Break Free B2B Series: John Joyce on Taking B2B Content Marketing Back 2 Basics

One of the central tenets of best-answer content is comprehensiveness. Your content needs to fully and artfully answer your buyers’ most burning questions. And as John Joyce and his team at Brennan Industries remind us, sometimes that requires going back to the basics.

It can be all too easy for B2B marketers and brands to get caught up in new trends, industry lingo, and the next big lofty concept in their niche. We grow conversant in these matters on a day-to-day basis. But to assume the same is true for all — or even a majority of — our audience is a mistake, and potentially a costly one.

In the latest entry of our Break Free B2B interview series, John shares how a content strategy rooted in educational content helped yield an 800% increase in leads for his company. 

In detailing his experiences as Global Marketing Director for Brennan, John explains how he was surprised to find that the most basic information was in highest demand among his audience.

“At first glance, when someone from the sales field brought this to me as, there’s a need for this, I thought: you can’t possibly be serious, this is like the most basic — how do people not know this in our industry?” he shares. “But that’s exactly what people want. That’s the No. 1 thing that people want on our website. That super basic information.”

[bctt tweet=”What I’ve found it is people don’t have time to just know everything about everything. So they really want you to make it easy and just tell them what they need to know. — @mrjohnjoyce #BreakFreeB2B #Back2Basics” username=”toprank”]

Learn all about the content marketing strategy that drove big results and helped Brennan Industries break free in the industrial B2B marketing space in John’s candid interview with TopRank Marketing President Susan Misukanis

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with John Joyce

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUrPwsyfUhA]

If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.

  • 0:30 – How John’s team achieved an 800% increase in leads with content
  • 1:30 – Educational content in the industrial space
  • 4:45 – Gated vs. ungated content
  • 6:30 – How Brennan attracts a targeted audience
  • 7:30 – Dealing with long and complicated sales cycles
  • 9:45 – How trust factors in
  • 12:15 – Is content generally getting less valuable in B2B?
  • 15:00 – Nurturing through the buying journey
  • 18:30 – John’s vision for the next three years
  • 21:15 – How can industrial B2B marketers break free?

Susan: Tell us about your gating strategy.

John: When we first started, you know, the first thing we produced was white papers and everything was gated, but we had the gate basically set really low, you just needed to put your email address in. And over time, what we’ve done is, as we’ve grown that library of content, we started taking off the first items, or maybe the most responsive items, and making ungated versions of that. So we’ll have a pillar page, for instance, on fitting identification, which is directly taken from our fitting identification guide, which is still a gated piece of content. So what we’re doing is having ungated content with a premium content upgrade of – you can also get this guide, which we supply in actual physical form. One of the things that’s been super performant for us is crossing the barrier into the real world. So instead of just providing things in like a PDF format, we actually print the guide and mail it to people for free if they fill out the form. 

[bctt tweet=”What we’re doing is having ungated content with a premium content upgrade… Instead of just providing things in a PDF format, we actually print the guide and mail it to people for free. — @mrjohnjoyce #BreakFreeB2B #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Susan: Trust is really an important element in everything you’re communicating to your market, correct?

John: Yeah, for sure. So you’re trying to build rapport with your customer base, just like in any marketing situation. You’re trying to simulate the same level of rapport that you and I would have sitting here if I was trying to sell something to you or you were trying to sell it to me, but you’re trying to build that rapport organizationally. Between everybody in the organizations and the different silos and roles and whatever. And a lot of that is done through marketing, because that’s the first contact point that people have with your organization. So we try to do mainly two things: build trust and also provide value. Since we have a product that’s more of a commodity product, okay, it’s a very simple product. And you can get cheap versions of it from Korea or China or wherever it wherever you want, we have to provide a value add. And we try to do that as a company. So as a brand, even down to the marketing, we’re constantly trying to add value, and that’s why we do the content marketing and all – it’s to start communicating and providing value. 

So here’s value: educational information, something you didn’t know, some information you’re looking for. We want them to trust this and to think of us as the place to go that provides value from the very beginning of the relationship, from the first time they go to the website – oh yeah, this is really good. It’s providing me the answers to my questions and knowledge I need, it’s saving me money, they’re going to send me a physical guide, you know … any little way, that’s another reason why we do things in the real world. It’s, it’s a physical value. People are used to the digital aspect of everything.

[bctt tweet=”As a brand, even down to the marketing, we’re constantly trying to add value, and that’s why we do the content marketing and all – it’s to start communicating and providing value. — @mrjohnjoyce #BreakFreeB2B #B2BContentMarketing ” username=”toprank”]

Susan: What is your vision for the next three years as you move forward?

John: We’re making an educational channel where we’re putting a lot more of this educational content in more forums, in one place that’s completely ungated. So my vision is lots and lots more ungated content. We’re going to continue creating gated content and then ungate old content, as as we move forward, creating more gated content, so that there’s just more free content because, again, it provides value, right? So you come to the website, you get immediate value, you don’t even have to subscribe to an email or anything. So part of my strategy is basically more free content. Okay, and the other part of it would be more granular content – so granular meaning like specific to your industry, specific to your role in your industry.

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:

The post Break Free B2B Series: John Joyce on Taking B2B Content Marketing Back 2 Basics appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

One of the central tenets of best-answer content is comprehensiveness. Your content needs to fully and artfully answer your buyers’ most burning questions. And as John Joyce and his team at Brennan Industries remind us, sometimes that requires going back to the basics.

It can be all too easy for B2B marketers and brands to get caught up in new trends, industry lingo, and the next big lofty concept in their niche. We grow conversant in these matters on a day-to-day basis. But to assume the same is true for all — or even a majority of — our audience is a mistake, and potentially a costly one.

In the latest entry of our Break Free B2B interview series, John shares how a content strategy rooted in educational content helped yield an 800% increase in leads for his company. 

In detailing his experiences as Global Marketing Director for Brennan, John explains how he was surprised to find that the most basic information was in highest demand among his audience.

“At first glance, when someone from the sales field brought this to me as, there’s a need for this, I thought: you can’t possibly be serious, this is like the most basic — how do people not know this in our industry?” he shares. “But that’s exactly what people want. That’s the No. 1 thing that people want on our website. That super basic information.”

[bctt tweet=”What I’ve found it is people don’t have time to just know everything about everything. So they really want you to make it easy and just tell them what they need to know. — @mrjohnjoyce #BreakFreeB2B #Back2Basics” username=”toprank”]

Learn all about the content marketing strategy that drove big results and helped Brennan Industries break free in the industrial B2B marketing space in John’s candid interview with TopRank Marketing President Susan Misukanis

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with John Joyce

If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.

  • 0:30 – How John’s team achieved an 800% increase in leads with content
  • 1:30 – Educational content in the industrial space
  • 4:45 – Gated vs. ungated content
  • 6:30 – How Brennan attracts a targeted audience
  • 7:30 – Dealing with long and complicated sales cycles
  • 9:45 – How trust factors in
  • 12:15 – Is content generally getting less valuable in B2B?
  • 15:00 – Nurturing through the buying journey
  • 18:30 – John’s vision for the next three years
  • 21:15 – How can industrial B2B marketers break free?

Susan: Tell us about your gating strategy.

John: When we first started, you know, the first thing we produced was white papers and everything was gated, but we had the gate basically set really low, you just needed to put your email address in. And over time, what we’ve done is, as we’ve grown that library of content, we started taking off the first items, or maybe the most responsive items, and making ungated versions of that. So we’ll have a pillar page, for instance, on fitting identification, which is directly taken from our fitting identification guide, which is still a gated piece of content. So what we’re doing is having ungated content with a premium content upgrade of – you can also get this guide, which we supply in actual physical form. One of the things that’s been super performant for us is crossing the barrier into the real world. So instead of just providing things in like a PDF format, we actually print the guide and mail it to people for free if they fill out the form. 

[bctt tweet=”What we’re doing is having ungated content with a premium content upgrade… Instead of just providing things in a PDF format, we actually print the guide and mail it to people for free. — @mrjohnjoyce #BreakFreeB2B #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Susan: Trust is really an important element in everything you’re communicating to your market, correct?

John: Yeah, for sure. So you’re trying to build rapport with your customer base, just like in any marketing situation. You’re trying to simulate the same level of rapport that you and I would have sitting here if I was trying to sell something to you or you were trying to sell it to me, but you’re trying to build that rapport organizationally. Between everybody in the organizations and the different silos and roles and whatever. And a lot of that is done through marketing, because that’s the first contact point that people have with your organization. So we try to do mainly two things: build trust and also provide value. Since we have a product that’s more of a commodity product, okay, it’s a very simple product. And you can get cheap versions of it from Korea or China or wherever it wherever you want, we have to provide a value add. And we try to do that as a company. So as a brand, even down to the marketing, we’re constantly trying to add value, and that’s why we do the content marketing and all – it’s to start communicating and providing value. 

So here’s value: educational information, something you didn’t know, some information you’re looking for. We want them to trust this and to think of us as the place to go that provides value from the very beginning of the relationship, from the first time they go to the website – oh yeah, this is really good. It’s providing me the answers to my questions and knowledge I need, it’s saving me money, they’re going to send me a physical guide, you know … any little way, that’s another reason why we do things in the real world. It’s, it’s a physical value. People are used to the digital aspect of everything.

[bctt tweet=”As a brand, even down to the marketing, we’re constantly trying to add value, and that’s why we do the content marketing and all – it’s to start communicating and providing value. — @mrjohnjoyce #BreakFreeB2B #B2BContentMarketing ” username=”toprank”]

Susan: What is your vision for the next three years as you move forward?

John: We’re making an educational channel where we’re putting a lot more of this educational content in more forums, in one place that’s completely ungated. So my vision is lots and lots more ungated content. We’re going to continue creating gated content and then ungate old content, as as we move forward, creating more gated content, so that there’s just more free content because, again, it provides value, right? So you come to the website, you get immediate value, you don’t even have to subscribe to an email or anything. So part of my strategy is basically more free content. Okay, and the other part of it would be more granular content – so granular meaning like specific to your industry, specific to your role in your industry.

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:

The post Break Free B2B Series: John Joyce on Taking B2B Content Marketing Back 2 Basics appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Our Top B2B Content Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020

2020 B2B Content Marketing Trends & Predictions

Well, B2B marketers, it’s that time of year again. The holiday season is in full swing. The countdown to a new year and a new decade has begun. And of course, we’re all channeling our psychic powers, hoping to uncover what 2020 has in store so we can seize opportunities, prepare for challenges, and ultimately improve the effectiveness of our content marketing efforts. 

2019 was a bonding year for elevating experiences, with many B2B marketers making significant investments in interactive content, influencer content collaborations, and multi-faceted campaigns. 2020 will be the year where many brands will cement experience as a strategy.

So, what does this look like in 2020? Below we dive into our top 10 trends and predictions for 2020—each of which have overt or underlying ties to experience.

TopRank Marketing’s Top B2B Content Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020

#1 – The Evolution of Experiential Content 

In case you missed my opening: It’s the age of experience, marketers. Research shows that marketing leaders expect to compete on experience now and long into the future.

“Customers don’t compare you to your competitors anymore—they compare you to other positive experiences they’ve had,” Shep Hyken, seasoned customer service and experience expert, told me not long ago. “Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. So, you need to figure out a way to create a lasting emotional bond.”

[bctt tweet=”Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. So, you need to figure out a way to create a lasting emotional bond. @Hyken #B2BContentMarketing #CX” username=”toprank”]

Certainly, creating incredible experiences doesn’t begin and end with the marketing department. But marketing chiefs and their teams have the opportunity to rise as CX leaders in 2020. How? With experiential content.

Animated, infotaining infographics. Audio-guided eBooks. Gamified power pages. Quirky quizzes. ROI calculators. Augmented reality product catalogs. Virtual reality experiences at live events. AI-powered chatbots. From simple, stand-alone assets to real-time, on-site engagement mechanisms, marketers of all interactive content sophistication levels can design interactive experiences that encourage connection and engagement with their buying audiences—and internal stakeholders.

However, when we say experiential content, we’re not just talking about interactivity or entertainment elements—that interactivity is intertwined with data and influential voices, something that will be increasingly vital in 2020.

“The sheer volume of information and media that confronts people in the business world is overwhelming and often pretty boring,” Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing’s CEO, says. “Creating compelling experiences with interactive content is one way to stand out, differentiate, and optimize for effectiveness. At the same time, buyers don’t trust advertising or brand marketing messages. Co-creating content with trusted experts brings credibility and interest to the brand message.”

[bctt tweet=”Creating compelling experiences with interactive content is one way to stand out, differentiate, and optimize for effectiveness. @leeodden #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Check out our latest interactive asset featuring influential voices.

B2B Marketing Fitness

#2 – Trust 2.0 

Trust in marketing topped our list of 2019 content marketing trends and predictions. Security breaches, privacy concerns, political scandals, and a long-standing distrust of advertising messages had combined to create a multi-year streak of falling trust among consumers worldwide.

But consumer trust began to rebound. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that global trust toward business increased in 21 of 26 markets, including the U.S. where 54% of respondents voiced confidence. As we head into 2020, we need to stay the course:

No. 1: Get familiar with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). As my colleague Nick Nelson wrote not long ago: “Whether through the proliferation of state-level laws like CCPA, or the eventual enactment of a similar federal legislation, it’s only a matter of time before data privacy regulations are in place across the United States.” 

No. 2: Strive to be the best answer. For years, this has been TopRank Marketing’s mantra and approach, combining art and science to create quality content that informs, educates, and inspires audiences whenever and wherever they’re searching.

“Best answer content gets back to the basics,” Nick Nelson once wrote. “When done right, it’s all about delivering value and earning trust before you ask for anything.”

But don’t just take our word for it. In August 2019, Google published a reminder and primer on its core updates—specifically calling out a little thing called “E-A-T”, which stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.”

This is a huge hint, marketers. E-A-T up.

“Your brand needs to come off as credible consistently for people to trust you,” Margaret Magnarelli, Executive Director of Growth Marketing, Social Media, and SEO at Morgan Stanley, told us earlier this year. “[With content created for organic search] you have the opportunity to attract someone from a side door with a specific intent and zero brand awareness; your answer to their question will have a big impact on whether you can be trusted on more consequential matters.”

[bctt tweet=”Your answer to a searcher’s question will have a big impact on whether you can be trusted on more consequential matters. @mmagnarelli #B2BContentMarketing #TrustInMarketing ” username=”toprank”]

No. 3: Align yourself with credible, influential voices. As Lee Odden says: “For any kind of content a business creates and publishes to the world, there is an opportunity for collaboration with credible voices that have active networks interested in what those voices have to say.”

Read more on this subject:

#3 – The Continued Rise of Video

Last year’s annual B2B content marketing benchmarking report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs revealed that 64% of marketers increased the audio and visual content production. In this year’s report, a whopping 71% of respondents said they’ve used video content in the last year. To put that into perspective, video content outranked case studies, infographics, webinars, white papers, and eBooks.

Video content production will undoubtedly grow among B2B marketers in 2020. And from our perspective, the biggest change here will be diversification in terms of strategy and storytelling. 

Currently, video is often used as a top-of-funnel tactic. But video can be effective at every stage of the buyer journey. So, as marketers grow more comfortable and sophisticated in the video realm, they’ll broaden their video marketing strategies to reach prospects and nurture customers. And as video becomes more ubiquitous, constructing compelling visual narratives will be the key to success.

“If you want to make the best impact and see the highest returns for your video’s investment, you’ve got to SHOW not tell,” Andrew Davis, keynote speaker and bestselling author, says. “Instead of a talking head or another interview, how can you SHOW me? Spend more time shooting the rest of the story and immediately, you’ll take your videos from drab to show-stopping.”

[bctt tweet=”If you want to make the best impact and see the highest returns for your video’s investment, you’ve got to SHOW not tell. @DrewDavisHere #B2BContentMarketing #VideoMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#4 – “Marketer, Play Audio Content

Today’s easy listening radio comes in the form of serialized storytelling: podcasts

Podcast listenership has grown rapidly over the last couple years. Nearly a quarter of all podcast listeners have gotten started in the last six months. What’s more, 51% of the U.S. population over the age of 12 has listened to a podcast.

In the B2B realm, podcasting’s full potential has yet to be unlocked—but more marketers will try in 2020.

“B2B podcasting today is where content marketing was a decade ago,” Joshua Nite, Senior Content Marketing Manager at TopRank Marketing, says. “It’s emerging as a marketing discipline. People are starting to get sophisticated about deploying and measuring podcasts. We’re seeing new tools to make it easier to launch, promote, and monetize. And despite the thousands of hours of audio out there already, there’s no sign that the market is satiated.”

[bctt tweet=”People are starting to get sophisticated about deploying and measuring podcasts… And despite the thousands of hours of audio out there already, there’s no sign that the market is satiated. @NiteWrites #B2BPodcasting #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

That said, podcasts aren’t the only audio medium that should be on marketers’ minds heading into the New Year. According to recent research from Edison Research, more than 53 million Americans now own a smart speaker—a 36% increase in just one year.

So, if content optimized for voice search—or as the kids are calling it these days, voice-activated content—didn’t make its way into your 2019 strategy, 2020 is the year.

Read: B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats That Make the Marketing Case

#5 – Collaborative Content Ups the Personalization Ante

Content proliferation coupled with evolving consumer expectations and increased skepticism and distrust has created an intensely competitive landscape. It is known.

via GIPHY

Personalization has arisen a content marketing savior, aiming to elevate experiences by delivering relevant, one-to-one messaging to current or prospective buyers. But the next step in the 2020 personalization game is collaborative.

Partnering with select industry influencers and thought leaders, employees, and current customers or prospects can help you create unique, topically-relevant content for your (mutual) target audiences.

When it comes to influencers, consider this tidbit from TopRank Marketing’s founder Lee Odden:

“Influencers with complementary domain expertise and networks that combine forces can offer a B2B brand the reach of a major publication but with the credibility and trust of respected influencers.”

As for leveraging customers and prospects, see what my cohort Nick Nelson has to say on user-generated content:

Storytelling is one of the most essential tactics in content marketing, and customer-centricity is among the discipline’s central tenets. UGC presents a way to merge these two by actually making turning your customer into the storyteller. Not only is this an extremely engaging role for the individual whose content is featured, but it makes that content vastly more relatable for those consuming it.”

Finally, ponder what Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert, has to say about employee advocacy:

“If you have a truly differentiated customer experience, something that creates conversations, your employees will naturally echo that and amplify it and connect the dots for potential customers. They will be part of the marketing arsenal.”

#6. A Renewed Commitment to Consistency & Integration

Integrated marketing. Multichannel marketing. Omnichannel marketing. Scope and definitions differ, but the general premises of each approach is the same: consistently create positive brand experiences whenever and wherever your audience is searching.

Regardless of the preferred approach, marketers have been pursuing this directive for several years. We know that consistency and integration are the keys to effectively telling our brands’ stories and connecting with our audiences. However, in the pursuit of perfection, complexities—and perhaps even some complatency—have crept in.

We’ve added tactics. We’ve added channels. We’ve added tools. But in the midst of all the additions, have we made vast improvements in the content experiences we provide? Have we fallen in set-and-forget mode?

The aforementioned CMI and MarketingProfs study reveals that 93% of most successful B2B content marketers prioritize the delivery of relevant content when and where someone is most likely to see it—just 37% of the least successful marketers focus here. So, as experience continues its rise as a competitive differentiator, brands and marketers would do well to reassess and renew their commitments to smart marketing integration in 2020. 

[bctt tweet=”As experience continues its rise as a competitive differentiator, brands and marketers would do well to reassess and renew their commitments to smart marketing integration in 2020. @CaitlinMBurgess #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#7. Data-Informed Content

Every B2B marketer understands the pivotal role data plays in modern content marketing. However, many still make marketing decisions based on gut-feel. Whether they feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data available or they don’t have the proper collection and analyzation tools in place, marketers often use just a fraction of the data that they have at their disposal.

In 2020, those who are able to focus their data lens will be able to create data-informed content that drives better experiences.

If you’re struggling with data quality, leverage this six-rule framework courtesy of Christopher Penn, Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist at Trust Insights:

  1. Clean: Free from errors 
  2. Complete: Not missing critical parts 
  3. Comprehensive: Answers the questions asked of it 
  4. Chosen: Does not contain irrelevant information
  5. Credible: Collected with as little bias as possible from reliable sources 
  6. Calculable: Usable by both people and machines 

“Data that follows these six rules is data you can use for maximum impact as a B2B marketer, the equivalent of health-giving food,” Christopher says. “Data that breaks these rules is equivalent to junk food, food that steals from your wellness.” 

[bctt tweet=”Clean. Complete. Comprehensive. Chosen. Credible. Calculable. Adhere to the 6 C’s of data quality and you’ll be well on your way to B2B marketing fitness. @cspenn #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

If you’re struggling to identify the “right” data to focus on, we suggest focusing on the following customer data types:

  1. Discovery: Where, when, and how buyers seek and find information that helps them identify a solution.
  2. Consumption: The consumption channels, content types, topics, formats, devices, and experiences your customers and prospects prefer.
  3. Action: The triggers that have and will motivate a desired action.

“With buyer discovery, consumption, and action metrics, you’ll know how to create awareness, great customer engagement, and compelling offers that matter to your customers,” Lee Odden says. “And you’ll always know which approach to use to improve your marketing because it will be customer-driven.”

[bctt tweet=”With buyer discovery, consumption, and action metrics, you’ll know how to create awareness, great customer engagement, and compelling offers that matter to your customers. @leeodden #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#8. Visually-Rich Content Focused on Storytelling 

It’s no longer enough to inform buyers. Instead, you must provide story-driven, visual content that connects on intellectual and emotional levels. This is critical in the experience age.

Visual platforms are where we spend our time—a trend that will absolutely continue in 2020. In fact, YouTube is the most widely used online platform among U.S. adults, according to Pew Research Center. Facebook, which has made platform changes to make visual content more easily accessible, comes in second.

But the visually-rich storytelling doesn’t begin or end with video on social platforms.

“Contrary to popular belief, people do still read traditional content forms like whitepapers, eBooks and case studies,” Michelle Liro, Vice President of Demand Generation at PTC, says. “But first you’ll need to pull them in with attention-grabbing visuals that show them what they’ll get before you tell them what they’ll get.”

[bctt tweet=”Contrary to popular belief, people do still read traditional content forms like whitepapers, eBooks and case studies. But first you’ll need to pull them in with attention-grabbing visuals. @michelleliro #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Take a look at this internal marketing example from Antea Group*. 

With the goal of educating and rallying their team of consultants around the relaunch of a core service offering, the firm tapped our team to develop an animated eBook that was fully steeped in narrative.

Antea Group Remediation eBook

#9. Email Newsletters Make a Comeback

Email marketing is not dead. As we recently reported, open rates aren’t in a state of steady, ceaseless decline. In fact, according to Super Office, the average rate has generally been increasing (or at least remaining steady) year-to-year over the past decade-plus.

That said, email marketing strategies are most definitely in need of a refresh. And from our perspective, the email newsletter can make a triumphant comeback in 2020.

“My feelings about newsletters are strong,” Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs and accomplished email newsletter purveyor, once told AWeber. “It’s the one enduring place that we have as marketers, and it’s the place where conversations are most intimate. Newsletters are 100% effective and they’re still the backbone of so many content marketing efforts.”

[bctt tweet=”My feelings about newsletters are strong. It’s the one enduring place that we have as marketers, and it’s the place where conversations are most intimate. Ann Handley, @MarketingProfs #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

However, marketers need to be willing to put in the work to ensure those intimate conversations build relationships next year, rather than serve only as a sales pitch.

“When someone opts into your newsletter and then starts getting overtly pitched right away, it can feel like a betrayal of trust,” Nick Nelson wrote not long ago. “As a relatively direct and personal form of marketing communication, email should be used to deliver value and build brand affinity. This is not to say you must avoid any type of lead generation elements in your messages, but make them subtle and sparse.”

3. 2. 1… Look Out 2020, Here We Come!

From experimenting with new mediums such as podcasts or interactive content to innovative storytelling, marketers can and should play an integral role in crafting and advancing positive audience experiences with their brands. 

So, as we head into 2020, ask yourself: Is my brand poised to deliver experiences that leave a lasting impression?

Happy New Year, B2B marketers.

What’s your B2B content marketing prediction for 2020? What trends are you watching? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post Our Top B2B Content Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

2020 B2B Content Marketing Trends & Predictions

Well, B2B marketers, it’s that time of year again. The holiday season is in full swing. The countdown to a new year and a new decade has begun. And of course, we’re all channeling our psychic powers, hoping to uncover what 2020 has in store so we can seize opportunities, prepare for challenges, and ultimately improve the effectiveness of our content marketing efforts. 

2019 was a bonding year for elevating experiences, with many B2B marketers making significant investments in interactive content, influencer content collaborations, and multi-faceted campaigns. 2020 will be the year where many brands will cement experience as a strategy.

So, what does this look like in 2020? Below we dive into our top 10 trends and predictions for 2020—each of which have overt or underlying ties to experience.

TopRank Marketing’s Top B2B Content Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020

#1 – The Evolution of Experiential Content 

In case you missed my opening: It’s the age of experience, marketers. Research shows that marketing leaders expect to compete on experience now and long into the future.

“Customers don’t compare you to your competitors anymore—they compare you to other positive experiences they’ve had,” Shep Hyken, seasoned customer service and experience expert, told me not long ago. “Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. So, you need to figure out a way to create a lasting emotional bond.”

[bctt tweet=”Satisfactory is a rating. Loyalty is an emotion. So, you need to figure out a way to create a lasting emotional bond. @Hyken #B2BContentMarketing #CX” username=”toprank”]

Certainly, creating incredible experiences doesn’t begin and end with the marketing department. But marketing chiefs and their teams have the opportunity to rise as CX leaders in 2020. How? With experiential content.

Animated, infotaining infographics. Audio-guided eBooks. Gamified power pages. Quirky quizzes. ROI calculators. Augmented reality product catalogs. Virtual reality experiences at live events. AI-powered chatbots. From simple, stand-alone assets to real-time, on-site engagement mechanisms, marketers of all interactive content sophistication levels can design interactive experiences that encourage connection and engagement with their buying audiences—and internal stakeholders.

However, when we say experiential content, we’re not just talking about interactivity or entertainment elements—that interactivity is intertwined with data and influential voices, something that will be increasingly vital in 2020.

“The sheer volume of information and media that confronts people in the business world is overwhelming and often pretty boring,” Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing’s CEO, says. “Creating compelling experiences with interactive content is one way to stand out, differentiate, and optimize for effectiveness. At the same time, buyers don’t trust advertising or brand marketing messages. Co-creating content with trusted experts brings credibility and interest to the brand message.”

[bctt tweet=”Creating compelling experiences with interactive content is one way to stand out, differentiate, and optimize for effectiveness. @leeodden #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Check out our latest interactive asset featuring influential voices.

B2B Marketing Fitness

#2 – Trust 2.0 

Trust in marketing topped our list of 2019 content marketing trends and predictions. Security breaches, privacy concerns, political scandals, and a long-standing distrust of advertising messages had combined to create a multi-year streak of falling trust among consumers worldwide.

But consumer trust began to rebound. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that global trust toward business increased in 21 of 26 markets, including the U.S. where 54% of respondents voiced confidence. As we head into 2020, we need to stay the course:

No. 1: Get familiar with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). As my colleague Nick Nelson wrote not long ago: “Whether through the proliferation of state-level laws like CCPA, or the eventual enactment of a similar federal legislation, it’s only a matter of time before data privacy regulations are in place across the United States.” 

No. 2: Strive to be the best answer. For years, this has been TopRank Marketing’s mantra and approach, combining art and science to create quality content that informs, educates, and inspires audiences whenever and wherever they’re searching.

“Best answer content gets back to the basics,” Nick Nelson once wrote. “When done right, it’s all about delivering value and earning trust before you ask for anything.”

But don’t just take our word for it. In August 2019, Google published a reminder and primer on its core updates—specifically calling out a little thing called “E-A-T”, which stands for “Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.”

This is a huge hint, marketers. E-A-T up.

“Your brand needs to come off as credible consistently for people to trust you,” Margaret Magnarelli, Executive Director of Growth Marketing, Social Media, and SEO at Morgan Stanley, told us earlier this year. “[With content created for organic search] you have the opportunity to attract someone from a side door with a specific intent and zero brand awareness; your answer to their question will have a big impact on whether you can be trusted on more consequential matters.”

[bctt tweet=”Your answer to a searcher’s question will have a big impact on whether you can be trusted on more consequential matters. @mmagnarelli #B2BContentMarketing #TrustInMarketing ” username=”toprank”]

No. 3: Align yourself with credible, influential voices. As Lee Odden says: “For any kind of content a business creates and publishes to the world, there is an opportunity for collaboration with credible voices that have active networks interested in what those voices have to say.”

Read more on this subject:

#3 – The Continued Rise of Video

Last year’s annual B2B content marketing benchmarking report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs revealed that 64% of marketers increased the audio and visual content production. In this year’s report, a whopping 71% of respondents said they’ve used video content in the last year. To put that into perspective, video content outranked case studies, infographics, webinars, white papers, and eBooks.

Video content production will undoubtedly grow among B2B marketers in 2020. And from our perspective, the biggest change here will be diversification in terms of strategy and storytelling. 

Currently, video is often used as a top-of-funnel tactic. But video can be effective at every stage of the buyer journey. So, as marketers grow more comfortable and sophisticated in the video realm, they’ll broaden their video marketing strategies to reach prospects and nurture customers. And as video becomes more ubiquitous, constructing compelling visual narratives will be the key to success.

“If you want to make the best impact and see the highest returns for your video’s investment, you’ve got to SHOW not tell,” Andrew Davis, keynote speaker and bestselling author, says. “Instead of a talking head or another interview, how can you SHOW me? Spend more time shooting the rest of the story and immediately, you’ll take your videos from drab to show-stopping.”

[bctt tweet=”If you want to make the best impact and see the highest returns for your video’s investment, you’ve got to SHOW not tell. @DrewDavisHere #B2BContentMarketing #VideoMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#4 – “Marketer, Play Audio Content

Today’s easy listening radio comes in the form of serialized storytelling: podcasts

Podcast listenership has grown rapidly over the last couple years. Nearly a quarter of all podcast listeners have gotten started in the last six months. What’s more, 51% of the U.S. population over the age of 12 has listened to a podcast.

In the B2B realm, podcasting’s full potential has yet to be unlocked—but more marketers will try in 2020.

“B2B podcasting today is where content marketing was a decade ago,” Joshua Nite, Senior Content Marketing Manager at TopRank Marketing, says. “It’s emerging as a marketing discipline. People are starting to get sophisticated about deploying and measuring podcasts. We’re seeing new tools to make it easier to launch, promote, and monetize. And despite the thousands of hours of audio out there already, there’s no sign that the market is satiated.”

[bctt tweet=”People are starting to get sophisticated about deploying and measuring podcasts… And despite the thousands of hours of audio out there already, there’s no sign that the market is satiated. @NiteWrites #B2BPodcasting #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

That said, podcasts aren’t the only audio medium that should be on marketers’ minds heading into the New Year. According to recent research from Edison Research, more than 53 million Americans now own a smart speaker—a 36% increase in just one year.

So, if content optimized for voice search—or as the kids are calling it these days, voice-activated content—didn’t make its way into your 2019 strategy, 2020 is the year.

Read: B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats That Make the Marketing Case

#5 – Collaborative Content Ups the Personalization Ante

Content proliferation coupled with evolving consumer expectations and increased skepticism and distrust has created an intensely competitive landscape. It is known.

via GIPHY

Personalization has arisen a content marketing savior, aiming to elevate experiences by delivering relevant, one-to-one messaging to current or prospective buyers. But the next step in the 2020 personalization game is collaborative.

Partnering with select industry influencers and thought leaders, employees, and current customers or prospects can help you create unique, topically-relevant content for your (mutual) target audiences.

When it comes to influencers, consider this tidbit from TopRank Marketing’s founder Lee Odden:

“Influencers with complementary domain expertise and networks that combine forces can offer a B2B brand the reach of a major publication but with the credibility and trust of respected influencers.”

As for leveraging customers and prospects, see what my cohort Nick Nelson has to say on user-generated content:

Storytelling is one of the most essential tactics in content marketing, and customer-centricity is among the discipline’s central tenets. UGC presents a way to merge these two by actually making turning your customer into the storyteller. Not only is this an extremely engaging role for the individual whose content is featured, but it makes that content vastly more relatable for those consuming it.”

Finally, ponder what Jay Baer, founder of Convince & Convert, has to say about employee advocacy:

“If you have a truly differentiated customer experience, something that creates conversations, your employees will naturally echo that and amplify it and connect the dots for potential customers. They will be part of the marketing arsenal.”

#6. A Renewed Commitment to Consistency & Integration

Integrated marketing. Multichannel marketing. Omnichannel marketing. Scope and definitions differ, but the general premises of each approach is the same: consistently create positive brand experiences whenever and wherever your audience is searching.

Regardless of the preferred approach, marketers have been pursuing this directive for several years. We know that consistency and integration are the keys to effectively telling our brands’ stories and connecting with our audiences. However, in the pursuit of perfection, complexities—and perhaps even some complatency—have crept in.

We’ve added tactics. We’ve added channels. We’ve added tools. But in the midst of all the additions, have we made vast improvements in the content experiences we provide? Have we fallen in set-and-forget mode?

The aforementioned CMI and MarketingProfs study reveals that 93% of most successful B2B content marketers prioritize the delivery of relevant content when and where someone is most likely to see it—just 37% of the least successful marketers focus here. So, as experience continues its rise as a competitive differentiator, brands and marketers would do well to reassess and renew their commitments to smart marketing integration in 2020. 

[bctt tweet=”As experience continues its rise as a competitive differentiator, brands and marketers would do well to reassess and renew their commitments to smart marketing integration in 2020. @CaitlinMBurgess #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#7. Data-Informed Content

Every B2B marketer understands the pivotal role data plays in modern content marketing. However, many still make marketing decisions based on gut-feel. Whether they feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data available or they don’t have the proper collection and analyzation tools in place, marketers often use just a fraction of the data that they have at their disposal.

In 2020, those who are able to focus their data lens will be able to create data-informed content that drives better experiences.

If you’re struggling with data quality, leverage this six-rule framework courtesy of Christopher Penn, Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist at Trust Insights:

  1. Clean: Free from errors 
  2. Complete: Not missing critical parts 
  3. Comprehensive: Answers the questions asked of it 
  4. Chosen: Does not contain irrelevant information
  5. Credible: Collected with as little bias as possible from reliable sources 
  6. Calculable: Usable by both people and machines 

“Data that follows these six rules is data you can use for maximum impact as a B2B marketer, the equivalent of health-giving food,” Christopher says. “Data that breaks these rules is equivalent to junk food, food that steals from your wellness.” 

[bctt tweet=”Clean. Complete. Comprehensive. Chosen. Credible. Calculable. Adhere to the 6 C’s of data quality and you’ll be well on your way to B2B marketing fitness. @cspenn #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

If you’re struggling to identify the “right” data to focus on, we suggest focusing on the following customer data types:

  1. Discovery: Where, when, and how buyers seek and find information that helps them identify a solution.
  2. Consumption: The consumption channels, content types, topics, formats, devices, and experiences your customers and prospects prefer.
  3. Action: The triggers that have and will motivate a desired action.

“With buyer discovery, consumption, and action metrics, you’ll know how to create awareness, great customer engagement, and compelling offers that matter to your customers,” Lee Odden says. “And you’ll always know which approach to use to improve your marketing because it will be customer-driven.”

[bctt tweet=”With buyer discovery, consumption, and action metrics, you’ll know how to create awareness, great customer engagement, and compelling offers that matter to your customers. @leeodden #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#8. Visually-Rich Content Focused on Storytelling 

It’s no longer enough to inform buyers. Instead, you must provide story-driven, visual content that connects on intellectual and emotional levels. This is critical in the experience age.

Visual platforms are where we spend our time—a trend that will absolutely continue in 2020. In fact, YouTube is the most widely used online platform among U.S. adults, according to Pew Research Center. Facebook, which has made platform changes to make visual content more easily accessible, comes in second.

But the visually-rich storytelling doesn’t begin or end with video on social platforms.

“Contrary to popular belief, people do still read traditional content forms like whitepapers, eBooks and case studies,” Michelle Liro, Vice President of Demand Generation at PTC, says. “But first you’ll need to pull them in with attention-grabbing visuals that show them what they’ll get before you tell them what they’ll get.”

[bctt tweet=”Contrary to popular belief, people do still read traditional content forms like whitepapers, eBooks and case studies. But first you’ll need to pull them in with attention-grabbing visuals. @michelleliro #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Take a look at this internal marketing example from Antea Group*. 

With the goal of educating and rallying their team of consultants around the relaunch of a core service offering, the firm tapped our team to develop an animated eBook that was fully steeped in narrative.

Antea Group Remediation eBook

#9. Email Newsletters Make a Comeback

Email marketing is not dead. As we recently reported, open rates aren’t in a state of steady, ceaseless decline. In fact, according to Super Office, the average rate has generally been increasing (or at least remaining steady) year-to-year over the past decade-plus.

That said, email marketing strategies are most definitely in need of a refresh. And from our perspective, the email newsletter can make a triumphant comeback in 2020.

“My feelings about newsletters are strong,” Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs and accomplished email newsletter purveyor, once told AWeber. “It’s the one enduring place that we have as marketers, and it’s the place where conversations are most intimate. Newsletters are 100% effective and they’re still the backbone of so many content marketing efforts.”

[bctt tweet=”My feelings about newsletters are strong. It’s the one enduring place that we have as marketers, and it’s the place where conversations are most intimate. Ann Handley, @MarketingProfs #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

However, marketers need to be willing to put in the work to ensure those intimate conversations build relationships next year, rather than serve only as a sales pitch.

“When someone opts into your newsletter and then starts getting overtly pitched right away, it can feel like a betrayal of trust,” Nick Nelson wrote not long ago. “As a relatively direct and personal form of marketing communication, email should be used to deliver value and build brand affinity. This is not to say you must avoid any type of lead generation elements in your messages, but make them subtle and sparse.”

3. 2. 1… Look Out 2020, Here We Come!

From experimenting with new mediums such as podcasts or interactive content to innovative storytelling, marketers can and should play an integral role in crafting and advancing positive audience experiences with their brands. 

So, as we head into 2020, ask yourself: Is my brand poised to deliver experiences that leave a lasting impression?

Happy New Year, B2B marketers.

What’s your B2B content marketing prediction for 2020? What trends are you watching? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post Our Top B2B Content Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Twitter Test Tweet Scheduling, Google’s Dynamic Gmail Refresh, Facebook’s Lookalike Changes, & Snapchat Grows

The post Digital Marketing News: Twitter Test Tweet Scheduling, Google’s Dynamic Gmail Refresh, Facebook’s Lookalike Changes, & Snapchat Grows appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

The post Digital Marketing News: Twitter Test Tweet Scheduling, Google’s Dynamic Gmail Refresh, Facebook’s Lookalike Changes, & Snapchat Grows appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Grateful and Glad: What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For

What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For in 2019

What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For in 2019

For centuries, American families and friends have come together on Thanksgiving Day to feast and give thanks for all of life’s beautiful gifts.

But I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again—Thanksgiving isn’t limited to one day in the TopRank Marketing realm. Every day, I see attitudes of gratitude.

To date in 2019, our team has typed the words “thank you” in Slack communications a whopping 7,737 times, and “thanks” 4,113 times.

via GIPHY

As is TopRank Marketing tradition, I’ve asked team members to share what they’re most thankful for in work and in life. Here’s what many had to say.

What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful for in 2019

Lee Odden

CEO

The B2B marketing industry brings together an amazing collection of disciplines, technologies and people from the analytical to the creative. When marketing works to connect people with the right solutions, it really can have a positive impact on the world.

I am very thankful to be a part of that industry and especially to be a part of the team at TopRank Marketing. The level of talent, focus and professionalism as well as awareness, empathy and curiosity amongst our team is something I am truly privileged to experience. The frequent kudos from our clients, influencers and community I hear about the work that our content, influence and search marketing teams are doing is a constant source of pride.

I appreciate the opportunity we have as a team to create meaningful experiences that inspire others in so many ways and look forward to our focus on creating impact in 2020. 

Annie LeumanAnnie Leuman

Content Strategist and Project Manager

I feel very thankful to work with amazing colleagues, clients, and mentors. I truly believe I work with and for some of the best marketers in the game, and we’re constantly elevating our skills. 

Whether it’s learning from each other or learning from experience, we’re growing our agency into a hyper-specialized team of marketers and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. I’m also thankful to TopRank for allowing me to spread my wings and take on new responsibilities. We’ve learned and grown a lot together in this past year and I can’t wait to see where we go in 2020.

Keith Widerski

Account Manager

I’m very thankful to be surrounded by the brightest minds in influencer and B2B marketing – and learning from these folks every single day. We have such an incredible team here at TopRank and I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of it. I cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store!  

Josh NiteJosh Nite

Senior Content Marketing Manager

I’m thankful for the team that makes sure the work gets done: All our project managers, Annie on task management, and Caitlin on team management. There’s nothing more draining at work than a pile of unprioritized, vague tasks. I love having order, organization and direction in my workday, and that’s all due to their hard work. 

On a personal note, I’m thankful for my wife, Jess. My best friend, best co-parent, and best partner in crime.

Ashley Zeckman

Senior Director of Digital Strategy

I’m thankful for many things, both big and small.

Professionally, I’m incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to walk in the doors of TopRank Marketing each morning, where I’m given the space to learn, challenge the status quo, and collaborate with an amazing team to create meaningful experiences for our clients, their customers, and our stellar group of influencers. 

I’d also like to give a special shout out to my mentors, clients and marketing friends, who have always given me something to aspire to, and provided me with so much more wisdom and direction than I would have ever been able to manage on my own. Thank you especially to Lee Odden, Ann Handley, Judy Tian, Garnor Morantes, Chris Penn, Tim Washer, Robert Rose, Michael Brenner, Cathy McPhillips, and Katie Martell. You’re all amazing. 

Lastly, I’m thankful for my amazing boyfriend who is always my number one supporter and my misfit troop of naughty dogs (and cat) that always keep life interesting. 

Birdie Zepeda

SEO Strategist

I am thankful to have joined the TopRank Marketing team in early 2019. I get the opportunity to work with so many amazing clients. I couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome to the Midwest. 

Jack Fitzpatrick

Influencer Marketing Strategist

I’m thankful for Instagram phasing out “likes”. I’ve had my fair share of “like-envy” in the past, and it is never a great feeling. It was a bold decision of their leadership to remove such an integral feature, and I’m interested to see if it fosters a healthier culture on the platform.

I’m also thankful for my newfound hobby of making bread. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but the bread-making process, in particular, makes me feel more in touch with nature and the food I create.

Tiffani AllenTiffani Allen

Associate Director of Search & Analytics

I’m especially thankful for the search team at TopRank Marketing. We have such amazing opportunities to work with awesome clients, and really push the boundaries when it comes to strategic search marketing that gets serious results.

But, of course, we couldn’t do any of it without the support of the entire TopRank team; a team of super smart marketers that we have the privilege of working with are a constant source of support and inspiration!

Elizabeth Williams

Senior Account Manager

I couldn’t ask for more from a workplace. I’ve been surrounded by such amazing mentors who have supported me and helped me stretch myself professionally. I think 2019 has been one of my biggest years for professional growth. Thank you!

In my personal life, I am most thankful this year for the lifestyle transformation our family has made. From prescriptions to essential oils and homemade tinctures, and from hefty meat-eaters, to organic, to vegetarians—and onward to veganism! I’m so thankful for the improved health and energy we’ve all gained! 

Debbie FriezDebbie Friez

Influencer Marketing Strategist

I’m thankful I have I fully embraced emojis this year, because they make my writing pop with visuals, which also makes me thankful that we have a fabulous design team at TopRank Marketing (because I would be an awful designer).

As I reflect back on the year, I am reminded how important it is to stop and smell the roses, and take time for work-life balance and professional development. I’m thankful for an organization that realizes this is a priority.

via GIPHY

Lane EllisLane Ellis

Social and Content Marketing Manager

In 2019, I’m especially thankful for my wonderful family, friends, and associates.

Celebrating 18 years of marriage with my amazing wife Julie Ahasay tops my thankfulness list, along with the joy of having my parents Konnie and Bob in my life, as well as my astounding and always-inspiring 102-year-old grandma Lilly Haldorsen.

I’m thankful for over 35 years of using the Internet, which recently turned 50 as I wrote about here. I’m thankful to still be able to run, mountain bike, and ski the beautiful trails of Duluth, and for our three kind cats — ZuSu Pitts, Phineas Faustus, and Kukla Francis Oliver.

Now is the time to reach out and give the world and its endless opportunities a warm autumnal embrace, so here’s a big virtual hug to all of you I’m lucky enough to know, lovely family and friends. Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving From the TopRank Marketing Team

Thank you clients, influencers, followers, and team members for coming together to drive personal, professional, and brand success.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

The TopRank Marketing Team

TopRank Team Boat Day 2019

The post Grateful and Glad: What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For in 2019

What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For in 2019

For centuries, American families and friends have come together on Thanksgiving Day to feast and give thanks for all of life’s beautiful gifts.

But I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again—Thanksgiving isn’t limited to one day in the TopRank Marketing realm. Every day, I see attitudes of gratitude.

To date in 2019, our team has typed the words “thank you” in Slack communications a whopping 7,737 times, and “thanks” 4,113 times.

via GIPHY

As is TopRank Marketing tradition, I’ve asked team members to share what they’re most thankful for in work and in life. Here’s what many had to say.

What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful for in 2019

Lee Odden

CEO

The B2B marketing industry brings together an amazing collection of disciplines, technologies and people from the analytical to the creative. When marketing works to connect people with the right solutions, it really can have a positive impact on the world.

I am very thankful to be a part of that industry and especially to be a part of the team at TopRank Marketing. The level of talent, focus and professionalism as well as awareness, empathy and curiosity amongst our team is something I am truly privileged to experience. The frequent kudos from our clients, influencers and community I hear about the work that our content, influence and search marketing teams are doing is a constant source of pride.

I appreciate the opportunity we have as a team to create meaningful experiences that inspire others in so many ways and look forward to our focus on creating impact in 2020. 

Annie LeumanAnnie Leuman

Content Strategist and Project Manager

I feel very thankful to work with amazing colleagues, clients, and mentors. I truly believe I work with and for some of the best marketers in the game, and we’re constantly elevating our skills. 

Whether it’s learning from each other or learning from experience, we’re growing our agency into a hyper-specialized team of marketers and I feel so lucky to be a part of it. I’m also thankful to TopRank for allowing me to spread my wings and take on new responsibilities. We’ve learned and grown a lot together in this past year and I can’t wait to see where we go in 2020.

Keith Widerski

Account Manager

I’m very thankful to be surrounded by the brightest minds in influencer and B2B marketing – and learning from these folks every single day. We have such an incredible team here at TopRank and I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of it. I cannot wait to see what 2020 has in store!  

Josh NiteJosh Nite

Senior Content Marketing Manager

I’m thankful for the team that makes sure the work gets done: All our project managers, Annie on task management, and Caitlin on team management. There’s nothing more draining at work than a pile of unprioritized, vague tasks. I love having order, organization and direction in my workday, and that’s all due to their hard work. 

On a personal note, I’m thankful for my wife, Jess. My best friend, best co-parent, and best partner in crime.

Ashley Zeckman

Senior Director of Digital Strategy

I’m thankful for many things, both big and small.

Professionally, I’m incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to walk in the doors of TopRank Marketing each morning, where I’m given the space to learn, challenge the status quo, and collaborate with an amazing team to create meaningful experiences for our clients, their customers, and our stellar group of influencers. 

I’d also like to give a special shout out to my mentors, clients and marketing friends, who have always given me something to aspire to, and provided me with so much more wisdom and direction than I would have ever been able to manage on my own. Thank you especially to Lee Odden, Ann Handley, Judy Tian, Garnor Morantes, Chris Penn, Tim Washer, Robert Rose, Michael Brenner, Cathy McPhillips, and Katie Martell. You’re all amazing. 

Lastly, I’m thankful for my amazing boyfriend who is always my number one supporter and my misfit troop of naughty dogs (and cat) that always keep life interesting. 

Birdie Zepeda

SEO Strategist

I am thankful to have joined the TopRank Marketing team in early 2019. I get the opportunity to work with so many amazing clients. I couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome to the Midwest. 

Jack Fitzpatrick

Influencer Marketing Strategist

I’m thankful for Instagram phasing out “likes”. I’ve had my fair share of “like-envy” in the past, and it is never a great feeling. It was a bold decision of their leadership to remove such an integral feature, and I’m interested to see if it fosters a healthier culture on the platform.

I’m also thankful for my newfound hobby of making bread. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but the bread-making process, in particular, makes me feel more in touch with nature and the food I create.

Tiffani AllenTiffani Allen

Associate Director of Search & Analytics

I’m especially thankful for the search team at TopRank Marketing. We have such amazing opportunities to work with awesome clients, and really push the boundaries when it comes to strategic search marketing that gets serious results.

But, of course, we couldn’t do any of it without the support of the entire TopRank team; a team of super smart marketers that we have the privilege of working with are a constant source of support and inspiration!

Elizabeth Williams

Senior Account Manager

I couldn’t ask for more from a workplace. I’ve been surrounded by such amazing mentors who have supported me and helped me stretch myself professionally. I think 2019 has been one of my biggest years for professional growth. Thank you!

In my personal life, I am most thankful this year for the lifestyle transformation our family has made. From prescriptions to essential oils and homemade tinctures, and from hefty meat-eaters, to organic, to vegetarians—and onward to veganism! I’m so thankful for the improved health and energy we’ve all gained! 

Debbie FriezDebbie Friez

Influencer Marketing Strategist

I’m thankful I have I fully embraced emojis this year, because they make my writing pop with visuals, which also makes me thankful that we have a fabulous design team at TopRank Marketing (because I would be an awful designer).

As I reflect back on the year, I am reminded how important it is to stop and smell the roses, and take time for work-life balance and professional development. I’m thankful for an organization that realizes this is a priority.

via GIPHY

Lane EllisLane Ellis

Social and Content Marketing Manager

In 2019, I’m especially thankful for my wonderful family, friends, and associates.

Celebrating 18 years of marriage with my amazing wife Julie Ahasay tops my thankfulness list, along with the joy of having my parents Konnie and Bob in my life, as well as my astounding and always-inspiring 102-year-old grandma Lilly Haldorsen.

I’m thankful for over 35 years of using the Internet, which recently turned 50 as I wrote about here. I’m thankful to still be able to run, mountain bike, and ski the beautiful trails of Duluth, and for our three kind cats — ZuSu Pitts, Phineas Faustus, and Kukla Francis Oliver.

Now is the time to reach out and give the world and its endless opportunities a warm autumnal embrace, so here’s a big virtual hug to all of you I’m lucky enough to know, lovely family and friends. Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving From the TopRank Marketing Team

Thank you clients, influencers, followers, and team members for coming together to drive personal, professional, and brand success.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

The TopRank Marketing Team

TopRank Team Boat Day 2019

The post Grateful and Glad: What the TopRank Marketing Team is Most Thankful For appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand

Upward-pointing arrow formed of people.

Upward-pointing arrow formed of people.

B2B marketing is swiftly embracing techniques that were once only for B2C, and we’ve got five smart B2C tactics to add to your B2B plans for 2020 and well beyond.

Influencer marketing, engaging interactive content, awards events, chatbots, and podcasting are just some of the ways that today’s savvy B2B marketers can add a healthy dose of the B2C experience to your business marketing efforts.

#1 – Influencer Marketing

Jumping Businessman

Even though influencer marketing is still largely associated with the B2C world, you’ve likely noticed that it’s being increasingly used by smart marketers as a highly successful go-to B2B tactic.

Influencer marketing has already accounted for over $2 billion in annual marketing spending in the U.S. alone, and annual growth rates are predicted to from 41 percent all the way to 95 percent. (AdAge)

Influencer Marketing Hub Growth Chart

B2C influencer marketing has relied heavily on celebrity influencers, a combination that has faced a growing backlash and played a part in diminishing trust in marketing.

B2B influencer marketing, on the other hand, incorporates industry experts who have a genuine two-way relationship with a brand, a partnership that respectfully serves both parties equally well, and boosts trust.

While influencer marketing may have had its ups and downs in the B2C landscape, influencers in the B2B world may just be a perfect match.

[bctt tweet=”“Invite people to be in your program first and then do some brainstorming with them and see what they like, how they like to interact or what they like to do for companies.” @AmishaGandhi” username=”toprank”]

Amisha Gandhi is vice president of influencer marketing and communications at SAP*, and she recently shared her B2B influencer marketing insights in one of our new Break Free B2B video interviews, including creative and fun ways that add sizzle and build brand credibility.

Watch and learn from Amisha in “Break Free B2B Series: Amisha Gandhi on Global B2B Influencer Marketing.”

[bctt tweet=”If you don’t tie your influencer marketing to business objectives, you can quickly lose track of what you’re trying to accomplish. @Konstanze” username=”toprank”]

Konstanze Alex of Dell* is another leader in B2B influencer marketing, and along with Amisha and Dell’s Janine Wegner at the most recent MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference, she explored some of the latest trends shaping influencer marketing, in “Tales from the B2B Influencer Marketing Trenches with Leaders from Dell & SAP #MPB2B.

[bctt tweet=”“Influencer marketing presents an opportunity to tap into the established credibility and connections that people in your industry or niche already have with their own audiences.” @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

Our own senior content strategist Nick Nelson and senior director of digital strategy Ashley Zeckman have also explored the subtle nuances of B2B influencer marketing, taking “A Journey Through Always-On Influencer Marketing with Ashley Zeckman #MPB2B.”

[bctt tweet=”We pride ourselves on cultivating and nurturing long-term relationships with our influencers … which means we are always looking to establish a ‘give to get’ exchange where all parties come out ahead. @ranimani0707 @adobe” username=”toprank”]

Rani Mani, head of social influencer enablement at Adobe* is another leading B2B influencer marketing expert, and she has shared a number of her unique insights in “B2B Influencer Marketing Interview: Rani Mani, Adobe.”

Trust in marketing has been a growing concern among marketers — one that B2B influencer marketing is squarely seeking to improve —  and here are five of our most recent articles that explore how marketers can build greater trust:

#2 – Engaging Interactive Content

Group of Businesspeople Interacting

B2C brands have spent heavily on bringing consumers engaging interactive online content as a major part of many marketing campaigns.

As the B2B landscape continues to speedily depart from its dusty Boring-To-Boring roots, business customers are expecting content and experiences that are increasingly similar to what B2C efforts have long provided, and engaging interactive experiences exemplify the type of content B2B firms need to offer if they wish to successfully compete.

What could be less interactive or engaging than a hundred-plus page purely text industry white paper?

Today’s B2B customers expect to have access to all of the relevant information that white paper contained, but brought to life through an online interface that’s not only easy to search and navigate, but also chock full of user experience features that make interacting an entertaining experience.

[bctt tweet=”“You may need to take baby steps with your audience to get them warmed up to the idea of interactivity.” — Caitlin Burgess @CaitlinMBurgess” username=”toprank”]

Engaging and interactive content marketing is a subject near and dear to our hearts at TopRank Marketing, and here are five of the most recent pieces we’ve published to help you learn more about building your own:

#3 – Awards & Best-Of Pages

Woman By Sunny Lake Image

As B2B efforts become more like those in B2C, business marketers are increasingly looking for places to showcase their best work, and industry awards events can be a powerful way to share and celebrate cutting-edge work.

Whether it’s physical red carpet award programs where industry professionals gather to honor the top B2B marketing work, or purely digital events that show off lists of winning campaigns, the benefits of highlighting great B2B marketing efforts can be far-reaching.

LinkedIn* recently announced the winners of its “Best of LinkedIn Pages 2019,” taken from submissions to its annual contest — a list that shows how building great content can lead to widespread industry  recognition.

We’ve examined the power of award-winning content in the following articles, including several examples from the Cannes Lions event:

#4 – Chatbots & AI-Infused Customer Interaction

Chatbot Image

B2C companies were some of the first to actively offer chatbots to consumers, however there’s been swift adoption in the B2B world, and with studies showing that people like interacting with powerful chatbots when they can quickly get the answers they seek, more B2B organizations are likely to begin using chatbot technology in 2020 and beyond.

2019 February 22 Statistics Image

For a deeper look at how chatbots, artificial intelligence, plus augmented and virtual reality can work to your B2B marketing advantage, here are five recent articles we’ve published:

#5 – Podcasting

Podcasting Woman Image

Just a few years ago the idea of podcasting in a B2B context would likely have been seen as preposterous by most business consumers.

Now however, as podcasting’s popularity has skyrocketed in general — over 62 percent of podcast listeners say they listen to more now than a year ago — more B2B firms than ever are either starting their own or studying how to do so in the near future.

B2B podcasting is ripe for business marketers, with some 13 million households already including avid fans of business podcasts, and 52 million households including casual fans of business podcasts, according to Nielsen podcasting data.

Our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite recently made the case for B2B marketers to take a serious look at podcasting, and presented “B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Marketing Case.”

[bctt tweet=”“B2B marketers who are creating any kind of audio content should consider podcasting as a channel to earn attention, deeply engage an audience, and ultimately drive measurable business results.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

When it comes to B2B podcasting, making the leap from consideration to implementation can be a hurdle, however Josh has written an insightful guide to help marketers with the process, in “10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild.”

More B2B podcasting help and examples of top marketing podcasts can be found here:

A Brighter B2B Future For 2020 and Beyond

As we’ve explored, by using influencer marketing, engaging interactive content, awards events, chatbots, and podcasting, B2B marketers can add new life to once-stale campaigns, and we hope that 2020 brings you an abundance of B2B marketing advancements to be thankful for.

* Dell, SAP, Adobe, and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing client.

The post 5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Upward-pointing arrow formed of people.

Upward-pointing arrow formed of people.

B2B marketing is swiftly embracing techniques that were once only for B2C, and we’ve got five smart B2C tactics to add to your B2B plans for 2020 and well beyond.

Influencer marketing, engaging interactive content, awards events, chatbots, and podcasting are just some of the ways that today’s savvy B2B marketers can add a healthy dose of the B2C experience to your business marketing efforts.

#1 – Influencer Marketing

Jumping Businessman

Even though influencer marketing is still largely associated with the B2C world, you’ve likely noticed that it’s being increasingly used by smart marketers as a highly successful go-to B2B tactic.

Influencer marketing has already accounted for over $2 billion in annual marketing spending in the U.S. alone, and annual growth rates are predicted to from 41 percent all the way to 95 percent. (AdAge)

Influencer Marketing Hub Growth Chart

B2C influencer marketing has relied heavily on celebrity influencers, a combination that has faced a growing backlash and played a part in diminishing trust in marketing.

B2B influencer marketing, on the other hand, incorporates industry experts who have a genuine two-way relationship with a brand, a partnership that respectfully serves both parties equally well, and boosts trust.

While influencer marketing may have had its ups and downs in the B2C landscape, influencers in the B2B world may just be a perfect match.

[bctt tweet=”“Invite people to be in your program first and then do some brainstorming with them and see what they like, how they like to interact or what they like to do for companies.” @AmishaGandhi” username=”toprank”]

Amisha Gandhi is vice president of influencer marketing and communications at SAP*, and she recently shared her B2B influencer marketing insights in one of our new Break Free B2B video interviews, including creative and fun ways that add sizzle and build brand credibility.

Watch and learn from Amisha in “Break Free B2B Series: Amisha Gandhi on Global B2B Influencer Marketing.”

[bctt tweet=”If you don’t tie your influencer marketing to business objectives, you can quickly lose track of what you’re trying to accomplish. @Konstanze” username=”toprank”]

Konstanze Alex of Dell* is another leader in B2B influencer marketing, and along with Amisha and Dell’s Janine Wegner at the most recent MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference, she explored some of the latest trends shaping influencer marketing, in “Tales from the B2B Influencer Marketing Trenches with Leaders from Dell & SAP #MPB2B.

[bctt tweet=”“Influencer marketing presents an opportunity to tap into the established credibility and connections that people in your industry or niche already have with their own audiences.” @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

Our own senior content strategist Nick Nelson and senior director of digital strategy Ashley Zeckman have also explored the subtle nuances of B2B influencer marketing, taking “A Journey Through Always-On Influencer Marketing with Ashley Zeckman #MPB2B.”

[bctt tweet=”We pride ourselves on cultivating and nurturing long-term relationships with our influencers … which means we are always looking to establish a ‘give to get’ exchange where all parties come out ahead. @ranimani0707 @adobe” username=”toprank”]

Rani Mani, head of social influencer enablement at Adobe* is another leading B2B influencer marketing expert, and she has shared a number of her unique insights in “B2B Influencer Marketing Interview: Rani Mani, Adobe.”

Trust in marketing has been a growing concern among marketers — one that B2B influencer marketing is squarely seeking to improve —  and here are five of our most recent articles that explore how marketers can build greater trust:

#2 – Engaging Interactive Content

Group of Businesspeople Interacting

B2C brands have spent heavily on bringing consumers engaging interactive online content as a major part of many marketing campaigns.

As the B2B landscape continues to speedily depart from its dusty Boring-To-Boring roots, business customers are expecting content and experiences that are increasingly similar to what B2C efforts have long provided, and engaging interactive experiences exemplify the type of content B2B firms need to offer if they wish to successfully compete.

What could be less interactive or engaging than a hundred-plus page purely text industry white paper?

Today’s B2B customers expect to have access to all of the relevant information that white paper contained, but brought to life through an online interface that’s not only easy to search and navigate, but also chock full of user experience features that make interacting an entertaining experience.

[bctt tweet=”“You may need to take baby steps with your audience to get them warmed up to the idea of interactivity.” — Caitlin Burgess @CaitlinMBurgess” username=”toprank”]

Engaging and interactive content marketing is a subject near and dear to our hearts at TopRank Marketing, and here are five of the most recent pieces we’ve published to help you learn more about building your own:

#3 – Awards & Best-Of Pages

Woman By Sunny Lake Image

As B2B efforts become more like those in B2C, business marketers are increasingly looking for places to showcase their best work, and industry awards events can be a powerful way to share and celebrate cutting-edge work.

Whether it’s physical red carpet award programs where industry professionals gather to honor the top B2B marketing work, or purely digital events that show off lists of winning campaigns, the benefits of highlighting great B2B marketing efforts can be far-reaching.

LinkedIn* recently announced the winners of its “Best of LinkedIn Pages 2019,” taken from submissions to its annual contest — a list that shows how building great content can lead to widespread industry  recognition.

We’ve examined the power of award-winning content in the following articles, including several examples from the Cannes Lions event:

#4 – Chatbots & AI-Infused Customer Interaction

Chatbot Image

B2C companies were some of the first to actively offer chatbots to consumers, however there’s been swift adoption in the B2B world, and with studies showing that people like interacting with powerful chatbots when they can quickly get the answers they seek, more B2B organizations are likely to begin using chatbot technology in 2020 and beyond.

2019 February 22 Statistics Image

For a deeper look at how chatbots, artificial intelligence, plus augmented and virtual reality can work to your B2B marketing advantage, here are five recent articles we’ve published:

#5 – Podcasting

Podcasting Woman Image

Just a few years ago the idea of podcasting in a B2B context would likely have been seen as preposterous by most business consumers.

Now however, as podcasting’s popularity has skyrocketed in general — over 62 percent of podcast listeners say they listen to more now than a year ago — more B2B firms than ever are either starting their own or studying how to do so in the near future.

B2B podcasting is ripe for business marketers, with some 13 million households already including avid fans of business podcasts, and 52 million households including casual fans of business podcasts, according to Nielsen podcasting data.

Our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite recently made the case for B2B marketers to take a serious look at podcasting, and presented “B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Marketing Case.”

[bctt tweet=”“B2B marketers who are creating any kind of audio content should consider podcasting as a channel to earn attention, deeply engage an audience, and ultimately drive measurable business results.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

When it comes to B2B podcasting, making the leap from consideration to implementation can be a hurdle, however Josh has written an insightful guide to help marketers with the process, in “10 Crucial Steps for Launching Your B2B Podcast Into the Wild.”

More B2B podcasting help and examples of top marketing podcasts can be found here:

A Brighter B2B Future For 2020 and Beyond

As we’ve explored, by using influencer marketing, engaging interactive content, awards events, chatbots, and podcasting, B2B marketers can add new life to once-stale campaigns, and we hope that 2020 brings you an abundance of B2B marketing advancements to be thankful for.

* Dell, SAP, Adobe, and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing client.

The post 5 Smart B2C Tactics To Boost Your B2B Brand appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Break Free B2B Series: Janine Wegner on Building Brand Thought Leadership With the Help of Influencers

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Janine Wenger of Dell Technologies

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Janine Wenger of Dell Technologies

Influencer marketing is in a state of flux. In the past 10 days alone, I’ve seen suggestions that paid influencers are out, and that “influencer marketing — in the traditional sense — is in the midst of an irreversible fail from grace.”

Neither of these arguments is off the mark, per se, but they both frame the concept in outdated B2C-centric terms (the authors more or less acknowledge this with their qualifiers). No one can deny that the impact of hired celebrity influencers, transparently shilling products or services, is waning. It’s not an approach that builds trust or credibility. 

However, strategic B2B influencer marketing is still very much on the rise, and nowhere near its peak yet. When done right, this practice isn’t about celebrity status, nor solely about paying for influence (although that can be part of the equation). It’s about building mutually beneficial relationships with established thought leaders in your space, founded on the focus of delivering value to your audience first and foremost. 

In this growing field, Janine Wegner and her team at Dell Technologies* are blazing trails. Few other B2B organizations have developed a level of influencer sophistication that matches Dell, and we’ve been fortunate to partner with them on several projects.

[bctt tweet=”Influencer marketing comes back those voices telling the story, helping our customers understand what the future looks like, and how they can get there. @JanineWegner #InfluencerMarketing #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

TopRank Marketing President Susan Misukanis recently sat down with Janine, who is in charge of global thought leadership at Dell, for a lengthy interview on the path forward for influencer marketing in the B2B space, as propelled by her area of specialization. 

Join us for a fun conversation that touches on the serious side of B2B influencer marketing while also incorporating lighter themes of “dating and fun games.”

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Janine Wegner

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukxhrYOKSIQ]

If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.

  • 0:30 — Definition of thought leadership
  • 2:15 — Activating internal subject matter experts 
  • 4:00 — Identifying B2B influencers
  • 6:45 — Democratization of influence
  • 8:30 — Building relationships with macro vs. nano influencers
  • 10:30 — Influencers at different stages of the funnel
  • 11:45 — Challenges of getting started with influencer programs
  • 16:30 — The future of thought leadership and influencer marketing
  • 18:30 — How can marketers break free?

Susan: What do you think are the big gains or advancements in thought leadership and influencer marketing?

Janine: What I’m really excited about and what I’ve been seeing over the past years is that there’s this kind of democratization of influence, right? Social media provided us the tools to share our opinions, but now we advance to a stage where people are very passionate and have an incredible reach to — maybe a small subset of community — but their authenticity and their integrity are so valued that people listen to them. And I find this fascinating for society overall, let alone for us from a marketing perspective. So it’s all coming back to: what do you want to achieve as a marketer and what type of influencer is the right one?

[bctt tweet=”There’s been a democratization of influence… Now we’re at a stage where passionate people’s authenticity and integrity are so valued that people listen to them. @JanineWegner #InfluencerMarketing #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

Susan: How are the activations and partnerships different at the nano vs. macro influencer levels?

Janine: Again, it goes back to your business objectives and what you want to achieve. What we’re trying to do is map out throughout our campaign, what’s the customer journey? And what are the content pieces we want to develop? And what are the voices we want to have in each of them, and how to then activate and amplify those? So it might be that you take into account people that don’t have as much reach, but that have incredible subject matter expertise and credibility on a certain topic, that you engage in something like an eBook, or a report, or getting some quotes from them very early on a key pillar asset. But then you want people to talk about it and actually know that this exists, right? So you might want to leverage social amplifiers that are talking about this topic and are using this eBook as a resource that they recommend to their community, and really getting that reach and spreading it far and wide. And then there might be tactics when you then invite them to a webinar, or maybe a face-to-face event, to participate as part of a panel, and so forth. So there are all of those different tactics. And we usually are, what I would recommend is like, look at your business objectives. 

Susan: For someone thinking about digging deeper into influencer marketing, what might a pilot program look like for example?

Janine: So right now, for instance, although we are already a little bit advanced, we’re still testing and piloting, because we want to be smarter. We want to get better, we want to spend our resources a little bit more wisely. Right? So one area that we’re testing is really leveraging the power of those social amplifiers. When we launch a certain research study, product news, or so forth, how can we then brief those influencers, give them everything that they need, you know, for the day X, the day that it launches? And then ask them to amplify and what does this look like what does a good kind of social media amplification kit and like cadence look like for these influencers? Because we need to think about the fact that most of them also serve other companies, so you don’t want to overdo it, but you also want a certain share of words.

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:

The post Break Free B2B Series: Janine Wegner on Building Brand Thought Leadership With the Help of Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Janine Wenger of Dell Technologies

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Janine Wenger of Dell Technologies

Influencer marketing is in a state of flux. In the past 10 days alone, I’ve seen suggestions that paid influencers are out, and that “influencer marketing — in the traditional sense — is in the midst of an irreversible fail from grace.”

Neither of these arguments is off the mark, per se, but they both frame the concept in outdated B2C-centric terms (the authors more or less acknowledge this with their qualifiers). No one can deny that the impact of hired celebrity influencers, transparently shilling products or services, is waning. It’s not an approach that builds trust or credibility. 

However, strategic B2B influencer marketing is still very much on the rise, and nowhere near its peak yet. When done right, this practice isn’t about celebrity status, nor solely about paying for influence (although that can be part of the equation). It’s about building mutually beneficial relationships with established thought leaders in your space, founded on the focus of delivering value to your audience first and foremost. 

In this growing field, Janine Wegner and her team at Dell Technologies* are blazing trails. Few other B2B organizations have developed a level of influencer sophistication that matches Dell, and we’ve been fortunate to partner with them on several projects.

[bctt tweet=”Influencer marketing comes back those voices telling the story, helping our customers understand what the future looks like, and how they can get there. @JanineWegner #InfluencerMarketing #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

TopRank Marketing President Susan Misukanis recently sat down with Janine, who is in charge of global thought leadership at Dell, for a lengthy interview on the path forward for influencer marketing in the B2B space, as propelled by her area of specialization. 

Join us for a fun conversation that touches on the serious side of B2B influencer marketing while also incorporating lighter themes of “dating and fun games.”

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Janine Wegner

If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.

  • 0:30 — Definition of thought leadership
  • 2:15 — Activating internal subject matter experts 
  • 4:00 — Identifying B2B influencers
  • 6:45 — Democratization of influence
  • 8:30 — Building relationships with macro vs. nano influencers
  • 10:30 — Influencers at different stages of the funnel
  • 11:45 — Challenges of getting started with influencer programs
  • 16:30 — The future of thought leadership and influencer marketing
  • 18:30 — How can marketers break free?

Susan: What do you think are the big gains or advancements in thought leadership and influencer marketing?

Janine: What I’m really excited about and what I’ve been seeing over the past years is that there’s this kind of democratization of influence, right? Social media provided us the tools to share our opinions, but now we advance to a stage where people are very passionate and have an incredible reach to — maybe a small subset of community — but their authenticity and their integrity are so valued that people listen to them. And I find this fascinating for society overall, let alone for us from a marketing perspective. So it’s all coming back to: what do you want to achieve as a marketer and what type of influencer is the right one?

[bctt tweet=”There’s been a democratization of influence… Now we’re at a stage where passionate people’s authenticity and integrity are so valued that people listen to them. @JanineWegner #InfluencerMarketing #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

Susan: How are the activations and partnerships different at the nano vs. macro influencer levels?

Janine: Again, it goes back to your business objectives and what you want to achieve. What we’re trying to do is map out throughout our campaign, what’s the customer journey? And what are the content pieces we want to develop? And what are the voices we want to have in each of them, and how to then activate and amplify those? So it might be that you take into account people that don’t have as much reach, but that have incredible subject matter expertise and credibility on a certain topic, that you engage in something like an eBook, or a report, or getting some quotes from them very early on a key pillar asset. But then you want people to talk about it and actually know that this exists, right? So you might want to leverage social amplifiers that are talking about this topic and are using this eBook as a resource that they recommend to their community, and really getting that reach and spreading it far and wide. And then there might be tactics when you then invite them to a webinar, or maybe a face-to-face event, to participate as part of a panel, and so forth. So there are all of those different tactics. And we usually are, what I would recommend is like, look at your business objectives. 

Susan: For someone thinking about digging deeper into influencer marketing, what might a pilot program look like for example?

Janine: So right now, for instance, although we are already a little bit advanced, we’re still testing and piloting, because we want to be smarter. We want to get better, we want to spend our resources a little bit more wisely. Right? So one area that we’re testing is really leveraging the power of those social amplifiers. When we launch a certain research study, product news, or so forth, how can we then brief those influencers, give them everything that they need, you know, for the day X, the day that it launches? And then ask them to amplify and what does this look like what does a good kind of social media amplification kit and like cadence look like for these influencers? Because we need to think about the fact that most of them also serve other companies, so you don’t want to overdo it, but you also want a certain share of words.

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:

The post Break Free B2B Series: Janine Wegner on Building Brand Thought Leadership With the Help of Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

For a More Effective B2B Content Strategy, T.H.I.N.K.

T.H.I.N.K. B2B Content Marketing Strategy

What would you do with an unlimited content marketing budget?

Oh, the eBooks and infographics and blog posts you could make! Video and audio, whitepapers, research papers, guides galore… endless money means endless possibilities.

Okay. Deep breath. Snap back to reality.

James Franco Startled

We’re all working with limited resources to create a finite amount of content to fit into a crowded editorial calendar. 

So how can you make sure you’re making the most of what you have?

How can you know for sure that a proposed content project is worth your while — worth time spent researching, creating, amplifying and optimizing?

It’s simple: T.H.I.N.K.!

Let me explain. My wife is a middle school teacher (a moment of silence for her service). She has this poster on prominent display in her classroom:

Poster Reading Before You Speak: Think: Is It True? Is It Helpful? Is It Inspiring? Is It Necessary? Is It Kind?

In the classroom, it’s an attempt to get middle-schoolers to stop cyberbullying each other. But these same five criteria can make sure your content is essential, valuable, and worthy of the time it takes to create it. Let’s break it down.

T.H.I.N.K. for More Effective B2B Content Strategy

#1: Is It True?

I don’t know many marketers who set out to lie to people. Not many who keep a job long, anyway. I don’t think we have to say, “Make sure your content is factually correct and not lies.” 

That said, there are a few ways marketers can mislead audiences, and even mislead themselves about their content’s truthfulness. 

Does your content intend to keep its promise? Sometimes a “guide to solutions in X industry” is really “list of reasons our brand is best.” Sometimes “how to do X” is more, “vague instructions about X that aren’t super actionable.” Or perhaps “X statistics for 2019” is more, “collection of statistics I found on other statistics posts that are 10 years old.” 

If the content you’re planning can’t or won’t fulfill the promise it makes to the audience, you’re better off without it. 

[bctt tweet=”If the content you’re planning can’t or won’t fulfill the promise it makes to the audience, you’re better off without it. @NiteWrites #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#2: Is It Helpful?

As marketers, we’re trained to ask the question, “What is this content going to do for our brand?” And that’s a good question to ask! We’re not a publishing company; we have business objectives. But we should also be asking, “What is this content going to do for our audience?” 

After they consume your content, is your audience going to be:

  • Better at their job
  • Prepared for a coming change
  • Smarter about a crucial topic for their industry
  • Able to do something they couldn’t before

The list could go on, but you get the picture. Will this content be helpful in ways unrelated to your CTA at the bottom? If not… take another pass with the focus on your audience.

#3: Is It Inspirational?

The old “mad men” era of marketing frequently ran on “Do this… or else!” kinds of messaging. Pick the wrong brand of coffee, and your husband will be ashamed of you! Smoke our brand of cigarettes or you’ll get headaches (doctors recommend ours)! Drive this kind of car or your boss will think you’re a sissy!

It turns out, though, that people would rather be encouraged than scolded. The central message behind all great content is “You can do this.” It might be hard, and you might not know how to do it yet, but you can do this, and our brand is here to make sure of it. 

If your planned content isn’t reassuring and inspiring your audience, it’s time to switch to the light side of the force.

[bctt tweet=”If your planned content isn’t reassuring and inspiring your audience, it’s time to switch to the light side of the force. @NiteWrites #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#4: Is It Necessary?

If you loaded up every “Definitive Guide” to any given subject, and copy-pasted them into one document… would you ever stop scrolling? You’d get a document so long it would make a CVS receipt look like a Post-It Note. 

There’s a lot of content out there, I’m saying. And most new content is adding to the noise, not the signal. 

To make sure your content is necessary, start with making sure it meets a search demand. But let’s go deeper: 

  • Does it meet an unmet demand?
  • What are you giving the audience that they can’t get anywhere else?
  • What makes your brand uniquely qualified to weigh in?
  • What negative consequences would there be if this content didn’t exist?

If your proposed content can’t answer at least three of the above questions to your satisfaction, you need more introspection about what your brand stands for, is knowledgeable about, and wants to be known for.

 #5: Is It Kind?

If your content is true, helpful, inspirational, and necessary, odds are it’s kind to your audience as well. So what’s left?

I translate “Is it kind?” to “How does this content contribute to society?” 

I get it. That’s a huge question and it’s a big ask. Does that mean your content has to cure diseases and adopt rescue dogs to earn a place in your editorial calendar?

Well, no, of course not. But content can meaningfully make the world a better place, while still being marketing content written for business purposes. Carlos Abler made a compelling case for it in his Content Marketing World presentation this year. He shared examples of how content marketing could, for example, lead smoking cessation initiatives, or lower infant mortality rates in the third world.

But you don’t have to start that big. Just think about your content outside of your intended audience, as part of the ebb and flow of discourse. Is it adding positivity, hope, promoting diversity? Or is it stoking negativity, fear, and division? Essentially, the last part of the process here is to give your content a ‘vibe check.’

If your content isn’t going to radiate a little positive energy into the universe at large, it’s worth retooling until you get there. Try again after a cup of coffee, if you need to.

T.H.I.N.K. Outside the Box

There are plenty of practical and technical considerations to make when you create a B2B content marketing strategy. But before you put your content plan in action, make sure you’re focusing resources on content that passes the T.H.I.N.K. test. 

Content that is true, helpful, inspirational, necessary and kind is going to be the most effective for your goals. T.H.I.N.K. makes content more worthy of your audience’s time, more likely to be shared, more likely to spark enthusiasm, and more likely to help build relationships with your brand.

We all know that the days of creating content for content’s sake are long gone. So, how can you create content that has a meaningful impact? Find out.

The post For a More Effective B2B Content Strategy, T.H.I.N.K. appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

T.H.I.N.K. B2B Content Marketing Strategy

What would you do with an unlimited content marketing budget?

Oh, the eBooks and infographics and blog posts you could make! Video and audio, whitepapers, research papers, guides galore… endless money means endless possibilities.

Okay. Deep breath. Snap back to reality.

James Franco Startled

We’re all working with limited resources to create a finite amount of content to fit into a crowded editorial calendar. 

So how can you make sure you’re making the most of what you have?

How can you know for sure that a proposed content project is worth your while — worth time spent researching, creating, amplifying and optimizing?

It’s simple: T.H.I.N.K.!

Let me explain. My wife is a middle school teacher (a moment of silence for her service). She has this poster on prominent display in her classroom:

Poster Reading Before You Speak: Think: Is It True? Is It Helpful? Is It Inspiring? Is It Necessary? Is It Kind?

In the classroom, it’s an attempt to get middle-schoolers to stop cyberbullying each other. But these same five criteria can make sure your content is essential, valuable, and worthy of the time it takes to create it. Let’s break it down.

T.H.I.N.K. for More Effective B2B Content Strategy

#1: Is It True?

I don’t know many marketers who set out to lie to people. Not many who keep a job long, anyway. I don’t think we have to say, “Make sure your content is factually correct and not lies.” 

That said, there are a few ways marketers can mislead audiences, and even mislead themselves about their content’s truthfulness. 

Does your content intend to keep its promise? Sometimes a “guide to solutions in X industry” is really “list of reasons our brand is best.” Sometimes “how to do X” is more, “vague instructions about X that aren’t super actionable.” Or perhaps “X statistics for 2019” is more, “collection of statistics I found on other statistics posts that are 10 years old.” 

If the content you’re planning can’t or won’t fulfill the promise it makes to the audience, you’re better off without it. 

[bctt tweet=”If the content you’re planning can’t or won’t fulfill the promise it makes to the audience, you’re better off without it. @NiteWrites #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#2: Is It Helpful?

As marketers, we’re trained to ask the question, “What is this content going to do for our brand?” And that’s a good question to ask! We’re not a publishing company; we have business objectives. But we should also be asking, “What is this content going to do for our audience?” 

After they consume your content, is your audience going to be:

  • Better at their job
  • Prepared for a coming change
  • Smarter about a crucial topic for their industry
  • Able to do something they couldn’t before

The list could go on, but you get the picture. Will this content be helpful in ways unrelated to your CTA at the bottom? If not… take another pass with the focus on your audience.

#3: Is It Inspirational?

The old “mad men” era of marketing frequently ran on “Do this… or else!” kinds of messaging. Pick the wrong brand of coffee, and your husband will be ashamed of you! Smoke our brand of cigarettes or you’ll get headaches (doctors recommend ours)! Drive this kind of car or your boss will think you’re a sissy!

It turns out, though, that people would rather be encouraged than scolded. The central message behind all great content is “You can do this.” It might be hard, and you might not know how to do it yet, but you can do this, and our brand is here to make sure of it. 

If your planned content isn’t reassuring and inspiring your audience, it’s time to switch to the light side of the force.

[bctt tweet=”If your planned content isn’t reassuring and inspiring your audience, it’s time to switch to the light side of the force. @NiteWrites #B2BContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

#4: Is It Necessary?

If you loaded up every “Definitive Guide” to any given subject, and copy-pasted them into one document… would you ever stop scrolling? You’d get a document so long it would make a CVS receipt look like a Post-It Note. 

There’s a lot of content out there, I’m saying. And most new content is adding to the noise, not the signal. 

To make sure your content is necessary, start with making sure it meets a search demand. But let’s go deeper: 

  • Does it meet an unmet demand?
  • What are you giving the audience that they can’t get anywhere else?
  • What makes your brand uniquely qualified to weigh in?
  • What negative consequences would there be if this content didn’t exist?

If your proposed content can’t answer at least three of the above questions to your satisfaction, you need more introspection about what your brand stands for, is knowledgeable about, and wants to be known for.

 #5: Is It Kind?

If your content is true, helpful, inspirational, and necessary, odds are it’s kind to your audience as well. So what’s left?

I translate “Is it kind?” to “How does this content contribute to society?” 

I get it. That’s a huge question and it’s a big ask. Does that mean your content has to cure diseases and adopt rescue dogs to earn a place in your editorial calendar?

Well, no, of course not. But content can meaningfully make the world a better place, while still being marketing content written for business purposes. Carlos Abler made a compelling case for it in his Content Marketing World presentation this year. He shared examples of how content marketing could, for example, lead smoking cessation initiatives, or lower infant mortality rates in the third world.

But you don’t have to start that big. Just think about your content outside of your intended audience, as part of the ebb and flow of discourse. Is it adding positivity, hope, promoting diversity? Or is it stoking negativity, fear, and division? Essentially, the last part of the process here is to give your content a ‘vibe check.’

If your content isn’t going to radiate a little positive energy into the universe at large, it’s worth retooling until you get there. Try again after a cup of coffee, if you need to.

T.H.I.N.K. Outside the Box

There are plenty of practical and technical considerations to make when you create a B2B content marketing strategy. But before you put your content plan in action, make sure you’re focusing resources on content that passes the T.H.I.N.K. test. 

Content that is true, helpful, inspirational, necessary and kind is going to be the most effective for your goals. T.H.I.N.K. makes content more worthy of your audience’s time, more likely to be shared, more likely to spark enthusiasm, and more likely to help build relationships with your brand.

We all know that the days of creating content for content’s sake are long gone. So, how can you create content that has a meaningful impact? Find out.

The post For a More Effective B2B Content Strategy, T.H.I.N.K. appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s New Publisher Dashboard, Why We Follow Influencers, Snapchat’s Unskippable Ads, & TikTok’s Social Commerce

The post Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s New Publisher Dashboard, Why We Follow Influencers, Snapchat’s Unskippable Ads, & TikTok’s Social Commerce appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

The post Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s New Publisher Dashboard, Why We Follow Influencers, Snapchat’s Unskippable Ads, & TikTok’s Social Commerce appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Marketing Case

20 Compelling Statistics About B2B Podcasting

20 Compelling Statistics About B2B Podcasting

Good grief, Josh, why can’t you shut up about B2B podcasting? Does the world really need another think piece, blog post, or webinar about the potential? Don’t people get it already?

I hear you, theoretical reader. And yet, I persevere. 

B2B podcasting today is where content marketing was a decade ago. It’s emerging as a marketing discipline. People are starting to get sophisticated about deploying and measuring podcasts. We’re seeing new tools to make it easier to launch, promote, and monetize. And despite the thousands of hours of audio out there already, there’s no sign that the market is satiated. 

I believe that if you’re not already thinking about podcasting for your B2B brand, you should be. But if my beautiful words can’t convince you, let the data tell the story:

B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Case

These statistics come from five different reports, all released in the last year. When you look at all five together, the picture is clear: We’re nowhere near peak podcast, and brand content is the next frontier.

Podcast Listenership Just Keeps Growing

Podcasting is a growth medium. More people are listening now than ever before. But what’s truly impressive is how many listeners are new to the medium. Even though podcasts have been around since the early 2000s, they have only reached a mass market audience in the past couple of years.

1: Nearly a quarter of all listeners started in the past 6 months. (2)

2: Globally, 36% of the sampled population has listened to a podcast in the last month. (1)

3: 51% of the U.S. population over 12 has listened to a podcast. (2)

4: 32% of the U.S. population over 12 has listened in the past month (90 million people). (2)

5: 22% of the U.S. population over 12 listen weekly (60 million). (2)

6: 62.6% of respondents said they listen to more podcasts now than they did a year ago. (3)

7: Only 3.1% said they listen less than they did a year ago. (3)

In summary: Podcasts continue to attract new listeners to their existing audience of 90 million people monthly. And, most promisingly, those who listen are far more likely to add new podcasts than cut down.

[bctt tweet=”Podcasts continue to attract new listeners… And, most promisingly, those who listen are far more likely to add new podcasts than cut down. @NiteWrites #B2BPodcasting” username=”toprank”]

Podcast Listeners Are Demographically Valuable

Okay, so millions of people are listening to podcasts. But are these people a worthwhile target audience for B2B marketers? 

The answer may vary depending on your most valuable audience, of course. But most B2B marketers are interested in targeting millennials. A recent survey found that at least 73% of millennials are involved in product or service decision making at work, with 33% reporting they’re the sole decision maker at their company. 

Basically, if you’re trying to influence B2B purchases, millennials matter. And podcast listeners are disproportionately affluent, social media savvy millennials:

8: 50% of listeners under 35 have listened to a podcast in the last month. (1)

9: 41% of podcast listeners make $75k a year or more, compared to 29% of the general population. (2)

10: Podcast listeners are more likely to be active on social media across channels and more likely to follow companies and brands. (4)

Podcast Listeners Are More Likely To Follow Companies and Brands on Social

Read: How to Promote Your B2B Podcast

Podcast Fans are Devoted Listeners

According to Google’s 2018 benchmarks, the average time on page for content from most industries is between two and three minutesMarketers can certainly make an impression in that amount of time. Even fifteen seconds is valuable to a savvy marketer with a good hook and strong CTA. But podcast listeners spend a great deal more time with audio content:

11: 76.8% listen to podcasts more than 7 hours a week. (3)

12: 61.2% spend more time listening to podcasts than watching TV. (3)

13: 52% of monthly listeners listen to the entirety of each episode. (2)

14: 70% of listeners say that, at least sometimes, they do nothing else while listening to podcasts. (2)

As that last statistic shows, podcast listeners aren’t the distracted, multi-tasking folks we might have imagined they are. If the material is engaging, they’re willing to devote their attention. Speaking of which…

[bctt tweet=”Podcast listeners aren’t the distracted, multi-tasking folks we might have imagined they are. If the material is engaging, they’re willing to devote their attention. @NiteWrites #B2BPodcasting” username=”toprank”]

Podcast Fans Want to Learn (In a Fun Way)

Back in the early days, podcasts were — in the best sense of the word — geeky. They were for highly techy types to share knowledge, teach and learn. While purely entertaining podcasts have seen plenty of success, at the root of it podcasts are an ideal medium for learning. 

People don’t just listen to podcasts for fun. The overwhelming majority want to feel smarter at the end of every episode. 

Think of all the subject matter expertise in your company. Now multiply that by the influential guests (e.g. your customers, prospects, and industry experts and peers) you’ll invite on to share their expertise.  It’s easy to see how a brand podcast can bring educational value to an audience that’s ready to learn.

15: 74% say they listen to podcasts to learn new things. (2)

16: 71% say they listen to be entertained. (2)

17: 59% say they enjoy podcasts because they make them feel smarter. (2)

74% of Podcast Listeners Listen to Learn New Things

The Business Podcast Market Is Ready for Lift-Off

There’s still a massive untapped market for helpful, informative business podcasts — exactly the type that B2B brands could develop, produce and promote. In fact, we can see that the ad revenue model for podcasting is expanding to include branded content. Right now, branded content is still a small percentage of overall podcast advertising, but it’s growing fast. 

18: There are avid fans of business podcasts in 13 million households. (4)

19: There are casual fans of business podcasts in 52 million households. (4)

20: Branded content has increased from 1.5% to 10.1% of podcast advertising since 2016. (5)

What’s more, podcasts offer a range of content marketing benefits, which can inform and bolster your broader digital marketing strategy.

Don’t Be (Pod) Cast Aside

The podcast boom continues unabated — and it’s grown from a strictly amateur platform to a sophisticated content marketing medium. B2B marketers who are creating any kind of audio content should consider podcasting as a channel to earn attention, deeply engage an audience, and ultimately drive measurable business results.

Ready to produce your own podcast? Check out our webinar on the 4 P’s of Podcasting.

Sources:

  1. Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019
  2. The Podcast Consumer 2019
  3. Podcast Trends Report 2018
  4. Nielsen Marketers Guide to Podcasting
  5. IAB Podcast Ad Revenue Study for 2019

The post B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Marketing Case appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

20 Compelling Statistics About B2B Podcasting

20 Compelling Statistics About B2B Podcasting

Good grief, Josh, why can’t you shut up about B2B podcasting? Does the world really need another think piece, blog post, or webinar about the potential? Don’t people get it already?

I hear you, theoretical reader. And yet, I persevere. 

B2B podcasting today is where content marketing was a decade ago. It’s emerging as a marketing discipline. People are starting to get sophisticated about deploying and measuring podcasts. We’re seeing new tools to make it easier to launch, promote, and monetize. And despite the thousands of hours of audio out there already, there’s no sign that the market is satiated. 

I believe that if you’re not already thinking about podcasting for your B2B brand, you should be. But if my beautiful words can’t convince you, let the data tell the story:

B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Case

These statistics come from five different reports, all released in the last year. When you look at all five together, the picture is clear: We’re nowhere near peak podcast, and brand content is the next frontier.

Podcast Listenership Just Keeps Growing

Podcasting is a growth medium. More people are listening now than ever before. But what’s truly impressive is how many listeners are new to the medium. Even though podcasts have been around since the early 2000s, they have only reached a mass market audience in the past couple of years.

1: Nearly a quarter of all listeners started in the past 6 months. (2)

2: Globally, 36% of the sampled population has listened to a podcast in the last month. (1)

3: 51% of the U.S. population over 12 has listened to a podcast. (2)

4: 32% of the U.S. population over 12 has listened in the past month (90 million people). (2)

5: 22% of the U.S. population over 12 listen weekly (60 million). (2)

6: 62.6% of respondents said they listen to more podcasts now than they did a year ago. (3)

7: Only 3.1% said they listen less than they did a year ago. (3)

In summary: Podcasts continue to attract new listeners to their existing audience of 90 million people monthly. And, most promisingly, those who listen are far more likely to add new podcasts than cut down.

[bctt tweet=”Podcasts continue to attract new listeners… And, most promisingly, those who listen are far more likely to add new podcasts than cut down. @NiteWrites #B2BPodcasting” username=”toprank”]

Podcast Listeners Are Demographically Valuable

Okay, so millions of people are listening to podcasts. But are these people a worthwhile target audience for B2B marketers? 

The answer may vary depending on your most valuable audience, of course. But most B2B marketers are interested in targeting millennials. A recent survey found that at least 73% of millennials are involved in product or service decision making at work, with 33% reporting they’re the sole decision maker at their company. 

Basically, if you’re trying to influence B2B purchases, millennials matter. And podcast listeners are disproportionately affluent, social media savvy millennials:

8: 50% of listeners under 35 have listened to a podcast in the last month. (1)

9: 41% of podcast listeners make $75k a year or more, compared to 29% of the general population. (2)

10: Podcast listeners are more likely to be active on social media across channels and more likely to follow companies and brands. (4)

Podcast Listeners Are More Likely To Follow Companies and Brands on Social

Read: How to Promote Your B2B Podcast

Podcast Fans are Devoted Listeners

According to Google’s 2018 benchmarks, the average time on page for content from most industries is between two and three minutesMarketers can certainly make an impression in that amount of time. Even fifteen seconds is valuable to a savvy marketer with a good hook and strong CTA. But podcast listeners spend a great deal more time with audio content:

11: 76.8% listen to podcasts more than 7 hours a week. (3)

12: 61.2% spend more time listening to podcasts than watching TV. (3)

13: 52% of monthly listeners listen to the entirety of each episode. (2)

14: 70% of listeners say that, at least sometimes, they do nothing else while listening to podcasts. (2)

As that last statistic shows, podcast listeners aren’t the distracted, multi-tasking folks we might have imagined they are. If the material is engaging, they’re willing to devote their attention. Speaking of which…

[bctt tweet=”Podcast listeners aren’t the distracted, multi-tasking folks we might have imagined they are. If the material is engaging, they’re willing to devote their attention. @NiteWrites #B2BPodcasting” username=”toprank”]

Podcast Fans Want to Learn (In a Fun Way)

Back in the early days, podcasts were — in the best sense of the word — geeky. They were for highly techy types to share knowledge, teach and learn. While purely entertaining podcasts have seen plenty of success, at the root of it podcasts are an ideal medium for learning. 

People don’t just listen to podcasts for fun. The overwhelming majority want to feel smarter at the end of every episode. 

Think of all the subject matter expertise in your company. Now multiply that by the influential guests (e.g. your customers, prospects, and industry experts and peers) you’ll invite on to share their expertise.  It’s easy to see how a brand podcast can bring educational value to an audience that’s ready to learn.

15: 74% say they listen to podcasts to learn new things. (2)

16: 71% say they listen to be entertained. (2)

17: 59% say they enjoy podcasts because they make them feel smarter. (2)

74% of Podcast Listeners Listen to Learn New Things

The Business Podcast Market Is Ready for Lift-Off

There’s still a massive untapped market for helpful, informative business podcasts — exactly the type that B2B brands could develop, produce and promote. In fact, we can see that the ad revenue model for podcasting is expanding to include branded content. Right now, branded content is still a small percentage of overall podcast advertising, but it’s growing fast. 

18: There are avid fans of business podcasts in 13 million households. (4)

19: There are casual fans of business podcasts in 52 million households. (4)

20: Branded content has increased from 1.5% to 10.1% of podcast advertising since 2016. (5)

What’s more, podcasts offer a range of content marketing benefits, which can inform and bolster your broader digital marketing strategy.

Don’t Be (Pod) Cast Aside

The podcast boom continues unabated — and it’s grown from a strictly amateur platform to a sophisticated content marketing medium. B2B marketers who are creating any kind of audio content should consider podcasting as a channel to earn attention, deeply engage an audience, and ultimately drive measurable business results.

Ready to produce your own podcast? Check out our webinar on the 4 P’s of Podcasting.

Sources:

  1. Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019
  2. The Podcast Consumer 2019
  3. Podcast Trends Report 2018
  4. Nielsen Marketers Guide to Podcasting
  5. IAB Podcast Ad Revenue Study for 2019

The post B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Marketing Case appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Hiding Out: How B2B Marketers Can Adapt to Hidden Like Counts

Colorfully painted hands waving goodbye to like counts.

Colorfully painted hands waving goodbye to like counts.

Doesn’t anyone like me? Where have all my likes gone?

Likes on Instagram are being hidden, as the Facebook-owned firm recently began expanding a test program hiding the number of likes — or more accurately the small heart buttons we click to show support — that posts on the platform receive, showing the total number only to the person or brand who authored the post.


via GIPHY

Instagram head Adam Mosseri recently appeared on CBS This Morning and said, “We don’t want Instagram to be such a competition. We want it to be a place where people spend more of their energy connecting with the people that they love and the things that they care about.”

The change brought to some U.S. users what Instagram has had in the works since 2018, when it began testing hidden likes for certain users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.

The tests have brought praise from some, outrage from others, and caused some to voice concern that hiding like counts could have a negative impact on marketers, especially those involved in influencer marketing.

It’s no wonder that concern has been expressed by some marketers, as by 2022 brands are expected to spend as much as $15 billion on influencer marketing according to recent forecast data from Business Insider.

How will hiding like and other engagement counts affect customer engagement rates, and how will it change B2B influencer marketing?

Let’s look at some of the ways that B2B marketers can adjust to the new hidden Web.

Instagram Tests Hiding Like Counts — What Does it Mean?

What Does It Mean with pens and paper image.

As we mentioned, the ability to click the heart button to like an Instagram post hasn’t gone away during the test, but only a post’s author will be able to see how many likes their item has received. Exactly how this will affect the various engagement metrics brands have in place remains to be seen, however the measurement of likes now faces a sizable challenge.

Although Instagram and parent company Facebook have yet to release any results from the tests, or even any indication that they may become permanent, some firms have started to look at initial results using their own data.

One early study of 154,000 Instagram influencers from influencer marketing platform HypeAuditor looked at how like counts were affected in the non-U.S. test countries, showing that among influencers with between five and 20,000 followers there was an across-the-board decrease in the total number of likes, as shown in the image below.

HypeAuditor chart.

For influencers with between 5,000 and 20,000 Instagram followers, likes dropped between three percent and 15 percent in each of the nations, the study results showed.

Among influencers with between 100,000 and a million Instagram followers, total like counts were also shown as having fallen, with the exception of those in Japan, where like counts surprisingly rose nearly seven percent, as shown in the chart below.

HypeAuditor chart image.

Australia’s Marketing Magazine took a look at the study results specifically in that county, in “Australian Like counts drop 15% following Instagram Like hiding test.”

Top Influencer Qualities Measurable Far Beyond Likes

Hands showing thumbs up on a background of sky image.

Research firm eMarketer recently produced a chart using data from GlobalWebIndex that shows which qualities U.S. and U.K. social media users see as the most important for influencers, as shown below.

eMarketer Global Webindex Influencer Chart

Trustworthiness, the ability to provide informative content, and being entertaining or humorous ranked as the top three social media influencer qualities in the study, while the total number of likes and followers an influencer has appears all the way at the bottom of the list.

[bctt tweet=”“Metrics that measure influencers by trust and the other qualities consumers value most will likely take on greater importance than those merely measuring likes and follower counts.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

In a recent informal Twitter poll we asked B2B marketers which influencer quality they consider the most important in driving them to partner with an influencer on a campaign.

TopRank Marketing Twitter Poll image.

Will hidden like counts be a major trend in 2020? We asked that question in our latest Twitter poll, where you can chime in with your own vote on top 2020 marketing trends.

We’ve written seven recent articles about the importance of trust in marketing, which you’ll find below, and with like counts increasingly being hidden, now is a good time to re-focus on engagement metrics that incorporate trust.

More Shoppable Links & Demetrification

Woman pushing order online button image.

Instagram has given brands and influencers with more than 10,000 followers the ability to use its “swipe-up” feature to include an off-site link with referral or affiliate codes in Instagram Stories. Some brands and influencers have used these so-called “shoppable links” to drive purchasers directly to e-commerce platforms instead of merely seeking likes or shares.

Wired explored some of the areas centered around the issue recently in “Why My Friend Became a Grocery Store on Instagram,” and earlier this year also looked at the so-called process of “demetrication,” and the affect it could have on social media use.

Instagram isn’t the only major social platform to test changes in how like counts and other engagement metrics are derived.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey has shared his concern about the potential for overemphasizing like and follower counts, and his firm even launched a test that gave less weight to likes and re-tweets on the platform.

These changes from Instagram, Twitter and other social platforms may help marketers usher in a move to new measurement and analytics strategies, particularly those with an increased focus on the importance of comments.

Challenges that like counts have had to face include both pay-for-like schemes and fake likes driven by AI-powered bots, yet even a shift to metrics that focus more on comments won’t be entirely immune to attempts at gaming the system with fake responses.

If Instagram and other social platforms permanently adopt hidden likes, influencer measurement tools and services will undoubtedly continue to look for the most reliable and accurate engagement signals that can be repeatedly measured.

Since I first went online in 1984 with my 300-baud bulletin board system, one of the fundamentals of online communications has thankfully remained — the written comment.

[bctt tweet=”“With the recent drop in emphasis on like counts we’re seeing, the comment remains as one of the purest ways a person can show their support for a brand.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

If consumers know their likes will be hidden, will it increase the likelihood that they’ll instead go the extra mile and take the time to write a comment? That remains to be seen, however 2020 is likely to produce an increased focus on comments and other forms of measurable engagement that don’t involve like, follower or share tallies.

A Wealth of Social Engagement Measurement Tools

social media marketing influencers smmw16

There have never been as many companies offering tools and services to measure marketing campaign success and engagement online as there are now, yet serious obstacles to thoroughness and accuracy abound, with an Internet today filled largely with walled communities that only allow certain data to be gathered for analysis.

Even though the Internet is now 50 years old, and has brought about incredible and profound advances in many areas, there is still a long and largely unmarked path ahead before measuring engagement will ever be broadly accurate.

Hope is certainly not lost however — far from it — as many excellent tools exist that work wonders with the data they’re able to pull in.

We’re fans of influencer marketing platform Traackr, which we incorporate into our research when putting out our annual lists of the industry’s top influencers involved with B2B marketing, content marketing, women in marketing, and social media marketing.

More To Hide — Shortened Snippets & The Rise of the “[…]”

via GIPHY

More than likes and share counts are increasingly being hidden from our daily online excursions.

I recall years ago when information online suddenly began to get hidden away in another way — not from businesses cutting off access entirely to data, but from a less-is-more minimalist Web landscape and design ethos that cut off tremendous amounts of information by truncating it and added either an ellipsis, “[…]” or a click-to-expand plus sign.

This trend has continued largely unchecked for decades now, and you might be surprised if you take the time to sit back and count the sheer number of […] occurrences you encounter online daily.

I’m not the only one who’s been frustrated with webpages, services, and apps that truncate a great deal of information in the name of saving screen space, only to force us to click-to-expand sometimes dozens of times, and rarely is the helpful “expand all” option offered these days.

I’ve often wondered — what percentage of the web is now hidden by default, and how many people ever click to see this hidden information?

Thankfully, part of good search engine optimization (SEO) has always been knowing precisely how much text is visible to both consumers and to search-engine indexing robots and crawlers, to best take advantage of everything visible online today.

A Likeless 2020 Brings New B2B Marketing Opportunities

via GIPHY

The jury is still out on whether or not 2020 will see more social platforms hiding or placing less emphasis on like, share, and follower counts, but savvy B2B marketers will be prepared to shift to other facets of measurable campaign engagement.

It’s an increasingly tricky and quickly-changing landscape for marketers, requiring expertise, dedication, and time — leading some to hire a professional B2B marketing agency like TopRank Marketing, which had the honor of being named by Forrester as the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in its “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America, Q1 2019” report.”

Whether you tackle the challenges ahead in 2020 in-house, on your own, or with a top-tier agency, the year ahead is certain to bring unforeseen marketing industry changes, which we’ll cover here on our blog and in our weekly video news round-up with Joshua Nite and Tiffani Allen, set to reach a milestone 200th episode early in 2020.

In closing, here are six articles we’ve published this year that aim to help B2B marketers measure engagement:

The post Hiding Out: How B2B Marketers Can Adapt to Hidden Like Counts appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Colorfully painted hands waving goodbye to like counts.

Colorfully painted hands waving goodbye to like counts.

Doesn’t anyone like me? Where have all my likes gone?

Likes on Instagram are being hidden, as the Facebook-owned firm recently began expanding a test program hiding the number of likes — or more accurately the small heart buttons we click to show support — that posts on the platform receive, showing the total number only to the person or brand who authored the post.


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Instagram head Adam Mosseri recently appeared on CBS This Morning and said, “We don’t want Instagram to be such a competition. We want it to be a place where people spend more of their energy connecting with the people that they love and the things that they care about.”

The change brought to some U.S. users what Instagram has had in the works since 2018, when it began testing hidden likes for certain users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.

The tests have brought praise from some, outrage from others, and caused some to voice concern that hiding like counts could have a negative impact on marketers, especially those involved in influencer marketing.

It’s no wonder that concern has been expressed by some marketers, as by 2022 brands are expected to spend as much as $15 billion on influencer marketing according to recent forecast data from Business Insider.

How will hiding like and other engagement counts affect customer engagement rates, and how will it change B2B influencer marketing?

Let’s look at some of the ways that B2B marketers can adjust to the new hidden Web.

Instagram Tests Hiding Like Counts — What Does it Mean?

What Does It Mean with pens and paper image.

As we mentioned, the ability to click the heart button to like an Instagram post hasn’t gone away during the test, but only a post’s author will be able to see how many likes their item has received. Exactly how this will affect the various engagement metrics brands have in place remains to be seen, however the measurement of likes now faces a sizable challenge.

Although Instagram and parent company Facebook have yet to release any results from the tests, or even any indication that they may become permanent, some firms have started to look at initial results using their own data.

One early study of 154,000 Instagram influencers from influencer marketing platform HypeAuditor looked at how like counts were affected in the non-U.S. test countries, showing that among influencers with between five and 20,000 followers there was an across-the-board decrease in the total number of likes, as shown in the image below.

HypeAuditor chart.

For influencers with between 5,000 and 20,000 Instagram followers, likes dropped between three percent and 15 percent in each of the nations, the study results showed.

Among influencers with between 100,000 and a million Instagram followers, total like counts were also shown as having fallen, with the exception of those in Japan, where like counts surprisingly rose nearly seven percent, as shown in the chart below.

HypeAuditor chart image.

Australia’s Marketing Magazine took a look at the study results specifically in that county, in “Australian Like counts drop 15% following Instagram Like hiding test.”

Top Influencer Qualities Measurable Far Beyond Likes

Hands showing thumbs up on a background of sky image.

Research firm eMarketer recently produced a chart using data from GlobalWebIndex that shows which qualities U.S. and U.K. social media users see as the most important for influencers, as shown below.

eMarketer Global Webindex Influencer Chart

Trustworthiness, the ability to provide informative content, and being entertaining or humorous ranked as the top three social media influencer qualities in the study, while the total number of likes and followers an influencer has appears all the way at the bottom of the list.

[bctt tweet=”“Metrics that measure influencers by trust and the other qualities consumers value most will likely take on greater importance than those merely measuring likes and follower counts.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

In a recent informal Twitter poll we asked B2B marketers which influencer quality they consider the most important in driving them to partner with an influencer on a campaign.

TopRank Marketing Twitter Poll image.

Will hidden like counts be a major trend in 2020? We asked that question in our latest Twitter poll, where you can chime in with your own vote on top 2020 marketing trends.

We’ve written seven recent articles about the importance of trust in marketing, which you’ll find below, and with like counts increasingly being hidden, now is a good time to re-focus on engagement metrics that incorporate trust.

More Shoppable Links & Demetrification

Woman pushing order online button image.

Instagram has given brands and influencers with more than 10,000 followers the ability to use its “swipe-up” feature to include an off-site link with referral or affiliate codes in Instagram Stories. Some brands and influencers have used these so-called “shoppable links” to drive purchasers directly to e-commerce platforms instead of merely seeking likes or shares.

Wired explored some of the areas centered around the issue recently in “Why My Friend Became a Grocery Store on Instagram,” and earlier this year also looked at the so-called process of “demetrication,” and the affect it could have on social media use.

Instagram isn’t the only major social platform to test changes in how like counts and other engagement metrics are derived.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey has shared his concern about the potential for overemphasizing like and follower counts, and his firm even launched a test that gave less weight to likes and re-tweets on the platform.

These changes from Instagram, Twitter and other social platforms may help marketers usher in a move to new measurement and analytics strategies, particularly those with an increased focus on the importance of comments.

Challenges that like counts have had to face include both pay-for-like schemes and fake likes driven by AI-powered bots, yet even a shift to metrics that focus more on comments won’t be entirely immune to attempts at gaming the system with fake responses.

If Instagram and other social platforms permanently adopt hidden likes, influencer measurement tools and services will undoubtedly continue to look for the most reliable and accurate engagement signals that can be repeatedly measured.

Since I first went online in 1984 with my 300-baud bulletin board system, one of the fundamentals of online communications has thankfully remained — the written comment.

[bctt tweet=”“With the recent drop in emphasis on like counts we’re seeing, the comment remains as one of the purest ways a person can show their support for a brand.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

If consumers know their likes will be hidden, will it increase the likelihood that they’ll instead go the extra mile and take the time to write a comment? That remains to be seen, however 2020 is likely to produce an increased focus on comments and other forms of measurable engagement that don’t involve like, follower or share tallies.

A Wealth of Social Engagement Measurement Tools

social media marketing influencers smmw16

There have never been as many companies offering tools and services to measure marketing campaign success and engagement online as there are now, yet serious obstacles to thoroughness and accuracy abound, with an Internet today filled largely with walled communities that only allow certain data to be gathered for analysis.

Even though the Internet is now 50 years old, and has brought about incredible and profound advances in many areas, there is still a long and largely unmarked path ahead before measuring engagement will ever be broadly accurate.

Hope is certainly not lost however — far from it — as many excellent tools exist that work wonders with the data they’re able to pull in.

We’re fans of influencer marketing platform Traackr, which we incorporate into our research when putting out our annual lists of the industry’s top influencers involved with B2B marketing, content marketing, women in marketing, and social media marketing.

More To Hide — Shortened Snippets & The Rise of the “[…]”

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More than likes and share counts are increasingly being hidden from our daily online excursions.

I recall years ago when information online suddenly began to get hidden away in another way — not from businesses cutting off access entirely to data, but from a less-is-more minimalist Web landscape and design ethos that cut off tremendous amounts of information by truncating it and added either an ellipsis, “[…]” or a click-to-expand plus sign.

This trend has continued largely unchecked for decades now, and you might be surprised if you take the time to sit back and count the sheer number of […] occurrences you encounter online daily.

I’m not the only one who’s been frustrated with webpages, services, and apps that truncate a great deal of information in the name of saving screen space, only to force us to click-to-expand sometimes dozens of times, and rarely is the helpful “expand all” option offered these days.

I’ve often wondered — what percentage of the web is now hidden by default, and how many people ever click to see this hidden information?

Thankfully, part of good search engine optimization (SEO) has always been knowing precisely how much text is visible to both consumers and to search-engine indexing robots and crawlers, to best take advantage of everything visible online today.

A Likeless 2020 Brings New B2B Marketing Opportunities

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The jury is still out on whether or not 2020 will see more social platforms hiding or placing less emphasis on like, share, and follower counts, but savvy B2B marketers will be prepared to shift to other facets of measurable campaign engagement.

It’s an increasingly tricky and quickly-changing landscape for marketers, requiring expertise, dedication, and time — leading some to hire a professional B2B marketing agency like TopRank Marketing, which had the honor of being named by Forrester as the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in its “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America, Q1 2019” report.”

Whether you tackle the challenges ahead in 2020 in-house, on your own, or with a top-tier agency, the year ahead is certain to bring unforeseen marketing industry changes, which we’ll cover here on our blog and in our weekly video news round-up with Joshua Nite and Tiffani Allen, set to reach a milestone 200th episode early in 2020.

In closing, here are six articles we’ve published this year that aim to help B2B marketers measure engagement:

The post Hiding Out: How B2B Marketers Can Adapt to Hidden Like Counts appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.