B2B marketers are a special breed: We’re relentlessly self-improving.
We look to our industry peers and thought leaders for wisdom. We scour data for opportunities and insight. We keep tabs on rising trends and emerging tools. We tirelessly strive to adapt our strategies to the evolving needs of our customers and prospects.
Without a doubt, we’re ambitious. But despite that ambition, we’re only human. Fear can easily creep in—which can become a helpful tool or a crippling bad habit.
Fear is the most natural human emotion in my opinion. The presence of fear in our marketing minds not only signals self- and spatial-awareness, but also benevolence. We deeply care about what we do and who (i.e. our brands, co-workers, and buyers) we serve, and we want to do our absolute best to drive results and offer solutions.
With the right focus, fear can be an unexpected ally. But the problem is that fear lurks everywhere.
A recent survey by Workfront and MarTech Today specifically asked marketing operations leaders about their top fears. The largest percentage (nearly a quarter of respondents) said having someone publically point out in a discrepancy in a report as a top fear. Coming in second with 20% of the vote was fear of not being able to prove their own or their team’s value.
I'd wager that an expanded survey would likely reveal other terrifying scenarios such as discussing poor results, getting budget or strategic buy-in, trying and potentially failing at a new content type—and the list goes on.
Now, while the report overall aimed to provide insight into the workplace challenges marketers face as data and technology drive change, this particular section provides a glimpse into how fear can manifest on both grand and granular scales within our psyches.
Of course, in addition to being the most natural human emotion, fear is perhaps the most powerful, too. So, how do you wield your fears for good?
“[Marketers need to stop] letting fear have too much influence over their decisions—and dropping this habit certainly requires some deep personal reflection,” he told me.
Truth. So, where do you start? With the first step.
“Ask yourself how does fear hold me back in my job? Is it a risk-averse boss? Is it fear of failure?”
And here’s the kicker:
“You need to figure out how fear is impacting you right now, in this very moment. Then you can start to find solutions to work around it.”
[bctt tweet="You need to figure out how fear is impacting you right now, in this very moment. Then you can start to find solutions to work around it. @timwasher" username="toprank"]
From my perspective, mastering this in-the-moment-recognition can be the difference maker on whether you can use fear as a driver rather than a deterrent.
Becoming the Master of Your Fears
Marketers: Whatever it is that keeps you up at night, remember that fear comes with the territory.
We all have our dark and stormy moments. Not only do we face an increasingly challenging and complex industry landscape, but we also face increasing pressure from our companies, buyers, and ourselves to be the best.
When we recognize and embrace our fears, we can do amazing things. When harnessed for good, our fear help us see innovation possibilities. It can encourage us to place smart bets or take on a risk or two. It can strengthen our resolve and ambition.
But when fear takes over as the primary decision-making factor—or leads to indecision—that’s when problems arise. We get restless. We lose confidence. We lose our luster for innovation. And honestly, we fear and worry more, and fear becomes a crippling habit.
So, for anyone out there who needs to hear this right now: You got this.
Are you afraid to go bold with your B2B content marketing efforts? Learn why it's time to break free of boring B2B with insights from marketing industry leaders ... and Laser Bear.
The post Ally or Adversary? How Our Marketing Fears Can Be Wielded for Good appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.Read More »
Looking for a faster way to visualize and make sense of your marketing metrics? Have you heard of Google Data Studio? In this article, you’ll learn how to build a reusable report in Google Data Studio. Why Use Google Data Studio to Simplify Marketing Measurement Analysis When you’re a small business with a limited marketing […]Read More »
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore enhanced LinkedIn Advertising features and analytics, why web browsers are blocking third-party tracking, and more. Our special […]
The post LinkedIn Updates Ad Features and Mozilla Blocks Ad Tracking appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.Read More »
A discussion of three pitfalls to avoid when marketing your ecommerce product pages.
The post Optimizing Ecommerce Experiences: 25 valid ecommerce experiments to ideate your next A/B test appeared first on MarketingExperiments.Read More »
I’d love to tell you everything. But in the spirit of brevity and relevance, I’ll cut to the moment it all clicked.
While enjoying a lovely dinner with an old family friend last week, he relayed his version of a classic Maya Angelou quote to me:
“You know, you meet so many people throughout your life. And you never really remember what they said or what they did, but you always remember the way they made you feel.”
For decades, content marketers have been tasked with meeting buyers along their journey, striving to create best-answer content that satisfies curiosity, encourages brand engagements, and paints their product or service as the solution buyers are looking for.
However, as technology and innovation soared, internet accessibility expanded, competition evolved, and buyer and consumer preferences changed, many marketers have felt pressure to ramp up content production and push it out fast to stay visible, engaging, and relevant; they’re saying and doing more than ever.
But the question every marketer needs to answer is: Is my brand delivering experiences that leave a lasting impression?
The Current Situation
Savvy and ambitious content marketers are increasingly insight-driven, leveraging owned and third-party data to inform their content approach. For example:
- For years research has consistently shown that buyers conduct much of their research online prior to reaching out to a vendor. So, you aim to create best-answer content based on search demand and topical relevance.
- More research and experience shows that buyers don’t trust brands, but they do trust their peers and industry experts. So, you partner with relevant industry influencers to provide wide-ranging perspectives and grow thought leadership.
- Social media platforms are learning and engagement destinations; it’s where buyers spend a huge chunk of their time personally and professionally. So, you leverage social media as part of your integrated strategy to amplify content, engage in discussions, spotlight influencers, and more.
But the question still remains: Are your efforts making a lasting impact? Are you making customers and prospective buyers feel something?
It's the age of experience, folks. Fresh research from Gartner reveals that 80% of marketing leaders surveyed said they expect to compete mainly on customer experience this year. A study by Forrester, which was commissioned by *Adobe, shows that experience-led businesses have higher brand awareness, employee satisfcation, customer satisfaction, customer retention, and the list goes on. Finally, Adobe's Digital Trends Report reveals that half of brands will increase CX-related technology spending this year.
Understanding discovery and consumption habits and preferences is vital. They are key parts of building your content marketing strategy, and part of our own process for developing best-answer content. But it's time for a shift; it's time to flip the experience switch.
Flipping Your Switch
The examples in the previous section are still smart and relevant marketing plays. But the output may look a little different once you apply the experience lens.
The good news? Shifting your strategy to focus more on experiences largely comes down to mindset. The bad news? Shifting your strategy to focus more on experiences largely comes down to mindset.
When you flip your experience switch on, the data you seek, the conclusions you draw, and the strategic choices you make—from experimenting with new mediums such as podcasts and interactive content to innovative storytelling—will naturally evolve.
[bctt tweet="Creating compelling experiences with interactive content is one way to stand out, differentiate, and optimize for effectiveness. @leeodden" username="toprank"]
But it can be hard to break free of the status quo—or convince other stakeholders it’s the right move.
A great first step is simply test something new. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should chase after the newest, shiniest tactic. We believe in being bold and breaking free of boring B2B traditions, but you need to be smart with your time, budget, and resources.
When it comes to getting stakeholder buy-in, you’ll undoubtedly have to provide data-backed rationale, examples, level-set on potential results, and outline the needed budget. But be confident in your recommendation. You’ll certainly need to be open to feedback, but stay focused on your end goal to prevent your plan from being completely watered down. As Tim Washer, a seasoned B2B marketer, keynote speaker, and comedian once told me:
“These days, there’s so little content out there that truly connects with people. So often we start off with a good idea, it goes through a committee where everyone wants to have a say in something, and the idea begins to soften. Then you end up with the lowest common denominator of something safe.”
[bctt tweet="So often we start off with a good idea, it goes through a committee where everyone wants to have a say in something, and the idea begins to soften. Then you end up with the lowest common denominator of something safe. @timwasher" username="toprank"]
Ready. Set. Flip.
As Shep Hyken—a seasoned customer service and experience expert—shared with us not long ago: “Customers don’t compare you to your competitors anymore—they compare you to other positive experiences they’ve had.”
[bctt tweet="Customers don’t compare you to your competitors anymore—they compare you to other positive experiences they’ve had. @Hyken" username="toprank"]
Content marketers can play an integral role in crafting and advancing positive audience experiences with their brands. But it will require a shift in mindset for you, your team, and other key stakeholders within your organization.
So, start small by breaking out of your comfort zone and testing something new. If you don’t have the right tools, expertise, or internal resources, tap your friendly neighborhood content marketing agency.
Resonance is a key factor in creating content experiences that form audience connections. Get inspiration and insight from 10 seasoned marketing pros.
The post The Experience Factor: It’s Time for Content Marketers to ‘Flip the Switch’ appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.Read More »
Social media marketing and search engine optimization are often viewed as two disparate components of a holistic digital strategy. In some ways, they are distinct, but there is far more convergence and crossover than we’re often led to believe.
I find that looking at one side through the lens of the other invariably helps me better understand the more ambiguous aspects of each. So today I thought I’d share this perspective, with a focus on how these tactical areas can work cohesively to strengthen your brand’s visibility and impact on the web.
Similarities Between Social and Search
Let’s begin by exploring some commonalities between social media networks and social engines.
Both are massively popular internet entry points. Google processes 3.5 billion searches every day. Nearly the same number of people (3.48 billion) are active social media users. That’s roughly half the planet’s population. These numbers, in a nutshell, illustrate why digital marketers everywhere need to account for both search and social. They’re the first places most people go when they hop online.
People use both to answer questions. We all know this is the primary purpose of search engines. Whether users are typing in a literal semantic question, or simply inputting keywords in hopes of finding information, they are trying to find answers and solve problems. Social media doesn’t necessarily present the same direct question-and-answer format, but we usually log on to satisfy some type of curiosity. (What are people talking about right now? What do my friends and connections have to say about recent events? Is this dress white and gold, or black and blue?)
Both are critical brand touchpoints. Two of the easiest ways for any customer to vet a company are by: A) Pulling them up in a Google search, or B) Checking out their social media accounts. It’s pretty easy to tell based on a brand’s search rankings, SERP display, and site structure whether they have a sound digital strategy. The same is true of a quick glance at their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. If it’s difficult to find your company through search or social — or if you give off a poor first impression on either front — that’s an immediate credibility-crusher.
Where Search and Social Can Work Together Strategically
SEO and social media marketing are fundamentally different. There are job titles, and entire companies, dedicated specifically to each. But in an integrated digital marketing strategy, it’s important to recognize where these two facets intersect and complement one another.
#1: Keyword Research and Application
Keywords (and extensions thereof) form the backbone of a best-answer content strategy. The intel derived from these efforts can also be applied to social media marketing. As mentioned above, people use both these channels to answer questions.
With a defined understanding of which search phrases and queries are pertinent to our audiences, we can better align the content we provide. This is true on social as well. When you use the right keywords (and, in this case, hashtags) more frequently in your posts, driving conversations and engagement around them, your brand will be more likely to show up on the feeds of people interested in them.
In either instance, it comes down to the same foundational crux of almost any content strategy: What do your customers want to know, and how can you deliver it?
#2: Social Content Can Show Up in Search
Try entering your company’s name into a Google search. What’s the first result? Hopefully your website’s homepage. The second and third might also be pages from your own domain. But very frequently, the first third-party link will be your LinkedIn Page. (See the SERP for TopRank Marketing below as a typical example.)
LinkedIn* is a particularly impactful platform in this regard; search engines crawl it, so incorporating savvy SEO tactics on your company’s LinkedIn Page can actually benefit your rankings. This hasn’t been quite as true for other networks, which were once almost invisible to Google, but research from HootSuite did find a dramatic increase in the appearance of Facebook and Twitter content in SERPS starting in late 2015:
“Admittedly, the majority of social links within the SERPs appear for branded search terms, but this should not be discounted,” writes Simon Ensor at Search Engine Watch. “If we are in fact looking at marketing as a more holistic practice in the digital age, then we have to ensure that your branded search terms result in high click-through rates from search.”
#3: Social Signals (Indirectly) Affect Search
It’s been a hotly debated topic in the digital marketing world. Google has claimed for years that social signals are not a ranking factor. Yet, HootSuite’s experimentation found that “there appears to be a strong correlation between social activity and rankings.” Another study last year from Searchmetrics reached the same conclusion.
We still don’t have complete clarity around this relationship, which would earn a Facebook status of “It’s complicated.” Although we don’t believe social signals directly impact search rankings, there is definitely a correlation, which is widely attributed to the byproducts of highly successful social content. As Sharon Hurley Hall puts it, “Social media may not be a ranking factor for Google, but it can amplify the ranking factors that Google DOES consider.”
In other words, when a link to your content gains traction on social media, it tends to gain more general prominence: pageviews, backlinks, brand authority, etc. This, in turn, helps the page earn more visibility in the eyes of Google.
The key is simply getting people to click through on those links, which brings us to the final point of convergence.
#4: Compelling Clicks is Crucial
Search engine optimization today isn’t so much about keyword-stuffing; Google is too smart to be gamed by it. The engine’s sole mission is to deliver the most satisfactory results for a given query, meaning it will weigh click-throughs and time on page more heavily than text arrangement. That’s why an irresistible headline and meta description are so vital to SERP success.
This is also at the heart of social media marketing. In a sea of competing ephemeral content, you’ve really gotta stand out to capture someone’s attention and compel a click. (Especially since social media networks, unlike search engines, aren’t all that interested in sending users over to your website, so the algorithms will often work against you for outbound links.)
If you find a particular angle or message is especially resonant on social platforms (even if just for driving engagement, not clicks), you might consider adopting it for your meta descriptions to see if it improves CTRs, and vice versa.
Social and SEO: Two Keys to the Content Kingdom
These are separate tactical areas of digital marketing, but to treat them as completely independent would be a mistake. At TopRank Marketing, we view SEO and social media marketing as two complementary aspects of a fully integrated content marketing strategy, with numerous functional similarities and intersectional opportunities. Understanding how to maximize both in unison is instrumental to unleashing your brand’s full potential.
Want to learn more about how different tactics can work together harmoniously in today’s digital strategies? Check out our recent post from Caitlin on The Intersection of SEO & Influencer Marketing: What B2B Marketers Need to Know.
* Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client
The post The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.Read More »
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