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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.

5 Steps for a More Powerful B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Powerful B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Powerful B2B Content Marketing Strategy

Content Marketing continues to be a driving force behind meaningful B2B marketing that powers marketing and business growth. According to research by HubSpot, 70% of marketers actively investing in content marketing  and there's no sign of a slowdown, especially as SEMrush research has found, marketers are focused on using content to generate more quality leads (75%), attract more traffic to their website (71%), improve brand reputation (56%), and improve customer engagement and loyalty (45%).

The problem is, many of those marketers are not creating best answer content experiences. Creating useful content by itself is not an effective strategy in a world of brand distrust, content attention deficit and the distractions brought by a global pandemic. Being the best answer for your customers means being found and also delivering on expectations. Creating findable, credible content that is also useful and experiential is at the center of what being the best answer means for marketers.

Content is the common denominator between the building blocks of creating best answer experiences including SEO and social for findability as well as influencer marketing and earned media for credibility. Video and audio driven content formats and even interactive are what help deliver on experiences. Unfortunately, many B2B marketers don't have the resources or insight to bring these essential elements together for their content marketing strategy.

To help create the foundation for providing customers with best answer content experiences, here are 5 steps for developing a more powerful content marketing strategy:

Step 1: Ideal Customer Profiles

Content Marketing is essentially connecting customers with relevant information in a way that provides mutual value for both customers and brands. While content informs, it also influences readers to the logical conclusion to buy – directly or indirectly.

The most effective content marketing efforts are thoughtful about understanding the people the brand is trying to engage. To do that, there are a few key questions that should be answered:

  • What are your customers’ content preferences?
  • How do they discover, consume & share content?
  • Who are they influenced by?
  • What questions do they need answered during the buying cycle?
  • What content formats are most compelling (audio, video, text, long/short form, interactive)?

The answers to questions like these can help B2B marketers make important decisions about their content marketing strategy, social media channels of focus and measurement via social monitoring and web analytics.

Documenting ideal customer archetypes involves collecting data, aggregating and analyzing it into profiles to help marketers understand expectations, goals, problems and solutions that can be addressed through experiential content.

The first step is to collect data you already have on existing customers that exemplify ideal characteristics such as profitability, low support costs, referrals and retention. Additional internal sources include web analytics data from brand websites to identify KPIs that lead to ideal customer acquisition. Social media monitoring and analytics data can also provide insight into ideal customer behaviors. Influencer Marketing platforms can help identify the key voices that have the attention of customers on the topics relevant for the brand solution.

Additional tools include competitive search and social media research services, social media monitoring tools and keyword research tools. You can also survey your customers to identify what social media and content sites they prefer, who they are influenced by and the types of content that is most valuable to them.

Step 2: Topics of Influence, Search and Social

Driven by a desire to connect customers with the information they need to make B2B buying decisions, content marketers dedicate substantial resources to creating information and media that engage. Understanding target customer interests and the language they use to think about the problem/solution involved with your offering are an important step in optimizing content for discovery through search, social media and influencers.

With the pandemic driving virtually all B2B activities online, many buyers discover new services through search engines. They also look for recommendations from influencers and discuss what they find via search on social networks, forums and blogs. Search engine optimization best practices call for topic research so that content can be optimized for what’s relevant to customers and the language they actually use when searching for solutions.

Because B2B buyers are active and influenced by social content, it’s important for B2B marketers to understand social topics as well as search keywords. What buyers search on Google and what they discuss on social networking or Q/A sites like Quora are not always the same.

SEO focused topics help inspire creation and optimization of content for discovery via search engines. Social media focused topics help guide the content and messaging approach on relevant social channels. Topics of influence help marketers identify the people that are most trusted and therefore can be engaged to co-create and promote content to audiences that are interested. This way, when B2B buyers search a category for solutions, they see “Brand 123” in a prominent position. When that buyer looks at social content like blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn or video for the topic, Brand 123 appears there as well. When B2B buyers see their search and social findings match with what they see trusted industry experts advocating and what is covered in industry publications, it creates and incredibly powerful combination.

Step 3: Editorial Plan & Content Mapping

The implementation of a content strategy, ideal customer profile and search/social/influencer topics is through the Editorial plan. Most B2B marketers engaging in content marketing have adopted the same best practices used by publishers to create engaging information and media for a specific type of audience.

The Editorial plan covers any kind of content that tells the brand story to the customer segments being targeted. Such content plans factor in original website and blog content, curated content from other sources, influencer contributions, repurposed content from inside the organization and content published on other websites or other brand web properties.

The editorial plan also influences the content created for social media specific purposes such as blog posts, Tweets, Facebook Status updates, LinkedIn forum posts, YouTube videos, and influencer activations on social channels.

In order to coordinate the connection between the ideal customer profile guided Editorial Plan and the actual content, it should be mapped. Many SEO practitioners already do this with keywords and associate target keyword phrases with specific web pages or categories of pages. This is useful for making sure all target concepts are accounted for with on-page optimization and can be modified as content or target keywords change. If there is no content for a target keyword to be mapped to, then it’s added to the content creation plan.

Mapping content according to the ideal customer profile is very similar. Existing content is audited for its ability to address the information needs of target customers across the buying cycle. If there are gaps, then new content is created to address those needs. In a coordinated Social, SEO Influencer Marketing effort, the Editorial Plan and Content Mapping process occurs first, then the SEO audit.

Step 4: Content Promotion

“Build it and they will come”. It’s a well-known and often over-used quote used to describe the fallacy of great content as a marketing tool. Content isn’t great until someone shares it. And they share it, and so on and so on.

With B2B content marketing, great content is the beginning not the end objective. An effective Content Marketing strategy includes information about the customer, search and social topics as well as topics of influence, editorial plan and a plan for promoting all the high quality content being created.  With content attention deficit and information overload experienced by so many, buyers can easily be distracted. It’s important for B2B brands to stand out and stay connected with findable, credible content that delivers and experience.

Here are four basic reasons for promoting great content as well as making it findable:

  1. Many B2B buyers still rely on information to be pushed to them because finding and trusting new sources on an ongoing basis isn’t practical.
  2. Promoting content through channels where a social network has been developed can lead to exposure, traffic and links.
  3. Content promotion can inspire syndication and citations from other blogs and online media.
  4. Brand trust is an issue, so when credible experts share and advocate, customers listen.

A particularly effective model for coordinated Social, SEO, Influencer and Content promotion is a Hub and Spoke. Depending on your content strategy and target audience, the hub might be a resource center, a blog, Facebook Fan Page, YouTube Channel or a Website. The spokes are distribution and promotion channels leading to off-site networks or communities.

Understanding the communities and influencers and involving them in both content development and promotion keeps topics fresh, relevant and trusted as well as interesting for the community to promote to others.

Step 5: Mining Search, Social & Influencer Analytics

As B2B marketers implement a coordinated Best Answer Content Experience effort, there’s a cyclical publishing, promotion, analysis and improvement process that can boost effectiveness: Marketing Optimization.

It starts by co-creating topic specific content with influencers, optimizing it for search and promoting it to relevant social channels. As the brand content gets noticed, it is shared and engaged with creating more awareness of the brand as a source of useful information on the desired topics. At the same time, a persistent effort is made to grow social network connections and relationships with relevant influencers. Increased exposure of brand-authored content will attract more subscribers, followers, mentions and citations of brand messages. Increased links & social exposure by influencers and social networks will attract even more search, link & social traffic. Increased web traffic & community engagement actions will provide the brand with data that can be used to research, develop & further grow social networks for content, SEO and expand influencer relationships. With the information gained from community data, editorial optimization plans can be refined for more effective content creation, influencer activation, search optimization and content promotion.

While these 5 steps are relatively basic for more advanced B2B marketers, hopefully the model will provide you inspiration or fuel to start intentionally and consistently incorporating Influencers, Social Media and SEO in your B2B content marketing. You’ll reach more customers where they’re looking with experiences that will inspire more effective engagement, revenue and retention outcomes.

The post 5 Steps for a More Powerful B2B Content Marketing Strategy appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Use Instagram Tagging for More Exposure

Want more people to see your Instagram posts? Are you using Instagram tags effectively? In this article, you’ll discover the difference between @mentioning an account versus tagging an account, learn how and when to use each of these tactics, and find out how to remove your tag from someone else’s post. You’ll also learn why […]

The post How to Use Instagram Tagging for More Exposure appeared first on Social Media Examiner | Social Media Marketing.

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B2B Marketing News: Top B2B Brand-Building Challenges, Online Engagement Gets Just 2 Seconds, Facebook’s New Paid Event Options, & Google’s Shared Ad Budgeting

2020 August 21 MarketingCharts Chart

2020 August 21 MarketingCharts Chart

The Most Significant Challenges to B2B Brand-Building
Unclear strategy, performance measurement unsurety, low priority brand-building and foggy messaging are the leading brand reach amplification challenges faced by B2B marketers, according to recently-released survey data of interest to digital marketers. MarketingProfs

'You get 2 seconds to engage consumers online': Mars neuroscientist shares key findings
Digital marketers have just two seconds to capture consumers' attention and five to make an impact, according to newly-released neuroscience study data, also showing that memory encoding is key as duration time has dropped. The Drum

Facebook Adds New Paid Events Options for Businesses and Creators
Facebook has made direct in-stream purchase options available for eligible Facebook business pages in 20 countries including the U.S., offering digital marketers new monetization and event marketing options, the social media giant recently announced. Social Media Today

Twitter users can now control who replies to their tweet
Twitter has rolled out new user options for managing who can reply to tweets on the platform, allowing posters to specify that everyone can reply, only those they follow, or only users mentioned in a tweet, the firm recently announced. Reuters

Google Ads Performance Planner Added Shared Budgets, Shared Access & Conversion Delays
Google has rolled out three new budget planning features to its widely-used Google Ads management utilities, including better use of conversion delays, team shared access, and downloadable budgeting forecast data, the search giant recently announced. Search Engine Roundtable

The rise of the avatar as a marketing medium
The global health crisis has brought new marketing opportunities for the use of avatars usable in any number of virtual worlds, and AdAge takes a look at the trend here. AdAge

2020 August 21 Statistics Image

The World’s Biggest Brands Are Spending More in Programmatic
The largest brands have been spending more on programmatic advertising, according to recently-released World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) study data, also showing that 74 percent of the world's biggest brands partner with an agency. Ad Week

Facebook Is Testing New Post-Level Analytics for Groups
Facebook has launched new analytics features for group administrators, allowing digital marketers a more detailed look at active member views, post hides, image views, and other metrics, the firm recently announced. Social Media Today

Instagram rolls out suggested posts to keep you glued to your feed
Facebook-owned Instagram has released a new feature update that shows posts from accounts users don’t follow once they have reached the end of their traditional feed, creating both an endless feed and new ad options for marketers, the firm recently announced. The Verge

B2B Marketers Lend Their Support to Influencer Programs
96 percent of B2B marketers engaging in influencer marketing find their program successful, with 84 percent also noting that influencer marketing can achieve brand awareness — two of dozens of insights from the TopRank Marketing 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report, examined here by MarketingCharts. MarketingCharts

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 August 21 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at “the evolution of digital transformation” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

New California Energy Tax Makes You Pay 10 Cents to Open a New Browser Tab — The Hard Times

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • SAP — How SAP puts purpose into practice — AdAge
  • Lee Odden — 2 Questions To Ask Before Building Your B2B Ambassador Program — Forbes
  • TopRank Marketing — B2B Marketers Lend Their Support to Influencer Programs — MarketingProfs
  • Lee Odden — Influencer marketing set to be the next big thing, apparently — Meetings & Incentive Travel Magazine
  • Lee Odden — 5 B2B Content Marketing Trends to Take in 2021 — V3Broadsuite
  • Lee Odden — What’s Trending: Renew Your Content Strategy Commitment — LinkedIn (client)
  • Lee Odden — CoronaCocktails 8.18 - The Norse God, Lee Odden [Podcast] — Joseph Jaffe / CoronaTV
  • Lee Odden — Instagram Influencer Marketing Myths, Debunked — HubSpot
  • TopRank Marketing — Affiliate Marketing News — Jason Hulott
  • Nick Nelson — 10 Ways to Tailor Your Marketing Strategy to Your Business — Small Business Trends
  • Debbie Friez — How Farm Life Prepared Me Sheltering In Place — Debbie Friez
  • Lee Odden — New Essentials for Commerce: SEO, Content Marketing, and Influencers — inRiver
  • Lee Odden /TopRank Marketing — TopRank data shows 74% of B2B pros believe influencer marketing could improve CX — 360 Magazine
  • Lee Odden — CoronaCocktails 8.18 - The Norse God, Lee Odden [Video] — Joseph Jaffe
  • TopRank Marketing — Cover Your Bases: How to Use LinkedIn for Agent Recruiting — New Horizons
  • TopRank Marketing — 15 Best Digital Marketing Blogs Filled With Valuable Advice — SEO Basics

Have you found your own top marketing stories from the past week of news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for joining us, and please return again next Friday and tune in for another array of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news.

The post B2B Marketing News: Top B2B Brand-Building Challenges, Online Engagement Gets Just 2 Seconds, Facebook’s New Paid Event Options, & Google’s Shared Ad Budgeting appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Analyze Your Marketing: Google Analytics Strategy

Are your marketing efforts working? Wondering how to elevate your marketing? To explore how to strategically analyze your marketing using Google Analytics, I interview Julian Juenemann on the Social Media Marketing Podcast. Julian is a measurement expert and founder of Measure School, a popular YouTube channel and site for data-driven marketers. His membership site is […]

The post How to Analyze Your Marketing: Google Analytics Strategy appeared first on Social Media Examiner | Social Media Marketing.

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7 B2B Content Marketing Tactics For Long Term Success

Man running down an infinite road into the sunset image.

Man running down an infinite road into the sunset image.

I have an important question for you:

Athlete A runs a marathon in under 3 hours. Athlete B runs a 40-yard dash in under 5 seconds. Which athlete is more impressive to you?

Athlete A can run the distance, but Athlete B is explosive. ?

via GIPHY

If you’re anything like me, you answered that they’re both very impressive. And you’d be right. Having both endurance and power are extremely important. So, why am I asking this question on a blog all about marketing? Well, the most successful content marketing strategies have tactics that cover those two qualities: endurance and power. AKA long-term and short-term tactics.

For content marketing to be successful, you need those flashy, attention-grabbing campaigns to meet immediate goals. But you also need reliable, consistent, thought-provoking content to compound results over time. Below, I share the B2B content marketing tactics that combine for the greatest long-term success.

[bctt tweet="“The most successful content marketing strategies have tactics that cover two qualities: endurance and power. AKA long-term and short-term tactics.” — Annie Leuman @annieleuman" username="toprank"]

7 of the Best B2B Content Marketing Tactics

Long-Term B2B Content Marketing Tactics

Tactic #1 - Blog Content

When it comes to tried and true tactics, blogging takes the cake. Blogging is some 26-years old and still drives amazing results. In fact, a recent survey from SEMrush found that it remains the most popular content type with 86% of marketers responding that it is the most important content type they create. Considering how much we marketers value optimization and data, we wouldn’t still be writing blog posts in 2020 if they didn’t drive results.

How is blogging a long-term tactic, though? Well, similar to most long-term tactics, once you start you can’t stop. A blog is a brand-owned channel and a valuable resource of relevant knowledge for your customers and prospects. Stop publishing there, and it stops being that reliable source of brand perspectives and information.

All out of new blog content ideas? Read these tips for more efficient content creation from TopRank Marketing CEO, Lee Odden.

Tactic #2 - Social Media Content

Back in 2019, Statista reported the average person spent 144 minutes per day on social media. I can only imagine that number has gone up in 2020 due to the COVID-19 health crisis. In marketing, you go where your audience is, making social media content a must for any brand both B2B and B2C.

And once again, your social media content needs to be consistent over the long term if you’re to grow your social media following into the connected group of prospects, customers, and partners that you desire. Furthermore, social media content requires constant monitoring so you’re able to capitalize on timely topics and discussions that happen on social media platforms in real time. Growing your audience on social media is a laborious and lengthy process, but it’s easily worth it to have an engaged following, ready to consume the content you distribute and promote on your platforms of choice.

How should you approach social media listening in the age of coronavirus? We have some tips for you that should help

Tactic #3 - Influencer Content

Read any other marketing blog and an influencer marketing campaign is probably classified as an ad-hoc, short-term tactic. However, here at TopRank Marketing, we believe in an always-on approach to influencer marketing.

Think about it this way: do you approach personal relationships as a one and done interaction? No, relationships require nurturing and frequent interactions in order to grow and solidify. We believe influencer relationships, and therefore influencer marketing, needs to be approached in the same way. With nurturing. With empathy. Influencers are people, too, you know.

Not sure what always-on influencer marketing looks like? View these 5 examples

Tactic #4 - Podcast Content

Starting a podcast is not for the faint of heart. It involves working with a new medium: audio. It involves publishing across several channels: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, etc. It involves securing guests. It involves creating thoughtful episodes. And, most importantly, it involves creating a show listeners want to tune into week after week.

It is because a podcast is intended to be a continual show or series that it’s one of our favorite B2B content marketing tactics. Here at TopRank, we think of our podcasts like TV shows. Each podcast has several seasons made up of carefully designed episodes that match the theme of the season. This allows us to use each episode and each season as a chance to further grow and engage our listeners.

If you’re wondering how you can launch your B2B podcast, start with these 10 steps.

Short-Term B2B Content Marketing Tactics

Tactic #5 - Sponsored & Guest Content

As stated above, blog content is extremely valuable. But when posted on a brand-owned blog, you’re limiting the exposure of your content to the people who already know or follow your brand. To reach a larger audience, you need to turn outward. And while more social media or email promotion could help — if it’s on a brand-owned channel you’re still limited to people who already follow you. So what about reaching a new audience?

This is where sponsored or guest content can help you reach a new audience and expand your reach in the short-term. By posting content on a different channel, you’re exposing your content and thought leadership to a different audience. For example, you can secure placement on publications in a new target vertical or write a guest post on an expert’s blog. These are one-time placements, making this tactic drive short-term results, but the pay-off of greater reach and exposure is definitely worth it.

But wait isn’t that just advertising? We explain the great content vs. advertising debate here

Tactic #6 - Digital Advertising Content

Marketers have the seemingly impossible task of delivering the right message, at the right time, to the right audience, in the right channel. That’s a lot to ask. And it’s reaching that right audience that can be really hard to do with the long-term tactics above. Like I said, using brand-owned channels can make it tough to reach a new audience.

Luckily, digital advertising content is a great short-term tactic that can help you target your ideal audience with the right message, at the right time, in the right channel. From native social media advertising to traditional display ads, these ad campaigns can help you spread your message in the short-term.

Digital advertising is best when paired with content marketing. Learn more about how to marry the two tactics here. 

Tactic #7 - eBooks, Infographics, and Larger Content Campaigns

Campaigns, like eBooks, infographics, and interactive assets, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Because campaigns aren’t designed to last forever — you need one to end for another to begin — they make it onto our short-term tactics list.

Why are they a great short-term tactic? You can pack a ton of information and insight into a content marketing campaign. Plus, you can use a wide mix of media and strategies like influencers, video, audio, interactivity, and more to drive powerful engagement among your audience. They aren’t built to last, but they are built to pack a punch.

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

The best B2B content marketing strategies use a mix of the tactics above for both long- and short-term success. Short-term tactics help raise awareness for the long-term tactics. And long-term tactics help build up a loyal, engaged audience for future short-term campaigns. In other words, you need both. There’s a mutually beneficial relationship between all content marketing tactics. So use the list above to start plotting your course to B2B content marketing success.

Hungry for even more B2B content marketing tactics? Well, here’s 50 of them. Enjoy!

The post 7 B2B Content Marketing Tactics For Long Term Success appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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133 Writing Quotes to Motivate, Inspire, & Kick Your Butt in 2020

Who doesn’t love writing quotes? A good quote can uplift you. It can encourage you when you feel like giving up. It can inspire you when you need a tiny …

133 Writing Quotes to Motivate, Inspire, & Kick Your Butt in 2020 Read More »

The post 133 Writing Quotes to Motivate, Inspire, & Kick Your Butt in 2020 appeared first on Smart Blogger.

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5 Tips For Finding Your Authentic Marketing Identity

Collage of heroes and unsuccessful people.

Collage of heroes and unsuccessful people.

What do you think of when you see a person’s business title, and how do the role assumptions we all inevitably bring to the table affect our ability to market authentically?

Can we find our own more effective and authentic marketing identity and build greater business communication opportunities by ditching preconceived role beliefs?

Marketing has seen dwindling levels of trust in recent years, and as our CEO Lee Odden observed in his recent “In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience,” building great customer experiences is an uphill battle if customers don’t trust brand communications.

86 percent of customers have said that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support, which ought to make marketing that resonates with truth a key goal among forward-thinking B2B marketers.

Understanding that we’re not interacting with businesses but with human beings is also especially important as we push towards 2021, as our senior content strategist Nick Nelson examined in “How Authentic Content Builds Brand Trust in Uncertain Times.”

So sit back and let’s explore how to find your most authentic marketing identity through the lens of authenticity when it comes to how we perceive the many professionals in our business lives.

Looking Anew At Our Universe of Business Associates

Back in 2011 during my decade as lead editor at search and social media conference Pubcon I created a grid image in a style that was popular at the time, making light-hearted fun at how some people in the world of technology might mistakenly view those in different segments of the industry.

It highlighted how we sometimes tend to see ourselves and others who hold the same positions that we do in generally more favorable light than how we view our associates who have differing roles.

Back then I included search engine optimizers, social media optimizers, social media marketers, chief executives, and affiliate marketers, and I thought it might be time for an update including chief marketing officers, chief information officers, and influencers.

Collage of heroes and unsuccessful people.

While “To thine own self be true” is unmistakably sound Shakespearian wisdom, it’s also important to see others as they truly are — without the prejudice of weighty titles.

Being true to ourselves starts when we strip away preconceived notions of what a CMO does or what a CEO doesn’t do and look instead at the totality of each person — a shift that can begin a newfound level of productive communication in both our professional and personal lives.

After all, as Vanessa Colella, chief innovation officer at Citi, recently noted in an American Banker podcast, “We’re all the same size rectangle on the Zoom screen.”

Using A Fresh Understanding of Others To Learn More About Ourselves & Tell More Authentic Marketing Stories

We’re all so much more than mere titles — each of us is a fantastic and unique collection of strengths, weaknesses, and the cumulative collection of professional and personal journeys our lives have given us.

Our personal histories shape the stories we’re able to tell in our marketing, and making our storytelling authentic is a primary factor in making it successful.

[bctt tweet="“We’re all so much more than mere titles — each of us is a fantastic and unique collection of strengths, weaknesses, and the cumulative collection of professional and personal journeys our lives have given us.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis" username="toprank"]

Let's now look at five tips for uncovering and putting your authentic marketing identity to work:

1 — Bring Measurement to Authentic Content Experiences

“Creating trust with authentic content experiences must be a measurable exercise,” Lee has urged. “Beyond share of voice and brand sentiment metrics, marketers must pay attention to measuring the effectiveness of content through the customer journey,” Lee added.

It's not enough to infuse authenticity in top-notch digital content, as to truly understand the significance and success of our efforts we need to incorporate a measurement to gauge performance.

Measurement comes in many forms, from manual to automated solutions, and each can only tell you so much if you don't have the proper key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to your authentic campaigns. Albert Einstein offered insight that applies to marketing measurement and analytics, "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."

via GIPHY

We've explored how marketers can measure for success in a number of articles, including these to get you up to speed:

[bctt tweet="“Authenticity is essential for influencer collaborations to work so it’s important that marketers do their due diligence with influencers through proper identification, qualification and engagement best practices.” @LeeOdden" username="toprank"]

2 — Look to the Long-Term for Business Relationships

“Content marketing is inherently a long game, focused on building relationships first and foremost,” Nick has observed. “Right now, the best way to pursue this goal is through authenticity and altruism, in the context of your business and its audience,” he added.

Always-on marketing has become more important in efforts to build trust, strengthen relationships, and achieve ongoing long-term success — a trend we’ve explored recently since the launch of our groundbreaking 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report.

“As the need for B2B brands to reach and connect authentically with customers rises, B2B influencer marketers are evolving from transactional and intermittent campaigns to more relationship driven, Always-On Influencer engagement programs,” Lee observed in “For Successful B2B Marketers The Engine of Influence is Always On #B2BIMReport.”

You can learn more about how always-on marketing benefits B2B marketers in the following additional articles we've published on the subject:

[bctt tweet="“Marketers, brands, and creators of all kinds can make a positive difference. Being legitimately and authentically helpful in a moment like this can have a lasting impact.” @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

3 — Bring Authenticity to Every Facet of Your Life

Authenticity matters everywhere in our lives, and leading a life where we’re as authentic as possible in all areas makes it easier and more natural to incorporate it into our marketing efforts.

Unforgettable marketing and best-answer marketing often go hand-in-hand, both filled with the kind of authenticity and genuine emotion that builds especially strong brand affinity.

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen,” author Brené Brown has observed.

[bctt tweet="“Building authenticity can be accomplished by sharing the kind of best-answer content that your audience is actively searching for.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis" username="toprank"]

4 — Purpose & Authenticity Go Hand-in-Hand

“Building a purpose-driven authentic brand brings growth,” Lee has observed, and during this year more than others brands have had to take a close look at their purpose and how they are pushing beyond words and into the realm of taking action.

In “B2B Brands Take a Stand: 5 Examples of Going Beyond Words to Action,” I examined at why it’s never been more important for brands to show purpose and to be connected to what’s important to customers, and seeing others and ourselves authentically can certainly go a long way in making this happen.

[bctt tweet="“Don't mistake good communication for action. There is a really big difference.” Karen Kahn of @HP" username="toprank"]

5 — Authenticity Builds Mutually Beneficial Programs

In B2B influencer marketing programs, cooperative marketing efforts serve to benefit both brands and influencers, as Dan Gingiss, chief experience officer at The Experience Maker recently examined in our influencer marketing strategist Debbie Friez’ “B2B Influencer Marketing Advice from 9 Top B2B Influencers.”

Whether working with influencers or in more traditional marketing efforts, authenticity cuts to the heart of what drives the type of brand storytelling that truly connects with customers.

It's also the kind of authentic digital storytelling that is remembered well beyond the two seconds that recent research suggests is all marketers are likely to get these days — see "You get 2 seconds to engage consumers online: Mars neuroscientist shares key findings."

[bctt tweet="“The best influencer programs highlight an authentic relationship between the influencer and the brand, and the best way to accomplish that is to ensure a mutually beneficial program.” — Dan Ginigiss @dgingiss" username="toprank"]

Authenticity Energizes Marketing & Our Personal Journeys

via GIPHY

Being authentic and true to ourselves is a process that can shift over time, requiring occasional reevaluation and possible adjustments to how we live and work. We hope these five tips for uncovering and putting your authentic marketing identity to work serve you well in your own personal journey.

Finally, to further your insight into authenticity in B2B marketing — a subject we’ve explored over time — here are several helpful takes on how you can harness its power in your marketing efforts:

Implementing a successful authentic marketing program takes time, effort, and dedicated strategy, which leads many brands to use a top B2B influencer marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing, which was the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in Forrester’s “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America” report.

The post 5 Tips For Finding Your Authentic Marketing Identity appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Instagram Reels: What Marketers Need to Know

Want to create engaging short-form video on Instagram? Have you heard about Instagram Reels? In this article, you’ll discover what Instagram Reels is, learn how to create a reel on Instagram, and discover how to use Instagram Reels for business. What Is Instagram Reels? Instagram Reels rolled out to the majority of users in August […]

The post Instagram Reels: What Marketers Need to Know appeared first on Social Media Examiner | Social Media Marketing.

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Sprout Social’s 2020 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report

It’s never been more important to talk about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The global COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have Read more...

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Planning for Change: How to Set Your 2021 Marketing Budget

Woman at three monitors images.

Woman at three monitors images.

If you would have told me in March that I would be sitting at my kitchen table writing a blog post about 2021 marketing budgets in August, I might have invested in a comfier office chair sooner. Many of the decisions we made personally and as marketers in the days and weeks following the declaration of a pandemic were made with limited information.

As an agency, we focused on how to adapt our own day-to-day operations and plans, while helping our clients shift theirs. As time has gone by, and we start to understand more the potential long-term impacts this crisis could have, we are still adapting. However, now is the opportunity — not to be reactive — but to continue to invest in the future.

44% of CMOs reported midyear budget cuts in 2020. Most of these cuts focused on the short-term need to free up cash flow. This included cutting in-person events, media buys, and contract staff. Many of us were optimistic the economic impact of COVID-19 would be short lived and spending would rebound quickly. Given the immediacy and unexpectedness of the budget changes, there was likely less consideration of the long-term impact of certain adjustments.

While we are still facing uncertainty, most CMOs are optimistic about spending in 2021. As we set our sights on next year already, there is an opportunity to plan for flexibility in a way which will maximize our impact in 2021. How can we accomplish that? Here are five considerations to make as you plan your 2021 marketing budget.

[bctt tweet="“As we set our sights on next year already, there is an opportunity to plan for flexibility in a way which will maximize our impact in 2021.” — Alexis Hall @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#1 - Speed Up Your Planning Cycle

You already know that you’ll need to be flexible as you approach your 2021 budget planning. Let’s be frank, it’s unlikely that a “set and forget” 2021 annual plan will be successful as we continue to face uncertainty and rapid change within the market. Planning is still critical, but instead our attention needs to be on how to speed up your planning cycle. The more quickly you are able to analyze and adjust the implementation of your plan, the more you will be able to successfully navigate impending changes.

How to Speed Up Your Planning Cycle

  1. Create an annual plan. Go ahead and create those high level targets for your marketing budget and outcomes, as well as your tactical plan. Setting these targets will help you continue to pace toward your long term goals and always create a feedback mechanism regarding the success of your plan.
  2. Set up quarterly and monthly reviews. Determine now what metrics you’ll analyze on a monthly and quarterly basis. Focus on leading indicators, for example a reduction in web traffic may be a leading indicator of a decrease in leads. If a leading indicator is not meeting a goal, then you have the opportunity to adjust your tactical plan.
  3. Speed up time to market. Very large campaigns, which take months of up front investment of time, resources and budget dollars, may not be most practical right now. You can still plan a large scale campaign, but smaller units enable you to get into the market as soon as possible. This can help you gauge audience response, analyze, and adjust as needed and drive impact now.

[bctt tweet="“Planning is still critical, but instead our attention needs to be on how to speed up your planning cycle.” — Alexis Hall @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#2 - Focus on ROI

An emphasis on understanding and driving tactical planning based on return on investment has been a priority for CMOs for a while now, but in 2021 it will be more imperative than ever. Line items which are unproven when it comes to driving revenue and margin, are most likely to be cut. It is critical to show the outcome of marketing as a department, but also understand the impact of individual line items.

How to Hone In on ROI

  1. Invest in analytics. To understand ROI you must invest in the tools to track outcomes, as well as the talent to manage it. Tracking back to revenue can be complex, especially if you, like many organizations, are facing a lot of disparate systems that don’t necessarily speak to each other. Create a plan which will move you closer to that end outcome.
  2. Drive your team to value efficiency metrics. With the right analytics and planning sessions in place, you can drive your team to analyze and adjust tactics which will drive the highest return.

[bctt tweet="“To understand ROI you must invest in the tools to track outcomes, as well as the talent to manage it.” — Alexis Hall @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#3 - Understand Your Priorities

Whether or not you’re optimistic about spending in 2021, it’s important to be prepared for adjustments to your marketing budget midyear. 2020 midyear budget adjustments forced many marketers to prioritize short-term cash flow and what could be easily paused. In 2021, be prepared to adjust budgets based on impact. It’s critical to understand which marketing activities are essential versus those that you could afford to decrease.

How to Understand Your Priorities:

  1. Determine what makes certain activities more critical than others. ROI is definitely important here, but not the only lens. Other things to evaluate are how important that activity is for growth, creating part of your differentiation strategy or is it critical to reduce risk.
  2. Evaluate and force rank. Creating a system to really understand which activities are most important to driving impact will set you up to adjust based on what is most important to you. You may decide this is a helpful exercise to review quarterly.
  3. Create contingency budgets. These back-up budgets will help you understand exactly how you would adjust based on either increases or decreases to your budget.

[bctt tweet="“In 2021, be prepared to adjust budgets based on impact. It’s critical to understand which marketing activities are essential versus those that you could afford to decrease.” — Alexis Hall @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#4 - Invest in Your Brand for the Long Term

Short-term budget cuts can often have the unfortunate result of a reduction in brand visibility and communications, which are critical during an economic downturn. As you plan ahead for 2021, creating a plan which emphasizes maintaining or increasing saturation of communication from your brand will increase trust and keep you top of mind for customers and prospects as a critical resource. This strategy can result in an increased share of voice that will help maintain strength now, and create an advantageous position during recovery.

How to Invest In Your Brand for the Long Term:

  1. Invest in organic. Increasing activities which contribute to organic brand mentions and placements, like influencer marketing or SEO, can help build your visibility across search and social media, growing your community and contributing to a footprint which can self sustain. This is a good long term investment. In fact, the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report found that 90% of influencer marketing budgets are expected to increase or stay the same.
  2. Don’t slash your media spend. Organic and paid tactics work best when both are running together. If you make big changes to your paid investment, expect an impact to your brand visibility.

[bctt tweet="“Increasing activities which contribute to organic brand mentions and placements, like influencer marketing or SEO, can help build your visibility across search and social media.” — Alexis Hall @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#5 - Position for Recovery

After most recessions, consumer behavior returns to normal within a year or two. But the deeper and longer the recession is, the more likely it is to have a lasting impact on consumer behavior. Brands that are positioning to service their customers now and later are more likely to create brand loyalty and come out ahead during the recovery phase.

How to Position for Recovery:

  1. Understand your best customers. Now is a great time to partner with your customer data team in order to understand more about what makes an ideal customer (i.e. who is mostly likely to be loyal, spend more money and refer your brand to their friends). If budgets are changing, shift your efforts to acquiring more of these types of customers. Also, keep those customers happy and engaged.
  2. Examine your markets. When faced with budget cuts, brands are more likely to invest in existing markets, but now may be the time a new market is opening up to you. Keep your eye out for new opportunities.

[bctt tweet="“Brands that are positioning to service their customers now and later are more likely to create brand loyalty and come out ahead during the recovery phase.” — Alexis Hall @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Planning to Change Plans

During times of market uncertainty, we’re faced with the unique challenge of needing to be flexible, but not short sighted.

It may be tempting to throw out those annual marketing budgets this year, but resist the urge to give into uncertainty. By understanding how and when you will adjust your plan, you’ll equip yourself to make decisions which will maximize impact.

The post Planning for Change: How to Set Your 2021 Marketing Budget appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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