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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.

What is a brand community and how to build a successful one

If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your brand and have better conversations with your customers, you need to build a brand community. Brand Read more...

This post What is a brand community and how to build a successful one originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Live Coaching Session with Flint McGlaughlin: The Data Pattern Analysis, 3 ways to turn info into insight

Get direct help in using the free Data Pattern Analysis Tool to increase your company’s conversion in this first-ever free coaching session from MarketingExperiments.

The post Live Coaching Session with Flint McGlaughlin: The Data Pattern Analysis, 3 ways to turn info into insight appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

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Social Spotlight: Nike and how to outpace the competition on social

Welcome to the Social Spotlight, where we dive deep into what we love about a brand’s approach to a specific social campaign. From strategy Read more...

This post Social Spotlight: Nike and how to outpace the competition on social originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Show Me The Numbers: 20 B2B Marketing Insights From Audience Poll Data

Group of people with hands on a large colorful data chart image.

Group of people with hands on a large colorful data chart image.

What can poll results tell B2B marketers about a year unlike any other, and how can this valuable audience data help us refine our marketing strategy as we push towards 2021?

For more than a year we’ve run weekly social media polls on our Twitter profile, and for several months now have simultaneously also placed a weekly user poll on our LinkedIn* page.

We wanted to share some of the fascinating insights you have shared with us in the form of results from our polls, in order to see the trends that have emerged during this unprecedented year.

Let’s look at trends in social media communications, how marketing is changing in 2020, and the rising effectiveness of B2B influencer marketing, all through the lens of poll-derived feedback.

Social Media Communication Expectations

Insight #1 — Social Response Times

How quickly do we expect a response from a brand when we ask a question publicly on social media?

The majority marketers we polled expect to hear back from a brand within 24 hours, with 61 percent of respondents on LinkedIn expecting a reply within a day, 24 percent within one hour, and 16 percent by the end of the workday.

Twitter respondents voiced similar sentiments, with 38 percent looking to get a reply from a brand within 24 hours, 33 percent by the end of the current workday, and 21 percent within an hour.

If you’re not answering social media inquiries within 24 hours you may come under fire, as not even one respondent to our poll said that they expect brands to take longer than a day to reply.


Insight #2 — Email Response Times

We also asked the same question for a different form of online communications, curious about expectations when sending an old-fashioned email to a brand.

50 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they expected an email reply within 24 hours, mostly echoing the expectations for public social media questions. 22 percent said they expected brands to reply by the end of the workday, 18 percent within a week — a notable difference from social media queries — and just 9 percent within an hour.


Insight #3 — Unfollowing

What drives people who have already taken the time and effort to follow a brand on social media to later unfollow them, and what messages can we learn from these mistakes?

When we asked this question in a poll, our LinkedIn respondents said the top reason they unfollow brands comes down to posting poor quality content, followed by irrelevant content and brands that post too much content. Just two percent of respondents said that they unfollow brands that don’t post enough content.

44 percent of our Twitter respondents said that irrelevant content was their top reason for unfollowing a brand, followed by poor quality content at 33 percent, and too much content at 22 percent.


Insight #4 — Stories Format

We also ran a poll asking how the ephemeral stories format would fare on LinkedIn if the platform were to make its test of the post type a permanent part of the service. 33 percent of respondents said that LinkedIn Stories would be a great addition to the platform, while 25 percent felt it would be a good match. 25 percent also said that it would be an unlikely match, and 16 percent noted that the stories format would be a poor match for LinkedIn.


Insight #5 — Experiential Content

We were also curious how B2B marketers are using experiential content in 2020. 58 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they expected to incorporate experiential content very frequently into their marketing efforts during 2020, followed by 41 percent who planned to do so somewhat frequently.


Experiential content is playing a greater role in B2B marketing efforts in 2020, which I looked at in “What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Experiential Content,” and our Nick Nelson examined recently in "How to Hit a Marketing Home Run with Experiential Content."

Insight #6 — Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence

How B2B marketers communicate is constantly shifting as new technologies become available and gain wider adoption. We asked our Twitter followers who use chatbots or other forms of messaging featuring artificial intelligence (AI) to chime in on how the technology has performed for them.

49 percent of B2B marketers who responded said that chatbots and AI-assisted technology has performed better than expected, yet 42 percent noted that the technology has under-performed, while 14 percent found that it performed as they had expected.


Insight #7 — Virtual Meeting Length

We were curious what our audience of B2B marketers on Twitter felt the most effective length of time might be when it comes to virtual meetings.

58 percent of respondents said that 30 minutes was the optimal length of time for effective virtual meetings, while 17 percent felt that 15 minutes or less works best, with 17 percent also noting that 45 minutes is the most effective, followed by just 5 percent who said an hour was best.


Insight #8 — Reviews & Testimonials

Another part of marketing communications is user feedback, reviews, and testimonials, and we asked our Twitter followers to share how often they use positive reviews in their marketing efforts.

47 percent of respondents said that they use positive reviews in their marketing efforts occasionally, however 23 percent noted that they never do, followed by 17 percent who said that they always do, and 11 percent who do so frequently.


Insight #9 — Newsletter Preferences

Speaking of email, we also wondered when B2B marketers prefer to receive monthly newsletters. 45 percent of our respondents said they prefer the first of the month, followed by 27 percent who are fond of mid-month newsletters, 18 percent who prefer a time early in the month, and 9 percent who want to see newsletters arrive at the end of the month.


Insight #10 — The Emoji Divide

The use of emojis in social media messaging was an area of contention among our poll respondents. 35 percent said that emoji were somewhat effective, while the same number noted their use to rarely be effective. 17 percent said emoji were extremely effective, and some 11 percent noted that they never use them.


The Changing Face of 2020 Marketing

The global health crisis has changed the face of marketing events in 2020, as nearly all conferences have made the jump to virtual events, as I wrote about recently in "17+ Top Virtual Marketing Conferences for Summer 2020 & Beyond."

Insight #11 — Virtual Event Attendance

Are B2B marketers planning to attend newly-virtual events, and if so how many?

We asked our LinkedIn and Twitter users how many virtual marketing events they planned to attend over the final five months of 2020.

Most respondents said that they will attend between one and five virtual marketing events, while the second most frequent choice was those who said they won’t be attending a single virtual event, followed by those who plan to attend between six and 10.


Virtual events and webinars are undoubtedly seeing an unexpected golden age this year, and we’ve explored how to best utilize them, in “How B2B Marketers Can Get the Most Out of Webinars in 2020.”

[bctt tweet="“One great way to promote the webinar, and focus your content at the same time, is to poll your audience via social media. Ask for their thoughts on your topic. Ask what they most want to know about it.” @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

Insight #12 — Top Pain Points

We wanted to find out what the biggest pandemic pain points have been for B2B marketers, and among those answering our LinkedIn poll 64 percent said that a decrease in budget or business has been the top challenge, followed by the difficulty in engaging customers at 36 percent.

46 percent of Twitter respondents also revealed that falling budgets and business were their top pain points, followed by engaging customers at 38 percent and remote work issues for some 15 percent of marketers.


Insight #13 — Learning New Skills

63 percent of poll respondents said that they have used their time during the pandemic to learn new marketing skills online, while 18 percent said that they planned to do so.


Insight #14 — Digital Asset Management

54 percent of B2B marketers we polled on Twitter said that they either already use a digital asset management (DAM) solution in their marketing stack or plan to implement one, while 45 percent didn’t use a DAM.


If you aren't familiar with how DAM can help B2B marketers, I looked into the issue in "Why B2B Marketers Should Give a DAM: Top Tips on Digital Asset Management."

Insight #15 — Podcast Growth

With U.S. podcast listeners topping the 100 million mark for the first time in 2020, we wondered how the global health crisis has affected listening frequency among B2B marketers.

40 percent of our Twitter respondents said that they have been listening to more podcasts during the pandemic, with 22 percent noting that they’ve listened to fewer, 18 percent about the same amount, and another 18 percent who said they don’t listen to podcasts.


Insight #16 — Streaming Ad Use

With numerous studies showing that streaming music ads were booming in 2019, we wondered what B2B marketers planned for 2020, and 50 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they had no streaming ad plans for the year, while 25 percent said they planned to implement more streaming ads, 16 percent fewer of them, and 8 percent about the same.


Insight #17 — The Customer Journey

Content creation efforts are also shifting in 2020, and we asked B2B marketers to share which stage of the customer journey they are focusing on the most.

47 percent of respondents said that generating awareness was where they were placing the greatest focus, followed by brand advocacy at 35 percent, consideration and intent at 11 percent, and evaluation and purchase at 5 percent.


The Rising Effectiveness of Influencer Marketing

Insight #18 — Influencer Marketing Program Length

We asked our LinkedIn and Twitter followers to chime in on the ideal length of time a B2B influencer marketing program should run for maximum effectiveness, and the majority of our savvy followers chose always-on and ongoing programs — 73 percent of our LinkedIn respondents and 64 percent of our Twitter respondents.

Influencer marketing programs encompassing at least two campaigns was the second most popular choice, the choice of 21 percent of LinkedIn respondents and 18 percent of our Twitter respondents.


Insight #19 — Pandemic Focus Areas

We asked B2B marketers which area of marketing they were the most likely to increase focus on during the global health crisis, and topping the list was influencer marketing at 35 percent, followed by content marketing at 30 percent, search marketing at 20 percent, and email marketing, which garnered 12 percent of the poll responses.


Insight #20 — Volume of Influencer Marketing Work

We were also curious how the pandemic has affected the volume of work B2B marketers have done with influencers. The greatest number of our respondents — some 36 percent — said that their volume of work with influencers had increased, followed by 32 percent who said that they didn’t use influencers, 24 percent who found that the volume of work was about the same, while 8 percent noted that the volume decreased.


Listening To Your Audience & Taking Action


Keeping your finger on the pulse of your audience — whether it’s from poll results, surveys, questionnaires or other forms of feedback — goes a long way when it comes to making your marketing efforts authentic, and will help ensure that your communication is a two-way street and not just a publish-and-forget effort.

We hope you’ve found this glimpse into some of our own poll results helpful as you navigate the sometimes murky marketing waters 2020 has given us. Let us know your thoughts by voting in our current weekly poll about Instagram's new short-form video offering, Reels — you'll find it on LinkedIn here and on Twitter here.

You can learn more about poll data and statistics, and how to get more from audience feedback in every form by taking a look are some of the related articles we’ve written on the subject, such as the five listed here:

* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Show Me The Numbers: 20 B2B Marketing Insights From Audience Poll Data appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Optimize Your Social Posts for the Visually Impaired

Do you want a larger audience to consume your social media content? Wondering how to create content that’s more accessible to people with impairments? In this article, you’ll discover tips and tools to make your social media content accessible to everyone. Why Accessibility Matters to Marketers A lot of people assume that accessibility is impossibly […]

The post How to Optimize Your Social Posts for the Visually Impaired appeared first on Social Media Examiner | Social Media Marketing.

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How to use social media in sports to keep fans engaged

The integral role of social media in sports is hard to ignore. Athletes represent some of the most-followed accounts across social media at large. Read more...

This post How to use social media in sports to keep fans engaged originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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The Blogger’s Guide to Telling Stories That Win Hearts and Minds

Have you ever wondered if people even care about your writing? You pour out your heart and soul, but sometimes that feels like shouting your words down a bottomless abyss. …

The Blogger’s Guide to Telling Stories That Win Hearts and Minds Read More »

The post The Blogger’s Guide to Telling Stories That Win Hearts and Minds appeared first on Smart Blogger.

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How to Nurture B2B Influencer Relationships During the Pandemic

Two glove-covered hands fist-bumping image.

Two glove-covered hands fist-bumping image.

I’m so glad that I went to B2BMX this past February.

For one thing, we did some amazing interviews with some very smart marketers. The very idea of these interviews seems weird now — we were just sitting! Three feet apart! With no masks! At a giant marketing conference at a hotel!

The cancellation of in-person events means I’ll miss one or two conferences this year. But for folks who make a living as keynote speakers and thought leaders, it’s a massive adjustment. And that includes a sizable subset of B2B influencers — those who are primarily keynote speakers and in-person consultants.

As an agency, we’re true believers in B2B influencer marketing (see our latest report to learn why). But we have had to adjust our strategy as influencers’ needs change. Like everything else in 2020, influencer relationship-building takes a different approach than you might be used to.

Debbie Friez is an Influencer Marketing Strategist at TopRank Marketing, and she’s an expert at finding the right influencers and developing ongoing relationships. Here’s what Debbie and I have observed and how we’ve changed our outreach strategy.

How to Nurture B2B Influencer Relationships During the Pandemic

Influence relationships operate by much the same rules as any friendship: Get to know the person, don’t talk about yourself too much, give something before you ask for anything, and be sensitive to their emotions and needs. And, of course, don’t propose marriage on the first date (unless it’s going REALLY well).

On top of those rules, here are a few ways to adjust your approach for the current crisis.

[bctt tweet="“Influence relationships operate by much the same rules as any friendship: Get to know the person, don’t talk about yourself too much, give something before you ask for anything, and be sensitive to their emotions and needs.” @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#1: Scale Back Your Requests

It’s easy to imagine that influencers have nothing but free time right now. After all, they’re not traveling as much, and all the events are virtual — that means they should have ample time to write a blog post or film a webinar, right?

What we’ve seen, however, is the opposite is true. Those who make a living at public speaking are hustling harder than ever. “Now that all the events are virtual, there is a disconnect between how influencers are compensated,” says Debbie. Instead of a 90-minute in-person talk, influencers might need to do a dozen webinars to make ends meet.

Now is a good time to focus on micro-content — keep the requests down to 50-100 words. Where you might have asked one influencer for a 500-word blog, ask three influencers the same question and do a roundup of their answers. Or focus on social-first content that can be bite-sized but still foster engagement.

Simply put, it’s more important than ever to respect influencers’ time and make sure your requests are appropriate. Speaking of which…

[bctt tweet="“It’s more important than ever to respect influencers’ time and make sure your requests are appropriate.” @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#2: Offer a Good Value Exchange

Every good influencer relationship is based on a value exchange. You’re giving the influencer something they want, and getting something you want in return. When you build relationships for long-term, always-on influencer marketing, that value exchange tends to be in terms of co-creating awesome content together, exposure to each others’ audience, and other non-monetary benefits. However, direct compensation is always part of the influencer marketing toolkit.

Right now, influencers may see less value in co-creation and be looking for more ways to supplement their income. “Frequently, influencers would co-create content for free, as they were taking payment to speak at or attend events,” Debbie says. With events on pause, it’s important for influencer marketers to budget for the right type of compensation.

#3: Be Empathetic 

As you might have noticed, it’s rough out in the world right now. Odds are you’re stressed out, concerned about keeping your family safe and the bills paid. You may even have scaled back on your social media and focused more energy inward. 

Influencers are no different. It’s important that your outreach be warm (no blind InMail requests or impersonal emails), sympathetic, and respectful. Just as you’ve adjusted your content marketing to meet your audience’s current mental state, make sure your influencer outreach is appropriate for the times.

#4: Offer Creative Opportunities

Odds are any influencer you reach out to has done multiple webinars, guest blogs, and livestreams in the past six months. And they’re likely filling their calendars with as many more gigs as they can get. What can you offer an influencer that will get their attention?

Now is a good time to pitch fun, creative ideas for content. How about a brief interview that you’ll turn into a fully-produced podcast, complete with background music and sound design? Or a short contribution that will be featured in a dynamic, interactive asset? The easier you can make the ask, and the cooler you can make the end product, the better.

#5: Explore Always-On Influence

As you’ve seen, it can be challenging to establish relationships with influencers right now. People are busy, distracted and stressed, and it’s easy for your messages to get lost in the shuffle. It’s not impossible, of course, to add net new influencers to your marketing — it just takes more effort.

Right now, brands that have ongoing influencer nurturing programs are doing better than those without. It’s easy to see why — they’re not starting from scratch. They have built up a community of influencers over time, co-creating content, helping each other out, even introducing influencers to each other to help them network. It’s easier to maintain an ongoing relationship than start a brand new one.

[bctt tweet="“Right now, brands that have ongoing influencer nurturing programs are doing better than those without. It’s easy to see why — they’re not starting from scratch.” @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

Relationships Are Worth the Work

We surveyed hundreds of marketers for our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report. The vast majority said that influencer marketing works for B2B: 74% agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand, and 90% plan to increase their budget in the near future. 

While the current business climate may make it more challenging to develop influencer relationships, the results are well worth the effort. 

Need help with B2B influencer marketing? It’s our specialty.

The post How to Nurture B2B Influencer Relationships During the Pandemic appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Manage Your LinkedIn Presence in 10 Minutes a Day

Want a better return for the time you spend on LinkedIn? Looking for a LinkedIn engagement plan to follow? In this article, you’ll find a plan for making the most of your time on LinkedIn to stay visible, build your network, nurture contacts, and find new opportunities. #1: Define Your End Goal for Using LinkedIn […]

The post How to Manage Your LinkedIn Presence in 10 Minutes a Day appeared first on Social Media Examiner | Social Media Marketing.

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In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience

Authentic Content Customer Experience

Authentic Content Customer Experience

The experience customers have through marketing content can be one of the most important differentiators for brands today.

And yet 58% of B2B buyers don't not believe claims made by the vendors they most recently bought from (TrustRadius).

It’s hard to create a great experience if customers don’t trust brand communications.

Trust is the gateway to influence perceptions, behaviors and actions and brands that want to succeed in the uncertain environment of today’s digital world need to double down on building trust with their customers. But how?

Today’s increasingly digital buyers have high expectations of the companies they do business with: buyers want personalized and relevant information, they want a consistent experience across channels, they want confidence in the brand as a company that cares about privacy, their customers and the community.

Meeting these expectations has been a challenge. From fake news to privacy issues to deep fakes, the digital world has become an uncertain source of information for consumers.

Tired of information overload, sales focused brand messaging and unremarkable content, 86% of customers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support (Stackla - The Consumer Content Report: Influence in the Digital Age).

Customers want what’s real. They want to trust and be confident about their decisions.

While there’s a lot of information and even misinformation about content marketing and what it means for business communicators, there’s hope in building trust and influence by creating great customer experiences with authentic content.

To help marketers better understand how brands are winning customer hearts, minds, and trust with authentic content experiences here are 5 important steps:

Accelerate Internal Credibility

In order for marketing to have the support it needs to be successful externally with customers, marketing needs to be credible inside the organization. Unfortunately, 80% of CEOs don’t trust marketers but 91% do trust CIOs and CFOs (Fournaise Group).

To earn C-level trust, marketers must identify the key business problems faced by the business and make the connection to how marketing can help solve those issues. More importantly, marketing needs to provide clear direction about how and show credible reporting about impact. Ensuring credibility internally means promoting your wins to internal stakeholders. Make sure everyone from department heads to the C-suite are aware of the results that you are delivering to the business bottom line.

As marketers use content marketing integrated across channels to create “best answer” experiences for customers, marketers must also become the best answer for business growth inside the company by focusing on and communicating what matters to the business - not fluffy marketing promises with ambiguous correlations to the impact on the business.

Double Down on Activating Customers

Word of mouth and advocacy continue to represent important sources of trust and influence for brands. Marketers need to engage customers for reviews, ratings and even user generated content. As I’ve often said,

“If you want your content to be great, ask your customers to participate.”

Build credibility and influence with customers by engaging them and making them part of the narrative that builds trust about your brand where buyers are looking.

Work with External Influencers to Grow Brand Credibility

Every brand has a story to tell and to help make that story relevant, interesting and effective amongst buyers who are probably ignoring most brand communications, marketers can engage with relevant industry influencers. What makes someone influential is that they have the trust and attention of your customers. What better way to add credibility to your brand content than to collaborate with people who already have that credibility?

Virtually any kind of external content that brands create can consider influencer collaboration to make it more credible, relevant, engaging and capable of actually reaching the audience it is intended for. 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.

Create a Content Collaboration Ecosystem

Most marketers don’t have all the content creation resources they need to create the kind of content that drives customer experience. Engaging influencers to collaborate on content is a great start. But to truly build authenticity and content experiences that matter, customers can be engaged as well. User generated content is not for everyone, but when customers can contribute their voices to brand content, it adds a level of authenticity and trust that most marketing departments are able to on their own.

Employees are another important source of authentic content for brands, whether it’s telling stories about the impact those employees have on the lives of customers or by enlisting employees to help tell the brand story.

Optimize Measurement to Customer ROI

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

At a minimum, marketers must understand the the impact in these key areas:

  • Attract - Is your marketing reaching the right audience in the channels they’re actually influenced by?
  • Engage - Is your marketing creating meaningful and satisfying experiences? Are you effectively using authenticity and influence to build trust?
  • Convert - Is the content you’re creating and co-creating actually inspiring action? Are those actions delivering impact for the business whether it’s brand perception, leads, sales or revenue?

Beyond these important steps towards more effective content marketing that drives trust are the influence traits brands must have to build trust:

Purpose: “In this time of turmoil people are turning to brands as islands of stability.” Richard Edelman. How will the world be different after you’re successful doing what you do? How does that narrative translate into your marketing?

Relevance: Use data to understand your internal/external customer and create compelling, useful content experiences that matter. Leverage the voices of your customers, prospects, and those they trust to help add credibility and context to your message.

Reach:  Become “the best answer” for your customers with content that is easy to find and exists in context wherever buyers engage.

Resonance:  Understand audience motivations through the buyer journey to inform messaging that “clicks” and inspires action and makes real, measurable business impact.

Convergence Summit 2020
I hope you can join me at the virtual IABC Minnesota Convergence Summit conference this week where I will be giving the opening keynote on Wednesday August 12th at 4pm: In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience. I’ll be digging into the current state of content marketing as well as sharing examples of brands walking the talk on authenticity and content marketing.

The post In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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