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How to Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts By Planning Ahead

Collective Wisdom Series Part 1 Planning Ahead Chess Image

Collective Wisdom Series Part 1 Planning Ahead Chess Image

They say two heads are better than one, but we say the more the merrier — especially when it comes to bringing you actionable tips and insights to fuel your digital marketing efforts.

That's why we're proud to announce our “Collective Wisdom” series. Throughout the series, we'll be bringing you insights, tips, and perspectives from some of the top marketing minds to help guide your content marketing strategy. With each entry, you’ll quickly learn proven methods, taking you from the very beginning of the content planning cycle to post-publication amplification and optimization.

Where should we start? At the beginning, of course.

In this piece, we explore the crucial planning stage that essential for content marketing success.

Planning Your Content — Get A Jump Ahead By Stepping Back

Having a solid plan in place is the foundation of any successful content marketing journey. There are several considerations you'll want to consider before jumping into creation, helping ensure that you have a well-thought-out and meaningful plan from beginning to end already in place.

via GIPHY

Tactic 1: Commit to Having a Plan

As the old saying goes, "A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step." For marketers, that single, first step is committing to developing and documenting your content editorial plan, even if it's not super sophisticated to begin with.

Unfortunately, some digital marketers often skip this step entirely. And with 32% of marketers staying organized is a top content planning challenge. Documenting a content plan that you can consistently refer back to will most certainly help.

If you don't know where to start, start with reading the DivvyHQ and TopRank Marketing report, which features marketers Michael Brenner, Tamsen Webster, Carla Johnson, Robert Rose, and others sharing methods for creating proper content calendars and involving team members in the content planning process.

DivvyHQ 2018 Content Planning Report Image

Tactic 2: Build and Ask a List of Sharers Before Publication

You know that once you release your content into the wild, you need to promote it. But do you spend time upfront locking down who could help you spread the word? If not, the upfront effort is worth it. You'll have a key next step built in your process, rather than scrambling last minute.

Building a list of target sharers is a two-step process:

1) Reviewing your known contacts

2) Researching and qualifying others who would find your content relevant and share-worthy.

When it comes to researching newbies to add to your list, EmailField’s Aman Thakur likes to use BuzzSumo to discover people who have a history of sharing content similar to what you plan to publish, by searching for keywords related to your piece.

Thakur then recommends looking for relevant BuzzSumo articles that have over 200 or so Twitter shares, filtering the list by people, and exporting them to your sharer-contact spreadsheet or document, a technique he outlined for CMI.

BuzzSumo Sharer List Image

Moz contributor Isla McKetta is a fan of using Followerwonk to search through Twitter profile biographies to help build a list of influencers in your niche who may be well-suited to sharing your content, as she details in the Moz guide to content marketing.

Followerwork Twitter Bio Search Image

Tactic 3: Plan Post Reuse In Advance

Actionable Marketing Guide’s Chief Content Officer Heidi Cohen takes the time to plan out content reuse and even the creation of ancillary works. She suggests:

When you write your post, craft related, tailored pieces at the same time. Present a different aspect of the same topic with each piece. Write two complete posts rather than having a single post in two parts.

Consider where your content will be most likely to fill the needs of those viewing it, and how that will best work when it comes time to reuse and rework your initial messaging. Doing this in the planning stage can both save time in the long run, and ensure that content reuse is done in a well-thought-out manner, instead of possibly being forgotten altogether.

Cohen and others recommend fashioning a measured pace for doling out new versions of your initial content over time, each incorporating a new element or perspective on your original content, or perhaps using updated statistical data, all the while considering where new audiences for your work may exist.

Our own Caitlin Burgess also explores the advantages of experimentation and the role of creativity when planning content reuse, in her helpful "A Tasty, Strategic Addition to the Content Marketing Table: ‘Repurposed Content Cobbler’."

"If there’s one thing that every content marketer has in spades, it’s a fully stocked content pantry," she says. "From white papers and eBooks to blog posts and original or third-party research, all of that robust and niche content has the potential to be sliced, diced, and repurposed into something new and fresh."

Tactic 4: Use Target Audience Personas to Supercharge Your Content Calendar

Understanding the pain points, needs, and attitudes of your target audience is critical if you want to develop a content strategy that wholly resonates. After all, how can you be the best answer for your audience if you don’t understand what questions they’re asking or what problems they’re trying to solve.

Social Media Today Community Manager Emma Wiltshire knows how important it is to create marketing personas well before launching content. Knowing the search queries you want to show up for and how they align with the needs of your target audience should be fully understood before you begin creating new content.

Audience Personas Image

Tactic 5: Find Your Best Distribution Options

Savvy marketers understand that the job has scarcely begun once they've hit publish on a piece of content, and recognize that amplification is crucial. Those who don't build distribution and sharing into the planning process risk losing out on a key element in the planning cycle.

As Cathy McPhillips, Vice President of Marketing at Content Marketing Institute (CMI), said:

"You spend so much time creating epic content, so why not spend that same amount of time coming up with a plan for distribution and promotion? It can be a down and dirty spreadsheet — fill in dates, audience, messaging, and what you’re trying to achieve."

But where should you plan to share your content?

Heidi Cohen also recognizes the advantages of finding the best distribution options for your content, and the time to make these decisions is before content has been completed.

Owned, social, and third-party media all have specific uses, and finding out whether your campaign is best suited to using just one or all three is an important step in the content planning process, outlined nicely by Cohen in her “60+ Ways To Maximize Your Content Distribution” guide.

Distribution Network Image

Weigh the value of each publishing platform and channel, and when you’ve chosen those best-suited to your content, it’s helpful to document the plan and share it with all your team-members, so everyone knows what’s expected, including which key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics will be used throughout the lifetime of the campaign to reach your goals.

Don't Just Wish — Gain A Major Advantage By Planning Ahead

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said: "It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." Take her famous advice to heart, and focus your wishes and goals into creating an actionable content plan.

By taking the time to follow these steps — documenting your plan, building a sharer list, incorporating reuse ahead of time, using audience personas, and finding your best distribution options — you'll gain a major advantage over those who skip over some or all of the planning stage.

When you're confident in your content planning process, you can move on to the crafting and creation portion of your campaign, and we'll take a closer look at that stage in the next part of our Collective Wisdom series. Stay tuned!

Ready to learn more? See Lee Odden present the latest best-answer marketing strategies at Pubcon Las Vegas 2018 on October 16 - 18, and MarketingProfs' B2B Marketing Forum in San Francisco on November 13 - 16, where Ashley Zeckman will also be sharing her digital marketing insight.

The post How to Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts By Planning Ahead appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Track Social Media Traffic Using Google Analytics

Do you know if your social media efforts are working? Wondering how to track link clicks from social traffic? In this article, you’ll discover how to use UTM tags to measure your social media traffic with Google Analytics. Why Measure Your Social Media Traffic? Measuring your social media traffic will help you determine which marketing [...]

The post How to Track Social Media Traffic Using Google Analytics appeared first on Social Media Examiner.

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Enterprise B2B Influencer Marketing Interview: Dr Konstanze Alex, Dell

Influencer Marketing Interview with Konstanze Alex

Konstanze Alex

Within the world of B2B influencer marketing, there are a handful of brand experts who have been charting a course within large enterprise organizations for the rest of us to follow. One of those pathfinders is Dr. Konstanze Alex (@konstanze), Head of Corporate Influencer Relations at Dell.

My first experience with Konnie was several years ago when TopRank Marketing was working with Dell to develop relationships with IT influencers as part of an online publication initiative. Since then, we've worked with Dell to help develop an influencer marketing playbook, support influencer engagement at events and through content, but her relationship focus on working with influencers has stuck with me through it all.

In this interview, we'll learn about the uniqueness of B2B influencer marketing, practical tips, a few of Konnie's favorite influencer programs and where influencer marketing for the enterprise is headed.

What brought you to the world of Influencer Marketing?

Konstanze AlexAbout 5 years ago I stepped into a new role in Social Media Marketing and one of my first projects had me investigate social selling experts for who understood the social media from a social business and sales perspective, specifically for a large global organization like Dell. One important aspect for us at the time was to educate our marketing leadership on social analytics and insights to help build programs for our marketing teams that would in turn lay the foundation for successful social selling programs and campaigns.

How is influencer marketing different for B2B than B2C?

In my experience B2B and B2C influencer marketing are not even siblings in the same family. They might be distant cousins at best.

B2B influencer marketing has a much slower and longer lifecycle. It is truly a long-term relationship business in which trust and mutual value creation are built over a long time via ongoing engagements and constant knowledge sharing.

B2C influencer marketing, in general, is focused on capturing the attention of large online consumer audiences which makes sense given the more transactional nature of the business.

Cutting edge B2B influencer marketing focuses on both, online and offline engagements.

Cutting edge B2B influencer marketing focuses on both, online and offline engagements by the influencers with their highly targeted, smaller business and IT decision maker audiences. The understanding of the off-line aspects of B2B influencer marketing is evolving as long-term relationships mature, trust grows and an alignment of values has been clearly established.

For example, strategic partnerships with influencers can lead to the very natural incorporation of brand content into the influencer’s event and conference keynotes, personal and professional conversations, strategic writings, etc. At that point a B2B influencer relationship resembles traditional relationships with industry analysts.

In B2B influencer marketing it is not the audience size of an influencer but the trust level an influencer has built with his/her audience that matters.

In B2B influencer marketing it is not the audience size of an influencer but the trust level an influencer has built with his/her audience that matters, especially when it comes to high value purchase decisions and long-term commitments a customer makes with a brand. For a brand, the stakes lie in constantly briefing and engaging the influencer on a strategic vision and technical level.

What are 2-3 of the main benefits of collaborating with influencers for B2B companies?

Working with B2B influencers allows our brand to have a constant pulse check with purchase decision makers. Informed influencers who share our vision of the future based on their own experience and expertise provide for independent, third party validation.

Strategic partnerships with influencers provide for an outside in view when creating content for our customers.

Strategic partnerships with influencers provide for an outside in view when creating content for our customers. We need to constantly ensure that, as a brand, we don’t start talking to ourselves, but keep a keen focus on the evolving challenges our customers have and on language they use to express these challenges.

How is influencer marketing positioned within your company? Ex: independent department that serves the brand and departments / business unites or is it more decentralized? What are the advantages of that structure?

At Dell, relationship building and maintenance with influencers, media, press and analysts is housed in corporate communications. We firmly believe that relationships based on trust, aligned values, independence of opinion and mutual value creation are key to successful collaboration between brands and influencers.

What tips can you share about being more effective about influencer identification, qualification and recruitment?

You have to invest time and due diligence to the identification process. A sophisticated influencer program doesn’t rely on a single identification method or one-time vetting process of to start and maintain a relationship with an influencer but rather develops a scorecard that gets constantly reviewed and, most importantly, evolves as this emerging field matures. At this point, we review strategy, methods, tactics and measurement on an ongoing basis.

Are there specific B2B influencers that you keep going back to because they are so amazing?

Yes, of course, we have a number of strategic partners who never stop evolving or expanding their expertise. We value them highly and feel that they represent a reflection of our brand’s values and long term vision.

Do you have a favorite B2B influencer marketing campaign that you can share? What made it successful?

There are numerous, but a couple stand out for me: A year and a half ago we started an influencer hosted business podcast called Luminaries – talking to the brightest minds in tech where we focus on technology visionaries and the very human face of innovation. Our hosts are phenomenal digital storytellers and bring the outside-in view into every episode, every conversation with every guest with a deep commitment to and appreciation of our combined audiences.

We built successful long term influencer engagement around our Realizing 2030 research reports that explore and examine the impact of new technologies on life and work in the year 2030. In strategic partnerships we are able to illuminate the report results from a number of distinct perspectives to make them accessible and relevant to our diverse audiences.

Successful (influencer marketing) programs will continue to lead from a human perspective and understand that technology remains only a tool for humans to achieve progress.

How do you think influencer marketing will have evolved in the next year or two? What will it look like in 2020?

We will leverage new technologies such as AI for increasingly nuanced influencer identification, especially for micro targeting of audiences. We will use intelligent tools to find new ways of measuring results and new roles will have been defined within an influencer marketing team. But successful programs will continue to lead from a human perspective and understand that technology remains only a tool for humans to achieve progress.

B2B Forum 2018

If you would like to learn more about B2B influencer marketing from a panel of brand experts, be sure to check out our sesssion at MarketingProfs B2B Forum November 13-15th featuring Konstanze Brown from Dell, Amisha Gandhi from SAP Ariba and Lucianna Moran from Dun & Bradstreet.

Here are the details:

The Confluence Equation: How Content & Influencers Drive B2B Marketing Success

Content and influencer marketing are hot topics for B2B marketers all over the world as two of the most promising strategies for attracting, engaging and converting ideal customers. What many marketers don’t realize is how collaborating with influencers can create even more credible, relevant, and optimized experiences for target accounts. Join moderator Lee Odden and an expert panel of B2B brand influencer marketing executives from SAP, Dell and Dun & Bradstreet to learn how working with influencers and their communities can help scale quality B2B content that gets results.  You'll learn:

  • The variety of benefits from B2B influencer collaboration
  • How major B2B brands plan, implement and measure influencer content
  • About processes and technologies that support influencer marketing success

We hope to see you there!

The post Enterprise B2B Influencer Marketing Interview: Dr Konstanze Alex, Dell appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Create Customized Reports in Facebook Ads Manager

Need to get a better grip on your Facebook ads’ performance? Do you know which metrics in Facebook Ads Manager to monitor? In this article, you’ll discover how to set up a Facebook Ads Manager report that quickly reveals which ads are working well and which you need to adjust. Why On-Going Analysis of Your [...]

The post How to Create Customized Reports in Facebook Ads Manager appeared first on Social Media Examiner.

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Missed Call to Action Conference 2018? Get the Top Takeaways, Speaker Videos, and More

Twenty-two digital marketing experts took to the stage at this year's Call to Action Conference to equip 1,000 marketers for 2018 and beyond. Here's absolutely everything we learned.

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Twitter Chronological Timeline Returns

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore the return of the chronological timeline on Twitter and new ways to sell your products directly from [...]

The post Twitter Chronological Timeline Returns appeared first on Social Media Examiner.

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Digital Marketing News: Haptic Marketing, Twitter’s Ranked Feeds, B2B’s ABM Challenges, & YouTube’s Vertical Video Ads

The Power of Micro-Influencers [Infographic] A look at the benefits of working with highly-targeted audiences, and how micro-influencers can work to build brand awareness and drive sales. MarketingProfs Twitter will soon let you switch between chronological and ranked feeds Twitter announced that it will change how its feed works, with a forthcoming update allowing users [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Haptic Marketing, Twitter’s Ranked Feeds, B2B’s ABM Challenges, & YouTube’s Vertical Video Ads appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Get More Engagement With Facebook Live

Want more people to watch, share, and comment on your live videos? Looking for tips on improving the quality of viewer engagement? To explore how to get more engagement with Facebook Live video, I interview Stephanie Liu. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and [...]

The post How to Get More Engagement With Facebook Live appeared first on Social Media Examiner.

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Lead Nurturing Tested: How slight script tweaks increased response by 31%

The sale is the goal. If a lead is generated but fails to close, it’s just taking up space in the email database. Here are some concrete principles to improve nurturing processes toward the final sale.

The post Lead Nurturing Tested: How slight script tweaks increased response by 31% appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

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Interactive Content Marketing: Why B2B Marketers Should Take Their Content from Boring to Bold

Why B2B Marketers Should Consider Interactive Content

Why B2B Marketers Should Consider Interactive Content

Show of hands, B2B marketers: How many of you know which Hogwarts house you belong in? Or which Disney princess best represents your personality and relationship ambitions?

via GIPHY

Don’t be shy. I’m a Gryffindor wizard through and through—and apparently, I’m more of a Jasmine than an Ariel. And I know all this thanks to the rise of interactive content.

From quirky quizzes to ROI calculators to guided eBooks, interactive content is a rising content marketing star. BuzzFeed is perhaps the most prolific example, creating dozens of quizzes each week that are making their way into social feeds and search results. (And almost all users reportedly finish them).

But why should B2B marketers consider adding interactive content to their mix?

Because B2B is often pegged as bland and boring. And in a crowded content market, not to mention the fact that buyers' content preferences are turning increasingly visual, interactive content is the next evolution.

But if that doesn't convince you, read on for a few more reasons why its time for B2B to embrace interactive content.

#1 – Interactive content is more engaging than static content—for the long-term.

Interactive content may seem a little gimmicky for some marketers—especially those in the B2B space. But the vast majority of marketers who use interactive content agree that it not only grabs attention, but can also hold that attention beyond that initial view.

In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Ion Interactive 2017 Interactive Content Study:

  • 87% of marketers agree that interactive content grabs the attention of the reader more effectively than static content
  • 77% of marketers agree that interactive content has reusable value, resulting in repeat visitors and multiple exposures
  • 73% of marketers agree that interactive content, when combined with other more traditional content marketing tactics, enhances message retention among their audiences.

So, if you’re aiming for awareness, engagement, and attention, interactive content holds incredible potential. But I’d also add that this is only true if you deliver quality, relevant content in an interactive format.

As my colleague Josh Nite points out: “[Interactive content is] absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience.”

[bctt tweet="#InteractiveContent is absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#2 – Interactive content can differentiate you from your competitors.

Content has always been a foundational element of B2B marketing. Buyers don’t make hard and fast decisions. Instead, they do their research, weigh their options, and have multiple engagements with sales reps before they sign on the dotted line. Interactive content can help you make an impression and stand out in a crowed, competitive content landscape.

In addition, according to the aforementioned report, just 46% of marketers report using interactive content right now—which was flat year-over-year. And if history is any indicator, I’d wager that interactive content adoption among B2B marketers is far lower since the industry is typically slower to adopt new tactics.

But that won’t always be the case. Harnessing the opportunity right now has the potential to differentiate your B2B brand from the competition early on, showcasing your commitment to innovation.

For example, Prophix, a leading provider of corporate performance management (CPM) software solutions in the FP&A industry, wanted to drive awareness in a unique way around its report on the evolution of financial planning and analysis, as well as its solutions.

By repurposing its original research and adding influencer perspectives, we created an interactive quiz to help empower their audience to "crush" their jobs to succeed now and into the future.

Prophix Crush It Interactive Quiz

This anchor asset, which was promoted using a supporting mix of blog content, social amplification, email, and more, saw a view rate 6-times higher than the benchmark for a similar resource. In addition, the page where it lived garnered 3-times the average share rate. This unique approach to interactive influencer content made Prophix stand out from the competition and deliver a great resource that performed.

#3 – Interactive tools can provide you with exclusive data and analytics.

Savvy marketers are driven by data insights. And many of the interactive content tools you’d leverage for an asset come with their own analytics dashboards, allowing you to get near real-time data on how your audience is interacting and absorbing your content.

For example, Ceros, an interactive content software that simplifies the creation process, provides all the basic KPIs such as visitors, opens, and pageviews, as well as engagement metrics like time spent and interaction clicks. But they also track inbound referrals, social shares, video plays, and outbound link clicks.

Oh, and that data is viewable in its Analytics Dashboard within second of it happening.

Ceros Interactive Content Tool

While traditional analytics platforms and the data within them is invaluable, from my perspective, this more niche data can help uncover some insights that can help you refine your asset on the fly or consider how to improve other content types moving forward.

#4 – Interactive content can drive results at every stage of the funnel.

From educating buyers to creating customer loyalty, interactive content can serve a purpose (and drive results) at every stage of the funnel. Interactive content users report using the tactic for lead generation, lead nurturing, customer retention, and the list goes on.

And interactive is especially powerful, when combined with other tried-and-true content marketing tactics.

To help promote the Influencer Marketing 2.0 report based on research conducted by Traackr, Altimeter Group and TopRank Marketing, we partnered with interactive content platform Ceros to produce an Influence 2.0 interactive infographic.

Influence 2.0

The infographic was promoted via blog posts, social channels, email, and through the influencers that contributed. With calls to action embedded within the interactive infographic, this content succeeded at attracting over 1,700 prospective customers to download the full report with a 43% conversion rate.

What Opportunity Does Interactive Content Hold for Your B2B Brand?

Interactive content is here to stay. But the real opportunity doesn’t lay in the interactivity itself. The real value creation is in the excitement or connection that you can make with your audience, as well as the potential to hold their attention for long enough to engrain your message or inspire action.

[bctt tweet="The real opportunity with #interactivecontent doesn’t lay in the interactivity itself. The real value creation is in the excitement or connection that you can make with your audience. - @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"]

So, B2B marketers. If you’re ready to break away from boring and drive better engagement, interactive content deserves your consideration.

How can you leverage interactive content? Check out our post featuring five ways of making marketing magic with interactive content.

The post Interactive Content Marketing: Why B2B Marketers Should Take Their Content from Boring to Bold appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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