Online Marketing News: Search Shake-up, Mobile Reps Revenue, SERP Food

Social Media Adoption Top Brands

Why Do We Follow Brands on Social Media? [Infographic] – Did you know that social networking is the top online activity in the US, with the average American spending 37 minutes per day on social media sites? It’s also a fact that around 46% of web users look towards social media when making a purchase. Find out more about Why we follow brands on social. GO-Gulf

Google Confirms Changing How Quality Is Assessed, Resulting In Rankings Shake-Up – Earlier this month, many webmasters noticed significant Google ranking changes. Google has finally confirmed those ranking changes with us. Search Engine Land

STUDY: The Impact of Age Range on Facebook Ad Auction Price Tags – What effect does the age range selected during ad targeting on Facebook have on pricing in the social network’s ads auction market? SocialCode, a Facebook Marketing Partner, sought an answer to that question. SocialTimes

Bitly Introduces New Tool To Understand How People Share – Today, we’re thrilled to introduce Audience Intel, the new way for marketers to understand how customers interact with their content – whether created by you or by the Bitly Network. Bitly

Google Partners With Delivery Companies, Now You Can Order Food Right From the SERPs – Google has announced a partnership with six delivery providers across the United States, which will help facilitate a new service Google is offering within its search results. Search Engine Journal

STUDY: Global Social Media Ad Spend to Reach Nearly $36B in 2017 – Global ad spending on social media will total $23.68 billion this year and reach $35.98 billion by 2017, accounting for 16 percent of all digital ad spending worldwide, according to the latest projections from digital consultancy eMarketer. SocialTimes

Senior Digital Marketers’ Top Priorities and Challenges – Storytelling is both a top priority and a top challenge for senior marketers, finds Experian Marketing Services in its latest annual Digital Marketer Report [download page]. The survey results also suggest that profiling customers remains a challenge, although overcoming organizational silos is surprisingly not viewed as much of a priority. MarketingCharts

Digital Ad Spend Hits New $49.5 Billion High In 2014; Mobile & Social See Greatest Growth – Search remains the biggest spend overall, with desktop search as the biggest single channel at 38% of spend. Marketing Land

STUDY: Facebook Is the Dominant Social Network for Marketing by SMBs – Small and midsized businesses: Ignore Facebook at your own peril, according to new research from Gannett digital marketing company G/O Digital. SocialTimes

IAB: Search Was 50% Of US Digital Ad Spend In 2014, Desktop Still Bigger Than Mobile – Search was $24.6 billion of digital ad spend last year. Desktop outpaced mobile search spend nearly 4-to-1. Search Engine Land

Mobile to Represent More Than 11% of U.S. Local Media Revenue by 2019 – A new study from BIA/Kelsey shows that local media spend is steadily shifting toward digital, with mobile representing 11.5 percent of overall ad revenue by 2019. ClickZ

STUDY: How the NSA’s Prism Initiative Affected Americans’ Social Media Use – How have U.S. Internet users changed the way they view and manage privacy on their social media accounts since the National Security Agency’s Prism initiative came to light nearly two years ago? The latest study from Pew Research Center examines the changes in Americans’ perceptions and behavior since the news of Prism broke. SocialTimes

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: GO-Gulf


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New Report Reveals the True Impact of Social Media Marketing for Business

IMPACT-SOCIAL-MEDIA-052715

The way social networks have impacted our personal and professional lives is far greater than most of us could have anticipated. While we were battling with our friends over getting cut from their top friends list on their Myspace profile, we couldn’t have imagined the impact of social media today. The evolution of social networks in the past 10 or even 5 years has been truly remarkable.

Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report holds valuable insight into how marketers are incorporating social media, how much time they’re spending and what is on the horizon.

With  92% of marketers reporting that social media is important to their business, it’s clear that marketers believe social media holds weight, but what is the true impact on their business?

Top 5 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

The 3,700 marketers surveyed as part of this report had a wide range of experience and goals for social media. However, the actual impact that social media had on their business can be broken down into 5 easy to understand benefits.

#1 – Increased Exposure

With a whopping 91%, increased exposure was the top benefit that marketers participating in this report have seen from deploying social media marketing efforts. Many of the respondents stated that as little as 6 hours per week invested in social media created an increase in exposure.

Social media marketing presents a unique opportunity for companies to stay top of mind with current customers and get on the radar of new customers on their preferred platforms.

#2 – Increased Traffic

70% of marketers found that social media activities increased traffic to their website while 75% of businesses engaging in social media activities for a year or more reported an even bigger increase in traffic.

Encouraging social media users to leave a social media platform and visit your website is no easy undertaking. A solid mix of engaging content and well formulated ads with a compelling call to action can help encourage consumers to visit your web properties.

#3 – Developed Loyal Fans

Not surprisingly, B2C marketers (73%) were more likely to develop a loyal fan base than B2B marketers (63%).

It is no mystery that most social media users engage on social platforms for personal needs first. B2B marketing often involves multiple decision makers at different stages in the purchasing journey. Fortunately, social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are beginning to make it easier for marketers to target audiences based on interests, job titles and demographics. This opens the door for B2B marketers to segment individual messages based on need.

#4 – Provided Marketplace Insight

68% of marketers felt that social media provided market insight that they did not previously have or reaffirmed what they already knew.

Social media enables you to see your consumers in their true habitat. It is easy to uncover who else they interact with, what their favorite movies or tv shows are, where they work, the list goes on and on.

#5 – Generated Leads

Over 50% of marketers who have been utilizing social media for over a year were generating leads through social media.

Of all the benefits in the top five list, this one has the largest impact on the bottom line. In order to generate qualified leads through social media, your community has to trust you, be engaged and have a need for what it is that you offer.

What other benefits made the top ten list?

  • Improved Search Rankings – 58%
  • Grown Business Partnerships – 55%
  • Established Thought Leadership – 55%
  • Improved Sales – 51%
  • Reduced Marketing Expenses – 50%

Additional Report Must-Knows

Top 3 Most Important Social Platforms For Marketers

  • Facebook – 52%
  • LinkedIn – 21%
  • Twitter – 12%

B2C Vs B2B: Platform Breakdown

B2C and B2B marketers may be using the same social media platforms, but their efforts differ between platforms and which they consider to be the most important.

b2b versus b2c

Investing in Paid Social

The vast majority of marketers surveyed (84%) said that they use Facebook Ads , with Google ads in at a cool 41% and LinkedIn ads at 14%.

paid social

Looking for More Social Media Insights?

To learn more about how your marketing peers are performing on the top social platforms and what is on the horizon for 2015, download the full report from Social Media Examiner.

A primary takeaway from this report is that many marketers are finally beginning to justify time and resources invested on social media marketing because they’re finally able to quantify a return based on objectives.

What results from this survey surprised you the most?

Top Image: Shutterstock


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If You Want Your Content Marketing to be Great, Ask Influencers to Participate

participation marketing with influencers

With ubiquitous internet connectivity and billions of people empowered to create and publish online, digital marketing competition is greater than ever. Companies are increasingly challenged to create quality content that can stand out to attract and engage new customers.

How can businesses grow their reach and improve content quality in such a market?

Through participation marketing with industry influencers.

Over the past year, the expression “influencer marketing” has exploded in popularity and many marketing communications professionals are continuing to see influencers in the light of “celebrity endorsements”.

There’s more to influencer marketing than advocacy.

But there’s more to influencer marketing than advocacy and all influencers are not created equal. With participation marketing, companies can take a view of working with influencers of different types to produce a variety of benefits – all through content.

What kind of benefits? The investment in co-creation of content between brands and influencers enables quality content at scale. With brands and influencers working together, co-created content can reinforce mutual authority for all involved. In such a cooperative scenario, influencers can gain exposure, brands can reach new audiences, and customers are “info-tained” and inspired to engage. Everybody wins.

At TopRank Online Marketing, we’ve worked with over 200 influencers in the past 5 years to create numerous content assets ranging from our famous conference eBooks to videos to blog posts to infographics. These assets have driven over 800,000 views and well over 1,000 leads. Content co-created with influencers also continues to serve attract and engage objectives as long as they are live online.

Establishing a successful influencer content program requires a framework for identifying, engaging, and managing relationships. Here’s a 5 step approach to do just that.

influencer content goals

1. Set Goals for Marketing and Influencers

In order for co-created content to be successful for marketing, specific audiences and goals should be identified.

Think about: What do you hope to achieve with an influencer content program? How will influencers benefit? More importantly, how will your customers benefit?

Think about the distinct audience that you’re after with the content being co-created and set goals specific to what your idea of success looks like. Quantify those goals as well, whether it’s to increase the reach and engagement of your brand to the influencer’s community or to inspire more leads and sales by a certain percent.

Also, set goals for the influencers. For short term projects, focus on participation quality. With longer term programs, focus on participation, marketing outcomes and the relationship.

influencer content focus

2. Pick Your Theme and Focus Topic

You can start by asking, “What does your brand want to be known for?”

Themes facilitate planning content and also serve to focus the sourcing of the right influencers. Themes that are meaningful to all parties involved: brand, influencer and target audience will be far more successful.

In addition to branding goals, themes in co-created content programs are often driven by key customer questions that can be answered by brand marketing. Looking at distinct customer segments and the buying experience at each stage should reveal the themes and triggers that your content program will focus on. What is the solution? How will it work for me? What do I do next?

Consider what questions your customers are asking at awareness, consideration and purchase stages. Then think about the themes that will drive asking and answering those questions through influencer content.

identify recruit influencers

3. Find, Qualify and Recruit Influencers

Beyond the famous “brandividual” influencers in your industry, consider niche experts that have an active and passionate following. Also consider subject matter experts within your own company.

To start, talk to executives, marketing, PR and sales to identify a seed list of influencers. Then use an influencer discovery tool like Traackr or BuzzSumo to filter them out and add new influencers your team didn’t know about. Results are better when influencers matches are found on more than one tool.

When reaching out to influencers, be sure to accentuate the positive and the mutual value. Focus first on what’s in it for the influencer. If possible, find out what their goals are and see how working together can move them towards reaching those goals whether it’s overall exposure and being associated publicly with your brand or early and unique access to information.

Influencer participation pitches should be credible, succinct and offer a clear description of what is being asked.

Once a topical list of influencers is identified, they can be engaged in a variety of ways including:

  • Share their status updates on social networks
  • Comment on their blog posts or industry articles
  • Follow on social networks
  • Write about them
  • Interview them

Influencer participation pitches should be credible, succinct and offer a clear description of what is being asked. Pitches should also be very easy to act on. In other words, make it really easy to participate. For example, writing takes time, so offer to do a phone interview instead.

Other tactics that work include: humor, high degree of personalization, incentives and association with other influencers already on board.

CoCreate Influencer Content

4. Content Co-Creation is Participation Marketing

Influencer content co-creation might best begin with small, easy projects that advance the relationship to more robust and substantial time commitments.

Any content type you can create in a content marketing program can be co-created with influencers.

After content is collected from influencers, assemble, edit and package in a promotable format. Then share a preview to inspire their continued participation to promote. Be sure to set expectations by sharing your timeline for production, publishing and promotion.

Any content type you can create in a content marketing program can be co-created with influencers, from eBooks to videos to articles to social microcontent.

Measure Influencer Content

5. Promote and Measure

Provide influencers with tools such as sharing images, pre-written tweets, embed codes and short URLs. Making it easy to participate and promote can substantially increase the success of your influencer content program.

Offer influencers feedback on what’s working and what is not. Since they’ve invested in the creation of the content, it’s in their interest to see the promotion succeed.

You’ve Got This!

By partnering with influencers, marketers can tap into a wealth of knowledge and a breadth of exposure for brand messages. These are not self-promotional messages though, they are the things that the brands’ customers care about.

The mutual investment in creating useful and engaging content can pay dividends for all involved. This is especially true for the resource-strapped marketer looking to scale content quantity, while not sacrificing quality. The icing on the cake are the relationships built that can fuel content collaboration, partnerships and even new business in the future.

A version of this post originally appeared at Brand Quarterly

Watch for our latest influencer content project featuring speakers from the 2015 Content Marketing World conference publishing throughout the month of June.

Photos Shutterstock: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


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Why Digital Marketing Podcasts Belong in Your Learning Routine

woman-listening-to-podcast

Marketers are always looking for new and efficient ways to learn. As a marketer, I’ve recently begun working podcasts into my ongoing learning routine. I’ll admit, I resisted for awhile (which was dumb). I think it’s because I have an aversion to books on tape/CD, which comes from being forced to listen to children’s books on repeat during annual family trips up and down the Oregon coast.

A realization hit me one day when I was reading entertainment “news” and taking a quiz to find out my spirit animal. I spend an exorbitant amount of time consuming a lot of content-light when I’m on the go, when I should be using that time to keep up to speed with what’s going on in my industry.

Do any of you feel the same way?

What Makes A Good Podcast?

For me, that answer is partially dependent on what setting I’m in while consuming the content. If I’m driving to work I enjoy listening to a podcast that offers quick tips and news highlights. However, If I’m walking my dog or sitting at my desk, I prefer listening to interviews or more in-depth analysis of marketing topics.

Ultimately though, the format is not as important as the foundation. A good podcast should have the same elements as any other form of content marketing and should answer the following questions:

  • What is it? Defining the topic that will be covered and the people involved.
  • How does it help the listener? Provide valuable information that helps solve a marketing problem that you may have.
  • What’s the next step? Encourage the reader to listen to more podcasts, implement the tips learned and then come back for more or visit other content marketing assets created by the podcaster.

Expert podcaster Jerod Morris believes that there are four elements that create a remarkable podcast:

  • Authenticity
  • Usefulness
  • Sustainability
  • Profitability

My (Current) Top 5 Favorite Digital Marketing Podcasts

Understanding what makes a good podcast is important because you can very easily begin going down the rabbit hole and spend an entire hour listening to information that gets you nowhere. Below are some of my favorite digital marketing podcasts:

  1. This Old Marketing Podcast: Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose have great banter and provide a healthy mix of content marketing smarts and lively discussions about the latest news.
  2. Marketing Smarts: MarketingProfs’ podcast features interviews with some of the top marketing experts in their fields. The in-depth interviews provide a real look at the subjects and their journey to success.
  3. The Sophisticated Marketer’s Podcast: Jason Miller of LinkedIn has only aired two episodes of his new podcast, but I’m already a fan. The way that Jason approaches interviewing his guests incorporates a lot of humor and natural conversation.
  4. Online Marketing Made Easy: Amy Porterfield is so easy to listen to. When she’s talking about social media, lead generation or content marketing, it feels like she’s speaking directly to me which makes it hard to tear myself away from listening.
  5. Unpodcast: Alison Kramer and Scott Stratten’s podcast is reminiscent of your favorite morning radio talk show, filled with humor, awkward tangents and oh yeah, marketing!

Best & Worst Times for Listening to Podcasts

Unfortunately, I now want to listen to podcasts all the time. Through a series of trial and error, I was able to uncover some of the best and worst times to integrate podcasts into your routine:

Best Times for Listening to Podcasts

  • When you’re sitting in seemingly endless traffic: hook up your smartphone to your car stereo and you’re good to go.
  • Hitting the pavement or the treadmill at the gym: catching up on Keeping up with the Kardashians can wait.
  • Walking your pet: I’ve found that listening to a podcast while walking my Puggle is better than music.
  • During your lunch hour: It’s finally nice out, so I’ve been enjoying spending some time taking a walk outside, listening to digital marketing podcasts and soaking up some sun.

Worst Times for Listening to Podcasts

  • While trying to write emails, marketing content or your name: podcasts and writing are not a good mix.
  • When you’re in an important meeting: this one should be obvious right?
  • When you’re reading a news article, book or pretty much anything: unfortunately you won’t retain much from either.

What Are Your Go-To Podcasts?

We asked, and you answered! Thank you to the members of our online community that shared your favorite podcasts with us. Below are some of the responses:

Amber Jones: Oh yes, I love marketing podcasts! They let me “tune in” and learn something new while I continue to be productive. My faves are Why I Social (hosted by Christopher Barrows), iSocialTalks (hosted by Brian Fanzo), and the UnMarketing podcast (hosted by Scott Stratten and Alison Kramer)

Craig Johnson: Marketing Smarts and HBR Ideacast

Doug & Emily Allison: Home Business Profits with Ray Higdon!

If you didn’t have a chance to tune-in earlier, now is your time to share. What are your favorite digital marketing podcasts and what keeps you coming back?

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

Image: Shutterstock


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B2B Marketing Roundup: Resources, Trends and Case Studies to Prep for #BMA15

BMA 2015 Speakers

For nearly 900 B2B marketers, this week will bring a cornucopia of ideas, insights and networking opportunities to the BMA National conference in Chicago. There’s a lot going on in the B2B marketing space from the increase in humanization of business marketing content to the application of big data, the impact of video, mobile and ecommerce.

The need to innovate isn’t owned by B2B marketers of course – CMOs are looking hard at differentiating their marketing and digital marketers are always looking ahead to see what marketing trends are worth exploring, experimenting with and adopting.

Making sense of it all takes time, so as part of my prep for the event, I’ve curated a nice mix of helpful resources, thoughts about future B2B marketing trends and even some case studies.

b2b marketing infographic

B2B Marketing Trends, Research and Statistics:

2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends - North America

B2B Marketing Strategy

B2B Marketing Tactics and Case Studies

As I mentioned above, I’ll be attending BMA’s Global B2B Marketing conference this week in Chicago. Here are the sessions and people I’m really looking forward to most. You’ll see several of these presentations liveblogged later in the week and next here at TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog:

  • Capitalizing on Change: Skills for the New Era of B2B MarketingMichelle M. Smith, SPIM, CRP, VP, Research, BMA, and VP, Marketing at O.C. Tanner
  • Being 3MJesse Singh, SVP of Marketing and Sales at 3M
  • The Rise of the Data-Driven MarketerRussell Glass, Head of Products, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions; Founder, Bizo=
  • Here’s Why You’re Failing at Content MarketingJoe Pulizzi, Founder at Content Marketing Institute
  • Predicting the Future: Unlocking the Power of Big Data in B2B MarketingLaura Ramos, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research
  • Taming the Marketing Technology Beast and Teaching It to Fetch (Customers)Scott Brinker, Co-Founder and CTO at ion interactive
  • The Cloud Games: Catching Fire – A big panel featuring:
  • INSPIRED: How Brilliant Brands Create a Sudden Urge to ActAndrew Davis, author, Brandscaping
  • Putting Editorial Content at The Heart of B2B MarketingJohn Bell, VP, Enterprise Digital Marketing at Travelers
  • Successfully Making the Tectonic Shift from B2C to B2BMark Wilson, SVP, Marketing at BlackBerry
  • Face-to-Face Marketing RulesRuth Stevens, President at eMarketing Strategy
  • Big Data, Little Data and Marketing at the IntersectionTheresa Kushner, VP, Data Governance at VMware
  • B2B Video: The Comedy Writes ItselfTim Washer, Senior Marketing Manager, Social Media at Cisco Systems

If you’re attending BMA, I hope to see you there.


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Online Marketing News: Facebook Feed Buzzes Businesses, Promoted Pins Get Powerful, Twitter Shows Search

Influencer Marketing Golden Ticket

Is Influencer Marketing the Next Golden Ticket? [INFOGRAPHIC] – Influencer marketing is growing like crazy. Will it become the next golden ticket? Check out this infographic to find out. The Shelf

Google Webmaster Tools Rebrands To Google Search Console – Google aims to get more users on Google Webmaster Tools by renaming it to Google Search Console. Search Engine Land

Twitter’s Objective-Based Ads Are Now Available To All Advertisers – Company officially launches beta program that it says has helped improve efficiency and cut costs for advertisers who pay only for certain types of engagement, like website clicks, conversions, lead generation or video views. Marketing Land

Tweets Now Appear In Google Search – Twitter and Google announced that tweets now appear in mobile searches. They will make their way to desktop searches in the future. Find out more about how they’ll be appearing. Twitter

Google to Add ‘Buy’ Button to Search Results Within Next Few Weeks – Within the next few weeks Google will be rolling out a “buy” button that will allow people to purchase certain items directly from its search results pages. Search Engine Journal

YouTube Adds Click-to-Shop Button to TrueView Ads – YouTube is tweaking its commercials to be more like interactive infomercials. Ad Age

Google Launches Shopping Ads For YouTube, Integration With Merchant Center – Thursday, YouTube announced a version of product listing ads are coming to retailers’ video ads with TrueView for Shopping. Search Engine Land

Google Upgrades AdWords Editor to Support Labels – Google has made a worldwide update of AdWords Editor that will offer labels, support for upgraded URLs, call-only ads, in-app mobile ads, and custom affinity audiences. Search Engine Watch

Pinterest to Enhance Promoted Pin Ad Capabilities – The visual discovery platform is going to add a slew of new features to promoted pins, including app promotion. How can marketers benefit from these updates? Pinterest is going to make promoted pins more appealing to advertisers by adding a new suite of ad solutions. ClickZ

Google Says Its Google Preferred Viewers 29% More Likely To Visit Brand Sites After Watching YouTube – According to a study conducted by Google this year, nearly one in ten of its Google Preferred desktop viewers do not watch traditional TV. Marketing Land

The Google-Twitter Deal Goes Live, Giving Tweets Prominent Placement In Google’s Results – Tweets now appear for trending topics in a new carousel format. Twitter doesn’t earn directly off display but will gain new traffic. Search Engine Land

Facebook Now Lets People Call Businesses From News Feed Ads – The social network adds “Call Now” button, enhancing the local awareness ad program for local businesses. Marketing Land

From our Online Marketing Community:

In response to Content Marketing: 6 Steps for Building a Massive AudienceJason Quey said, “Great insight Evan, just buffered this! I believe many should focus on the right strategy to a good content foundation.”

On Stand Out or Don’t Bother: Sally Hogshead on Harnessing Your Fascination Advantage, Sebastian Mealer shared, “I love the advice and framework. I took the test and arrived at the two advantages I expected. What I think is great about this is communicating and displaying your strengths, and remembering to focus on them in messages as well as time. Very helpful in distilling unique strengths and value into a concise statement.”

And Daniel Dessinger commented, “Some great tips here. I missed this session at the conference. Thanks so much for sharing with us. I definitely think #4 is our greatest opportunity. It’s easy to focus on competitors and peers and to make sure one is doing what they do. It’s not a creative stance, but it’s more of a CYA approach. Realizing that the REAL success lies in differentiation is a GREAT way to break out of the mold and begin paving a better path for one’s business.”

Then in response to Dr. Evil’s Guide to Landing Page Design and Optimization, Monica Michaela said, “Hi! I totally agree that “confusion is the enemy of action”. Being very clear helps you build trust between your company and your potential customer.

I also believe that having security badges or/and money-back guarantees on your landing page definitely increases the numbers of conversions because everybody wants to feel safe and trust the company they are buying from. Who wouldn’t? =)”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: The Shelf


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B2B Content Marketing Playbook: Tips to Prepare You for the Big Content Game

B2B-CONTENT-PLAYBOOK

The 2015 B2B Marketing Report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs sheds a pretty bright light on the true state of B2B content marketing. While 86% of B2B marketers are using content marketing, only 8% rate their content marketing efforts as “very effective”. It’s not so different than teams participating in sports like football. Sure, everyone is playing, but who is actually really good at it?

Fundamental blocking and tackling are key for a winning football game. The same can be said for implementing a successful B2B content marketing program: mastery of the fundamentals is essential. With B2B content creation in particular, marketers must be prepared for everything from understanding the voice of the customer to developing the right mix of content assets.

For most B2B marketers, staying on top of the B2B content marketing game takes practice, practice and more practice to be successful. Drilling those basic skills can mean the difference between winning and losing the business customer acquisition game.

Here’s the good news: We’ve put this B2B Content Marketing Playbook together to provide you with all the content marketing formations you’ll need to play the B2B content game right and maybe even win a content marketing championship!

shutterstock_221686972

Learn the Language of Your Customer

Writing killer content for business buyers takes practice. Part of that practice involves understanding the language of the industry that you’re writing for. It is important to strike a balance between incorporating the proper industry terms while not overstuffing your content or using jargon in the wrong context.

Here are a few steps you can take to catch on to the terms you need to know:

  1. Talk to your current customers – learn their pain points, goals and the words they use to describe what’s important
  2. Review the website content of your customers and their competitors – learn to speak like a native
  3. Search for and absorb information from reputable content sources online – where do your customers discover and consume industry and solutions information? What publications, influencers and peers do they listen to and read?

Connect with the Right Content Marketing Resources

Believe it or not, sometimes you’ll need to bring in reinforcements. Determining whether you need to hire experienced industry copywriters for the short or long-term, depends on the project.

No matter how long contract copywriters or content marketing agency resources are a part of your marketing team’s efforts, learn as much as you can in the time that you’re working with them. Be wary of writers that claim to have industry expertise but don’t provide examples of their work.

When interviewing potential resources, keep the following in mind:

  • How long have they been creating content for the specific industry?
  • Have they written content for a reputable content source or company?
  • What is their process for understanding content goals, customer voice and actual content creation?

Map B2B Buyer Personas to Content

To deliver the most relevant and useful information to B2B buyers, its important to identify distinct customer segments and the stages of their buying experience. To write specifically for a group of buyers and what they care about, it’s useful to create a persona that represents their common interests, behaviors, pain points and goals.

For each persona and buying experience or journey, customers will have different types of questions depending on where they are in the process. The B2B content you create should address the needs of a specific customer persona as well as the broad to specific questions they need answered when investigating the kinds of solutions your company offers.

Let’s assume for a second that the product is a marketing automation tool and the target customer is a large brand seeking a solution to help deliver their marketing in a more structured and meaningful way. It’s important that content is created for any one of the positions/needs below:

  • Director of Marketing: Is interested in seeing if there is a better way to create, distribute and track content.
    • Stage: Awareness
    • Sample Blog Content: 10 Signs You May Need Marketing Automation
  • Marketing Manager: Has been given a directive to create a cost/capability comparison for a variety of different marketing automation solutions:
    • Stage: Engagement
    • Sample Blog Content: 5 Features & Benefits of XYZ Marketing Automation
  • VP of Marketing: Needs to determine if Marketing Automation will be a sound investment for the organization.
    • Stage: Conversion
    • Sample Blog Content: 7 Ways Marketing Automation Saves Money & Improves Efficiency

The examples above only scratch the surface in terms of potential personas, stages in the buying cycle and types of content that can be used to meet the needs of your customers.

playbook fumble

Lead Your Content with Key Points

It’s likely that the professionals searching for B2B solutions have responsibilities outside of purchasing the product that you’re promoting via content marketing (aka, they’re busy). Keep that in mind when you’re determining how to structure content.

Blog posts for example, should quickly summarize key points so that the reader can decide if they would like to continue reading. This sets the stage for what they’ll find in the blog post.

The B2B and H2H Tug of War

B2B customers desire content that meets both their personal and business needs. How can you strike that delicate balance?

  • Be specific
  • Show empathy
  • Focus on solutions
  • Inject voice and personality
  • Create content for where they live (social, mobile), not just where they work (blogs, publications)

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Incorporate Multiple Types of Content

Did you know that there are well over 30 types of Content Marketing tactics? Based on the product or service that content is being created for, and the audience, there is an incredible opportunity to provide multiple content types to provide buyers with the best possible information experience. Examples of tactics that have traditionally worked well for B2B marketing include:

  • Case Studies
  • White Papers
  • Blog Posts
  • eBooks
  • Digital Newsletters
  • Email Marketing
  • Webinars and Real World Events

Also consider the “human” side of B2B marketing through social media, mobile and visually-focused content. After all, buyers are people too.

Include Calls to Action (CTAs)

B2B content should almost always include a call to action of some sort. It’s important that you always give readers direction on what to do next, whether it’s to consume another piece of content, subscribe, share or make an appointment. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering B2B content CTAs:

  • Don’t Be Shy: Your CTAs should stand out as a clear next step. Instead of burying your CTA at the bottom of the page, consider using your content header or sidebar.
  • Keep it Simple: While you may want to know everything about the person completing your CTA, you have to remove the barrier to entry. Ask for only the necessary information you need to accomplish your goal.
  • Offer Value, Again: Remind the prospect what they’re signing up for. Be sure to reiterate that they are signing up for XYZ webinar, which will help them accomplish ABC.

Experiment with Landing Pages

Landing pages create an enormous opportunity for capturing information that can be used to effectively nurture B2B leads. When experimenting with landing pages here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • There may be different levels of decision makers and different stages of the buying cycle.
  • You can increase the value of good content by requiring form completion
  • Take some time to A/B test your page content and forms
  • Always include testimonials

Why Mastering the Game of B2B Content Marketing is Essential

Jumping head-first into a game of B2B content marketing without mastering the blocking and tackling basics can quickly have you experiencing more losses than wins. In order to create successful B2B content, understand who your customers are, what they care about and how the product that you’re marketing helps solve their business problem. Speak to your target buyer using their language, using the kinds of content they prefer and with offers that will be the most compelling for them to take action.

In football, it’s often said that the best defense is a good offense. Stay on top of your B2B content marketing game by incorporating the basic rules from this B2B Content Marketing Playbook into your content routine.

Photos via Shutterstock: FirstSecondThirdFourth


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
B2B Content Marketing Playbook: Tips to Prepare You for the Big Content Game | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post B2B Content Marketing Playbook: Tips to Prepare You for the Big Content Game appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Top Digital Marketing Takeaways From Authority Rainmaker

Brian Clark Authority Rainmaker Cover

What does it take to become an authority in your industry? How can we make better sense out of an integrated approach to digital marketing?

According to the presentations we saw at Authority Rainmaker 2015, it takes the passion to learn and pursue knowledge, the expertise that warrants credibility and respect of your peers and the time and effort to earn your place as an industry thought leader.

While only in it’s second year, Copyblogger’s Authority conference brought the passion and expertise that will no doubt result in achieving authority status among digital marketing events in the industry.

Alexis Hall, Lee Odden and I had the pleasure of representing TopRank Online Marketing for this informative and entertaining event, which took place at the beautiful Ellie Caulkins Opera House in downtown Denver Colorado. We met interesting people, created great blog and social content and learned lots of great digital marketing tips to share with our agency team.

Here are some of our favorite takeaways:

Buyers Hold the Power – Daniel Pink

D Pink AR2015

Today’s buyers are extremely savvy. They have access to information and tools, that previously were only available to the sellers. Marketers have an enormous opportunity to begin serving these customers in a more meaningful way.

Find out how by reading The New Era of Sales and Content Marketing – Daniel Pink

Content Marketing Pros Follow Similar Paths to Success – Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi

Content marketing has exploded in popularity and for very good reason. Done right, it gets huge business results at a fraction of the cost of more conventional marketing tactics. Several trail-blazing businesses and thought leaders have been instrumental in driving the adoption of content marketing by not only proving the model, but in many cases defining it.

For companies who have yet to achieve content marketing greatness, make sure you’re on the right track by following Joe Pulizzi’s 6 Steps to Building a Massive Audience

Cleverness Doesn’t Pay When it Comes to Landing Pages – Sonia Simone

Sonia AR2015 2

Clever titles may work great for BuzzFeed and Reddit content, but they can be confusing in the context of landing pages. The goal of any landing page isn’t to get a laugh, it’s to motivate action and confusion is the enemy of action.

Learn how to turn your landing page CRO up to 11 in Dr. Evil’s Guide to Landing Page Design and Optimization.

Search Engines Are Getting a Lot Smarter – Danny Sullivan

D Sullivan AR2015

As powerful and revolutionary as search engines are, the past year has seen some truly game-changing upgrades at Google. From the Hummingbird algorithm update which moved Google ranking factors far beyond just keywords and links, to the Mobile Friendly update which is helping to usher in a new era of mobile friendly websites, search marketers have had plenty to keep them busy.

Learn more about the where search is now and likely to be going in: Danny Sullivan on the State of Search Marketing in 2015 

Craving More Authority Rainmaker Insights?

This eBook features additional insights and tweetable tips from the marketing experts that appeared at Authority Rainmaker 2015.

Complete List of Coverage From Authority Rainmaker 2015

Below are links to the presentations we covered at Authority Rainmaker:

Thank you to Brian Clark, Jessica Commins and the Copyblogger team for putting on a such a great event! I know most of the attendees would agree, this is a digital marketing event worth repeating and we’re looking forward to what’s in store for next year.

Whether you attended Authority in-person or vicariously through social shares and posts like this, what were your favorite takeaways from Authority Rainmaker?


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
Top Digital Marketing Takeaways From Authority Rainmaker | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Top Digital Marketing Takeaways From Authority Rainmaker appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes with Ann Handley

Ann Handley Authority Rainmaker 2015

“Do you have any mustard?”

“Give me the mustard.”

“Pardon me: Do you have any Grey Poupon?”

These three statements mean the same thing, but each is a unique way of asking for the desired item. Often, it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

In her session at Authority Rainmaker 2015, Ann Handley shared the belief that brand voice is key to creating good content marketing that will set you apart.

There is this idea that as quantity of content increases, quality takes a nose dive. So how do you maintain or increase quality of content while increasing quantity?

It starts with being really good at the basics, like brand voice.

Not More Content…Ridiculously Better Content

  • 77% of B2C organizations are using content marketing. (Source: CMI)
  • 69% of B2C organizations are creating more content than they did 1 year ago. (Source CMI)

You aren’t just competing with your competitors anymore, but you’re competing with yourself and everyone else for mind share. Sometimes it may feel like you need more content in order to get attention.

The answer IS NOT more content…it’s ridiculously better content.

Good Writing is About Getting Inside the Heads of Other People

Producing engaging content is the biggest challenge for content marketers. Producing engaging content means becoming a better storytelling and a better writer.

According to Ann, writing is the guts of content marketing. And good writing isn’t just about grammar. It’s about knowing what your audience needs and wants and telling that story in a really interesting way.

This is where your brand voice comes into play. Ann gave us five steps to create and use a brand voice.

Step 1: You Do You (it’s not what you sell, it’s who you are).

AH 1

At a very basic level, branded web content should answer these three questions:

  • Who are you?
  • Why do you do what you do? This means what value do you offer that no one else does.
  • What are you like to deal with? This means what story are you telling more broadly when people come to your site.

Brand voice reflects your culture, amplifies your story and communicates empathy to people you want to reach.

Ann used the example of CrowdRise. The CrowdRise home page reads: “Raise money for a awesome causes and have the most fun while you do it”. The tagline says “if you don’t give back no one will like you”.

Definitely a distinctive voice: irreverent, fun and inspiring.  According to Gary Wohlfeill, Director of Marketing at CrowdRise, this is more than just copywriting. This is a calculated move to talk about who CrowdRise is and use it as a differentiator.  The copywriter isn’t just brought in at the end. They are there every step of the way.

Step 2: Write it Down

Once you know who you are broadly, then distill it down, so it’s easy to communicate and embody.

Complete this Marketing Madlib.

Our brand is (go ahead and fill out three adjectives):

1.

2.

3.

Ok – keep that handy.

Step 3: Re-frame

A Handley 3

Now that you know who you are, re-frame the three adjectives from your Madlib and put your customer into the story. Your website should be built around who you are and what that means to your customer.

Another example Ann provided was that of Tufts University. Their three adjectives are reassuring, helpful and humorous. So now let’s spin those adjectives to include their target audience, prospective parents and students applying for college.

  • Reassuring becomes relax
  • Helpful becomes no BS
  • Humorous becomes let’s not get too nutty about college

Re-framing the adjectives transforms content about “you” into content that offers a unique value for your audience.

Step 4: Do Not Dilute

AH 4

Writing in a distinctive brand voice is about taking some risks. Content marketing is a magnet that is meant to attract like minded people, and repel those who are not.

If you dilute your brand voice so you don’t offend anyone, it will be that much less powerful. Remember, this is about building an audience, not just getting eyeballs.

Step 5: Sweat the Small Stuff

An Handley 5

Brand voice touches beyond those things you typically think of as content, it’s everything you put out there. Find interesting ways to say boring stuff on your ‘about us’, landing pages, microcopy, and subscribe buttons.

Matching every word on your site to your brand voice (re-framed for your audience) shows empathy, a powerful motivator for consumers.

Quantity and quality don’t have to be enemies. By getting back to basics, who you are, your brand can create a strong voice which attracts the right audience with quantity and quality.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content: A Fight for Sore Eyes with Ann Handley | http://www.toprankblog.com

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