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B2B Marketing Subject Matter Experts & Industry Influencers: Which Should I Choose?

Four businesspeople holding question mark signs over their faces image.

Four businesspeople holding question mark signs over their faces image.

What does being an influencer really mean in the B2B world?

The classic B2C influencer is someone with a big following on social media, someone who makes a living doing makeup tutorials or cosplay or skateboarding tricks. Brands who want to reach their audience can simply provide free products or sponsor a post — it’s inherently transactional.

But for B2B, the question is a little trickier. B2B influencers are very rarely celebrities with millions of followers. For example, given enough time and money, you could get Taylor Swift to endorse your hybrid cloud solution. But would her endorsement really persuade your audience?

You can’t judge influence in B2B by follower counts alone. There are multiple ways that people can be influential in the B2B space. Which type of influencer your project needs will vary depending on your goals.

Let’s take a look at two different types of B2B influencer: The Subject Matter Expert and the Industry Influencer.

Subject Matter Experts Vs. Industry Influencers for B2B Marketing

Which is better for your project: A thousand impressions or a single multi-million-dollar click? There’s no right answer for every situation, of course, and the answer may very well be “both.” But the point is to ask the question when your project is in the planning stages.

We can start by defining each of these influencer types, and then we can dig into how to choose the right influencers for your content.

Who Is a Subject Matter Expert?

A subject matter expert (SME) could mean anyone who knows a lot about one particular subject. In influencer marketing, though, it means something slightly different: It’s someone who has that knowledge, and may be influential in business circles, but also has a small social media footprint.

SMEs can include practitioners in a particular field, executives of successful businesses in your target industry, or even your own employees. They may not have the reach of an industry influencer, but they do have knowledge that your target audience will find valuable. What’s more, they’re a credible source, because they’re right down in the trenches with your audience.

The challenge of working with an SME for creating content is that they may not be used to speaking to an audience. While an industry influencer can whip up a 500-word blog post in their sleep, an SME will take more time and encouragement before they’re ready to contribute.

If your goal is to maximize awareness with top-of-funnel content, you wouldn’t go with SMEs exclusively. For content further down the funnel, with a highly-targeted audience, however, the more SME content, the better.

Who Is an Industry Influencer?

Let me say, first, that an industry influencer is no less knowledgeable than an SME. But the work of an industry influencer includes building an audience and actively pursuing thought leadership status. They’re keynote speakers, authors, and podcast hosts. They are more likely to be analysts and consultants than active practitioners.

There are several advantages to working with industry influencers, beyond the obvious broader reach: They already know how to quickly create content and package it for their audience. They know the value of self-promotion and can see when it’s mutually beneficial to create content with your brand. And they can have a broader perspective of the industry, gleaned from analyzing trends and/or consulting with multiple businesses.

Industry influencers are perfect for top and middle-funnel content. But they are less likely to get into the specifics of day-to-day operations, while an SME would be equipped to give those practical details that make lower-funnel content work.

What Type of Influence Does Your B2B Marketing Need?

Which influencer is right for you? As I said, you might want more SMEs in a lower-funnel piece and more industry influencers in top-of-funnel content. But really, the answer is that a healthy mix of influencers tends to get the best results.

Industry influencers bring reach, polish and thought leadership. SMEs bring a practitioner’s experience and credibility. The two can complement each other to make your content irresistible to your audience.

For example, our client monday.com created content with SMEs and industry influencers for their remote work campaign. By combining the strengths of different types of influence, the campaign achieved 1,790% of its projected goal for social reach.

Create an Influencer Community

Here’s one more way that B2B influencer marketing is different from B2C. While B2C agreements tend to be one-off and transactional, B2B influence is about building relationships and forming a community. Instead of contracting with an influencer for a single project, it’s important to keep in contact. Make sure your influencers know each other and facilitate conversations. Help them network, teach, and learn from each other.

When you take an always-on approach to influencer marketing, you can create a trusted group of go-to experts, folks who are loyal to your brand and ready to collaborate on an ongoing basis.

And that’s far more valuable than a Taylor Swift retweet.

What’s working, what isn’t, and what’s next for B2B influencer marketing? Find out what your peers had to say in our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report.

The post B2B Marketing Subject Matter Experts & Industry Influencers: Which Should I Choose? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Enhance LinkedIn Marketing With Video

Want to stand out on LinkedIn? Are you taking full advantage of video on LinkedIn? In this article, you’ll discover four underutilized opportunities to use LinkedIn video in your everyday marketing efforts. #1: Introduce Yourself With Video via the LinkedIn Profile Featured Section The Featured section for LinkedIn profiles was introduced in 2020 and is […]

The post How to Enhance LinkedIn Marketing With Video appeared first on Social Media Examiner | Social Media Marketing.

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Get More Conversions with Lessons from 13 Irresistible Call to Action Examples

Your call to action (or CTA) is the key to a high-converting landing page. See 13 examples that use compelling copy and marketing psychology to get more clicks.

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5 Case Studies on How to Optimize B2B Influencer Engagement on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Influencer Engagement

LinkedIn Influencer Engagement

With over 700 million community members in 200+ countries and territories, LinkedIn is without question the place for businesses to do business. With 91% of marketing executives using LinkedIn as a content source (SocialPilot) it's easy to understand why 94% of B2B marketers using LinkedIn to distribute content (CMI). In fact, there's been a 50% year over year increase in content shared on the LinkedIn platform (LinkedIn).

With many social network options, LinkedIn has proven to be an effective choice for B2B marketers. A study from HubSpot showed that traffic from LinkedIn generates the highest visitor to lead conversion rate, 277% higher than Facebook and Twitter.

While there are robust opportunities to connect with potential customers on LinkedIn, the platform is busier than ever, making it hard to stand out. There are also challenges in terms of reduced organic visibility and the trend towards distrust of sales outreach and what brands publish directly. With so much information, many buyers are suffering what I call Content Attention Deficit.

One of the most promising growth areas within the B2B marketing mix is working with influencers. In our research we found that 77% of marketers say their prospective customers rely on advice from industry experts. and 96% of marketers that engage influencers consider their program to be successful.

Trusted experts that have the attention of customers can help B2B brands attract and engage potential customers in more meaningful ways. But what are the best ways to engage with B2B influencers on LinkedIn? How are B2B brands successfully working with influencers to achieve marketing goals using the LinkedIn platform?

To help B2B marketers think about how they can better engage with influencers on LinkedIn, here are several examples of how TopRank Marketing and a few clients are doing just that:

1. Give the Gift of Recognition to Influencers

Give Gift Recognition Influencers
For small B2B brands and those of any size that do not have relationships with influencers, a good starting point to warm up the influencer community is to recognize them. When you come to a party bearing gifts, it makes an impression and with influencers, it's no different except instead of a bottle of spirits, you're giving the gift of recognition.

For our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report, we followed our own best practices and identified 20 top B2B influencer marketing professionals working for B2B brands and published a list in the report and as a blog post. Sharing that list on LinkedIn while tagging each person along with a small infographic featuring the group provided relevant and credible recognition. The result was tens of thousands of views on LinkedIn, hundreds of reactions and over 50 comments. More importantly, the post helped generate goodwill among those mentioned, inspiring new connections, conversations and engagement opportunities.

2. Grow Credible Awareness of a Brand Solution

Build Credible Awareness with Influencers

Mitel wanted to create awareness, credibility and consideration of their Remote Working Solutions and what better way to do that than by engaging remote work experts in conversations around topics that highlight the issues and solutions so many companies are considering in today's new normal. A variety of remote work influencers and content formats were used to accomplish program awareness including a livestream video broadcast on LinkedIn. To showcase the topic of remote work with credibility, several paid influencers were engaged to share their expertise along with a Mitel executive on a LinkedIn Live. With an audience of professionals, Linkedin was the perfect place to highlight remote work conversation and in a format that is increasingly important for B2B engagement  - live video.

While there were multiple influencers and content formats involved with this program, the LivesStream on LinkedIn had the highest engagement of all, helping Mitel achieve meaningful their awareness, credibility and consideration goals.

3. Increase Brand Engagement with Authentic Stories

Stories Influencer Engagement

While LinkedIn is the most relevant platform for reaching business decision makers, reaching and connecting with both marketers and sales professionals has become increasingly difficult due to  information overload. LinkedIn also faced this challenge, even on their own platform. 

In order to reach business decision makers in a meaningful way, LinkedIn Marketing and Sales Solutions set out to create a social influencer content campaign characterized by:

  • Increasing engagement and help humanize LinkedIn as a brand by partnering with well respected industry experts to share real-life struggles, stories and obstacles with a focused audience. 
  • Driving new audiences to targeted Showcase Pages via the influencer’s audiences (that were not already following or engaging with the LinkedIn brand).
  • Continuing to nurture and grow relationships with sales and marketing influencers as part of an ongoing influencer program.
  • Engaging the audience in-channel on the LinkedIn platform (versus sending to alternate content elsewhere).

Since much of B2B marketing is more mechanical than meaningful, LinkedIn decided to forego marketing and sales tips content and emphasize stories from respected influencers about experiences they've had in their careers. Influencers were asked to share:

  • A defining moment in your career and how it shaped you as a marketer or sales professional.
  • One thing NOT on your LinkedIn profile that people should about you?
  • One rising star in your field that you’d like to recognize? What makes them amazing? 

By making the shift to a combination of professional and personal content, we were able to better engage the audience around their own professional opportunities and provide them a platform to engage directly with people that they respect. 

With the goal to drive authentic engagement, on platform, between LinkedIn and their customers, the reach from influencers' brand mentions exceeded 54 million and there was a 1,000% increase in post engagements over the previous 12 months. This tactic was also part of an ongoing influencer marketing program that won the ANA B2 Marketing Award. 

While it would be expected that LinkedIn working with a top B2B influencer marketing agency like TopRank Marketing and a premium group of influencers would achieve results like these, the overall story about the opportunity with B2B influencer marketing is a bit different. The State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report found that while 12X more marketers who run ongoing influencer engagement efforts are very successful compared to those who run periodic campaigns, only 19% of B2B marketers are running ongoing influencer programs.

4. Improve Reach of a Brand Webinar

LinkedIn Carousel Promotion
Prophix software was looking for more more interesting ways to get the attention of LinkedIn followers of the brand to help promote an upcoming brand webinar about the 2020 CFO Benchmark Report. Since the amount of content being published on LinkedIn has risen 50% year over year, the competition for organic attention has too. Fortunately, LinkedIn offers an opportunity for members or brands to upload vertical PDF files to create a carousel of messages that can tell a story or communicate a series of connected messages very different than what the normal feed can.

For the webinar in question, a key financial industry influencer, Jack McCullough of the CFO Leadership Council was engaged to collaborate on the report highlighted in the webinar and was also featured in the carousel promotion. The same 3rd party credibility effect that helped the report and webinar also provided validation to the LinkedIn post which had over 1,500 organic impressions and referred nearly 200 visitors to the registration page.

5. Connect Brand Executive with Influencers

Brand Executives and Influencers
Research has show that B2B buyers favorably view brands with senior executives that engage on social media. In an effort to connect with customers while also creating relationships with respected industry influencers, the CEO of HRS engages in content creation and sharing on social networks like LinkedIn. In this example, Tobias Ragge posted an article on his LinkedIn profile page featuring a group of travel and tech industry influencers to provide them with recognition in the context of topics important to the HRS brand and customers.

By featuring relevant industry influencers in content from the CEO of the company, HRS was able to inspire meaningful engagement and goodwill with these respected voices as well as to build influence for the CEO as well.

Before you get started with B2B influencer engagement on LinkedIn, it's essential that you have a documented influencer marketing strategy. For the most successful B2B influencer marketers, our research found that having a documented strategy (68%) is one of the key differentiators over less successful marketers (25%) so it's a very important step. Here are some basic questions to get you thinking about developing your own B2B influencer marketing plan:

  • Topic - What topic do you want to be influential about?
  • Influencers - Identify, and qualify relevant influencers
  • Collect - Activate influencers for a project or program
  • Co-Create - Collaborate on content: text, audio, video, interactive, live
  • Publish - Will content live on LinkedIn, off or both?
  • Promote - Promote via brand LinkedIn page, influencers, ads
  • Optimize - Monitor tracking URLs, LinkedIn engagement, adjust

Of course if you are looking for assistance in understanding what role influencer marketing can play in your B2B marketing mix, be sure to reach out.

The post 5 Case Studies on How to Optimize B2B Influencer Engagement on LinkedIn appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Get Started With Marketing Analytics: A 5-Step Framework

Want to better understand if your marketing is working? Need to do more with marketing analytics? In this article, you’ll discover a five-step framework for marketing analysis. You’ll also learn how to plan and build systems that deliver key insights so you can effectively forecast and optimize your marketing efforts. #1: Set Up a Framework […]

The post How to Get Started With Marketing Analytics: A 5-Step Framework appeared first on Social Media Examiner | Social Media Marketing.

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B2B Marketing News: B2B CMOs Plan 2021 Spending Rise, Influencer Marketing’s Pandemic Strength, & YouTube’s Top-Performing Ads

2020 August 28 Pubmatic Chart

2020 August 28 Pubmatic Chart

The Majority of B2B CMOs Expect to Increase Their Spending on A Variety of Digital Channels Next Year
Nearly 69 percent of B2B marketing CMOs will increase digital advertising spending in 2021, including email and mobile marketing, paid search, website ads, organic SEO, and social media marketing, according to recently-released survey data from Gartner of interest to digital marketers. MarketingCharts

US B2B Digital Advertising Thrives amid the Coronavirus as Traditional B2B Spend Plummets
B2B firms will spend over $8 billion on digital advertising in 2020, a 22.6 percent increase from 2019's total, according to newly-released forecast data, also showing that 43 percent of U.S. B2B marketers said they plan to reallocate live event spending to content creation. eMarketer

Engagement with sponsored influencer posts doubled during lockdowns
Between March and July 2020 sponsored influencer posts saw a five-fold increase in interactions, reaching 57 million in July, according to recently-released report data from Shareablee. Business of Apps

Enterprise CMO Survey: COVID-19's Impact on Budgets and Tactics
61 percent of enterprise CMOs said they created special customer communication during the pandemic, topping the list of actions taken by large global firms, with 47 percent noting that they deployed customer sentiment tools, while 42 percent developed scenarios for planning purposes, according to recently-released survey data. MarketingProfs

Facebook launches a Shop tab in its app, just like Instagram
Facebook has rolled out a global test of its shopping feature — Facebook Shop — occupying its own new tab in the platform's app, in a move aligning in-app purchasing features with those already present in its Instagram offering, the social media giant recently announced. The Verge

In-App Bidding Gathers Steam, But Adoption Looks Nothing Like Header Bidding On The Web
More digital advertisers who utilize mobile app ad buys are embracing real-time bidding programmatic-like auctions, according to MoPub, in a shift that could affect how marketers allocate spending. Ad Exchanger

2020 August 28 Statistics Image

Email Falls Behind WhatsApp As Customer Request Channel: Study
Small to medium size global businesses have seen rising use of digital communication channels during the pandemic, with use of WhatsApp rising some 76 percent, SMS text by 56 percent, and traditional email 10 percent, according to recently-released survey data of interest to online marketers. MediaPost

Which YouTube TrueView for Action Direct-Response Ads Are Tops So Far in 2020?
Google's YouTube platform has released an algorithmic list of its top-performing ads that utilize the video giant's TrueView for Action automated bidding system, YouTube recently announced. Adweek

U.S. Advertising Falls 14% In July, Most Moderate Rate Of Erosion Since March
The largest advertisers and digital media helped overall U.S. advertising spending tally its best month during July since the effects of the pandemic began, as April's decrease of 35 percent in ad spending had fallen to 14 percent in July — two of several items of interest to digital marketing in newly-released report data. MediaPost

Mobile ad spend jumps 71% amid pandemic recovery
Spending on mobile advertising soared some 71 percent globally during the second quarter compared to 2019, with rates in the U.S. even higher at 77 percent, and a global increase of 8 percent over first-quarter mobile ad spending, according to recently-released study data. Mobile Marketer

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 August 28 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at “business as usual” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Wendy’s Spices Up Other Brands’ Twitter Profile Pictures — AdWeek

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) / TopRank Marketing — 2020 Finalists and Winners - Content Marketing Awards — Content Marketing Awards
  • SAP — 3 Actionable Insights with… SAP global CMO Alicia Tillman — The Drum
  • Anne Leuman — What’s Trending: Make B2B Content More Memorable — LinkedIn (client)
  • TopRank Marketing — B2B Marketers Lend Their Support to Influencer Programs — New Horizons

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

Thank you for reading our weekly B2B marketing industry news, and we hope that you'll return 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: B2B CMOs Plan 2021 Spending Rise, Influencer Marketing’s Pandemic Strength, & YouTube’s Top-Performing Ads appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Webinar Marketing Strategy: A Proven Path to More Sales

Thinking of using webinars to sell your products and services? Wondering how to promote and conduct your webinars to maximize participation and sales? To explore marketing with webinars, I interview Amy Porterfield on the Social Media Marketing Podcast. Amy, an expert on webinars and course creation, is the host of the Online Marketing Made Easy […]

The post Webinar Marketing Strategy: A Proven Path to More Sales appeared first on Social Media Examiner | Social Media Marketing.

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Apple Search

Google, Google, Google

For well over a decade Google has dominated search to where most stories in the search sphere were about Google or something on the periphery.

In 2019 Google generated $134.81 billion in ad revenues.

When Verizon bought core Yahoo three years ago the final purchase price was $4.48 billion. That amount was to own their finance vertical, news vertical, web portal, homepage, email & web search. It also included a variety of other services like Tumblr.

Part of what keeps Google so dominant in search is their brand awareness. That is also augmented by distribution as defaults in Chrome and Android. Then when it comes to buying search distribution from other players like Mozilla Firefox, Opera or Apple's Safari they can outbid everyone else as they are much better at monetizing tier 2 markets and emerging markets than other search companies are since they have such strong ad depth. Even if Bing gave a 100% revshare to Apple they still could not compete with Google in most markets in terms of search monetization.

Apple as a Huge Search Traffic Driver

In 2019 Google paid just under £1.2 billion in default payments for UK search traffic. Most of that went to Apple. Historically when Google broke out their search revenues by region typically the US was around 45% to 46% of search ad revenue & the UK was around 11% to 12%, so it is likely Google is spending north of $10 billion a year to be the default search provider on Apple devices:

Apple submitted that search engines do not pay Apple for the right to be set as the primary default search engine on its devices. However, our assessment is that Google does pay to be the primary default on Apple devices. The agreement between Google and Apple states that Google will be the default web search provider and the same agreement states that Google will pay Apple a specified share of search advertising revenues. We also note that Google does not pay compensation to any partners that set Google Search as a secondary option. This further suggests that Google’s payment to Apple is in return for Apple setting Google as the primary default.

Apple is glad to cash those checks & let Google handle the core algorithmic search function in the web browser, but Apple also auto-completes many searches from within the address bar via various features like website history, top hit, news, Siri suggested website, suggested sites, etc.

A Unique Voice in Search

The nice thing about Apple powering some of those search auto-complete results themselves is their results are not simply a re-hash of the Google search results so they can add a unique voice to the search marketplace where if your site isn't doing as well in Google it could still be promoted by Apple based on other factors.

High-traffic Shortcuts

Apple users generally have plenty of disposable personal income and a tendency to dispose of much of it, so if you are an Android user it is probably worth having an Apple device to see what they are recommending for core terms in your client's markets. If you want to see recommendations for a particular country you may need to have a specialized router targeted to that country or use a web proxy or VPN.

Most users likely conduct full search queries and click through to listings from the Google search result page, but over time the search autocomplete feature that recommends previously viewed websites and other sites likely picks up incremental share of voice.

A friend of mine from the UK runs a local site and the following shows how the Apple ecosystem drove nearly 2/3 of his website traffic.

His website is only a couple years old, so it doesn't get a ton of traffic from other sources yet. As of now his site does not have great Google rankings, but even if it did the boost by the Apple recommendations still provides a tailwind of free distribution and awareness (for however long it lasts).

For topics covered in news or repeat navigational searches Apple likely sends a lot of direct visits via their URL auto-completion features, but they do not use the feature broadly into the tail of search across other verticals, so it is a limited set of searches that ultimately benefit from the shortcuts.

Apple Search Ranking Factors

Apple recently updated their search page offering information about Applebot:

Apple Search may take the following into account when ranking web search results:

  • Aggregated user engagement with search results
  • Relevancy and matching of search terms to webpage topics and content
  • Number and quality of links from other pages on the web
  • User location based signals (approximate data)
  • Webpage design characteristics

Search results may use the above factors with no (pre-determined) importance of ranking. Users of Search are subject to the privacy policy in Siri Suggestions, Search & Privacy.

I have seen some country-code TLDs do well in their local markets in spite of not necessarily being associated with large brands. Sites which do not rank well in Google can still end up in the mix provided the user experience is clean, the site is useful and it is easy for Apple to associate the site with a related keyword.

Panda-like Quality Updates

Markets like news change every day as the news changes, but I think Apple also does some Panda-like updates roughly quarterly where they do a broad refresh of what they recommend generally. As part of those updates sites which were once recommended can end up seeing the recommendation go away (especially if user experience declined since the initial recommendation via an ad heavy layout or similar) while other sites that have good engagement metrics get recommended on related searches.

A friend had a website they sort of forgot that was recommended by Apple. That site saw a big jump on July 9, 2018 then it slid back in early August that year, likely after the testing data showed it wasn't as good as some other site Apple recommended. They noticed the spike in traffic & improved the site a bit. In early October it was widely recommended once again. That lasted until May of 2019 when it fell off a cliff once more. They had monetized the site with a somewhat spammy ad network & the recommendation mostly went away.

The recommendations happen as the person types and they may be different for searches where there is a space between keywords and the word is ran together. It is also worth noting Apple will typically recommend the www. version of a site over the m. version of a site for sites that offer both, so it makes sense to ensure if you used separate URLs that the www version also uses a responsive website design.

Indirect Impact on Google

While the Apple search shortcuts bypass Google search & thus do not create direct user signals to impact Google search, people who own an iPhone then search on a Windows computer at work or a Windows laptop at home might remember the site they liked from their iPhone and search for it once more, giving the site some awareness that could indirectly bleed over into impacting Google's search rankings.

Apple could also eventually roll out their own fully featured search engine.

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Navigating call-out culture: What to do when your brand is in the hot seat

Consumers play a major role in shaping the public perception of brands, influencing their actions and holding them accountable—and it’s a double-edged sword for Read more...

This post Navigating call-out culture: What to do when your brand is in the hot seat originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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How to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job as a Freelancer (11 Pro Tips)

Want to use LinkedIn to find a job? You’re not alone. With over 300 million monthly LinkedIn users and over 20 million job postings open at any given time, LinkedIn is a …

How to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job as a Freelancer (11 Pro Tips) Read More »

The post How to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job as a Freelancer (11 Pro Tips) appeared first on Smart Blogger.

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