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5 Old Habits B2B Marketers Should Leave Behind in the 2010s

Old Habits B2B Marketers Should Leave Behind in the 2010s

Old Habits B2B Marketers Should Leave Behind in the 2010s New decade, who dis? We’ve officially turned the calendar to 201… er, 2020! First the first time in 10 years, we’ll all be writing a different numeral as that third digit. That’s a new habit that’ll take some getting used to.  As B2B marketers, perhaps we can take advantage of this opportunity to form a few other new habits. Specifically, I’m talking about making adjustments to the way we approach our craft, so to align ourselves with the evolved marketplace of the 2020s.  The New Year is always a fitting time for resolutions and aspirational goal-setting. With this particularly momentous milestone, I’m urging all my B2B marketing peers to think big and commit to some major shifts in mindset for the decade ahead. These five habits ought to be left in the 2010s along with fidget spinners and the Mannequin Challenge.

5 Habits for B2B Marketers to Leave Behind in the 2010s

#1. The Desktop Mentality

Chances are, you spend your days creating content or managing campaigns on a desktop computer or laptop. As such, it’s all too easy to assume your audience will consume it in the same way. But, chances are, they won’t.  The explosion of mobile usage has been among the most unmistakable sea changes of the past decade. In 2010, the iPhone was still a relatively new product and mobile accounted for 2.9% of all web site traffic. By 2018, that figure was up to 52.2%. Smartphone ownership rose from 35% in 2011 to 81% in 2019. Mobile overtook desktop in 2016 and there’s been no looking back.  Despite this, I still routinely encounter websites, landing pages, and content experiences that look great on desktop and clunky on a smartphone or tablet. Too often, mobile is an afterthought. Instead, it should be our first thought. Bringing a mobile-first mindset into the 2020s will position marketers to be on the same page as the people they’re trying to reach. What To Do: Scrutinize your most critical existing content assets — visuals, responsiveness, usability — on multiple different types of devices to ensure you’re delivering a quality mobile experience. Also, resolve to test all new content on mobile before desktop in 2020. via GIPHY

#2. Aimless Creation

At the start of the decade, content marketing was in a relatively nascent stage. The primary objective for marketers was simply to produce, as reflected by the first-ever B2B content marketing benchmark report from newly established Content Marketing Institute (CMI) in 2010. In this report, the top-cited challenges were:

  • Producing engaging content
  • Producing enough content
  • Budget to produce content

All that production, so little direction… It’s a problem that hasn’t gone away despite content marketing’s maturation over the course of a decade. In general, there’s still too much focus on the creation and not enough on the strategy. In many programs, promotion and measurement take distant back seats.  In the 2020s, let’s start looking at the big picture, and channel the same enthusiasm we show for creation into all the other elements of successful content. A holistic approach to the discipline begins with documenting your content strategy and adhering to its vision, as will a robust list of content promotion tactics to draw from.   [bctt tweet=”In the 2020s, let’s start looking at the big picture, and channel the same enthusiasm we show for creation into all the other elements of successful content. @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”] What To Do: Create or refine your documented content strategy. Take a gander at our top B2B content marketing trends and predictions for 2020 to ensure you’re fully up to speed.

#3. Email Abandonment

It’s been an interesting decade for email marketing. The tactic’s popularity endures – email newsletters were cited as the third-most common type of content for B2B marketers in the latest CMI benchmarking report – but confidence in this channel has evidently waned.  According to research by the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), only 55% of marketers believe more than half of what they send out is useful to subscribers, and more concerningly, only 14% of subscribers feel that way.  I’m on record as saying email marketing is not dead, it just needs rejuvenation. I think the inbox will be in again in the 2020s, as practitioners get back into touch with the fundamentals that make it such a powerful communication channel to begin with. Through stronger segmentation, audience insight, and relationship-driven strategy, we can get back to capitalizing on a space where the average professional spends 3+ hours of their workday. (Source) What To Do: Subscribe to a few newsletters from leading brands to do some recon, and adopt the subscriber-centric practices you like best.

#4. Influence for the Sake of Influence

I wonder if we’ll all look back at the 2017 Fyre Festival fiasco – and the documentaries it yielded – as a turning point for influencer marketing.  In a way, that whole ordeal was damaging, casting a light on the total fraudulence of paid Instagram celebrities hawking products they had no connection to, or understanding of, merely to seem hip and raise awareness. But I view it as more of a positive: That seedy side of “influencer marketing” needed to be exposed, enabling us all to acknowledge it and move past it. Fyre Festival didn’t prove that influencer marketing is ineffective; it proved that prioritizing reach and status above all else is the wrong way to do it. At TopRank Marketing, we have long asserted that relying on popularity metrics alone is a mistake, while aligning influencer type and topic is critical.  [bctt tweet=”Fyre Festival didn’t prove that influencer marketing is ineffective; it proved that prioritizing reach and status above all else is the wrong way to do it. @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”] LinkedIn’s* Judy Tian recently shared her views on this essential nuance: “Even though I think reach is part of the equation, and we want to work with influencers who have a substantial amount of reach … the relevancy and engagement are what’s important. Are the influencers actually experts in the areas you wanna talk about? And are they gonna have credibility with their end users? And then are they going to shed credibility onto your brand as a result?” These are the true objectives of B2B influencer marketing. It’s influence with a purpose. And that mindset should drive our strategies in the years ahead. What To Do: Review influencer lists to make sure expertise and credibility aligns with the audience for your campaigns, and start prioritizing relevance over reach for future initiatives.

#5. Talking About Ourselves

I’ll close with perhaps the single most important shift for B2B marketers in 2020 and beyond: Moving the spotlight from our own products and services to our customers. This is a crucial area where data tells us we’re coming up short. A recent report from Forrester, titled Customer-Centered Messaging Helps Boost B2B Revenues By Motivating Buyer Action, shows that:

  • 88% of B2B marketers admit their homepages talk primarily about their companies, products, and services
  • 13% of B2B marketers use narrative to tell a story, walk buyers through a persuasive argument, or show some empathy with customer concerns
  • 28% of B2B marketers mirror the language that their target audiences and decision makers use when talking about those problems

These are troubling numbers. In the 2020s, we need to take the next step in customer-centricity, going beyond connecting our solutions to the audience by doing so from their point of view. It’s not an easy thing to master – as the Forrester report indicates – but it is a very worthy pursuit.  We should all be striving to develop empathy, as it’s defined by Intuit’s Brian Hood: “Having such a strong understanding that it’s hard to tell the line between us and our customers.” And our content should convey it. What To Do: Walk the walk when it comes to being customer-centric. Put customer insight in the driver’s seat for everything you create in 2020. Be cognizant of how often you’re centering the conversation on your brand and its solutions.

Here’s to a Decade of Dazzling Results

The next 10 years are going to be exciting and invigorating. Technology, creativity, and data-driven insight will commingle in new ways to reinvent what is possible for digital customer experiences. We’re excited to venture into this great unknown alongside all of our clients, partners, and peers.  From my view, B2B marketers who are best-prepared for what lies ahead will be:

  • Mobile-first
  • Thoroughly strategic with creation
  • Adamant about energizing email engagement
  • Focused on influencer relevance
  • Keenly customer-centered in approach

Want to further ready yourself for the year and decade ahead? Check out our robust pieces on 2020 trends and predictions:

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 5 Old Habits B2B Marketers Should Leave Behind in the 2010s appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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5 Stars: 20+ Tips to Invigorate Your B2B Marketing Using Testimonials & Reviews

Hand holding one of five white stars image.

Hand holding one of five white stars image.

What’s in a review?

With the right client testimonials and customer reviews, B2B brands can increase trust and loyalty in uncertain times while strengthening existing connections and fostering new ones. Your brand may even be sitting on a goldmine of evergreen trust-building user-generated content.

Let’s take a look at 20+ tips to invigorate and expand your B2B marketing toolkit with a smart customer review and testimonial strategy.

Making The Statistical Case For Testimonials & Reviews

With some surveys showing that  90 percent of adult Internet users rely on reviews before making purchases, and others placing the figure even higher at nearly 99 percent, it’s important for B2B brands to make sure they feature the reviews and testimonials their customers have taken the time to write and share online.

Despite their unique power to build brand trust, just 43 percent of B2B businesses use reviews in their marketing toolkit.

Conversion rates can skyrocket by as much as 270 percent when online reviews are smartly incorporated, however, as shown in the Website Builder Expert data below.

Website Builder Expert Image

Some 30 percent of businesses said that customer reviews had a major impact on their overall success, and just over 26 percent said reviews also had a major impact on profitability, as shown in the following chart from a recent ZenBusiness survey.

ZenBusiness Chart

The same survey revealed that 52.2 percent of older businesses monitor online reviews weekly and 18.5 percent do so daily, while 47 percent of newer firms monitor weekly, and 39.3 percent monitor daily, suggesting that more established brands have settled into a weekly cadence, while younger firms tend to keep a more frequent watch over reviews.

Businesses tend to monitor a multitude of online review platforms for reviews, with 67.6 percent using Google, 55.1 percent Facebook, and 46.3 percent Yelp, followed by others as shown below.

ZenBusiness Chart

Only 11.9 percent of businesses said that they respond to every review left for them, while 60 percent said that they interact with either some or most reviews they receive, the same survey noted.

Younger B2B buyers are increasingly looking for reviews and testimonials to be delivered to them in methods that differ from those of older buyers, creating an opportunity for some brands looking to connect with younger audiences.

“Sixty-one percent of Millennial buyer decisions are influenced by user reviews that they trust,” Brian Fanzo recently noted in “Meet The Millennials: How Marketers Can Effectively Connect With The New B2B Buyer,” urging smart B2B marketers to not rely solely on traditional websites, and to instead “bring the testimonials — the trusted user reviews — to the buyer.”

Brian was one of the 13 B2B social media marketing leaders offering trends and predictions in our "13 Top B2B Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020."

His sentiments are largely echoed in report data recently examined by Social Media Today.

[bctt tweet="“In 2020 social media marketing will shift from vanity metrics to transparent and authentic channels to focus on real-time customer engagement.” @iSocialFanz" username="toprank"]

You May Already Have a Goldmine of Testimonials

Many established B2B brands may already have a fantastic cache of glowing testimonials from clients, however because some firms don't have any established practice for gathering, collecting, and most importantly utilizing them in marketing efforts, they remain mostly hidden.

Gathering existing reviews and testimonials can be a great way to get new insight into your most loyal customers, unearth any points of customer dissatisfaction, and to build new mechanisms for improving communication with your customers.

“Your offerings should be so attractive to your loyalists that they have no reason to look elsewhere for additional products or services,” Rob Markey wrote in an insightful Harvard Business Review look at how to “Make It Easier for Happy Customers to Buy More.”

Client and customer kudos today comes from more channels than ever, which can make it challenging to gather and compile into a dedicated testimonials file. A list of only a few of the digital channels to search for possible existing testimonials includes:

  • Email Correspondence
  • Online Collaboration Tool Chat History
  • Private Social Media Posts
  • Public Social Media Posts
  • Mobile Device Text Message History
  • Voicemail Transcripts

Whether it's each quarter, weekly, or every day, taking the time to mine testimonials from each of the channels your firm user is a great way to unearth potentially powerful customer and client testimonials.

Tactfully encouraging clients to consider leaving a review or testimonial is a nuanced process best customized on a per-client basis, however there are also some universal methods to help guide a good strategy, such as those outlined in “14 Proven Ways to Encourage Customers to Write Reviews.”

Social media and search engine firms have also done their part to try boosting the visibility of customer reviews, such as Google adding highlighted business reviews in Google Posts.

[bctt tweet="“Whether it's each quarter, weekly, or every day, taking the time to mine testimonials from each of the channels your firm user is a great way to unearth potentially powerful customer and client testimonials.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis" username="toprank"]

Testimonials & Reviews Increase Trust & Loyalty

Trust is paramount as B2B marketers seek to attract, engage, and convert new clients, and testimonials and reviews from satisfied existing customers are among the most powerful forms of messaging when it comes to earning the business of potential new clients.

It's no secret that for many years study after study has shown that testimonials and reviews hold the power to build trust, and ultimately help persuade people to engage your company's services.

Some 90 percent of B2B buyers said that they are more likely to complete a purchase after seeing a positive review.

[bctt tweet="“High rates of loyalty are a huge asset in business. They provide a necessary foundation for profitable growth.” — Rob Markey @rgmarkey" username="toprank"]

The earned power of trust becomes even more apparent when paired with survey data showing that globally 54 percent of consumers would still buy from a brand even after a negative product experience if they felt that a firm hadn’t broken trust.

When trust has been lost, however, some 82 percent said that they would not purchase again from the brand, highlighting the importance of building brand trust — something reviews and testimonials excel at.

Testimonials & Reviews Strengthen Existing Connections & Foster New Ones

Testimonials and reviews showcase the ability of your business to provide best-answer solutions so well that people take the time to personally write appreciative messages sharing their gratitude.

Testimonials and reviews also take good business partnerships and strengthen them, and help bring B2B relationships to new levels of commitment and trust.

62 percent of consumers leave positive reviews in order to help others in making buying decisions, while 52 percent say they leave negative reviews to warn others, as shown below.

Website Builder Expert Image

The connections forged through testimonials and reviews makes the relationship between your business and your clients stronger, and also serve as an important and visible example for potential new clients who are looking for information about your company.

More firms are also making it easy for customers to leave video feedback, such as a method Airbnb has implemented that mimics the ease of use users have come to expect for sharing videos on YouTube or Instagram.

The video review format has led some customers to share lengthier and more precise feedback, which in turn allows businesses greater insight into their customers.

“Videos can be richly emotional — offering the real voice and face of the customer. That emotion, transmitted directly to front-line employees and leaders, often generates the sort of empathy that inspires and motivates thoughtful action,” Rob Markey has noted.

By making video reviews a simple and optional part of customer feedback surveys, brands can have the best of both traditional text-based input and — for those who choose — the advantages of video reviews.

“If they say yes, then we've incorporated a video widget into the survey where they can just turn the camera on on their phone or computer and leave a response,” Airbnb customer insights manager Raj Sivasubramanian has said.

“The customers that chose that option really embraced it. And we actually had a lot of customers tell us in the video, ‘This is really cool. I love the fact that I can do this,’” Sivasubramanian added.

B2B firms can also utilize more formal video testimonials into their feedback efforts, as Business 2 Community explored in a helpful how-to guide, “How to Shoot the Perfect Video Testimonial.

[bctt tweet="“Testimonials and reviews take good business partnerships and strengthen them, and help bring B2B relationships to new levels of commitment and trust.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis" username="toprank"]

The Challenge of Combating Inauthentic Reviews

While no firm wants poor reviews, they are nonetheless important in their own way to consumers. 62 percent of U.S. consumers found that negative reviews were just as important as positive ones when it came time to make purchasing decisions.

Customers have grown to be suspicious of businesses that have conspicuously uniform five-star reviews, however, and more now say that they look to utilize multiple sources of reviews when researching a firm.

Despite this, 65 percent of U.S. adult consumers believe the reviews they read are generally accurate, however.

Recent survey data has also shown that 55 percent of consumers see the biggest red flag with reviews that use the same wording, while 35 percent view an overwhelming number of positive reviews to be indicative of inauthentic reviews, as shown below.

Bazaarvoice Chart

Testimonials & Reviews Are Evergreen

Most testimonials focus on the things that a client or customer loved about working with your team, and these are also largely the type of praise that isn't particularly directed at a specific time, which makes testimonials excellent sources of evergreen content that can often remain relevant and convincing for years.

HubSpot has compiled an extensive list of good examples of testimonial pages that can serve as inspiration, in Lindsay Kolowich’s “14 Testimonial Page Examples You'll Want to Copy,” showing how to implement quotes, video, audio, case study, customer interview and other types of testimonials.

To help you along your path to building more powerful testimonials and reviews into your current strategy, or to begin implementing your first such plan, here are several additional recent resources that have been published:

Reinvigorate Your B2B Marketing Testimonial Strategy

We hope this introductory look at the power of client testimonials and customer reviews to help B2B brands boost trust and loyalty and strengthen connections has been helpful, and that the tips and statistics we’ve shared will help make your marketing testimonial strategy more robust and successful.

The post 5 Stars: 20+ Tips to Invigorate Your B2B Marketing Using Testimonials & Reviews appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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