Monthly Archives: January 2019
Want to write marketing copy that moves people to take action? Looking for tips from an expert copywriter? To explore how to create phrases that sell, I interview Ray Edwards, one of the world’s leading copywriters. He’s the author of How to Write Copy That Sells and hosts a podcast called The Ray Edwards Show. […]Read More »
For many B2B marketers content is a numbers game, especially as the number of channels for discovery and engagement grow right along with competition for attention.
We all know how the information overload story ends: buyers disconnect, they start to ignore marketing content and they lose trust in the brands trying so desperately to reach them.
Smart voices like Ann Handley in the B2B marketing industry have called for a focus on quality and even brevity over the hamster wheel of content mediocrity. Many have listened and yet many more B2B marketers are still fighting the uphill battle of creating uninspired blog post after blog post, ebooks, white papers, case studies and who knows how many social messages - and to what end?
Is your marketing about creating content or answers? Think about what your customers really want.
The failure to communicate by B2B marketers has numerous causes ranging from flawed thinking that more is better to content quality issues to what I like to call “invisible content syndrome”, or content without visibility to the buyer.
Answering buyer questions is nothing new. While best answer content is a topic we’ve been evangelizing at TopRank Marketing since our book Optimize was published 7 years ago and since, changes in voice search and what Google shows in search results has put Q and A content marketing into the SEO spotlight.
The new SEO is optimization for answers. Along those lines you can learn about AEO (Answer Engine Optimization) which focuses on voice search. There’s also Google’s "People Also Ask” feature which now show up for 79% of search results according to Moz. The difference between optimizing content through AEO tactics or for PAA visibility with a best answer strategy is the difference between visibility on a single channel like Google and consistently visibility across channels for a specific topic.
Being the best answer is hard, but that's the price for being in the winner's circle of consistent top visibility. While it’s more difficult to achieve best answer authority on multiple channels than just Google, in this world of information overload, self-directed business customers are searching for useful, credible information they can use to educate, evaluate and make purchasing decisions.
If buyers don't see consistent, credible and engaging "best answer" content across channels from your brand, they'll begin to trust competitors who are.
B2B buyers are using Google but they are also asking their social networks, listening to influencers, seeing some ads, consulting with peers in forums, reading industry editorial, blogs, and a variety of offline information sources.
Successful B2B marketers understand their buyers preferences for information discovery, consumption and engagement. They use customer insight and understanding of intent to create best answer content that is easy to find in search, credible and a great user experience. They also create a cycle of optimization where ongoing performance analysis is used to refine and improve.
So how do B2B marketers create best answer content?
Josh Nite from our team has outlined a few good best answer content examples here. Let's also look at some of the characteristics of best answer web pages aka “power pages”.
1. Customer Insight - Whether it’s keyword research, CRM or conversion data from your web analytics, it’s important to step beyond your own intuition about what topics to focus on and rely on data.Consider what is it that your brand should be the best answer for and what customers are looking for that best represents your solution. Metrics that give you an indication of demand like keyword research and intent like analytics and conversion data can point you in the right direction as to what topics to validate.
2. Best Answer Topic(s) - The research and insights work should help you identify the general topic to focus on for best answer content. Then you can leverage answer research tools like BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer which pulls data from Q/A sites and forums to surface the actual questions being asked about those topics.
3. Hub and Spoke Publishing Model - I first outlined the idea of a hub with distribution channels back in 2010 and the idea has endured. At the center is a comprehensive treatment of your best answer topic. Today we call them “power pages”, more about them below. The spokes have evolved from simply being places to promote your hub content to also include other content representing variations of your main best answer topic.
15% of the daily queries used on Google have never been seen before, so it's important to surface the most important variations on your primary best answer topic. Those variations present a more comprehensive representation of your brand's dominance on the overall topic and also provide many repurposing and content promotion opportunities.
4. Power Page - The hub or Power Page provides specific and deep coverage of a Best Answer Topic in a way that appeals to search engines and buyers alike. Whether a buyer's intent is to understand the topic broadly or to start evaluating what specific solutions can mean for their problem, a Power Page provides an easily findable, deep and engaging explanation. Some common characteristics of the best performing Power Pages include:
- Leverage keywords/topics in titles to inspire clicks
- Include page features that increase engagement (interactive, visual)
- Provide comprehensive content on specific topics: examples, research, models
- Cover related topics as well
5. Distribution Channels - Power pages are often hosted on a company website or blog. But that’s not the only place buyers will look for your solution topics. It’s important to have an integrated content plan that incorporates owned, earned, paid and shared media.
Whether you partner with industry influencers and industry press to boost credibility or run paid search and social ads for ultra specific targeting, the best answer topic should be consistent across channels where buyers are looking - not just on search engines!
What it takes to be the best answer:
- Specific, in demand topic
- More valuable and useful than other sites
- High quality
- Device friendly, accessible
- Loads fast
By doing the homework of leveraging customer insight and validating with keyword research, you can then identify the actual questions buyers are asking about topics important to your solutions. Answering those questions through a hub and spoke content publishing model ensures a deep focus and coverage of variations on your topic across the channels where customers are seeking answers.
But that's not all. There are many ways to create even better Best Answer content experiences. Having industry experts help answer customer questions segmented by stage of the buying cycle creates and a more credible and targeted experience. In fact, showcasing industry experts in a brand context for best answer content that is more visual or interactive content can really set a B2B brand apart. Easy to find, credible content that’s also a great user experience is exactly what a Best Answer content strategy can do for B2B customers that are actively looking for solutions.
There’s a lot more to this topic and I will be digging in more deeply during an upcoming Webinar with BuzzSumo on January 23rd at 2pm EST.
How A Best Answer Strategy Drives B2B Marketing Results
This presentation will show you:
- The modern content marketing integration model
- How to use SEO question data to inform credible content and influencer selection
- What "best answer" content looks like with examples from B2B companies
Check out the details here on the BuzzSumo site and I hope to see you there!
The post How A Best Answer Content Strategy Drives B2B Marketing Results appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.Read More »
Need help monitoring your company’s mentions on social media? Looking for tools to simplify the process? In this article, you’ll discover five social media monitoring tools to help you better engage online. #1: Enhance Customer Service: Agorapulse Gone are the days when customers would ring up your call center or write you an email to […]
The post How to Monitor Your Social Media Mentions: 5 Listening Tools appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.Read More »
Do your customers love your product? Then watch the Journey, Social Media Examiner’s episodic video documentary that shows you what really happens inside a growing business. Watch The Journey This episode of the Journey explores how Social Media Examiner begins to enable their customers to connect with each other. Watch to see where they find […]
The post Creating a Customer Community: The Journey, Season 2, Episode 17 appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.Read More »
A framework for prioritizing optimization opportunities and an in-depth look at ways you can zero in on customer motivation
The post CRO Cheat Sheet: Customer thinking guide for conversion rate optimization appeared first on MarketingExperiments.Read More »
Pop Quiz: When influencer marketing is done right, who wins?
a) Your brand
b) The influencers
c) Your audience
d) All of the above
In case you missed the last few classes, the answer is D. In the ideal influencer marketing engagement, your brand gets a boost in credibility, authority, and exposure to a new audience. The influencer gets a cool content asset to promote, association with other thought leaders, and is able to grow their influence in their niche. And the audience gets awesome content neither the influencer nor the brand could have produced on their own.
Getting to that “everyone wins” stage requires strategic planning and execution, though. You can’t just throw money at someone with a big Instagram following and expect results.
Our agency was a pioneer in B2B influencer marketing, and we’re invested in taking it to the next level. Our approach has seen amazing results for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike.
To help you reach the next level of influencer marketing — what we call Influence 2.0 — this post combines our experience with original research from other thought leaders in the industry:
- Influencer Marketing: Science, Strategy & Success (Zine)
- An Evaluation of Brand Influencer Partnerships (Onalytica and Smart Insights)
- Two Sides of the Same Coin: Exploring the Brand and Influencer Relationship in Influencer Marketing (Activate)
- State of Influence 2.0 2018 (Traackr & Altimeter Group)
- Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing (TopRank & Altimeter & Traackr)
- The State of Influencer Marketing 2017 (Linqia)
- Sponsored Spenders Survey (Collective Bias)
Read on to upgrade your influencer marketing and get ready for what comes next.
30 Essential Influencer Marketing Statistics
Influencer Marketing Works
- Over half of brands say influencer content outperforms brand-created content. Only 6% said it underperformed brand content. 6
- 78% of consumers will buy when recommended by someone they feel they know and trust. 1
- 67% of consumers have no negative reaction to sponsored content. 7
- 58% of brands have seen improved brand awareness and perception from influencer marketing campaigns. 2
- 54% saw an increase in leads and revenue. 2
Influencer marketing works because the message comes from people your audience already trusts. It also works for awareness and brand positioning, but also for driving revenue.
As our CEO Lee Odden defines it: "Influencer marketing activates internal and industry experts with engaged networks to co-create content of mutual value and achieve measurable business goals."
[bctt tweet="#InfluencerMarketing activates internal and industry experts with engaged networks to co-create #content of mutual value and achieve measurable business goals. - @leeodden" username="toprank"]
Very Few Influencer Marketing Programs are Fully Mature
- Only 10% of organizations are fully mature with influencer marketing; that is, running a cross-functional program. 4
- 46% are using influencer marketing tactically, but have not integrated it across marketing. 4
- 57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities by 2020. 5
- 62% are going to spend more on influencer marketing in the year to come. Only 4% will spend less. 4
Marketers have a ways to go with influencer marketing sophistication. Investing more time and budget is a good start, but sophistication really comes from integrating influencers across your marketing initiatives on an ongoing basis, from strategy to content to promotion and beyond.
[bctt tweet="#B2B #influencermarketing is still in its infancy—which means there are plenty of opportunities to begin implementing it today. @azeckman" username="toprank"]
Sophisticated Influencer Marketing Involves Deeper Relationships
- Nearly half of marketers are working on long-term campaigns w/influencers. 2
- 40% of influencers say they’re in long-term partnerships. 2
- 48% of B2C influencer programs are ongoing, but only 11% of B2B are. 5
- Only 29% of influencers are asked for their opinion on content direction. 1
- 55% of marketers say content strategy and direction are decided well before influencers are added. 1
- Only 25% of influencers said brands shared engagement goals with them. 1
Building long-term relationships with influencers is crucial for sustainable influencer marketing. The relationship-building should include working with the influencers on content strategy, direction, and engagement goals.
As Rani Mani, Adobe's Head of Social Influence Enablement, recently told us in an interview: "We at Adobe pride ourselves on cultivating and nurturing long term relationships with our influencers. We look at it as dating with an eye towards long term commitment which means we are always looking to establish a 'give to get' exchange where all parties come out ahead."
[bctt tweet="We look at #influencermarketing as dating with an eye towards long term commitment, which means we are always looking to establish a 'give to get' exchange where all parties come out ahead. - @ranimani0707" username="toprank"]
Influence Is More than Follower Count
- Only 25% of consumers are more likely to buy a product when someone with over 1 million followers recommends it. 1
- As reach grows, engagement tends to drop. 1,ooo-10,000 is the sweet spot for engagement. 1
It’s time to rethink what makes a good influencer, especially for B2B brands. Reach is only one part of the equation; resonance and relevance are even more important than size of audience.
Not long ago, our own Ashley Zeckman, Senior Director of Digital Strategy, wrote: "Social reach should be a consideration for your B2B influencer marketing program, but not the only one. Sometimes the influencers with the largest reach may not be engaging their audience in a meaningful way that leads to more users connecting with your content."
Look for people who are actively engaging with their audience, and are talking about topics relevant to your brand.
[bctt tweet="#Social reach should be a consideration for your #B2B #influencermarketing program, but not the only one. @azeckman" username="toprank"]
Aim for Content Co-Creation, Not Sponsorship
- 73% of influencers said they put more effort into content when they’re passionate about the brand/product. 1
- Only 27% said they put in more effort when the campaign involves financial compensation. 1
- Only 34% expect financial compensation. 1
- However, 65% expect some form of reward. 1
- Only 14% said being paid well was the most important reason to work with a brand. 2
- 52% say building their influence on key topics is most important reason to be an influencer. 2
- Top criteria for influencers choosing brands? Most important is “I love the brand and already post about them organically.” 3
While financial compensation can be part of your influencer marketing strategy, it shouldn’t be the whole strategy. Money can’t buy genuine enthusiasm and emotional investment. Look for influencers who are already excited about your brand, are eager to share their thoughts and expertise on a relevant topic, and work with them to create content you both can be proud of.
[bctt tweet="While financial compensation can be part of your #influencermarketing strategy, it shouldn’t be the whole strategy. Money can’t buy genuine enthusiasm and emotional investment. @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]
Level Up Your Measurement
- 78% of marketers surveyed use influencers to build brand awareness. 3
- 45% cite sales conversion as their primary goal. 3
- 5% of marketers surveyed are tracking engagement rate, while only 45.92% track sales conversion. 3
- 37% of influencers cite brand awareness as their goal, while 22% cite sales conversion. 3
- 74% of marketers surveyed said sales conversion was one of their top goals for influencer marketing. 5
- 76% of marketers surveyed said determining ROI was their top concern. 6
Influencer marketing isn’t just for brand awareness. Like every other marketing tactic, your influencer efforts can contribute to revenue and that impact should be properly attributed. It’s important to make revenue measurement part of your initial planning and goal-setting.
[bctt tweet="#InfluencerMarketing focuses on the entire customer journey, driving demand, leads and to help with nurture. @AmishaGandhi @SAPAriba" username="toprank"]
The Next Evolution of Influence
As these statistics show, it’s time to rethink what influencer marketing is and what it can do. It’s more than one-off sponsorship deals with celebrity contributors to boost brand awareness.
Influence 2.0 means finding the true influencers for your audience. It means developing long-term relationships to co-create valuable content worth getting excited about. And it means setting goals throughout the marketing funnel and being equipped to measure them, from engagement down to revenue. When you can do all of that, everybody wins.
Is your B2B organization just getting started with influencer marketing? There are six things you absolutely need to know.
The post The Next Level of Influence: 30 Essential Influencer Marketing Statistics appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.Read More »
Want more people to watch your YouTube videos? Wondering how to outrank your competitors in YouTube search? In this article, you’ll learn how to use six tools that can help you get the eyeballs you’ve always wanted. #1: Perform Initial YouTube Keyword Research With Keyword Tool Keyword Tool is one of my go-to resources for […]
The post How to Improve Your YouTube Video Exposure: 6 Useful Tools appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.Read More »
B2B brands’ marketing departments are constantly evolving. Over the past 10 years, marketing teams have undergone a seismic shift to accommodate changing technology, millennial consumers and employees, and to breakdown silos between marketing and the rest of the business.
To keep pace with the changing marketplace, many B2B brands are working to find the perfect balance between growing out their in-house digital marketing team and partnering with an external digital marketing agency. Most brands are seeking agency partners to provide a spectrum of services, from tactical support to creative strategy and content innovation. And they need a partner that can adapt and evolve along with their marketing needs and opportunities.
So, the question is: To find that partner that can grow and adapt to your needs, what should you be looking for?
In our humble opinion, the best brand/agency partnerships help brands stay ahead of their competitors with integrated strategies, an eye on the latest and greatest, and the ability to measure and iterate on the success of campaigns. Here are some key characteristics that you should be on the lookout for.
What to Look for in a B2B Marketing Agency Partner
#1 - They have an eye (and hand) on emerging trends.
Interactive content. Influencer marketing. Podcasting. Virtual Reality. As the B2B landscape and B2B buyers evolve, brands and marketers need to adapt their digital and content marketing strategies to not only stand out from their competition and reach their target audience audience, but connect and resonate with buyers. And that means carefully investing in new types of content and strategies.
Of course, dipping your toe into new waters can be scary, and you’ll need to set aside time, resources, and budget for testing new mediums and following trends. And at the end of the day, you need the expertise to get it done. That’s where an experienced agency partner can help you gain traction.
For example, if you’re interested in going bold with interactive content; look for an external agency with experience here to help you:
- Planning: An experienced marketing agency likely already has a planning checklist developed and has worked through the kinks you haven’t even considered yet; like where to host, how to optimize multi-media files, and how to create a UX experience in an non-static asset.
- Tools and Equipment: New trends often require new technology. Tap into a marketing agency’s existing tool set and expertise using the tools.
- Optimization: Another benefit of agency specialization is that they’ve already optimized the process, the promotion mix and experience, so your brand gets the benefit of all that experience; instead of having to start from scratch.
- Measurement: A great agency partner will be able to help you set up tracking and provide reporting to tell you if and how emerging trends are really working for you.
#2 - They possess undeniable strategic acumen.
External agencies are great at providing support and creative ideas as needed for projects. However, the development of agency talent, expertise and context, provides agencies with strategic expertise to help you develop the marketing approach that informs their tactical support.
Tapping into an outside perspective to deep dive into owned, competitive, or prospect data to develop a comprehensive strategy and recommendation can be a really impactful set up in planning. External agencies can offer brand support in:
- Owned and competitive audits.
- Strategic roadmaps.
- Customer or prospect research and profiles.
- Overcoming marketing pain points like a lack of qualified leads or a sudden drop in traffic.
#3 - They challenge the status quo.
In-house marketing teams offer the benefit of people that are deeply immersed within the brand and the team. Frequently they sit in the same building, same floor as the rest of the team, making them easily accessible for questions, brainstorming, and strategy development.
This can be a great benefit when it comes to the free flow of information and integration across team. However, familiarity can be stifle innovation. But the good news is that it can empower an outsider to think differently.
By offering a third-party, neutral perspective, an agency can drive tough conversations that push you out of your comfort zone to create next-level strategies, and help:
- Persuade: Agencies’ specialization and work across many clients can drive knowledge and credibility which may be able to convince a marketing team to take the next step.
- Bring new ideas: Agency marketers, who live and breathe new marketing, and often focus on creative hires, can supply brands with new tactical or creative approaches which can push the envelope and grab attention within the marketplace.
#4 - They prioritize client relationships.
The relationship an external agency creates with your brand and in-house team is so critical. The best agency/brand relationships are based on trust and genuine alignment of goals.
Strong relationships are a key factor in creating innovative and successful marketing tactics. As you are considering agency partners, look for:
- Alignment of values, purpose and mission: Agencies and brands that fit and work best together tend to have alignment around key culture items. Teams which exemplify the brand/agency core values are able to connect and enjoy working collaboratively toward the same goals.
- Engaged Listening: Agency partners need to advise, but they should also be adept listeners. During the prospecting phase, a potentially great agency partner should be able to really listen to your business’ needs and present a solution that syncs with your brands’ objectives.
- Thoughtfulness: Yes, great agency partners are responsive to your needs and queries. Perhaps more important than a quick response; is thoughtfulness and quality of response. A really great partner will offer you well thought out and creative solutions to challenges and questions, to really drive results.
- A referral from someone you trust: When it doubt, ask your colleagues and associates for a referral to an agency they love. If they love them, that agency is already more likely to align with your values, be familiar with your brand voice and requirements, and think of you as a highly valuable partner.
#5 - They’re committed to transparency of contracts, tactics, and data.
Along with prioritizing the relationship, the right agency partner will build trust with your brand by offering transparency, which comes to everything from contract deliverables to the results of your core KPIs.
If you are partnering with an agency to help you test emerging trends; it’s especially critical that a great partner share what is and is not working, so your teams can together optimize and iterate.
Whether it’s a change in timeline, a tweak to a tactical mix or an honest assessment of how you’re tracking against benchmarks, a good partner will drive straight forward conversations that help you move forward in the best way.
#6 - They know your niche.
In B2B it can be especially tough to get up to speed on a new vertical or product. Tapping into an agency that has a similar client base to you; speeds the learning curve as much as possible.
Industry trends (like IOT for example) often span verticals; so look for a partner that understands the lingo, but also has an existing network of influencer and contacts.
Better Together: Find a Partner You Can Grow With
The agency place within your marketing department will continue to evolve as your team does. And partnering with right agency can provide you with a partner who will help you innovate tactically and strategically, while providing your in house team with the support they need to reach their goals in 2019 and beyond.
What do you look for in a great agency partnership? Tell us in the comments section below.
We’re fortunate enough to have built client relationships that stand the test of time. For many, we engage in an always-on approach to digital marketing, allowing us to capitalize on opportunities and tackle challenges. Get a small glimpse into what an ongoing partnership looks like by learning how we were able to make small tweaks to yield big results for one client in a niche B2B industry.
The post How to Choose a B2B Marketing Agency that Can Evolve with Your Needs appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.Read More »