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5 Free Online Courses to Sharpen Your B2B Marketing Skills

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Sharp Pencis and Shavings Image No matter how much you already know, in 2020’s always-on B2B marketing landscape there’s always more to learn. That’s why savvy B2B marketers are continually seeking out new methods and research, and refining and honing their existing skills. Whether it’s influencer marketing, conversion optimization, or search engine optimization (SEO), with more options available for learning new marketing skills today than ever before, choosing where to start can sometimes seem overwhelming. Online courses have proven to be an excellent way to enhance your career through learning, and by offering a work-at-your-own-pace cadence, you can fit in as much or as little instruction as your time allows, whenever and wherever you want. With more than 70 percent of companies recognizing online learning as essential to long-term strategy (Digital Marketing Institute), it’s little wonder that in 2020 online courses are flourishing. [bctt tweet=”“Learn everything. Later you will see that nothing is superfluous.” — Hugh of Saint-Victor” username=”toprank”] To sharpen your B2B marketing skills, we’ve picked out five organizations offering a wide variety of online courses for boosting your marketing skills, and as with our previous popular list of “10 Free Online Courses to Optimize Your Marketing Skills,” each is either entirely free or offers a free trial to try out content. Let’s start digging in. via GIPHY

Course 1: Harvard University’s Causal Diagrams — Draw Your Assumptions Before Your Conclusions

Harvard University edX Course Image Harvard University offers a free course of interest to B2B marketers, designers, and more in its universally-relevant “Causal Diagrams: Draw Your Assumptions Before Your Conclusions,” a nine-week course exploring methods to cleverly turn expert knowledge into everyday diagrams, and more. Harvard also offers a surprising selection of additional free online courses, including 14 relating to data science and five in the computer science category. [bctt tweet=”Best practices in marketing evolve faster than mutant DNA. Don’t rely on the same old messages in the same few channels and expect your audience to respond with enthusiasm. @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

Course 2: edX’s Marketing Analytics: Competitive Analysis and Market Segmentation

edX Marketing Analytics Course Image The popular edX massive open online course (MOOC) organization, begun in 2012 by MIT and Harvard, offers “Marketing Analytics: Competitive Analysis and Market Segmentation,” a free four-week online course in competitive analysis and market segmentation, also exploring how to analyze and structure markets. Additionally, through a wide array of educational institutions, edX offers an impressive number of free online courses of interest to B2B marketers, such as “Market Segmentation Analysis,” “Strategic Social Media Marketing,” and many others. [bctt tweet=”“To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.” — Copernicus” username=”toprank”]

Course 3: The University of California’s Writing for Social Media

BerkeleyX Screenshot Image Operating since 2012, BerkeleyX is the University of California at Berkeley’s program of free online learning resources, including “Writing for Social Media,” with its business-focused look at accurately assessing your audience, relevant content customization, and the importance of telling your brand’s story. Berkeley, which also utilizes the edX platform, also offers the following marketing and technology related courses:

[bctt tweet=”Buyers desperately want to trust. And we can give them trust with relevant B2B content that features credible voices. – @LeeOdden ” username=”toprank”]

Course 4: University of Pennsylvania’s Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content

Penn’s Online Learning Initiative (OLI) Screenshot Image The University of Pennsylvania’s robust Penn Online Learning Initiative offers up a healthy dose of free online courses for marketers looking to expand or augment their repertoires, including a course dedicated to exploring “Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content,” delivered through another popular digital education platform, Coursera, and taught by The Wharton School’s noted marketing professor Jonah Berger. [bctt tweet=”“Virality isn’t born, it’s made.” — Jonah Berger” username=”toprank”]

Course 5: University of Colorado’s Digital Advertising Strategy Specialization

University of Colorado Screenshot Image The University of Colorado offers over 130 MOOCs covering more than 25 specialized departments, including this three-month course exploring “Digital Advertising Strategy Specialization,” covering search advertising, social media and native ads, and other aspects of digital advertising. Additional free online courses of interest to digital marketers offered by the University of Colorado include:

[bctt tweet=”Working with influencers to co-create content delivers mutual value. When that content is interactive, it creates an experience that is more engaging and inspires action. @AmishaGandhi” username=”toprank”]

Keep Growing Your B2B Marketing Skills With Free Online Courses

via GIPHY B2B marketers who focus on making learning a lifelong endeavor gain an advantage in future-proofing the work they do today, and by growing your current skills and widening your marketing repertoire with new knowledge, whether you’re a CMO or chief executive you’re bound to see newfound success. We hope the insight you gain from taking any or all of these five online course offerings — or others offered by these organizations — will help to make your 2020 a banner year for your B2B marketing and content marketing campaigns. As a parting bonus list, here are three additional resources to help you expand your marketing knowledge:

The post 5 Free Online Courses to Sharpen Your B2B Marketing Skills appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Traits B2B Influencers

Marketers are still asking, what is B2B influencer marketing? Here’s a definition I’ve been using over the past 5 years or so:

B2B influencer marketing is activating internal and external subject matter experts with engaged networks to advocate and co-create content of mutual value that drives measurable business goals.

As the groundswell around influencer marketing rises and becomes a normal part of the B2B marketing mix, the volume of information and misinformation on the topic also increases.

One of the most popular questions people also ask about B2B influencer marketing focuses on what makes a good business influencer? By now we all know that popularity alone does not make someone influential. It’s certainly important, it's just not the only thing.

As B2B marketers mature in their understanding of the role influence plays and how the dynamic of brand content co-created with industry experts plays out with customers, they begin to realize that other factors matter. Topical relevance matters of course as well as resonance of the topic amongst an influencer’s community.

B2B Marketing Influencers

The intersection of individual expertise, how well that expertise resonates with followers and the size of network creates a baseline of characteristics when evaluating whether a certain influencer might be a match.

But there’s more than that. Understanding what makes a great influencer is both art and science, soft and hard skills. The success of identifying, qualifying and engaging influencers is also directly tied to how they will be engaged and to what end.

Some people reading this might think that influencer marketing isn’t the magic pill some are playing it up to be. There’s a reason for that, because it’s not magic. It’s more like alchemy.

The reality is, there’s no one formula for the perfect B2B influencer, but there are some common characteristics that B2B brands should look for in varying proportions according to what’s important to a program or activation. I call those characteristics:

The 5 Ps of B2B Influence

Proficiency - In B2B marketing, the vast majority of those considered influential possess deep expertise in the field they work in. This is a significant difference from many B2C influencers who are often self proclaimed as influential with clever media creation skills.

As B2C influencer content and engagement tactics evolve, some are crossing over into B2B with a trickle of opportunists successfully creating influence amongst B2B audiences not solely for their expertise, but for a combination of adept social media content creation skills and some expertise. B2B marketers who do their due diligence will be able to filter accordingly.

Popularity - While network size is not the only thing, nor is it the most important thing, it is definitely a metric to consider. Some marketers swing in the direction of ignoring audience size altogether because of lower engagement rates with popular influencers. This is simply foolish. All things being the same, I’ll take 2% engagement of an influencer with a million followers over 2% from someone that has 1,000 followers.

What matters is how network size factors in with the type of influencer you need. For example, popular influencers aka “brandividuals” are often best for top of funnel content. Niche domain expert influencers are better for middle and end of funnel content. Engaging a brandividual and expecting conversions is just naive.

Personality - If you’ve worked in B2C influencer marketing and been exposed to all the characters there, B2B is going to seem a bit dry. Now there are some colorful characters in the B2B influencer community, no doubt. But personality is often a trait that needs to be uncovered when you’re working with some types of business influencers.

The good news is that savvy influencer marketing practitioners know how to plant the seeds that can grow and blossom within an otherwise introverted influencer. You don’t need them to be a colorful character, ripe with personality per se, but you do want them to connect with the passion they have with their craft and how their expertise can help others be successful.

Publishing - Content is the media that conveys the ideas of influence and while B2B influencers are not expected to produce the same types and quantity of content as in B2C, it is ideal when there’s a platform where the influencer publishes. At a minimum, that would be social networks but to be a B2B influencer, it’s most likely that also includes articles contributed to publications if not research, books and presentations.

Promotion - The value a B2B influencer brings beyond adding expertise and credibility to brand content is the ability to share what they helped create with their network. Trust of brand content is at a low, especially with advertising. Customers yearn for authentic content and the right kind of influencer collaboration can give them that, delivered via the influencer’s own distribution channels. That means social networks for course but also potentially blogs, email newsletters, podcast, LinkedIn Live, contributed articles or columns in industry publications.

I know some people reading this are thinking there could be even more P’s like being Prolific, Persuasive or Passion. Yes, there could be so many more but we have to draw the line somewhere! It's important to be able to manage the data and insights necessary to factor these characteristics into selection, qualification and engagement.

Some of these traits will not fully reveal themselves until you work with an influencer on a few content activations. Others will fluctuate over time and that is normal. It's important to understand that influence is a temporal thing. It is not fixed or permanent. It’s important marketers realize that before they disengage an influencer in the short term due to lower performance. The same goes for high expectations after great performance.

Organic influencer engagement is a little dynamic and what you don’t spend on paid influencers like an ad buy you will (in part) need to invest in relationship management, education and even tips that will help the influencers be more effective.

B2B brands with high influencer churn or low performance often apply “ad buy” perspectives to a what is actually a relationship driven effort. Mismatched expectations are not helpful for anyone, so think about the 5Ps as you evaluate and nurture your influencer community. Consider where of each your ideal influencers need to score on the 5 Ps in order to be a good match for the kind of activation you have in mind.

When there’s 5P alignment, there's happiness: for customers, influencers and your B2B brand.

The post 5 Key Traits of the Best B2B Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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