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Pump it Up: How to Maximize Your B2B Content Marketing Campaign Investments

Let’s talk shoes for a moment. Years ago, I purchased a stunning pair Jimmy Choo stiletto pumps; they were all the rage at that time. I’d been eyeing them for months and I convinced myself that this rather spendy investment would pay dividends in style and wearability.

When my Choos made their public debut, I was showered with compliments on how gorgeous they were. I was feeling great.

via GIPHY

Of course, a few hours later a shooting pain in my Achilles tendon meant it was time to give them a rest, so I changed into tennis shoes.

Today, those shoes are collecting dust in my closet. And every time I see them, I feel a mixture of regret (perhaps not my wisest investment after all) and longing to take them out for another spin (with the right insoles at a sitting event).

B2B marketers are making huge investments in content this year, and that trend will only continue. From what we’re seeing across the industry, many marketers are investing in splashy content marketing campaigns. But like my Jimmy Choos, after the initial thrill and luster subsides, campaign content can start collecting dust at the back of the resource center and you may even wonder if it was worth the investment.

The good news is, with the right insight and planning you can regret-proof you campaigns. Taking the time to ensure the right messaging, promotional strategy, and long-term opportunities can help you extend the life span and visibility of your campaigns and drive results that are meaningful to your team and brand.

Here are five key considerations to help you do just that.

How to Maximize Your B2B Content Marketing Campaign Investment

#1 - Nail the hook.

This first step may be the trickiest, but it’s critical to build the foundation for a successful campaign. Creating a campaign hook that will inspire your target audience to engage, share, and talk about and remember your brand is both art and science.

[bctt tweet="Creating a campaign hook that will inspire your target audience to engage, share, and talk about and remember your brand is both art and science. @Alexis5484 #B2BContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Let’s start with the science. In short, go with the data.

Who is your ideal customer or prospect? Not just their job title and company size, but rather what problems are they trying to solve? Who do they trust? What are they interested in aside from doing their job? Where do they spend their time online?

Leverage both quantitative and qualitative sources to bring this data together. Talk to your sales team or customer service reps since they are typically the most connected to your prospects and current customers. Engage in social media listening. Gather third party data. Perhaps consider creating your own data by designing and deploying a customer or industry survey.

Then run the data you collect through the business lens. How do you solve your customers’ problems? What key features or benefits are deserving of more attention? What types of content (e.g. webinars, white papers, interactive infographics) can you create to garner the most attention and interest? And finally, how can you bring everything together under a creative umbrella for maximum resonance?

This is where the art piece comes in. Tap into your best listeners, creative thinkers, and strategizers to finalize a theme and key messages that you believe will connect with and move your target audience.

Now, this piece of advice can be key to testing the viability of your content hook both short- and long-term. Do some acid testing. Ask your network for their initial thoughts or run a few A/B tests on social media to see if your hook is resonating. You’re not just looking for thumbs up. You’re looking for messaging that is memorable, creates brand affinity, and propels the user to take action.

#2 - Make promotion part of the planning process so you’re ready for launch day and beyond.

Your team has put a lot of effort into building your campaign. But far too often, promotion is an afterthought rather than an integral part of the planning and strategy process. This ensures integration from the beginning, minimizes stress as you draw closer to launch day, and allows you to think more globally about how you can promote or repurpose into the future.

[bctt tweet="Content promotion can’t be effective if it’s an afterthought. Your best practice would be to make promotion part of content planning. - @leeodden" username="toprank"]

As you draw closer to launch, create a promotional timeline that includes your tactical mix and content types. Ideally, that timeline will be at least three months in length. This will help you prevent a campaign from flaming out after two weeks of heavy promotion.

Your promotional timeline and plan could include:

  • Adding crosslinks and/or banner CTAs across your website or blog
  • Emails to customers and prospects
  • Social media messages, images, and video across major channels
  • A paid social targeting plan
  • Press releases or other third-party editorial
  • Repurposing plans (which we’ll get to in the next section)

Of course, when launch day arrives, the real work begins. Day 1 promotion is important to gaining campaign buzz, so plan to get all your promotion engines firing. But perhaps the most important piece of building out that promotional timeline is creating a cadence; tactics can be used beyond Day 1 or Week 1. (e.g. Just because you sent an email or press release on Day 1, doesn’t mean you can’t again on Day 7, Day 14, or Day 30.)

For more insight on designing your promotional timeline, check out these 50 content promotion tactics.

#3 - Optimize … and repromote.

Since you did so much research and planning upfront, hopefully your message is resonating and you’re seeing great results one, two, three, or even four weeks out. But whether you’re meeting, exceeding, or falling short of your expectations, post-launch is the time to really maximize your investment.

At launch, establish a regular check-in cadence with your team to review results and discuss campaign optimization opportunities. This is not the time to sit back and just watch the results roll in. You can start optimizing campaign performance on Day 1.

There are two key areas to focus on during your check-ins:

  • Reach: Are you reaching your goals in terms of visibility? If not, you may need to look at additional channels (e.g. third party editorial) or adjust your paid investment (if you haven’t already). In addition, look at what channels are driving the most visibility and put more investment there.
  • Engagement: This is a time to review what messages, visuals, and channels are driving the most people to take action. If certain messaging isn’t working, swap it out. Take a look at the bounce rate, conversion rate, and time spent on your landing page. This is usually a prime place to make adjustments.

Optimization will help you throughout the course of the campaign to learn from what is working and make adjustments to ensure more reach and engagement (and less regret) throughout.

#4 - Repurpose … and repromote.

Every brand is sitting on a dust-collecting gold mine of content. Whether you’re launching a brand new campaign or you’re trying to resurrect (or reimagine) one from a months or years past, this consideration has unending relevance and applications. Also, if the above mentioned recommendation to create a three-month promotion production timeline felt too long, you may not have been thinking about repurposing opportunities.

Here are a couple repurposing scenarios for your consideration:

Repurpose to extend the life of your campaign.

In this scenario you’re repurposing elements of an active campaign to drive back to your primary content hub. An easy way to repurpose content is to change up the format type.

For example, pull out nuggets from a text based eBook and create a video for social media or YouTube to drive back to the original asset. If your content was audio or video, pull quotes and create a series of text based blogs driving back to the main asset. A new infographic, motion graphic, or blog content is a good reason to re-promote, remind your existing audience, and reach new prospects.

Repurpose to create your next campaign.

Even after the lifespan of a campaign is mostly over, that campaign investment can absolutely be leveraged for a future campaign. You can create an entirely new campaigns by bringing together previous content from other campaigns, blog posts, and influencer contributions. It can also work really well to freshen up an evergreen piece and re-release with new information.

Here’s a recent example from *LinkedIn. The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn was a cornerstone campaign a few years back, and a helpful asset that had long-term appeal. And in honor of its fifth anniversary, the content and design was refreshed, re-released, and repromoted.

LinkedIn Relaunches The Sophisticated Marketers' Guide

Bonus tip: In order to be really effective at repurposing content, it really helps to have some kind of searchable repository of all the content that has been created organized by topic. Your website isn’t always the most reliable or complete source of content created.

Read: A Tasty, Strategic Addition to the Content Marketing Table: ‘Repurposed Content Cobbler’

#5 - Integrate your B2B content marketing campaigns with your always-on strategy.

If you really want to maximize your B2B content marketing campaigns, you have to think long-term. Campaigns work hand-in-hand with your ongoing, always-on marketing efforts.

Ultimately, your marketing efforts aim to fill the funnel, foster brand affinity, and achieve business ROI. If you design campaigns that fit within your core objectives, strategy, and marketing pillars, then they’ll always be a make-sense investment.

In addition, integrating you campaigns within your always-on strategy can help you enhance your nurturing capabilities as they relate to your customers, prospects, and target audience, as well as influencers, by creating an interesting, steady drumbeat of content. It also makes repurposing easier and helps extend and keep conversations top-of-mind.

Pump Your B2B Content Marketing Campaigns Up

Flashy, attention-grabbing campaigns can be great investments. They can drive valuable spikes in traffic, engagement, or conversions, as well as help you target specific audiences or verticals.

However, without an eye toward the long-term, campaigns often end up like my beautiful Jimmy Choo pumps: A wasted investment that’s collecting dust.

By spending time upfront to thoughtfully identify your creative hook and robust, longer-than-a-few-weeks promotional strategy, you can continue to promote and optimize your campaign content for maximum impact and ROI.

Are you notching some serious big wins on a recent campaign? How do you keep that momentum going? How do you apply your learnings to what comes next? Check out my post on driving continuous content marketing improvement.

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Pump it Up: How to Maximize Your B2B Content Marketing Campaign Investments appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Wondering how to appear consistently in your audience’s Facebook news feed while limiting the impact of ad fatigue? Looking for a Facebook ad campaign you can model? In this article, you’ll discover how to run a Facebook advertising campaign that consistently puts your business in front of your target audience with unique messaging at every […]

The post How to Increase Your Facebook Ad Exposure Without Causing Ad Fatigue appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Instagram Pushes IGTV Growth With Horizontal Video

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 horizontal video support for IGTV and other video broadcasting updates with special guests, Luria Petrucci and David […]

The post Instagram Pushes IGTV Growth With Horizontal Video appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Retailers arguably have the most to gain from social media marketing. And despite popular belief, social media isn’t killing retail: it’s simply encouraging the Read more...

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How to Create Content That Attracts Customers

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The post How to Create Content That Attracts Customers appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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31 Writing Podcasts You’ve GOT to Hear (Best of 2019)

This post is for writers. Authors of fiction and non-fiction. Freelancers and copywriters. Bloggers and content creators. We all need information to help us hone our craft, we all crave inspiration when we’re feeling blocked, and we’re all short on time. It’s no wonder writing podcasts have exploded in popularity the last few years —(...)

The post 31 Writing Podcasts You’ve GOT to Hear (Best of 2019) appeared first on Smart Blogger.

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Maintaining Your Focus: What B2B Marketers Can Learn From My Home Improvement Snafu

B2B marketing lessons from home improvement (1)

B2B marketing lessons from home improvement (1)

The sweet smell of fresh cedar is wafting in the breeze around my homestead this week—along with hint of marketing inspiration. Let me explain …

Best-Laid Plans

To take advantage of a long holiday weekend and a string of dry-weather days, my darling husband and I embarked on a “small” home improvement project: Sanding and staining our recently built 16-by-16 deck—plus an intricate one-story staircase.

She was such a beauty following her construction last fall.

But as is tradition, a delightfully heinous Minnesota winter set in. When spring arrived, she looked weary and weathered.

For months, we prepared to offer ourselves up to the cause once warmer weather came. And with the help of how-to YouTube videos and a lot of strategic Googling, our confidence and can-do attitudes were on the rise.

When that fateful weekend arrived, we weren’t so naïve to think this project would be easy—it would take time, attention to detail, teamwork, and a bit of strategy to do it right. We didn’t fancy ourselves skilled craftsmen, rather capable apprentices who knew how to wield a sander and paint brush. We were ready.

But in accordance with the prophecy of best-laid plans, things quickly went awry. From seemingly unavoidable inefficiencies to tool malfunctions to weather miscalculations, what started as a one-day-tops project has officially spiraled into a multiple weekend ordeal. We were worn down and frustrated, not knowing exactly what to do at times.

Do you see what I’m getting at, B2B marketers?

Facing Failure

The frustration and disappointment that comes with falling down on what you thought was a well-planned or strategically innovative initiative is something every B2B marketer has had to face.

Maybe you’ve gotten buy-in on an influencer marketing initiative and determined a few weeks in that you don’t have the bandwidth, niche expertise, tools, or timeline to execute effectively. Perhaps you’ve invested a sizeable portion of your budget in a marketing automation tool only to discover you lack the integrations, process documentation, or internal resources to get it fully off the ground. Or more simply, a tried-and-true tactic isn’t driving the results it used to—and you may not even know why.

Regardless of the situation, the anxiety and emotion you feel can make it incredibly difficult to gain the perspective you need to quickly pivot your approach. So, how do you accept what’s happened and move ahead with ambition and confidence?

Finding Focus

When small or seemingly insurmountable challenges arise, success is directly tied to our ability to keep our eye on the prize: The goals or outcomes we hope to achieve. With our objectives in focus, we can rely on our smarts and experience (and perhaps even a little insight and help from a agency trusted partner) to guide the most effective tactics that come next.

Frankly, after just one hour of sanding, we knew it was going to get ugly if we didn’t adapt to the reality of the situation. That said, it took us a full three hours to fully accept our fate, and refine our approach and reset our expectations. Through repeated equipment failures, four extra trips to two different hardware stores, and now being the proud owners of four sanders of varying sizes, the sanding is complete and the staining is planned for the next string of sunny days.

Here she is after 20 hours of sanding—a near spitting image of her original glory last fall:

So, remember this B2B marketers: You have a lot on your plate and things don't always go as planned.

From creating relevant, engaging content on unsexy subject matter to contending with increasing competition, buyer distrust, and long sales cycles, B2B marketing is no cake walk—it’s an endless work in progress. However, with a steadfast focus on your end-goal, there’s no such thing as failure, just another opportunity to get it right.

[bctt tweet="With a steadfast focus on your end-goal, there’s no such thing as failure, just another opportunity to get it right. @CaitlinMBurgess #B2BMarketing" username="toprank"]

Looking for more crafty inspiration? Check out our post on three “real-life” tools that need to be staples in your B2B content marketing toolbox.

The post Maintaining Your Focus: What B2B Marketers Can Learn From My Home Improvement Snafu appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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B2B Content Not Making an Impact? Try These 7 Underutilized Promotion Channels

Creating great content requires considerable investment, in terms of time, effort, and money. Knowing this, it’s crazy how often I see marketers and brands fail to follow through by promoting their content to the fullest and maximizing its targeted exposure.

It literally makes me sad. I’m tearing up as I write this. One moment… Talk amongst yourselves.

via GIPHY

Ahem. So the scourge of unseen quality content is one we must conquer. The path to doing so, I’m afraid, isn’t as simple as scheduling a bunch of links across the same old social feeds. This isn't to say social media isn't important, but this formulaic, reflexive approach is fast losing its luster.

The latest Content Trends Report from BuzzSumo found that social shares have dropped by 50% since 2015, owing to several different factors: increased competition for eyeballs, changes to Facebook’s algorithm, shifts in discovery habits for users. All of this means fewer referrals, less engagement, and less impact for content promoted solely through these channels.

How can we counteract this troubling decline? The first step in treating Invisible Content Syndrome is acknowledging it’s a problem, and developing a concrete plan to address it. To this end, our CEO Lee Odden created a list of 50 content promotion tactics that can be implemented during the planning stages of your next initiative. His suggestions will provide plenty of guidance for a broader and more robust promotion mix. Once you’ve committed to giving your content the continuing attention it deserves post-publication, it’s time to start differentiating.

[bctt tweet="Once you’ve committed to giving your content the continuing attention it deserves post-publication, it’s time to start differentiating. @NickNelsonMN #B2BContentMarketing #ContentPromotion" username="toprank"]

This will be our focus for today: zeroing in on some of the underutilized channels capable of providing a competitive advantage. Instead of exclusively trying to compete with ephemeral Twitter feeds or mercurial Facebook algos, diversify with these seven B2B content promotion techniques that can help your best stuff stand out and get noticed by the people who truly matter to your brand.

7 Underutilized B2B Content Promotion Channels

Volume is about vanity. It really is that simple, I’m afraid. Unless your company profits directly from pageviews (via ads), there is no practical value in piling up impressions. It might feel nice to see a higher number of visitors, but if you aren’t driving action with the right people, you’re bound to end up feeling verklempt.

With an eye on quality and resonance, here are seven channels worth considering for your B2B content promotion mix. Because they are generally underutilized, there’s a good chance your competitors aren’t tapping them (yet) or using them to their full potential.

#1 - Influencers

Of course we’re going to start here. While influencer marketing in the B2B realm is on the rise, research shows that an incredibly small percentage (11%) of B2B brands are engaging in ongoing influencer programs.

Strategic influencers are vital conduits for connecting your content with key audiences. If you’ve done your due dilligence to identify individuals who align with your brand from a topical and cultural perspective, then their networks are likely highly qualified, and most importantly, your association with them can infuse near-instant credibility in the eyes of their followers.

[bctt tweet="#Influencers connect with a much more targeted audience than banner ads have in quite some time. @martinjonesaz #B2BInfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

Influencers themselves aren’t a channel, but rather a powerful entry point to several different channels. Once you’ve developed strong relationships with influential partners, you can work with them to co-create and share content that your mutual audiences will find value in. Depending on the type of relationship you cultivate, you could also encourage them to share prioritized content from their social accounts, on their blogs, in their newsletters, etc. Cross-mentions on platforms such as LinkedIn can also help your articles gain more visibility in feeds.

Remember: when you incorporate these influencers into co-creation campaigns, they’ll be more motivated to share, and their audiences will be more likely to take notice.

#2 - Employees

As Michael Brenner wrote recently at Marketing Insiders Group, engaged employees can be some of your brand’s most authentic and influential advocates. “Who better to sing the praises of your organization than an employee who truly believes in the value of what you’re trying to achieve?” he asks.

[bctt tweet="Who better to sing the praises of your organization than an employee who truly believes in the value of what you’re trying to achieve? @BrennerMichael #ContentPromotion" username="toprank"]

The operative word here is “engaged.” When employees are dutifully copy-pasting article links into their social accounts, the results will reflect the effort and enthusiasm. However, when they feel truly invested in the content and its success, this also tends to manifest.

Find ways to make internal content sharing more aspiration than obligation. We can do this by involving employees in the creation of content itself, gamifying the promotion process (“Free pizza if we hit XX% referrals from this platform!”), or conveying the benefits of personal brand-building on social.

Employee advocacy programs can provide structure and ease for implementing such initiatives. The Marketing Advisory Network’s 2017 Employee Advocacy Impact Study can shed some light here, highlighting barriers that keep employees from sharing company-related posts on social and so much more.

#3 - Customers

Much like employees and industry influencers, your customers provide an extra element of credibility when amplifying your brand’s content — both offline and online. Their networks likely include professionals within the same niche, so the audiences are inherently more qualified.

Obviously it’s great when a satisfied buyer is willing to participate in and promote persuasive lower-funnel pieces like success stories and testimonials, but that’s a relatively heavy ask. Conversely, providing them with practical content that’s useful to their followers will carry more appeal, especially if you tailor your message (i.e., “I think your customers will really like this article because…”).

#4 - Topical Forums

Message boards, subreddits, social media groups, and other focused online communities can be highly valuable for brands. Forums contain tribes of engaged, knowledgeable, connected people with an intrinsic desire to learn and grow. However, these established communities tend to be skeptical of unfamiliar outsiders — especially those who enter with a blatantly self-promotional motive.

In order to leverage these channels properly, you should build a long-term strategy around them. Create a functional presence in groups and forums long before you start sharing your own content there. Encourage your employees to participate in boards that interest them specifically. Ensure there is a clear match between the respective audiences and what you’re trying to accomplish.

One reason forums make our list of underutilized tactics is because they can often be used in the wrong way. As a general rule, it’s best to repurpose your content within these forums, rather than just linking out in the traditional sense. The primary goals should be establishing thought leadership, and generating meaningful conversations, rather than simply driving people to your website.

#5 - Industry Associations/Publications

Much like online forums, industry outlets have the advantage of pre-existing audiences organized around specific subjects or verticals. Whether it’s an online resource or still in print, people still trust the information from their favorite niche publications. Magazine readership remains high. Trade associations are filled with pros who are adamant about their crafts.

Once again, the key here is relationship-building. It can be really tough to pitch stories or earn coverage out of the blue. Consider connecting with publication editors or association leaders long before you start working the content promotion angle.

#6 - Email Segments

I’m not talking about blasting out content digests to your entire email list, or indiscriminately sending automated RSS links devoid of context. These methods are already widely in use, and the results are only worsening as people grow tired of inbox irrelevance. But email remains an effective channel for direct engagement, when used as such.

Rather than falling back on the spray-and-pray approach, try divvying your email list into segments based on interest, specialty, or function. The more granular you can get, the better. Then, share content via email with the segments for which it is most acutely suited. Customize your messaging accordingly. You could even consider composing individual emails and sending them along with a personal note to people you really feel would benefit from (and maybe share) a particular piece.

Remember: one pertinent reader/viewer who can take action is far more valuable than 10 who can’t.

[bctt tweet="Rather than falling back on the spray-and-pray approach, try divvying your email list into segments based on interest, specialty, or function. The more granular you can get, the better. @NickNelsonMN #ContentPromotion" username="toprank"]

#7 - Direct Mail

It’s one of those classic mainstays that has largely gone out of style. How often do you receive a piece of mail at work that is actually tailored to you personally, and worth your time? Would such an item stand out to you?

Physical mail doesn’t have a place in most digitally-based strategies, which is exactly why it may offer a unique opportunity to reach important contacts. Tracking down someone’s office mailing address is often easier than tracking down their email address. This method isn’t necessarily cheap or scalable, but in cases where you really want to get your content in front of a particular account, sending a printed version (or just a note encouraging them to check it out online) can be a sneaky winner.

One B2B-centric example is *LinkedIn’s Sophisticated Marketer Quarterly, which stands out as a glossy, colorful product you can hold in your hands. It’s a great place for B2B practitioners to be featured.

Sophisticated Marketers Guide Quarterly

Find New Audiences for Your Best B2B Content

One of the most valuable objectives for B2B brands is also one of the most challenging: generating awareness and influence with new audiences and prospects. Continuing to push the same cookie-cutter social promotion tactics won’t do the trick. In the era of content saturation, we must remain vigilant in finding new ways to reach and engage the right people.

[bctt tweet="Content promotion can’t be effective if it’s an afterthought. @leeodden #B2BContentMarketing #ContentPromotion" username="toprank"]

Whether embracing the channels above or identifying others that make sense for your brand, I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to promotion. And whatever you do, don’t make this essential marketing an afterthought. Because that leads to lonely content and general sadness. Ahhh here I go again, I’d better log off...

via GIPHY

Want more guidance to B2B content marketing success that’ll turn your frown upside-down? Check out Annie Leuman’s recent write-up on powering through the summer slump.

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post B2B Content Not Making an Impact? Try These 7 Underutilized Promotion Channels appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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