Many social media marketers today find themselves at a challenging crossroads–social platforms are growing increasingly complex, with more features, formats and content types, and Read more...
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Is your B2B marketing on the boring side? Here’s how you can ignite a powder-keg of inspiration and burst forth with new content marketing energy to bring more boom and less boring to future B2B marketing efforts.
We have six boom-including content marketing antidotes to replace the status quo with inspiration, joy, laughter, energy, enchantment and other powerful marketing elixirs that can help you create relevant, informative, and — above all — memorable content.
#1 — Get An Inspiration Infusion From Experts
- Oftentimes you don’t have far to go to find inspiration for your B2B content marketing.
- Inspiration abounds if you look to your heroes, past mentors, and the industry influencers and business associates whose work you admire the most.
- We occasionally research and publish lists of top experts in several areas of marketing, which are great starting points for finding examples of marketers who inspire. Here are a few of our most recent compendiums:
This robust recent list, “Our 2019 List: The Top 50 Social Media Marketing Influencers,” includes 50 top social media marketing influencers, researched and ranked using influencer relationship marketing platform Traackr and numerous other social signal metrics.
Recently LinkedIn* published its new edition of The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn, a list of 24 B2B marketing experts, who all represent great examples of how to incorporate inspiration into you marketing, and we took a look at this group in “LinkedIn’s List of 24 B2B Marketers You Need to Know.”
For the past nine years we’ve also put out a helpful list of some of the most influential women in digital marketing, “25 Influential Women in Digital Marketing Who Rocked and Inspired in 2018,” also an excellent source for finding experts who are highly skilled at using inspiration in content marketing.
#2 — Find Your Joy Elixir
- Try looking at your content marketing practices in new ways, with fresh eyes, and with an open heart.
- As you tell your marketing stories, make a conscious effort to incorporate joy’s inherent happiness and exuberance in your efforts where appropriate.
- Joy is a powerful emotion that can have a home in many B2B marketing campaigns — as you’re creating, look for opportunities to use it.
- Are your own content marketing efforts sparking joy for your audience, à la Marie Kondo? Our own Anne Leuman examines how joy can help deliver amazing personalized B2B experiences, in “B2B Marketers, Are Your Content Marketing Efforts Sparking Joy for Your Audience?”
- Share joy with your target audience and you’ll both benefit, as Mark Twain once suggested when he wrote:
[bctt tweet="“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” — Mark Twain" username="toprank"]
Research has shown that happiness is the top factor among U.S. mobile users when it comes to being receptive to advertisements, as the following chart from eMarketer demonstrates:
#3 — Create a Contagious Laughter Tonic
- Recognize the difference between joy and laughter, and realize that although separate, the two play off of one another, as Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has said.
[bctt tweet="“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” — Thich Nhat Hanh @thichnhathanh" username="toprank"]
- Look for areas in your B2B marketing where it would be appropriate to incorporate content that will — with skill and just a little bit of luck — make people laugh.
- Don’t be afraid to tap into the lighthearted, the childlike, and the playful when looking to make people laugh — sometimes the simplest things can bring out the purest forms of laughter, or at least a wide smile.
For a number of years our own Joshua Nite has written an annual take on the latest marketing humor, with the most recent being “20 More Dumb Jokes for Smart Marketers” and “20 Jokes Only a B2B Marketer Will Get,” good sources for finding the role of wit and comedy in marketing.
[bctt tweet="“I made a joke about organic reach on Facebook… nobody got it.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]
- Statistics on the types of marketing most likely to attract attention have consistently shown that humor sells. SproutSocial recently published a look at “The importance of social media sentiment analysis (and how to conduct it),” looking at how emotions of all sorts play a significant factor in purchasing decisions.
[bctt tweet="Comedy is the most powerful way to humanize a brand because it demonstrates empathy. @timwasher #B2BContentMarketing" username="toprank"]
#4 — Blast an Energizing Content Path
- Opening doors, removing obstacles, and solving problems can all be great ways to invigorate B2B marketing campaigns, and can bring out tangible energy when done well.
- By actively creating marketing that will guide the way and show a path to something that has seemed unattainable to your target audience, you’ll instill a new sense of energy with those you’ve inspired.
Statistics show that creating compelling content for digital experiences is among the top opportunities for companies in 2019, as the following chart from MarketingCharts shows:
- Seek out examples of B2B marketing done by people who are filled to the brim with energy for the work they do and the impact they make through their campaigns. In addition, look to yourself. Not long ago, our team members shared how their personal passions fuel their work in Nick Nelson's post: "Becoming a Better Marketer by Embracing Your Passions Outside the Office."
#5 — Present Enchanting Possibilities
- In the storytelling you use in your marketing, be open to incorporating your own unique touch and style to truly enchant your target audiences, as enchantment opens up a world of connection possibilities.
- Author and marketer extraordinaire Guy Kawasaki has made a living and written books specifically about enchantment, and it’s easy to see why this emotion is such a powerful method for connecting with people, both in person and in our marketing efforts.
We look more closely at some of the ways Guy likes to bring out enchantment in marketing in “Spicy Twists and Tactics For Unique Content Promotion.”
[bctt tweet="“When you enchant people, your goal is not to make money from them or to get them to do what you want, but to fill them with great delight.” @GuyKawasaki" username="toprank"]
#6 — Make It Share-Worthy & Bookmarkable with Best-Answer Content
- Sometimes being definitive is the key to crafting marketing gold — the kind of best-answer content that makes you take the extra step of bookmarking a website or social media post URL for coming back to again and again, and for sharing.
Providing the best answer for your customers is a great way to boost brand credibility, and recently we’ve explored just what best-answer content is and some of the ways you can strive to achieve it in your own B2B marketing, including our CEO Lee Odden’s insightful “How A Best Answer Content Strategy Drives B2B Marketing Results.”
[bctt tweet="“If buyers don’t see consistent, credible and engaging best-answer content across channels from your brand, they’ll begin to trust competitors who are.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden" username="toprank"]
Say Fare Three Well to Boring B2B Marketing
Using the six marketing ideas and tactics we’ve looked at here, the time may have finally come to say goodbye once and for all to many of the most boring elements of traditional B2B marketing.
Inspiration, joy, laughter, energy, and enchantment may not be the right fit for every initiative, but I hope you’ll keep your eyes open for the places that will be ideal to utilize these powerful storytelling elements.
Finally, to bring even more inspiration to your B2B marketing toolkit, check out our recent list of the top social media marketing blogs, in Lee’s “BIGLIST of Top Social Media Marketing Blogs for 2019 and Beyond,” or lend and ear and tune in to our list of “20 Podcasts To Elevate Your B2B Marketing.”
*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.
The post 6 Ways to Bring More Boom! & Less Boring to Your B2B appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.Read More »
Wondering how fellow marketers are using social media? Want to know what marketers plan to do with organic social activities, video marketing, and social ads? In our 11th annual social media study, we surveyed more than 4,800 marketers who reveal details you won’t find anywhere else. How Are Marketers Using Social Media? To understand how […]Read More »
I’ve always thought of content marketing as a fast paced, agile and high energy approach to engaging the modern buyer.
So why does so much of the B2B content marketing that’s out there feel sluggish, low energy and bloated?
eMarketer recently reported that B2B decision makers’ top issues with marketing content reveal that marketers are clearly “out of shape" when it comes to a focus on what’s most important. The top issues shared by B2B decision makers were that content is too fluffy, not relevant, not personalized, misleading, behind a form or hard to find.
For the marketers behind these issues, a quick look in the mirror makes it easy to see why: Bad habit strategy, low metabolism execution, overly processed tactics and sugar high shiny object software that doesn't get used properly if at all.
I am sure you can see where I’m going with this metaphor.
What’s the solution? I can’t think of a better way to get back on track when your marketing is out of shape than with some good old marketing fitness.
This is a situation I can relate to literally, as a little over a year ago I was 70 pounds overweight and not in the best of health. I underwent a physical transformation reducing my pants size from 40 to 33 and breathing heavy walking to the fridge to regularly running 10k for fun.
From that transformation experience I learned two very important lessons:
- Content Marketing, like fitness, is a journey not a destination. I optimized myself with a better diet and regular exercise, not as a goal, but as change to my overall way of life.
- A physical transformation and a marketing transformation have numerous parallels.
When you break it down, the similarities to making a physical transformation and transforming organic content marketing are very similar:
- Recognize there’s a challenge (understand your data)
- Set goals (Map your KPIs)
- Get help / learn how (hire, consult)
- Make a plan: diet/exercise (tactical mix)
- Get the right gear (software/process)
- Consistent effort (operationalize best practices)
- Be accountable, adaptable & optimize (same!)
To that end, here is a list of 10 core marketing exercises that are literally part of my current exercise effort, to get you focused on the marketing fundamentals so that you can better integrate, optimize and activate your content for success.
1. Jumping Jacks - Warm up with Customer Data
How many marketers just jump to it with their content marketing without any concrete data to support their approach? In the gym that's a quick way to get injured and marketers not warming up with data are injuring the customer experience and ROI of their marketing.
2. The Sit-up: Strengthen Your Core with Strategy
A strong core is essential for just about any physical activity and yet, many people focus their attention on other specific areas. Strategy is obviously just as essential for content marketing but a surprising number of marketers do not have a documented content marketing strategy that includes a minimum of challenge/situation, audience insights, approach and goals.
3. The Plank: Optimize Your Core with KPIs
It's not enough to work your code with sit-ups and a documented content marketing strategy. The goals need to be quantified and benchmarked with key performance indicator metrics.
4. Lunges: Create a Powerful Story
Lower body power is key and so is a powerful story behind your content marketing message. Customer insights are essential for identifying what story the brand needs to tell in order to deliver a relevant and inspiring content experience that serves customer information needs in a way that drives revenue goals.
5. Air Squats: Power Up the Content Mix
A great complement to the lunge are air squats, but quality not quantity is the key. The marketing mix is no different. Many marketers are trying to win the information overload game by creating as much content as possible. Customer insights and industry awareness should drive the right content type and format with the most effective channels for publishing and distribution.
6. Burpees - Boost Quality & Reach with Influencers
Few all around exercises elevate the heart rate as effectively as burpees. Activating relevant influencers and collaborators on your content can add expertise, credibility and additional distribution firepower when shared by experts who audiences trust.
7. The Pushup: Create & Publish Your Content
As a foundational upper body exercise, a well executed push-up delivers great return on effort. The same is true with content creation and publishing. Attention to detail and execution is everything, especially when complemented by the appropriate variety: incline push ups, close hands, wide hands, clap push up and so on. There are a variety of options for content publishing and brands do not need to be limited to the corporate website.
8. The Pull Up: Promotion That Won’t Quit
Starting out, pull ups were my kryptonite because I never really did them. However, a stronger back and biceps were some of my goals and pull ups are great for that. I've found that promotion is content marketing kryptonite for a lot of marketers for the same reason - they don't really do it beyond social and ads. Content promotion is essential for connecting your investment in quality content with an audience that is interested and ready to act.
9. Chin Up - Build Biceps by Measuring & Optimizing
One of the best exercises for your biceps is the chin up. Not everyone can do them right away, so it takes practice. The same is true with content marketing measurement and performance optimization. Ongoing analysis and refinement is essential for continued upward and to the right results progression.
10. The Run: Repurposed Content Goes the Distance
If you really want the most out of a fitness transformation effort, some kind of cardio should be in your plan. My favorite is a solid run because it burns calories efficiently, builds endurance and just feels amazing (afterward). Funny enough, I feel the same way about content repurposing. Planned reuse of content is definitely efficient, it extends the value of your initial content investment and seeing the added impact from the effort just feels great!
How fit is your content marketing?
Of course you could throw in more or different steps, but for those marketers looking beyond some kind of “magic pill” solution, these are core content marketing fitness exercises that can get you back on track and build a strong foundation for more advanced efforts.
Who knows, if you stick with it, maybe you can begin to transform your content marketing operation into a lean, mean ROI generating machine.
Summer is upon us but if you are doing some Fall marketing conference planning, I will be talking about this topic at Content Marketing World: Content Marketing Fitness - 10 Exercises to Build Your Marketing Beach Body in September and I hope to see you there!
The post Content Marketing Fitness: Are You Ready to Integrate, Optimize and Activate? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.Read More »
Are your Instagram stories helping you reach your business goals? Wondering how to dig deeper into your Instagram stories’ performance? In this article, you’ll learn how to combine Instagram Insights and Google Analytics to better report the ROI from your Instagram stories. Why Combine Instagram Insights With Google Analytics Data? From a social media marketing […]
The post How to Measure Your Instagram Stories ROI: Advanced Techniques appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.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 the Facebook desktop and mobile redesign and new Messenger business tools announced at the F8 Developer Conference, […]
The post New Facebook F8 Announcements and What They Mean for Marketers appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.Read More »
Do you want to optimize your Facebook ads? Wondering what the best audience, creative, and placement are to use for your message? To explore how to test your Facebook ads for optimal results, I interview Andrea Vahl. Andrea is a Facebook ads expert, the author of Facebook Ads Made Simple, and she runs a course […]Read More »
The Kentucky Derby has long been referred to as the fastest and most exciting two minutes in sports. And when it comes to your B2B content marketing efforts, getting your audience to sit on the edge of their seats, glued to your content for two whole minutes can be a major feat.
To generate Kentucky-Derby-like attention for your B2B brand, your content marketing strategy needs to leverage the right tactical mix for your audience, industry, product mix, and objectives. However, over the last decade, the content marketing field has become crowded and even convoluted with hopeful tactical and strategic champions. The field has evolved from traditional winners like blogging and eBooks to include a new breed of favorites like influencer marketing, interactive content, and more.
So, when and where should you place your B2B content marketing bets? Read on to learn about the latest content marketing tactics and their odds of putting your brand in the winner’s circle.
The B2B Content Marketing Derby Contenders
1. Old Reliable
Racing record: Blogging is the trusty content marketing steed: It’s Old Reliable, with origins dating back some 25 years. With the right audience focus and SEO insight, blogging allows B2B marketers to consistently create relevant, quality, best-answer content for every stage of the buyer’s journey.
But having been the reliable favorite for so many years, the blogging field has become crowded and fiercely competitive. Anyone and everyone can have a blog—and topical and target keyword overlap with your direct (and indirect) competitors is inevitable. In fact, the number of bloggers in the United States alone is expected to reach 31.7 million by 2020.
Odds: Old Reliable is a smart bet for your content strategy if you have dreams of creating a consistent content drumbeat to educate your audience at multiple stages of the funnel. For the best odds, SEO—another favorite content marketing stud—needs to be part of your blog ideation, creation, and ongoing optimization. This helps ensure you’re creating data-informed blog content around keywords and topic clusters that can boost search visibility and capitalize on white space.
2. Hollywood Heartthrob
What: Video Marketing
Racing record: Over the last few years, video has become a top consumption channel for audiences. Now that bingeing TV shows and movies on streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have become the norm, so too has bingeing video content on social media networks, Vimeo, TikTok, and others. Research supports this trend with 57% of consumers saying they want to see video content from brands. Plus:
- Tweets with video see 10 times more engagement than those without.
- LinkedIn users are 20 times more likely to share a post with video.
- The average user spends 88% more time on a website with video.
However, professionally produced video can be time, budget, and resource intensive. In addition, live video featuring more unscripted commentary and scenarios in the B2B space can be hard to get buy-in on.
Odds: If you’re looking to bring your brand to life and infotain your audience, strategic use of video content, who we like to call Hollywood Heartthrob, is a horse to add to your betting roster.
The key of course is choosing the right video content type and style to engage and nurture your audience, and align with and support your marketing goals. Generally speaking there are four video content marketing types:
- Trailers and Previews
- Video Essays and Companion Videos
As far as keeping production costs down, there are plenty of free apps that can turn your phone into a studio any director would love. Vidyard is tool that can help you produce, publish, and track high quality videos without expensive equipment.
As a more general rule for creating great video, you need to be able to tell a story—a story that doesn’t focus on hitting all your product talking points, according to seasoned B2B marketer and comedian, Tim Washer.
“For example, we did a mini documentary for Cisco that showed how smaller service providers are serving third-world countries,” he mentioned in an interview. “It focused on how our customers are making a difference, and of course inferred that our technologies are helping them make that difference.”
[bctt tweet="As a general rule for creating great video, you need to be able to tell a story—a story that doesn’t focus on hitting all your product talking points. @timwasher #B2BContentMarketing" username="toprank"]
3. Fact Not Fiction
Racing record: Infographics are loaded with information. But so is an encyclopedia. One of the best benefits of infographics is that they provide valuable information in an easy to read, easy to understand way. It pairs text-based information with data visualization, graphs, and pictures to help educate audiences. And it is for this reason that 40% of marketers listed infographics as their top performer for driving engagement.
Odds: When it comes to educating your audience in a simple, easy to understand way, infographics are second to none. Plus, they’re extremely shareable, extending your reach to a larger audience. Fact Not Fiction is a smart bet for your content strategy when awareness and education are top of mind, or if you’re attempting to simplify a complex topic.
4. The Proof Is in the Pudding
What: Case Studies
Racing record: Evidence is some of the most compelling content you can create. Testimonials, case studies, and reviews show audiences that your products and services actually work. It also allows them to envision themselves as a customer and see how they could benefit from similar services.
According to the 2018 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey Report, 73% of marketers found case studies to be the most successful tactic for converting and accelerating leads in the middle and late stages of the funnel.
Image credit: 2018 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey Report
Odds: When prospects are in the consideration or conversion stage of the buyer journey, proof and evidence can help guide them towards a purchasing decision. If moving more buyers through the funnel means winning for your brand, relevant and insightful case studies are a great bet.
5. One for the Record Books
Racing record: According to the 2017 Demand Generation Content Preferences Survey Report, 63% of buyers are willing to share information about themselves (e.g. email addresses) in exchange for eBooks. By creating longer, more visual content through eBooks, studies show that eBooks are a great lead generation tactic. In addition, eBooks rank in the top five most effective content marketing tactics for both the top and middle of the funnel.
Odds: One for the Record Books is able to last for miles, diving deep into a niche topic to further educate audiences and provide valuable information in great detail. This is helpful for both the top and middle of the funnel when education is key.
When gated, eBooks are also great lead generation tools that open up new paths for audience nurturing—as long as the content delivers the kind of robust insight and value that warrants an exchange of information.
6. Social Butterfly
What: Social Media Marketing
Racing record: The number of active social media users is expected to reach 3.02 billion by 2021, according to Statista. And the average person spends nearly 2.5 hours on social media each day. If you want to meet your audience on their turf, social media marketing needs to be a part of your content marketing betting strategy.
Because social media allows you to share content on a channel where your audience spends a great deal of time each day, there are opportunities for growing a following, building a community, delivering customer service, and boosting engagement.
However, the social media ticket is evolving thanks to a few scandals, abuse concerns, and platform changes to aimed at enhancing the user experience. So, if you’re getting ready to double-down on your bet, go in with eyes wide open.
Odds: Savvy B2B marketers said goodbye to organic-only social strategies built on “post it and they will come” a long time ago. But still, Social Butterfly can be a great community building tool for B2B brands if you’re providing relevant, thoughtful, and valuable content and insights.
Take the time to research your audience’s content consumption preferences (e.g. leverage your website and social analytics, survey your existing customer base, etc.) to uncover patterns and top content types, as well as gauge which platforms deserve your care and attention.
7. Dapper Don Draper
What: Digital Advertising
Racing record: Organic visibility and reach are anything but guaranteed on today’s content marketing track. But digital advertising can give you a competitive edge, supplementing your organic efforts at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Studies have shown digital ads to be an effective method of top of funnel lead generation and awareness with findings like:
- Mobile search ads can increase brand awareness by 46%.
- Businesses see an average ROI of 100% with Google Ads.
However, it’s important to note that a quarter of U.S. internet users blocking ads. The good news is that the real beauty of Dapper Don Draper is it’s versatility, with options including native text and video advertising, paid social, search, and display.
Odds: With clearly defined objectives and the right content, Dapper Don Draper is a well-placed wager. Whether you’re breaking into a new market and need some quick brand awareness wins or you’re promoting a new interactive influencer asset, Triple D can help your other efforts win, place, and show.
For the highest probability of generating results with your digital advertising, it’s important to use all of the audience targeting features available to you. In addition, native advertising units are very effective as they appear similar to the other content on the page.
8. Black, White & Gray All Over
Racing record: SEO, which we’ve affectionately named Black, White & Gray All Over, has one of the longest and wide-ranging B2B content marketing records. She’s won some and certainly lost some, but her place in the B2B Content Strategy Derby Hall of Fame is confirmed. Why?
Because as TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden has often said: “Content is the reason search began in the first place.” And according to Internet Live Stats, there’s currently an average of 40,000 Google searches every second. That’s the equivalent of 3.5 billion searches per day on Google alone. But search is growing more crowded by the second, with trillions of website pages already indexed and counting, and algorithms growing more sophisticated.
[bctt tweet="Content is the reason search began in the first place. - @leeodden #B2BContentMarketing #SEO" username="toprank"]
Odds: SEO is a fickle filly, with her training regime and environment evolving at the speed of machine learning. But she’s built for the long haul if the content jockey builds good rapport at all stages of the funnel.
Increase your odds by regularly reviewing results and identifying opportunities to attention to optimize existing and future content to better match search intent, volume, competition, and more. In addition, look for white space that you can fill with relevant, best answer, SEO-informed content.
9. On Good Authority
What: Influencer Marketing
Racing record: Influencer marketing, aka On Good Authority, burst on the content marketing scene a few years ago and has proven to be a rising star. In fact, Instagram influencer marketing is expected to hit $8 billion in spend by 2020. But that growth trajectory is not limited to consumer brands. B2B companies are also realizing the value of collaborating with influential thought leaders for marketing purposes and count the practice as one of the top 4 tactics planned for 2019.
On Good Authority’s efficacy and worth have been questioned, but the results speak for themselves. (Checkout our cheat sheet of inspiring B2B influencer marketing examples.)
Odds: Fast out of the gate with a strong finish, On Good Authority has great odds when it comes to increasing brand awareness, thought leadership, and even lead gen.
But place your bets wisely. Topical relevance, for one thing, is absolutely critical. So, for the best chance of success with your influencer marketing programs, make sure you’re working with the right influencers that have the appropriate levels of expertise, relevance, and reach.
10. All That and a Bag of Chips
What: Interactive content
Racing record: All That and a Bag of Chips is perhaps the prettiest horse in the race. It grabs attention. It encourages interaction. It improves the user experience. And it’s been known to work well with all of the other horses listed above. But just because this horse is a team player, doesn’t mean it’s not here to win.
In fact, 87% of marketers agree that interactive content is more effective at grabbing attention than static content. Plus, one of our interactive campaigns drove three times the average share rate and a 500% increase in pageviews.
Odds: If you’re looking to go bold at every stage of the funnel, All That and a Bag of Chips is as good as gold. To ensure that this horse is crossing the finish line first, consider pairing it with another horse in the race to slingshot it to victory.
For example, create an interactive infographic, eBook, or influencer-driven landing page. You might just see your results compounded.
Place Your B2B Content Marketing Bets
To win big at the B2B Content Marketing Derby, the “watch and win” approach isn’t advised. You need to place smart bets on multiple horses, pairing them together and investing in different heats to hit your marketing goals.
Depending on variables like budget, objectives, or time, any combination of the above contenders could win their way into your content strategy—there’s a time and a place for each of them. So, step on up and place your bets … wisely to win.
Need a little help selecting your strategic bets? Follow this three-point checklist for documenting your B2B content strategy.
The post The B2B Content Marketing Derby: When & Where to Place Strategic Bets appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.Read More »