inspiration. @aleuman4
Click To Tweet


Looking for More B2B Content Marketing Inspiration?

Then allow me to suggest a few other posts to give you a creative boost:

If you’re looking to tap the talented TopRank Marketing team to inspire your efforts, learn more about our approach to B2B content marketing.

Where do you find creative inspiration for your B2B content marketing efforts? Tell us in the comments section below.


Email Newsletter Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | 5 TopRank Marketing Team Insights for Finding B2B Content Marketing Inspiration | http://www.toprankblog.com

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11 Content Marketing Tips to Build Your B2B Business http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/11-content-marketing-tips-b2b/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/11-content-marketing-tips-b2b/#comments Mon, 24 Jul 2017 10:30:46 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22627 As the father of an 8-year-old boy, most of my disposable income is tied up in little plastic bricks. In my house, you’ll find thousands of them in bins, several elaborate sets on display, and a distressing number of the (razor-sharp) things underfoot. I’m not complaining, really. I have as much fun building with them [...]

The post 11 Content Marketing Tips to Build Your B2B Business appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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As the father of an 8-year-old boy, most of my disposable income is tied up in little plastic bricks. In my house, you’ll find thousands of them in bins, several elaborate sets on display, and a distressing number of the (razor-sharp) things underfoot.

I’m not complaining, really. I have as much fun building with them as he does. And as a marketer, having Lego around is a good reminder of the value of content marketing. Great content can drive marketing goals while providing something of real value to its target audience: The Lego Movie was a 90-minute commercial for Lego, but it was also entertaining and heartfelt. I laughed, I cried, I bought $100 worth of tie-in toys… everybody won.

Your B2B offering may not have that Lego coolness factor. The Industrial Turbine Movie is unlikely to score with critics or with audiences. But content can still help you build your business.

If you’re just getting started with content marketing, start with this guide to content marketing strategy. Then use the following tips as an advanced class to make your content even more valuable to your audience. And, most importantly, to connect that audience to your business goals.

11 Content Marketing Tips to Build Your B2B Business

#1: Find the Intersection of Brand Expertise and Customer Needs

The Venn diagram of what your brand wants to talk about and what your customers want to learn about is never going to be a perfect circle.

The value lies in the overlap of your brand’s knowledge and your customer’s questions. It doesn’t help anyone to write informed content on an irrelevant topic, or uninformed content on a relevant one. Find out where your Venn diagram overlaps and start there. Then add a unique angle—something your brand is uniquely qualified to bring to the table.

#2: Help Prospects Succeed at Their Jobs

Note that you’re not just addressing the intersection of your company’s solution and customers’ needs. If your only helpful advice is, “Buy our product, here’s how it solves your problem,” you’re not really serving the audience.

B2B marketers frequently hear, “This content doesn’t address our product’s features, so it’s not relevant.” But anything that helps your potential buyer do his or her job better is acutely relevant. Helpful content builds brand recognition, establishes trust, and leads to loyalty when it’s time to make a purchase.

#3: Start with a Single Channel

In his book Content, Inc., Joe Pulizzi suggests focusing on just one channel for publishing your content. Create a repository of content on your owned real estate, using organic and paid social to drive traffic back to your home turf. The end goal should be creating a destination for visitors, who can become subscribers and eventually customers.

#4: Beef up Your Core Content

Before you start filling out your editorial calendar, make sure your site has a bare minimum of useful static content. The most compelling, viral blog post can’t get business results if your site lacks some of these basic building blocks:

  • An “About” page with your company’s philosophy and mission statement
  • A product page that explains exactly what your offering is and does.
  • A differentiator page explaining why your offering is unique.

#5: Encourage C-Suite Thought Leadership

Make sure there is a variety of voices in your content. That means tapping internal subject matter experts, certainly. But it’s also worth encouraging executives to contribute to content as well. Your C-suite is influential both in your organization and in your industry. Help them see the real business value of thought leadership content in building an audience, accelerating sales cycles, and lifting brand recognition.

 

#6: Collaborate with Influencers (and Prospects)

We’re pretty sold on influencer marketing at TopRank Marketing, for at least a dozen reasons. Influencer co-created content helps you reach a wider audience, boosts your credibility, and helps build mutually beneficial influencer relationships, for starters.

Start seeing your prospects as influencers, too. The next time you’re creating an influencer asset, look to people working at your most valuable target companies. Promote their content, make contact, and ask them to share their expertise. Working together to make something cool is a great way to start a relationship.

#7: Set a Cadence of Quality

How often should you publish content? As often as you can without sacrificing quality. If you can publish in-depth, supremely useful, world-beating content every day, go for it. But it’s better to post one great piece of content a week than 7 mediocre ones.

Set a cadence you will be sure to keep up with, and publish regularly to get your audience in the habit of visiting your site.

 

#8: Plan a Full-Funnel Content Mix

It’s easy to focus on bottom-of-funnel content—the ultra-specific stuff designed to lead directly to a purchase decision—because that content is perceived as having the greatest effect on the bottom line. But if all your content is at the bottom of the funnel, you don’t have a funnel.

Plan to cultivate a healthy content balance that addresses every stage of your buyer’s journey. That means more top-of-funnel than bottom-of-funnel content, and middle-funnel content that connects research to purchase intent.

 

#9: Create a Variety of Content Types

Nothing against the venerable white paper, that staple of B2B content marketing, but modern buyers are looking for a little more variety. Spice up your content mix with infographics, short video, SlideShare presentations—anything that adds visual interest can make your content stand out from the crowd.

When your content plan has diversity in content type, funnel stage, and authorial voice, you’ll be far better equipped to make your site a destination for readers.

 

#10: Include Logical Next Steps

Building a business with content is all about laying out a journey your customer can take. Their path may loop, move backwards, or leap forward, but each piece of content should clearly point them to the next destination. Every asset should have at least one call to action, whether it’s to read a piece of content further down the funnel, download an asset, subscribe, or schedule a demo.

 

#11: Gate Assets Sparingly

A gated eBook is most B2B marketers’ go-to lead capture tool. It’s a fine tactic, and one that we regularly employ to great success. It’s important, though, to make sure you have a healthy portion of ungated content. And it’s vital that your gated content provide value that’s worth the customer giving up their contact information.

For the most part, save your gated content for middle and bottom-of-funnel content. Keep the content highly specific and targeted at those most ready to purchase, and you can pre-qualify your leads. Gating top-of-funnel content can lead to either a high influx of low-quality leads, or (more likely) precious few people making the conversion at all.

Lego of Your Fear and Start Creating Great Content

You don’t have to be a billion-dollar toy corporation to create content that moves people to take action. With these tips in mind, you can develop a relevant, dynamic, compelling content marketing mix. Superlative content gets results, whether you’re selling little plastic bricks or million-dollar cloud software solutions.

Need help building your content empire? Learn more about TopRank Marketing’s content marketing services.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2017. | 11 Content Marketing Tips to Build Your B2B Business | http://www.toprankblog.com

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6 Best Practices for Nurturing B2B Marketing Qualified Leads http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/nurturing-b2b-marketing-leads/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/nurturing-b2b-marketing-leads/#respond Thu, 13 Jul 2017 10:30:06 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22558 The rise of the internet, digital technologies and social media platforms have transformed the way consumers make purchasing decisions—and not just for B2C consumers, but for B2B as well. In fact, according to CEB, B2B buyers are 57% of the way through a purchasing decision before engaging with a sales rep. But, as a savvy [...]

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The rise of the internet, digital technologies and social media platforms have transformed the way consumers make purchasing decisions—and not just for B2C consumers, but for B2B as well. In fact, according to CEB, B2B buyers are 57% of the way through a purchasing decision before engaging with a sales rep.

But, as a savvy B2B marketer, you already knew all this. So, you’ve designed an integrated strategy featuring a hearty mix of marketing tactics to help build trust and awareness as prospects do their research. You’re turning out thoughtful, relevant content that informs, engages and inspires action. You’re working with industry influencers to add credibility and authority to your efforts. Heck, you’re even driving what you believe are solid marketing qualified leads (MQLs).

However, there’s a problem: The leads you’re generating in aren’t translating into sales. What’s a savvy marketer to do? You know this, too—it’s time to double-down on nurturing those MQLs.

Simply put, MQLs are warm prospects who are not ready to make a purchasing decision yet—and lead nurturing can help you turn up the heat. And most of you are probably doing some form of lead nurturing already. According to DemandGen Report’s 2016 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study, 89% of marketers use lead nurturing programs as part of their demand generation strategy. In addition, the remaining 11% said they plan to start a lead nurturing program in the next 12 months.

But whether you’re seasoned at lead nurturing or just getting started, you’re likely facing some common struggles. DemandGen Report’s study also revealed that more than half of marketers ranked “developing targeted content by buyer stage/interest” as their greatest challenge. Other top challenges included adapting to modern B2B buyer expectations, changing and unpredictable buyer behavior, and processes and workflow.

In this post, we share tips and best practices for heating up your MQL nurturing efforts, so you can build trust and relationships with prospects, and hopefully hand them off as SQLs (sales qualified leads) when the time is right.

#1 – Determine what qualifies as a qualified lead.

Every company has a different perspective on what MQLs and SQLs actually look like—and some may not differentiate between them at all. In addition, every lead is different and not all leads are created equal. Depending on your product or service, and your marketing mix and program goals, you’ll want to work with your marketing and sales team to define each lead type.

Why is this so important? At a basic level, it makes sure that everyone is on the same page and enhances communication between the two departments. But perhaps more importantly, understanding the differences between the two helps you craft a more effective strategy—and ultimately—help you serve up higher-quality sales-ready leads.

Read: Want Better Leads? 7 Tips for Achieve Sales & Marketing Alignment

#2 – Make sure you have a deep understanding of your target customer.

It’s no secret that audience and customer knowledge is the foundation of all marketing initiatives. If you want to create relevant content that nurtures them throughout their journey, you need to understand your audience’s pain points, what they care about, how they like to get information, and what influences their purchasing decisions.

If you don’t already have them, build out customer personas that define who your ideal customers are—and what they look like at each stage of the sales funnel. Ask yourself:

  • What are the common characteristics of my best and worst customers?
  • What are their content preferences, search phrases, social networks, and the types of products or services they buy or “like”?
  • What does my ideal customer look like at the top, middle and bottom of the funnel?

Read: Adele Revella Weighs In On Connecting B2B Content to Customers

#3 – Understand where your leads are in the sales funnel.

The modern customer journey is far from linear and requires multiple touch points throughout the sales funnel. When it comes to your bucket of MQLs, while they’ve signaled their interest through some type of conversion, that doesn’t mean they’re sales-ready. As a result, you need to make an effort to map your leads to a specific area of the sales funnel if you want to nurture them properly.

For example, for new leads—such as those that have just converted for the first time through a download or newsletter signup—they’re likely pretty new to your brand. As a result, the content you use to nurture may include tactical blog posts, curated third-party articles and long-form thought leadership pieces aimed at engagement.

Leverage your MQL and SQL definitions, customer personas and any analytics data you have to audit your existing list of MQLs. This gives you important insights into where you stand with prospects, and can help you plan you segment your list to create nurture more effectively.

When it comes to segmenting or categorizing your list, it may seem like a daunting task. If you’ve been building your list for many years, it will take a bit of work—but it’s worth it. In addition, begin incorporating and requiring segmentation information in your lead capture forms. This ensures that new audience members are categorized appropriately from the start.

Depending on your prospect base and how the information will be used you can include simple qualifiers such as:

  • Company Name
  • Title
  • Area of Interest

Read: Is Your Content Marketing Designed for the New Customer Journey?

#4 – Audit your existing content for repurposing opportunities.

Chances are that your team has a huge portfolio of existing content. As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden often says: “Content isn’t King. It’s the Kingdom.” So why not get the most out of the kingdom you’ve built?

Take an inventory of your existing content, paying special attention to the unicorns—the content that is generating the awesome traffic, engagement and helping move people to the next step. Then look for ways to repurpose and personalize the content in ways that maps to your leads at every stage of the funnel.

Read: 5 Magical Tactics for Repurposing B2B Marketing Content

#5 – If you’re new to lead nurturing, start small.

This one’s pretty simple. If you’re just beginning to dip your toe in the lead nurturing waters, don’t dive head-first just yet.

Get started by launching a single campaign such as a bi-monthly newsletter or monthly offer for all leads. By starting small, you can get something in front of your prospects right away and keep your brand top-of-mind.

Read: 5 Elements of a Successful Email Based Lead Nurturing Program

#6 – Invest in marketing automation software when it makes sense.

Marketing automation software from vendors like Marketo and HubSpot can be an incredible lead nurturing tool. However, if your lead nurturing program is relatively young, don’t spring for marketing automation software right away. Marketing automation software is an investment that requires budget, and the appropriate resources to execute effectively.

When it’s time to scale your lead nurturing program, ask yourself the following questions to help you make the right decision:

  • What is the organizational goal you hope to achieve with marketing automation?
  • What is the health of your current database? (Hopefully, your recent audit can help you answer this one.)
  • What content assets are available? (Again, your work up to this point should help you answer this.)
  • Do you have the resources to dedicate to the planning, implementation and measurement of a marketing automation system?
  • Are sales and marketing aligned?
  • What does success look like?

Read: How to Avoid Marketing Automation Disaster: 6 Essential Pre-Planning Steps

Ready. Set. Nurture.

At the end of the day, your marketing efforts aim to drive leads that have a high chance of turning into paying customers. But without effective lead nurturing, valuable prospects will inevitably slip through the cracks or find your competitor.

Use these best practices to bolster your integrated marketing strategy, build relationships with your prospects, achieve marketing ROI and eventually deliver your sales team with better quality leads.

What are your biggest lead nurturing challenges? How are you working to overcome them? Tell us in the comments section.


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