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Daniel Rodgers

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10 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2020

Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2020

In late 2018, B2B influencer marketing was on the industry watch list as predictions for what this year would hold began popping up. And what we saw were some major advancements in what B2B marketers had planned for influencer marketing in 2019 including:

Some of these initiatives rose to the top for 2019, while others got lost in the day-to-day shuffle. However, 2019 was the year that B2B marketers really LEANED IN on influencer marketing in a way they hadn’t before. Many of the predictions from last year have become best practices for some of today’s top brands.

What does 2020 hold? To help turn your B2B influencer marketing dreams into a reality, we’ve tapped 10 influencer marketing leaders to share their top predictions for 2020.

The Integration of Influence in 2020

TopRank Marketing has been in the business of B2B influencer marketing since before it had a name. We're constantly iterating on our approach and finding new ways to help our clients achieve influencer marketing success, and we're proud to have been named by Forrester as the only B2B marketing agency with influencer marketing capabilities.

In 2020, I predict that we’ll see EVEN MORE brands integrating influencer marketing into strategic marketing initiatives in a way that supports multiple objectives (and even departments or business units). The intersection of business priorities, search demand and influencers is what we like to call the “Content Sweet Spot”.

And, by integrating these three areas (and keeping an eye on trending data), influencer programs have the opportunity to create strategic and long-lasting impact for your business on an even grander scale. So, what do our other experts predict will change in 2020? Read on to find out!

Focusing on Engagement Over Reach

 
Alyssa Samuelson
Senior Communications Manager, Microsoft

Bigger doesn't necessarily mean better when it comes to influencer reach. Brands are finding more value in the ways in which followers engage with influencers rather than in how many people might see a piece of content. Measuring likes, comments and shares show that an influencer’s audience is listening and the content is resonating. Tapping into influencers who may not have millions of followers but do have a loyal audience can be meaningful to brands, particularly those who are trying to reach very specific audiences.

[bctt tweet="Now and in 2020, bigger doesn't necessarily mean better when it comes to influencer reach. @alyssasamuelson #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions" username="toprank"]

Going All-In on Always-On Influencer Marketing


Garnor Morantes
Group Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

I predict organizations are going to lean more heavily into fostering deep, personal relationships with influencers. Influencer marketing was largely borne from leveraging an influencer's scale and mass appeal, but consumer savvy and skepticism have resulted in greater importance on authenticity.

As a result, I anticipate organizations will focus their efforts on building lasting, ongoing relationships with a more targeted group of influencers. In addition to working with influencers more as partners and collaborators, the investment in an always-on program focused on uncovering/sharing true, authentic messages and insights that resonate with customers will make influencer "reach" less of a priority.

[bctt tweet="In 2020, I predict organizations are going to lean more heavily into fostering deep, personal relationships with influencers. Garnor Morantes #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions" username="toprank"]


Judy Tian
Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

I predict that brands and influencers will have an increasingly collaborative relationship, with influencers being brought in even earlier in the process. We’re already seeing collaboration at the content and creative development stage, but I predict that influencers will partner on even earlier work such as brand messaging, idea validation, and campaign brainstorming – ultimately in service of better content for the end-consumer.

[bctt tweet="In 2020, I predict that brands and influencers will have an increasingly collaborative relationship, with influencers being brought in even earlier in the process. @judytian07 #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions" username="toprank"]

Taking Influencer Activations Beyond Digital


Rani Mani
Head of Social Influencer Enablement, Adobe

Despite the fact that today's technology makes it beyond easy to connect with people around the world virtually, there is something profoundly special and different about in-real-life (IRL) activations. Shared, in-person experiences facilitate a sense of community and form bonds between people that no amount of emails and social media likes can possibly come close to.

Though it is often a substantial time and financial investment, we at Adobe are always looking for IRL influencer activations. It can be as simple and informal as grabbing a bite to eat together or something a bit more planned like a visit to HQs to meet with the corporate strategy team and participate in product demos.

My favorite was our AdWeek related Nasdaq interview experience followed by our group cooking class. We were able to support each other and build on one another's thoughts and later let our hair down and engage in some good, old-fashioned fun. We all left so energized and invested in one other's lives in ways that you simply don't get with online interactions alone.

[bctt tweet="In 2020, I predict in-real-life experiences between brands and influencers will grow and facilitate a greater sense of community. @ranimani0707 #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions" username="toprank"]

 
Janine Wegner
Global Thought Leadership Program Manager, Dell Technologies

The biggest challenge for brands is the break-through of key differentiators like their USPs, values and the benefit to their stakeholders – online and offline. Besides engaging key spokespeople, brands will increasingly collaborate and co-create content through real-life activations with external experts that influence their target audience.

It takes a “mesh” of the right voices to bring the stories and proof points to live. For instance, at key events, brands can partner with influencers to shape audience engagements by providing key audience and industry insights, as well as be a participant to elevate the conversation and/or be an amplifier of the activation digitally.

[bctt tweet="In 2020, I predict that brands will increasingly collaborate and co-create content through real-life activations with external experts that influence their target audience. @JanineWegner #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions" username="toprank"]

Read: How to Integrate Online and Offline Tactics to Cultivate Influencer Relationships

Combining Content and Influence


Amisha Gandhi
Vice President, Influencer Marketing & Communications, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass

In B2B, the emphasis will focus on building “communities of influence” around industry experts, employees and brand advocates/customers.  The communities will act as watering holes where people can learn, share ideas and find value through authentic interactions vs. one-way content. This will play well with ABM efforts to personalize content by making it more interactive and engaging. The effect will be to attract target consumers rather than push content to them.

[bctt tweet="In 2020, I predict that the emphasis will focus on building 'communities of influence' around industry experts, employees and brand advocates/customers. @AmishaGandhi #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions" username="toprank"]


Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing

Content is the currency of value that B2B brands and influencers exchange. However, as more buyers become numb to information overload and brand marketing, it's not enough for B2B companies to inform buyers with expert quotes, interviews and webinars.

To truly stand out in 2020, B2B influencer marketing programs must optimize beyond reach to experience. Influencer-driven content experiences—from audio to video to interactive—deliver engaging information that inspires buyers to action. When content is experiential and influential, everybody wins.

[bctt tweet="In 2020, I predict that influencer-driven experiences will be what it takes to optimize influencer marketing programs beyond reach and to inspire action. @leeodden #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions" username="toprank"]

Integrating with Employee Advocacy


Ryan Bares
Global Social Programs Lead: Social Influencers & Employee Advocacy IBM Systems, IBM

I’m building brand ambassadors by enabling employees to be active on social media.

Any influencer strategy must incorporate employee advocacy.

... It’s no longer one or the other.

I’ve seen success with my tailor-made social media education for IBM subject matter experts. This included social media 101 (i.e., building out a profile), to more advanced topics like social listening and producing long-form content. I then served-up great influencer content (topic-based) to interested IBMers so they can join the conversations and engage online.

I highly expect to see more brands focusing on employee coaching and mentoring to elevate their influencer strategy in 2020. Employees are an important part of the mix so don’t overlook them.

[bctt tweet="I highly expect to see more brands focusing on employee coaching and mentoring to elevate their influencer strategy in 2020. @RyanBares #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions" username="toprank"]

Embracing The Rise of Video & Audio


Ursula Ringham
Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAP

2020 will be the year of B2B influencer marketing, with companies finally understanding how to use video, podcasts, and long-form content such as blogs to tell their story and reach new audiences. And storytelling will be key to this success, having the influencer tell the brand story through their lens.

[bctt tweet="2020 will be the year of B2B influencer marketing, with companies finally understanding how to use different types of content to tell their story and reach new audiences. @ursularingham #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions" username="toprank"]

Making Authenticity a Priority


Angela Lipscomb
Influencer Relations Manager, SAS

Even as recently as five years ago many B2B marketers didn’t understand how influencers could bring value to a brand if they weren’t endorsing it. They didn’t understand that the essence of an influencer’s value is in their neutrality.

To be a trusted advisor an influencer must remain objective. So, for the sake of authenticity, it’s important that brands don’t expect influencers to regurgitate a brand message which is fundamentally detrimental to the brand, the influencer and the consumer. If you’re collaborating with an influencer who is the right fit then their vision should be in sync with your vision. Give them free rein to do what they do best; to educate and inspire.

[bctt tweet="In 2020, I predict that more brands will understand the true essence of an influencer's value: neutrality. To be a trusted advisor an influencer must remain objective. @AngelaLipscomb #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions" username="toprank"]

Finding Your Influencer Marketing Focus for 2020

According to CMI and MarketingProfs’ 2020 B2B content marketing benchmarketing report, 46% of marketers that identify as high-performers, are investing in influencer relations.

So the question remains, what will your 2020 influencer marketing journey look like? And which of the predictions above will you lean into first?

What else is on the 2020 marketing horizon? Get a glimpse with our roundup of top B2B content marketing trends and predictions for 2020.

*Disclosure: LinkedIn, Dell and SAP are TopRank Marketing clients. 

The post 10 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2020 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Do you know that account-based marketing (ABM) is like spearfishing? Or that effective ABM requires sales and marketing departments to act like a unified soccer team? Or have you heard that some say B2B marketing may be heading for a shipwreck?

These were just some of the great analogies that Jon Miller, CEO and co-founder of Engagio, shared with our very own Susan Misukanis during a recent Break Free B2B interview. And, while Jon threw around analogies like a doting owner tossing a frisbee for his dog in the backyard, he also provided deep insights based on his impressive experience in marketing which also includes being a co-founder of Marketo.

According to Jon, all signs point to a dramatic shift in B2B marketing tides.

“Marketers need to break free over the next 10 years by radically changing how they work with sales, stopping the baton handoff model and really moving to a much more of an integrated team,” he said.

[bctt tweet="Marketers need to break free over the next 10 years by radically changing how they work with sales, stopping the baton handoff model and really moving to a much more of an integrated team. @jonmiller #BreakFreeB2B #ABM" username="toprank"]

Jon believes that ABM is essential for the future health of B2B marketing. But while he’s all in on ABM—it’s his business after all—he admits that there are some significant obstacles to perfect implementation including cross-department communication and consistent data. “It's really hard to be aligned when you're looking at different information,” he said. 

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The excellent news is that Jon had plenty of suggestions to help marketers stay afloat if B2B marketing veers from its current course. So, check out the full interview to learn why B2B marketing is changing, the value of ABM, and how to keep your ship together when things get choppy. 

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Jon Miller

If you’re hunting for specific ABM insights, use the following to jump ahead to specific sections or check out some interview highlights captured in the excerpts below. 

  • 0:36 - Why marketers need an ABM system
  • 1:54 - ABM is a new way to fish
  • 2:47 - Taking proactive measures to land the right fish
  • 3:54 - Resources required to build out your ABM team 
  • 4:32 - How ABM is like a soccer game
  • 7:03 - B2B marketing heading for a shipwreck
  • 8:00 - What’s privacy got to do with it?
  • 9:13 - Old revenue models aren’t sustainable
  • 10:08 - The explosion of digital noise
  • 10:38 - The future of B2B Marketing
  • 12:31 - How an ABM stand-up unsticks opportunities
  • 15:37 - The importance of data in marketing and sales alignment 
  • 17:23 - Using 3rd party intent data, for all intents and purposes
  • 20:56 - Scaling ABM based on deal size
  • 25:17 - Who’s winning at ABM?
  • 27:40 - The future of content marketing 
  • 29:40 - How can marketers break free? 

Susan: Account-based marketing is still arguably in its infancy. What what are the drivers? Why does a marketing professional need an ABM system?

Jon: When I was doing marketing at Marketo, we were responsible for generating as much as 80% of all the pipeline that the sales team was closing … What we had been doing [in demand generation] was fishing with a net … We’d throw these campaigns out there, … we didn't care which fish we caught; we just cared if we’d catch enough fish. 

When we started to go after the bigger companies—our existing customers and so on— it was something more like fishing with a spear where we would identify who we wanted, and then we'd find ways to ... proactively go after them. That was a pretty different model. That model is ultimately what came became known as account-based marketing. 

The drivers of ABM are really capturing that story. It's the need to go upmarket. It's the need to find new growth engines. It's the people realizing that inbound only gets you so far. You don't get to control who responds. So I think those are the main factors why ABM has become hot.

[bctt tweet="The drivers of ABM are… the need to go upmarket. It's the need to find new growth engines. It's the people realizing that inbound only gets you so far. @jonmiller #BreakFreeB2B #ABM" username="toprank"]

Susan: You write about B2B marketing heading for a shipwreck? Can you dig into that?

Jon: In the era of marketing automation, I think marketing did a lot to change the way people thought about the marketing department ... And that helped shift the perception of marketing to be a real part of the revenue process … but that model that was built, the linear handoff [between marketing and sales]—that's breaking down.

For example, privacy regulations have really come around. And that means that's a lot harder for marketing to send emails at the top of the funnel. And at the same time, you've seen the rise of tools like Outreach and Salesloft.

So that's a big change in the role of marketing. You don't get to just be the email people at the top of the funnel anymore, because that's going away. You're going to have to shift and adjust where you spend your time and energy. 

And another big change on top of all that is the rise of recurring revenue models … the vast majority of revenue that companies create today happens after that initial sale. And yet, most marketing departments are still focused on generating new business … there needs to be an adjustment about how the marketing department thinks about what their job is.

The explosion of digital noise means that traditional marketing channels like ads are becoming less and less effective … What marketers need to think about is, how do I orchestrate multiple channels together?

[bctt tweet="The explosion of digital noise means that traditional marketing channels like ads are becoming less and less effective … What marketers need to think about is, how do I orchestrate multiple channels together? @jonmiller #BreakFreeB2B #ABM" username="toprank"]

You put all that together, and I think we're going to see a very different role for B2B marketing departments in the next 10 years. 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few more interviews to provide inspiration to your marketing efforts. 

The post Break Free B2B Series: Jon Miller on How ABM Can Help Marketers Keep Their ‘Ship’ Together appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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