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Monthly Archives: January 2020

How Ecommerce Company Packlane Delivers On-Brand, Targeted Campaigns with Custom Landing Pages

Ecommerce companies need quick launches and precise targeting—all while staying on brand. Here's how Packlane gets it done with customized landing pages.

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5 stats for social media marketers in the software industry

In our internet-driven world, using social media to promote your brand is not just a good idea, it’s essential. For internet and software companies Read more...

This post 5 stats for social media marketers in the software industry originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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What is TikTok? Everything social media marketers need to know

Ever come across a TikTok video even though you’re not on the platform? Odds are you’ve probably seen at least one of those viral Read more...

This post What is TikTok? Everything social media marketers need to know originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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In a Fast-Paced Digital World, B2B Marketers Can Benefit from Slowing Down

Why B2B Marketers Should Slow Their Marketing Roll

Why B2B Marketers Should Slow Their Marketing Roll

We are living in the age of speed: faster connections, faster answers, faster service. People expect many things to happen instantly, in real-time, and technological advancements are increasingly making it possible.

As such, it might seem counter-intuitive to suggest that we as B2B marketers are wise to slow our roll. Sometimes we tend to go through the motions too quickly, or in the wrong order, and it can hurt our results. In fact, it can prevent us from even accurately evaluating our results.

Sean Callahan recently wrote a post on the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions* blog arguing that a top priority in 2020 for B2B marketers should be to slow down when measuring ROI. The case is simple and convincing: Sales cycles have grown significantly longer but analytics haven’t responded in kind. Per the post, 77% of marketers are still measuring ROI in the first month of a campaign, even though the average B2B sales cycle is now about six months long.

“The reality is,” writes Callahan, “most marketers are showing up to their book club having only read a sixth of the book.”

This got me thinking about the argument’s broader applicability in B2B marketing. There are a number of different areas where it’s becoming clear that practitioners might be moving too quickly and doing themselves a disservice. To be clear: We’re not suggesting that you delay making decisions or drastically cut down your content production; sometimes it’s as simple as stepping back and taking a beat.

Let’s talk about four opportunities that stand out: experiences, strategies, social media, and SEO.

4 Areas Where B2B Marketers Can Benefit from Pumping the Brakes

Slow Your Experience

There are plenty of metaphors I could toss out regarding the inverse relationship between speed and quality of an experience, but I’ll go with this one: Would you rather be shuffled through a fast-moving line at a fast-food joint, or carefully walked through a restaurant menu by a knowledgeable and curious server beside your table? 

Yes, customers want things quickly, but there’s a balance. It’s been nearly two decades since William McEwen made a point that remains very true today: When marketers emphasize doing things faster, they often end up doing things worse

“If the goal is to create strong bonds that ensure customer retention, companies must focus on activities that create and sustain the customer relationships, not just on those that enhance company efficiency,” McEwen wrote in his book, Married to the Brand

In his example he notes that a cold, tasteless sandwich from Arby’s isn’t going to yield a happy customer, no matter how fast it’s delivered. The same principles apply to any B2B experience — fast isn’t memorable. But when content is unusually entertaining, impactful, or tailored? That can stick in one’s brain.

More recently, Ann Handley preached this premise at Content Marketing World 2019, arguing that the most efficient is not the most effective. She recommends that marketers step back and ask themselves a few questions with regards to the customer experience they’re providing: 

  • How can I build trust and momentum for the content experience over time? And what does that look like?
  • How can I involve the audience in a meaningful way so they are invested in the outcome?
  • How can I create an experience that individuals rally around in a way that makes them more invested in the community?

[bctt tweet="The most efficient isn't always the most effective. Stop conflating them. @annhandley #B2BContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Slow Your Strategy    

Thinking through the questions above, and others, takes time. Rushing through our B2B marketing strategies invariably leads to overlooking key factors, while also generating undue stress for the team.

It’s a real psychological phenomenon: Slowing down helps us reconnect with the present, enrich relationships, and find more productivity.

“When you slow down, your mind can work on solutions to problems you may be experiencing, finding a better way to do something, prioritizing tasks and projects and eliminating or reducing conflict,” writes Suzanne Kane at Psych Central in the article linked above. These are the tenets of successful strategy.

The “Slow Your Strategy” directive runs the operational gamut, including pre-planning, resource allotment, promotion, and — as referenced earlier — measurement. 

When I think about pacing a business strategy, I think about the game of chess. Great players aren’t often the quickest; instead, they proceed methodically, analyzing the entire board and mentally playing out the consequences of a possible move before pushing the next piece.

Marketers should adopt the same mindset. Strategy is by definition “a careful plan or method,” and being careful means taking our time. Don’t hurry while solidifying the seven elements of your your B2B marketing strategy:

  • Goals and Objectives
  • Audience Segmentation and Characteristics
  • Brand Messaging
  • Multi-Channel Touchpoints
  • Content Types
  • Content Topics
  • Measurement

[bctt tweet="Strategy is by definition “a careful plan or method,” and being careful means taking our time, B2B marketers. Don’t rush the strategy process. @NickNelsonMN " username="toprank"]

Slow Your Social

The world of social media moves so quickly, it’s easy for marketers to feel under pressure to keep up. 

“Has our latest tweet already been buried on feeds?”

“Are we seeing results yet from this LinkedIn campaign?”

“Should we be on Tik-Tok?”

via GIPHY

According to the latest B2B content marketing benchmarks report, social media is the most common content type used by B2B marketers, with 95% listing it. Yet in my experience, social often tends to be an autopilot function, disconnected from broader strategies. Bundles of messages are packaged up for scheduling across platforms, generic promotional links are hastily developed, and minimal effort goes into follow-up or interaction.

What’s the point?

Quality over quantity is a mantra that rings throughout the digital marketing environment today, and social media is a pertinent area in which to emphasize it. Take the time to think through the purpose of each platform, and each tweet or update. Prioritize value over volume. Keep in mind that aimlessly publishing without discretion can actually hurt your visibility on social feeds by diminishing your content’s overall engagement rates and causing people to unfollow.

Slow Your SEO

Every SEO specialist knows that influencing search rankings takes time. As algorithms increasingly shift from technical signals to user-based signals, creating quality audience geared toward a well-understood audience becomes all the more paramount.

If you’re displeased with your website’s search visibility, a good next step is running an SEO audit of existing content. "An SEO audit is a great place to start when you’re trying to understand the factors that are hindering your search visibility," Tiffani Allen, TopRank Marketing's Associate Director of Search and Analytics, writes. "The data you collect, once analyzed, should help you create a roadmap to improve rankings and capitalize on white space."

And as Aja Frost, Head of Content SEO for HubSpot, offers to Search Engine Journal“I’d recommend auditing all of your content for overlapping rankings and merging, redirecting, and archiving as needed so every page ranks for a unique set of keywords,” Frost said. “If your website covers the same topics again and again, even if you’re covering these topics from different angles, your pages are going to knock each other out of the results.”

This is but a sampling of examples of where slowing down with SEO can yield major long-term benefits. Scrutinizing your topical pillars, audience assumptions, and technical health of your site are additional measures that pay off. 

Moving Forward in Slow Motion

While watching playoff football over the past few weekends, I’ve been reminded of how much speed affects our perception. You can watch a play in real-time and miss so many details that become evident in the slowed-down instantly reply. 

There’s no time clock ticking down on your B2B marketing strategy. Obviously we have deadlines and time-sensitive objectives, but in many cases we’re probably placing undue constraints on our programs that take a negative toll on results. 

We live in a fast-paced world. But slowing down our marketing efforts — from experience to strategy to social to SEO — can help brands differentiate and achieve more. 

[bctt tweet="We live in a fast-paced world. But slowing down our marketing efforts — from experience to strategy to social to SEO — can help brands differentiate and achieve more. @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

So the next time you receive a request from a boss or client that seems to skip steps or rush through critical strategic elements, there’s only one valid response: not so fast

Take a moment to assess and validate your marketing approach for the coming year by reviewing Lee Odden’s rundown of the Top 10 B2B Digital Marketing Trends in 2020.

The post In a Fast-Paced Digital World, B2B Marketers Can Benefit from Slowing Down appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Improve Your Facebook Ads With Customer Research

Are your Facebook ads failing to convert? Are you surveying your customers? In this article, you’ll discover how to survey your customers, use Facebook ads to target them, and interpret the results to improve your future ads. #1: Create Your Customer Survey The truth is customers don’t know what they want. Renowned marketer and best-selling […]

The post How to Improve Your Facebook Ads With Customer Research appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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TikTok Self-Service Ads: What Marketers Need to Know

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 an update of TikTok’s self-serve ad platform, how businesses are developing content on TikTok, and much more […]

The post TikTok Self-Service Ads: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Digital Marketing News: Micro-Influencer Trends, LinkedIn Adds Interactive Tools, Strong Online Ad Spending, & Google’s Cookie Drop

The post Digital Marketing News: Micro-Influencer Trends, LinkedIn Adds Interactive Tools, Strong Online Ad Spending, & Google’s Cookie Drop appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Social Media ROI: How to Measure Your Social Marketing

Want to improve the return on investment (ROI) of your social media marketing? Are you measuring the right things? To explore everything you need to know about measuring ROI, I interview Christopher Penn on the Social Media Marketing Podcast. Christopher is the chief data scientist at Trust Insights. He also hosts the In-Ear Insights podcast. […]

The post Social Media ROI: How to Measure Your Social Marketing appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Stuck? Try These 72 Creative Writing Prompts (+ 6 Bonus Tips)

I bet you just asked Google to search for creative writing prompts. Or was it writing ideas? Story ideas? Or maybe writer’s block? Boy, are you stuck! But don’t worry. It doesn’t matter if you’re halfway through writing a book, sweating over social media posts, or journaling about your own life, all writers get stuck …

Stuck? Try These 72 Creative Writing Prompts (+ 6 Bonus Tips) Read More »

The post Stuck? Try These 72 Creative Writing Prompts (+ 6 Bonus Tips) appeared first on Smart Blogger.

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Break Free B2B Series: Carol-Lyn Jardine and Heather Hurst on Effectively Managing Change in B2B Marketing

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This phrase is often uttered with a negative connotation, but incidentally, it also represents an aspirational ideal for B2B marketing managers and leaders. 

In an environment that is constantly shifting, brands and agencies are tasked with navigating uncertainty while remaining steadfast in their pursuit of the same ultimate goals: engaging prospects, building relationships, driving business results.

As such, change management becomes a key aspect of the job, particularly for those in leadership positions. Focusing on “how to help employees embrace, adopt and utilize a change in their day-to-day work” (as defined by Prosci), change management is oft-overlooked but clearly essential for a profession where one day can look drastically different from the last.

Carol-Lyn Jardine, who now serves as Vice President of Marketing Operations and Productivity at Alteryx, says she’s had the opportunity to enter new organizations multiple times in recent years, and one of the consistent themes she encounters is that employees are unsettled by the amount of change happening.

“As I have kind of unlayered that conversation, what really comes out is that they're not necessarily saying that they're unhappy with change, what they're actually saying is that they're unhappy with how change has been rolled out.”

Carol-Lyn has experienced plenty of change in her winding career journey, which crossed paths with Heather Hurst at Workfront a few years back. Heather, now Senior Director of Digital Engagement at Vivint Solar, has also witnessed a substantial amount of change — and the pains it can bring about — during her career. 

“I think we tend to forget that the first question that an employee is really asking is, ‘How does this impact me?’” Heather says of major organizational shifts. “They are concerned with their place in the company.”

Heather and Carol-Lyn were kind enough to join me for the latest episode of Break Free B2B — our first with multiple guests! Getting both of their varied perspectives felt fitting for the topic. Scroll forth to uncover them. 

Break Free B2B Interview with Carol-Lyn Jardine and Heather Hurst


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

  • 02:53 - Managing change in marketing
  • 06:18 - The evolution of change management
  • 08:40 - New roles, new perspectives
  • 10:41 - Big data and change management
  • 12:50 - Communicating around change
  • 16:20 - Barriers to efficient and effective organizational change
  • 21:16 - Aligning work with personal values
  • 24:23 - Breaking free in change management

Nick: What do you think are the sort of the most pressing, urgent changes that you're seeing in the industry?

Heather: We talk a lot about trends in the way that we market and in the way that we bring products to life. I think one of the elements that we miss a lot in that conversation is the impact that change has on the employees. Whether you are a new leader coming into a department or whether you're making another change, another shift within the organization, it's really, really important to help lead and manage a group through any change. 

And, this is something Carol-Lyn and I are both really passionate about. How do you either come in as a leader managing change or how, as an employee, do you embrace change as well? I think that's one of the biggest things that we overlook... leadership in marketing can have a pretty quick turnover sometimes. And you know, you forget what the impact that can have on employees. So we were really excited at the opportunity to talk about how you lead through change.

Carol-Lyn: I've had the opportunity to go into new organizations a couple of times over the past few years. And one of the consistent themes that I hear from especially employees is that they're unsettled by the amount of change that's happening in their organizations … I look at them, and I think, Wow, we work in technology. Why are we surprised that there's change happening? 

So change is inevitable. And as I have kind of unlayered that conversation, what really comes out is that they're not necessarily saying that they're unhappy with change, what they're actually saying is that they're unhappy with how change has been rolled out. 

That's something that I've really thought about: How do we roll out change? How do we hope people understand why we're changing what the impact of changes and how those changes actually affect each individual employee? And are we being clear about that communication to help them see that vision?

Nick: What is an insight or recommendation that you have about breaking free?

Carol-Lyn: When it comes to change management and kind of breaking free, I think there are a few things I would keep top of mind. One, assume good intent from the people around you as you're going through change behaviors. I always try and make sure that when I'm going through these things, I assume good intent until it’s proven that I can't—but by and large, people don't disappoint me in that way.

[bctt tweet="I always try and make sure that when I'm going through change management, I assume good intent until it’s proven that I can't. @cljardine #BreakFreeB2B #ChangeManagement" username="toprank"]

Heather: I think that we can tend to get really sucked into work … I will completely echo the good intentions piece from Carol-Lyn. But I think also considering how we spend our time either at work or outside of work and how that time aligns up to our values and where we want to spend time. I think that some people—especially in marketing— we can become workaholics a little bit. 

So, are we spending our time on our hobbies or family or all of the places where we want to spend it? So we do become more. I think we're better rounded employees if we figure out: What do I value? And then what does that equate to in the way that I spend my time?

[bctt tweet="I think we're better rounded employees if we figure out: What do I value? And then what does that equate to in the way that I spend my time? @hehurst #BreakFreeB2B #ChangeManagement" username="toprank"]

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

The post Break Free B2B Series: Carol-Lyn Jardine and Heather Hurst on Effectively Managing Change in B2B Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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