Content encompasses nearly everything we read, view, or listen to this pandemic year, and as our CEO Lee Odden said long ago, it’s also part of the reason the need for search began in the first place.
We’re especially proud of the content marketing successes our team at TopRank Marketing have achieved during this topsy-turvy 2020, for a wide-range of major B2B clients. As 2021 draws close, we wanted to share our top content marketing articles of the year — each filled with best practices, research, examples, and the latest trends.
We’re fortunate to have a wealth of talented B2B marketing professionals contributing to the TopRank B2B Marketing blog — which celebrates its 17th year this month — including Lee Odden, Joshua Nite, Elizabeth Williams, Anne Leuman, Nick Nelson, Debbie Friez, Birdie Zepeda, myself, and Alexis Hall, among others.
Collectively this compendium of our top 10 content marketing posts of the year serves as a valuable resource, filled with practical examples and relevant topics for digital marketing professionals from CMOs to copywriters. We hope that you’ll find these articles helpful well into 2021 and far beyond.
Now, join us as we move on to the top 10! These most popular content marketing posts of the year are ordered by a combination of search visibility and social engagement:
Our Most Popular Content Marketing Posts of 2020:
1. 50 Top B2B Content Marketing Influencers To Follow in 2021 #CMWorld — Lane R. Ellis
In our top content marketing post of the year I share our annual list of the top 50 content marketing influencers to follow and learn from, released during this year’s all-virtual Content Marketing World conference. You’ll learn new lessons from these 50 content marketing influencers throughout 2021 and into a post-pandemic industry landscape.“@TopRank has a long history with #CMWorld starting at the beginning, with 10 years of speaking and attending along with 7 years of partnering with @CMIContent to develop speaker and influencer content marketing campaigns.” @lanerellis Click To Tweet
2. Where’s the Marketing in Content Marketing? 10 Essential Promotion Tactics That Drive Results — Lee Odden
Where’s the marketing in content marketing? In our second most popular content marketing post of the year, Lee shares how to overcome content creation imbalances with 10 proven content promotion tactics that have stood the test of time, to make your content promotion a priority.“An imbalance of content creation and promotion is not only frustrating potential marketing performance, but it’s wasting the investment made in creating great content. What good is that great content if no one sees it?” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet
3. 5 Ways to Humanize B2B Content Marketing — Joshua Nite
What does it mean to “humanize” your B2B content marketing? In our third most popular content marketing article of the year, our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite shares five ways to help your content make a more human connection with a professional audience by:
- Finding the Emotional Core
- Earning Trust
- Personalizing Efforts
- Embracing Humility
- Designing a Content Experience
4. New Research: How B2B Content Marketers Are Impacted and Pivoting During the Pandemic — Nick Nelson
It’s undoubtedly been a year of much change and upheaval, and in our fourth most read article of the year, our content marketing manager Nick Nelson shows how B2B content marketing practitioners are responding, and breaks down insightful research from Content Marketing Institute.“It’s a bit ironic that at a time where more B2B marketers than ever have gotten their strategy down on paper, we’re being forced to crumple it up and rewrite it.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet
5. 5 Examples of Effective B2B Content Marketing in Times of Crisis — Anne Leuman
What is a key factor to successful marketing during a pandemic? “Being helpful,” as our senior operations strategist Anne Leuman explores in our fifth most popular content marketing post of the year. In this insightful piece, Anne shows how B2B marketers can infuse more helpfulness in their efforts, including five examples of B2B brands doing content marketing right during the global heath crisis.“The true key to success in B2B content marketing is to always come from a place of empathy. The more you’re able to understand and empathize with your target audience, the more likely you are to surface content opportunities.” @annieleuman Click To Tweet
6. 5 Steps for a More Powerful B2B Content Marketing Strategy — Lee Odden
How can marketers overcome content attention deficit and stand out? In our sixth most popular content marketing article of the year, Lee shares five helpful steps for building a more powerful B2B content marketing strategy, using:
- Ideal Customer Profiles
- Topics of Influence, Search and Social
- Editorial Plan & Content Mapping
- Content Promotion
- Mining Search, Social & Influencer Analytics
This piece is filled with inspiration to begin intentionally and consistently incorporating influencers, social media and SEO in your B2B content marketing efforts, to reach more customers where they’re looking, with the kind of experiences that will inspire more effective engagement, revenue, and retention outcomes.“Creating useful content by itself is not an effective strategy in a world of brand distrust, content attention deficit and the distractions brought by a global pandemic.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden Click To Tweet
7. 7 B2B Content Marketing Tactics For Long Term Success — Anne Leuman
What types of content can B2B marketers utilize for driving long-term success? In the seventh most read content marketing piece of the year, Anne shares seven enduring and powerful B2B content marketing tactics for long-term success, featuring the use of content including:
- Social Media
- Sponsored & Guest Works
- Digital Advertising
- eBooks, Infographics, and Larger Campaigns
8. Why Content Marketing is More Important Than Ever for B2B Brands — Nick Nelson
In our number eight top content content marketing post of the year, Nick explores why content marketing is more important than ever now for B2B brands, and shares three fine examples of B2B brands going beyond mere talk.
By providing ongoing value and propping up your brand values, you’ll see plenty of value in return, as Nick examines in detail here.“The challenges our world now faces with the coronavirus pandemic and social justice movement create a unique opportunity for B2B content marketing to make an impact.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet
9. How Authentic Content Builds Brand Trust in Uncertain Times — Nick Nelson
Being there for your audience, and being real with them, presents a key opportunity to strengthen relationships during difficult times. In our ninth most popular content marketing post of the year, Nick shares how authentic content builds brand trust in uncertain times.
“Content marketing is inherently a long game, focused on building relationships first and foremost. Right now, the best way to pursue this goal is through authenticity and altruism, in the context of your business and its audience,” Nick observed.“There’s never been a better time to open up and share real, relatable stories. Everyone is going through something, and it can be comforting to learn how others are dealing with these unique circumstances.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet
In today’s uncertain digital world, how can B2B marketers double down on building trust with their customers? Rounding our our list of the top content marketing article of the years is Lee’s insightful look at how authentic content drives customer experience.
To help marketers better understand how brands are winning customer hearts, minds, and trust with authentic content experiences, Lee shares 5 important steps including:
- Accelerating Internal Credibility
- Doubling Down on Customer Activation
- Working with External Influencers to Grow Brand Credibility
- Creating a Content Collaboration Ecosystem
- Optimizing Measurement to Customer ROI
Thanks TopRank Marketing Writers & Readers
Thanks to all of our top content marketing authors for contributing these top 10 content marketing posts of 2020 — congratulations on making the list!
Additionally, we publish several marketing influencer lists every year, and we wanted to share them here as a helpful way to find and follow some of the leading digital marketing influencers:
- 25 Top B2B Marketing Influencers To Follow In 2021 #MPB2B
- 50 Top B2B Content Marketing Influencers To Follow in 2021 #CMWorld
- 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands
- 32 Top Social Media Marketing Influencers To Follow
Another helpful resource for B2B marketers to learn about crafting a successful B2B influencer marketing program is our recently-launched Inside Influence series, featuring interviews with top industry experts such as the latest episode with Tim Williams of Onalytica.
We published dozens of posts this year specifically about content marketing, and plan to bring you even more in 2021, so stay tuned for a new year of the latest helpful search industry research and insight.
Please let us know which content marketing topics and ideas you’d like to see us focus on for 2021 — we’d love to hear your suggestions. Feel free to leave those thoughts in the comments section below.
Many thanks to each of you who read our blog regularly, and to all of you who comment on and share our posts on the TopRank Marketing social media channels at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.