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Intertwined from the start. For marketing executive Clare Carr, digital marketing and data have been a packaged deal since the beginning of her career. But for most marketers, while data is plentiful, leveraging that data (and diriving actionable insights to improve content strategy) is an evolving challenge. Most of us are just beginning to scratch the surface of our data's potential.
But according to Clare, who spent more than six years at content analytics platform Parse.ly, data can do more than help us optimize performance "after the fact." Data can help us build our brand. Data can help us become better storytellers. Data can help us grab attention.
[bctt tweet="If you're not providing actual value to someone, they tune you out. @clareondrey #B2BContentMarketing #BreakFreeB2B" username="toprank"]
As part of our Break Free B2B interview series, TopRank Marketing Senior Content Marketing Manager Joshua Nite sat down with Clare to talk data-driven B2B content marketing, storytelling, and so much more. At the time of the interview, Clare was still part of the Parse.ly family, but has since struck out on her own. She's now the Vice President of Marketing for Chief, which is a network and community for powerful women in the industry.
Through the interview, you'll see that Clare believes marketers should focus on how their companies, campaigns, people, and stories can work together to drive success. Further, she counsels us to be implicitly aware of what is worthy of your customers' attention. Click the play button on the video below to dive into the full interview.
Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Clare Carr
Haven't pressed play just yet? Here are a couple of our favorited excerpts from our time with Clare.
Josh: It is amazing how the field of SEO has gone from very prescriptive to very data-driven. We have to determine what the demand is, we can't just shove it down people's throats. Do you feel like that?
Clare: Absolutely, and people will tune out content that isn't valuable to them. That's, I think, one of the biggest changes over the past 10 years. You used to be able to sort of trick algorithms. But Google has gotten smarter and audiences have more choices than ever before. If you don't capture their attention with valuable information, it goes somewhere else.
Data is kind of becoming in a way that we can get at what these people want, especially what kind of information they want. When it started, we thought a data-driven marketer would be someone who was able to track everything correctly, be able to give their conversion path, and figure out the KPIs and metrics they need to measure. But now, we're talking about applying data to content.
I think the biggest takeaway that people are surprised by is the data can be really closely associated with your brand. It can be something that makes you unique and memorable. It's something that is hard for other people to replicate.
[bctt tweet="Data can be really closely associated with your brand. It can be something that makes you unique and memorable. @clareondrey #DataDrivenMarketing #B2BContentMarketing #BreakFreeB2B" username="toprank"]
So, if you can make data something that people associate with you, they trust you more, you can connect with them more, and you can tell better stories. All those things you want as a content marketer, as a B2B marketer, data can actually do for you. It's not just good writing, good storytelling, and good creative anymore.
Josh: Are you talking only about the first party research that brands might do? Or is there another way to associate that value of the data with the brand?
Clare: First-party research is certainly one way to do it. I think internal data, in general, is something that more brands should look at and see what they have available to them, and then how they can use that for content.
For instance, [Parse.ly is an] analytics company and we have individual clients' dashboards, but we can see trends across 10 billion monthly interactions with content. One of the things that we get asked about a lot is, "Are more people reading content coming from Facebook? Are they coming from Google?" That's all information that is basically runoff data for us. It's data that we have, we're not using it in our product. So we can write a lot about it, we can share it with people, we can help them understand how they fit into the broader trends of the industry, and whether they're on track or if there are things they need to change in their strategy. It becomes a content source, it becomes client engagement, it becomes industry and formation.
Josh: How do you get that data to the content folks in a way that it makes sense to them, and they can use it?
Clare: That is the big challenge. I think a lot of people underestimate how important it is to combine those worlds.
[bctt tweet="A lot of people underestimate how important it is to combine the data team and content team's worlds within an organization. @clareondrey #DataDrivenMarketing #B2BContentMarketing #BreakFreeB2B" username="toprank"]
I've seen that some of it is just repetition—bringing data to them that they understand. We have a lot of clients that use Parse.ly for that purpose. They bring their reports, that are really easy to understand and have a lot of data, to their data team and say, "Hey, you know, we're doing some really great stuff with this too. Here's the data to prove it. How can we work together?"
Then, their PPC team or their SEO team says, "Hey, wait a second, this content is really performing. We're going to start building that into our programs as well." We've seen some companies have a lot of success with that, but it's it takes a human element that cannot be taken out of this equation. Maybe sometimes buy people beers or pizza or maybe a gluten-free option, you know, depending on what everyone wants. Convince them that both sides of these coins are very important. Ultimately, if you want the success of your company, you're going to need them both to work.
Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a couple interviews to whet your appetite:
Augmented reality and artificial intelligence aren’t just for B2C marketers anymore, and as we move into 2020 we’re likely to see a new decade of B2B that keeps moving farther away from “Boring-To-Boring” and towards more to B2C-like experiences. AR and AI are a key part of what consumers increasingly expect to find in those experiences.
The swiftly rising number of mixed-reality consumer app installations is expected to jump from 3 billion to 10 billion by 2024, with associated ad spending forecast to climb from $2 billion in 2019 to $11 billion, according to new Juniper Research data.
While AR and AI in consumer-facing efforts keeps expanding with a full head of steam, such as Warner Bros. first-ever embedded AR for its upcoming “Scoob!” film trailer and mobile app, many in the B2B landscape have scarcely begun to tap into the AI-infused technology available.
Let’s take a look at five B2B brands that are innovating with a variety of AR and AI marketing initiatives.
1 - Microsoft's Reddit-Powered Chatbot Tech
Microsoft recently announced a natural language enhancement program that will add a new level of human-like responsiveness to chatbots, with its DialoGPT initiative that taps into an archive of nearly 150 million conversations from social news aggregation and discussion website Reddit.
The project seeks to lend a more conversational and human tone to the AI that powers chatbots, and by incorporating Reddit’s unique blend of tech-savvy online scenesters and cut-to-the-chase real-world solutions, the next generation of chatbots that arise from Microsoft’s DialoGPT endeavor are likely to be a noticeable change from those we use today.
Chatbot technology’s usage has grown steadily since its introduction just a few years back, and more B2B firms are making chatbots a prominent component of their business models.
HubSpot website visitors are welcomed by its HubBot chatbot, which serves as an automated gatekeeper to put the company’s existing or potential clients in touch with the most relevant human to answer any questions it isn’t able to answer.
HubSpot also provides personalized chatbots with its HubSpot Conversations, and a variety of other AI-powered tools, so it makes sense for the firm to showcase a powerful chatbot for its own site.
Sigstr has also made our previous list of “5 Examples of Remarkable Content Marketing in Action,” and now with its Drift partnership the combined firms are leading the way by merging the decidedly-classic tech of email with modern chatbot functionality in an ABM environment particularly well-suite for B2B marketing efforts.
4 - Adobe's Aero & #ProjectPronto
Adobe* recently demonstrated the latest work on its Aero products, aimed at making it easier to create augmented reality campaign content for mobile devices, using the launch of the “Terminator: Dark Fate” film as the theme for its Terminator Max Experience, a showcase for how B2B and B2C firms will be able to use the product to produce impressive AR experiences.
Adobe’s Terminator Max Experience demonstration also let participants work with the technology on an actual set using cues to act out their own scene.
Below is a video from one of several sneak-peaks Adobe shared at its recent Adobe MAX 2019 developer conference, showing some of the eye-opening AR possibilities that the technology will enable for B2B firms.
Adobe also shared more information about its #ProjectPronto initiative, which uses AI to build real-time AR scenery within video.
5 - Cisco’s AR & VR Interactive Catalogs
Cisco has used both AR and virtual reality in its latest generation of online interactive product catalogs, allowing existing and potential clients to get a fresh take on the firm’s massive slate of technology offerings.
Cisco has brought what has traditionally been considered typical “Boring-To-Boring” content to new life by using vibrant and immersive AR and VR, a great example of how even catalog content can breathe fresh air into a B2B firm’s marketing and customer experience efforts.
With both a desktop version from B2B software firm Kaon Interactive and a variety of app versions available through Google Play, iTunes and others, Cisco has done an admirable job in making its interactive AR catalogs readily available.
Moving Ahead with New Tech for 2020
The campaigns we’ve explored here from Microsoft, HubSpot, Drift, Sigstr, Adobe, and Cisco are examples of the type of AR and AI innovation that may become increasingly widespread as we move into 2020 and a new decade of B2B that keeps moving farther away from “Boring-To-Boring” and to more to B2C-like experiences.
In closing, here are five of our most recent articles exploring some of the other areas where B2B marketing will change in the months and years ahead.
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We're ready to release another insightful interview as a part of our Break Free B2B series, this time with Brody Dorland, co-founder of the popular content planning platform, Divvy HQ. Brody is a self-described data geek. He believes data is a crucial component of successful content marketing.
The platform that he co-created is all about bringing data, structure, and strategy into content marketing. We feel that he's a practitioner who is uniting that data side with the creative side within B2B content marketing. That's why we were so excited to sit down with him for a few minutes and pick his brain.
We not only spoke about what B2B content marketers can start doing to boost the success of their content marketing initiatives, but also gain insight into where B2B content marketing is headed in the future.
See the full interview below so that you don't miss a single insight from our friend, Brody Dorland.
Here are a few of our favorite moments from the interview with Brody.
Sue: So you've been in the content marketing industry for quite some time. Over the years, what have you seen as the biggest improvements?
Brody: I've really been pleasantly surprised to see the evolution of just how smart companies are getting with their strategy. Actually, this morning [at CMW 2019], they talked about the latest data from Content Marketing Institute's, saying that 41% of marketers now have a content strategy in place, which is up from last year, which I think was 34%. So we're making progress.
Part of the onboarding process that we go through with companies is to bake in their content strategy into our tool so that we can help them manage it going forward. The thing that we've seen from an evolution standpoint is that it's getting easier for them to get that content strategy baked in. When we ask them questions, like, "Okay, what are the topics of content that you typically cover?", they're able to plug that in easier. When we asked, "What audiences are you targeting with your content?", they're able to plug that list in easier because they've thought about it. They have a documented content strategy in place, so it's easier to plug into that area of our application and we can get them set up faster.
Sue: Let's talk about something less positive. What's not working in the industry?
Brody: I think one of the things that we still see and we preach every day, but we still see it, is the campaign mentality. There's still a large focus on very business-focused campaigns and obviously, they need content. So, a lot of times, the same content team that is doing all of the content efforts are also going to be responsible for creating assets for this campaign. But there's a mindset shift that needs to happen to get away from just "campaign, campaign, campaign" and filling our channels with these time-bound things.
[bctt tweet="There's a mindset shift that needs to happen to get away from just 'campaign, campaign, campaign' and filling our channels with these time-bound things. @brodydorland #B2BContentMarketing" username="toprank"]
Certainly, if there's a good content team, they should produce results. But it's never going to be the long-sustained content, the true content marketing play, that needs to happen within many organizations. Obviously, different channels are going to lend themselves to that—like a blog. It's never-ending; we always need to have a solid content strategy for that. We always need to be optimizing for Google with that blog content. It's not a campaign.
So a completely different mindset in terms of how we tackle that channel versus email, which tends to be more campaign-centric. I feel strongly that companies really need to try to continue to get out of the campaign mentality and just leverage their channels for ongoing, good content that's going to serve their audience.
[bctt tweet="I feel strongly that companies need to get out of the campaign mentality and leverage their channels for ongoing, good content that's going to serve their audience. @brodydorland #B2BContentMarketing" username="toprank"]
Sue: What do you think are the drivers for that? Why has that happened?
Brody: I think it just comes out of the traditional marketing world. However, the holistic content marketing world, which is non-campaign focused, continues to proliferate. It's going to get better, but most agencies out there that still so campaign focused—that's what they've been doing for decades. Getting out of that mindset, even from a logistics standpoint, is harder for an agency to do. Not to say that agencies can't continually be involved in longer-term content marketing engagements, but it's just it's a different beast, a different animal than the typical world that they've been in for decades.
Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a couple interviews to whet your appetite:
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