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Sowing the Seeds of Success: 3 Elements of Strong B2B Influencer Relationships

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Effective B2B influencer marketing is rooted in building lasting relationships.

The premise is simple: When brands invest time, effort, care, and money (when it makes sense) to cultivate partnerships rather than one-time or “on-my-terms” engagements, industry influencers and experts are far more apt to do the same. Oh, and the outcomes of influencer/brand engagements (i.e. reach, engagement, thought leadership, increased share of voice, etc.) are more fruitful for all parties, too.

But as we’ve also said before, building the right relationships is critical—and time consuming.

The right relationships aren’t sowed solely based on social network size nor are they grown without proving mutual value. In fact, there are several must-have characteristics of influencer/brand relationships. What are they? Let’s discuss three of them and hear what a few seasoned experts have to say on the subject.

#1 – The Fit Factor

Topical and cultural alignment is absolutely essential to any influencer/brand partnership. Why? Without alignment here, you’ll miss the mark on creating relevant content and audience experiences—and potentially damage, rather than boost, your brand’s credibility and reputation.

Topically, the influencers you work with must have relevant expertise, insight, interest, and audience, ultimately aligning with your goals and expertise of your brand. Culturally, their character and conduct need to be a match, too.

“In the eyes of consumers, the influencers you select and work with will, in many ways, become an extension of your brand,” Martin Jones, Senior Marketing Manager at Cox Communications, told us in an interview. “Due diligence in researching the potential influencers’ social media history will reveal a lot about their personality, style, character, and more.”

He went on: “There is much more to a successful relationship than the dollar value and reach. Influencers that align with your company’s goals, objectives, and values will advance your organization in many ways beyond a marketing campaign.”

[bctt tweet="There is much more to a successful relationship than the dollar value and reach. @martinjonesaz #B2BInfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

In addition, fit isn’t necessarily one-size-fits-all—and your definition can change over time. Your influencer relationships can and should be diverse, helping you power different objectives and provide a range of perspectives to your audience wherever they are in the buyer’s journey.

“It’s not always about the number of followers or connections an influencer has,” Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing at *SAP, has said. “Some people think: ‘Oh my God. We have to work with this person. They have a million followers.’ Your influencers have to be able to relate to your audience and that skill isn’t necessarily determined by a large following.”

[bctt tweet="Your influencers have to be able to relate to your audience and that skill isn’t necessarily determined by a large following. @ursularingham #B2BInfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

Read: 5 Essential Questions to Guide Your B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy

#2 – A Foundation of Trust That Translates into Value for All

Strong relationships are built on trust. While that’s cliché to say, in today’s tumultuous social, political, and digital landscape, it’s more relevant and important than ever. And arguably, trust can form when both parties are invested in the success of their partners—a place where value exists for all parties.

As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden recently wrote in regards to improving and managing influencer experiences: “Far too many B2B brands treat their influencer relationships transactionally and in terms of what the brand can get from the influencer. B2B brands that make any effort at all to learn more about influencer goals, preferences and capabilities in combination with providing opportunities to connect with other influencers, will go along ways towards building brand advocates and inspire more effective influencer behaviors.”

Furthermore, trust and value are fully unlocked with transparency. It’s not only fair, but also paramount for you to be honest about what your brand is trying to achieve with the help of your influencer partners. Several seasoned influencer marketing leaders at B2B brands share these viewpoints:

“The key here is a relationship—realize that in order to be successful, the work has to be mutually beneficial to both parties … Also, be very clear up front on the goals of your influencer program and what success looks like.” - Lucy Moran, Senior Vice President of Brand, Digital, and BU Marketing, Dun & Bradstreet

[bctt tweet="In order to be successful, the work has to be mutually beneficial to both parties. @lucymoran on #B2BInfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

“I think trust is the most important characteristic of a successful influencer/brand relationship. We have to trust that the influencer can deliver on a project whether that be a study, an eBook, a keynote, or a webcast. We’ve certainly had our share of learning experiences. But those influencers that deliver high-quality work definitely earn our allegiance. And we have to hold up our end of the bargain, too, and be a good partner. We must set clear expectations, make the process seamless for paid engagements, and provide timely feedback on deadline.” - Angela Lipscomb, Influencer Relations Manager, SAS

[bctt tweet="We must set clear expectations, make the process seamless for paid engagements, and provide timely feedback on deadline. @AngelaLipscomb on #B2BInfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

“Open, honest, regular communication about what success looks like to each party is vital to a win-win relationship. It has to be based on mutual trust and respect, not to mention a genuine interest in the other party’s success.” - Rani Mani, Head of Social Influencer Enablement, Adobe

[bctt tweet="Open, honest, regular communication about what success looks like to each party is vital to a win-win relationship. @ranimani0707 on #B2BInfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

“When you look at the characteristics for a successful B2B brand relationship you are:

  • Looking at creating value for both parties
  • Creating a long term and lasting relationship that is a two way street
  • Setting up your influencers for success and arming them with knowledge before they walk into any kind of engagement
  • Arming your brand stakeholders with information as well so interactions are high value between the company and the influencers
  • Being clear with the influencers on what it is that you’re trying to achieve”

- Amisha Gandhi, Vice President of Influencer Marketing and Communications for SAP Ariba

[bctt tweet="What’s one characteristic of a successful B2B brand/influencer relationship? Mutual value creation. @AmishaGandhi #B2BInfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

#3 – A Commitment to Co-Creation Collaboration

B2B influencer marketing is not about hiring or enticing industry thought leaders to hawk your product or service. It’s about building something together—something that will inform, engage, entertain, and inspire your audiences.

When a commitment to content collaboration is part of your influencer/brand relationships, you not only provide influential experts with a medium to share valuable insights, but can also provide your audience with a mix of perspectives—upping your storytelling capabilities and credibility.

[bctt tweet="If you want your content to be great, ask influencers to participate. @leeodden #B2BInfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

While some influencers such as internal subject matter or niche experts may not have much content creation experience, you can coach them—helping you strengthen the previously discussed characters. On the other hand, influencers who have a knack for creating content will welcome and expect opportunities for content collaboration.

Less On-Time Transaction. More Long-Term Interaction.

Building relationships with the right influencers is undoubtedly time consuming and downright difficult at times. But with the right focus and attention to detail, the effort you put forth can result in fostering partnerships that are beneficial on multiple levels of everybody involved.

What’s on the influencer marketing horizon? On May 30, 2019 tune into Seth Bridges, founder at Rival IQ, live interview of Lee Odden where he’ll be discussing influencer marketing trends and more

The post Sowing the Seeds of Success: 3 Elements of Strong B2B Influencer Relationships appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Top Marketing Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter

Are you looking for some good podcasts to listen to while commuting? Wondering which podcasts are the best? We’ve done the research for you. Below are the top marketing podcasts by category along with important information including what people think about the shows. We curated nominations from our community and only selected podcasts that produce […]

The post Top Marketing Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Side-Stepping the Summer Slump: 5 Tips for B2B Content Marketers

Marekting Tips for Avoiding the Summer Slump

Marekting Tips for Avoiding the Summer Slump

Summer is coming.

For months we’ve been dreaming about barbecues, sun-filled vacations, long weekends at the lake, and the glorious start of summer office hours. It’s so close.

via GIPHY

But for B2B marketers, summertime often means distracted or out-of-office target audiences, prospects, and customers. We marketers may even sneak out of the office for a few days. And from dips in organic website traffic and social engagement to being short on internal resources while the sales team begs for more leads, the “summer slump” sets in.

The good news is that summer opportunities do exist for entertaining, nurturing, and strengthening connections with your audiences throughout the funnel, as well as help you test and refine your approach to finish out the year strong. Here are some tips worthy of consideration.

Tip #1 – Revisit and fine-tune your B2B content marketing strategy.

Keeping a pulse on results and taking steps to optimize performance are par for the B2B marketer’s course. And with summer marking the mid-year point, it’s the perfect time to take a deep dive into year-to-date performance—not just the last 30, 60, or 90 days—and compare to years past. This gives you a more holistic look at how your content marketing strategy is moving the needle, if you’re making consistent progress, and if you’re on track to hit this year’s goals.

If you don’t have a documented content marketing strategy, stop here and make that your summer priority. Your strategy is your roadmap; your single source of truth that everyone has access to.

If your strategy is documented and your results review has indicated that you’re losing some ground, put additional efforts behind what is working. In addition, consider testing something new such as interactive content or piloting an influencer marketing project—or try to break out of your stuffy B2B mold to make a summer splash.

Here’s a little something that combines all three—an asset that has been affectionately named “Laser Bear.”




Click Here to see the Break Free from Boring B2B Guide in Full Screen Mode

If you don’t have the internal resources or expertise to test something new, partner with an experienced B2B content marketing agency. If you’re looking to partake in some summer relaxation, an agency partner can take the pressure off and reduce your stress level.

Tip #2 – Reconnect with your sales team to gain new insight and provide extra support.

Generating leads is one of your primary objectives. But as the volume of incoming leads slow down or the trajectory of some prospective deal closures comes to a crawl in the summer months, there’s no better time for you to check in with your sales team.

It’s not only worth diving into challenges, opportunities, or key insights for the year thus far, but also working to identify specific summer buyer behavior trends and the types of conversations sales reps are having with prospects. This may help you identify opportunities to refine and optimize your larger strategy for the year or personalize content to target specific summer buyer needs.

Also, if sales team members have upcoming events or conferences they’ll be attending, this is a great time to realign on objectives and refine any existing marketing strategy. From organic and paid social campaigns surrounding the event to constructing personalized nurturing campaigns for leads captured at the event, there’s likely an opportunity to help their presence at an event generate more ROI.

Tip #3 - Experiment with social engagement and content promotion.

Content promotion on social platforms is an integral part of your marketing strategy—and it could be ripe for a summer shake up. Depending on how your current tactics are performing, now may be the perfect time to experiment with new methods of promotion and engagement to nurture your audience through the summer months.

For example, consider repurposing some of your existing blog or website content into longer-form content on your social media channels to serve as inspiration and foster conversation. This could be customer profiles, tales from the trenches, company culture snapshots, and the list goes on.

You could also create original content around trends, providing some thoughtful commentary and encouraging discussion. Or, if you haven’t tried them yet, consider conducting polls or experimenting with 3D photos that can help you increase your engagement over social media.

Tip #4 – Create convenient content experiences.

In the summer, your target buyers are pressed for time. So, make it easy for them to consume and engage. Investing more in content curation can help.

For example, you could start a weekly news post in which you curate information from the top news articles in your industry. Then, you can break those articles down for your audience providing key takeaways and learnings. This saves your audience the time of having to read and analyze each article— instead, you’re doing the work for them.

Read: Content Curation Inspiration: Types, Examples, & Use Cases for B2B Marketers

Tip #5 – Double-down on showcasing who your company is.

Your target buyers desire human connection. And you’ve likely taken some steps to humanize your brand to become less stuffy and more credible in your target buyers’ eyes. Summer can be a great time to take that human element to new heights.

One option is to create a blog series focused on company culture and how that fosters the service you provide. Or consider a weekly #TBT post  featuring photos and mini stories from team members. Better yet, sit down with select members of your team for an in-depth Q&A video. This not only helps you put faces with your company name and mission, but you’re also highlighting subject matter experts who can provide insight and thought leadership your audience will connect with.

Injecting some thoughtful humor is another testing consideration if you feel it makes sense for your brand and audience.

“Comedy is the most powerful way to humanize a brand because it demonstrates empathy,” seasoned B2B marketer and comedian Tim Washer told us not long ago. “Let’s face it, a lot of true comedy comes from pain. So, when we can come out and touch on a customer pain point, we show them that we understand their point of view. When we do something that is self-deprecating, when we look vulnerable, and when we let our guard down a little bit that’s when we make a connection.”

Read our full interview with Tim for more tips on how to create unique, memorable experiences for your audience.

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Summer is a busy time for everyone—and your marketing results can take a hit as a result. But you can still stay engaged with your target buyers if you tweak your content strategy to include new content types and tactics to entertain, engage, and nurture your audience.

*Cue the music*

[embed]https://youtu.be/32inwlWSRpY[/embed]

Looking for a little summer reading to help improve your approach to B2B content writing? Check out this post on cutting content bloat to create better audience connections.

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Side-Stepping the Summer Slump: 5 Tips for B2B Content Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Reach Local Customers Using Facebook Video Ads

Are you trying to get more local customers? Have you tried Facebook video ads targeted to your local market? In this article, you’ll discover how to use Facebook video ads to reach customers in your area. Why Local Businesses Struggle With Facebook Advertising In my experience working with hundreds of local business owners, the number-one […]

The post How to Reach Local Customers Using Facebook Video Ads appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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YouTube Changes Public Subscriber Counts

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 upcoming changes to YouTube’s public-facing subscriber counts and marketers’ reactions to Facebook Ads Manager issues with special […]

The post YouTube Changes Public Subscriber Counts appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Digital Marketing News: YouTube’s Longer Ads, Facebook’s Clear History Ad Impact, Google’s SEO Factors, & Land Page Habit Study

The post Digital Marketing News: YouTube’s Longer Ads, Facebook’s Clear History Ad Impact, Google’s SEO Factors, & Land Page Habit Study appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Write Facebook Ads That Sell

Do you want to create ad copy that sells? Wondering how you can improve your Facebook ads? To explore how to write Facebook ad copy that converts, I interview Ken Moskowitz. Ken is the author of Jab Till It Hurts and founder of Ad Zombies, one of the world’s top flat-fee ad copywriting services. Ken […]

The post How to Write Facebook Ads That Sell appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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Display Ad Optimization: How to lower your CPA consistently with the right copy and imagery

A methodology that can consistently lower your CPA

The post Display Ad Optimization: How to lower your CPA consistently with the right copy and imagery appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

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80+ New Social Media Marketing Statistics for B2B Marketers

The post 80+ New Social Media Marketing Statistics for B2B Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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How to Intertwine Online & Offline Tactics to Cultivate B2B Influencer Relationships

Effective B2B influencer marketing is rooted in brands developing and nurturing relationships—relationships with individuals who have the relevant topical expertise, reach, and resonance to align with the goals of the brand.

Of course, those relationships are often cultivated in the digital realm via social media, email, and audio or video conferencing. And that's OK. We've all gone digital.

But there’s simply no replacement for face-to-face communication—and B2B marketers may have more chances than they know to proactively facilitate interactions or take advantage of in-person opportunities as they arise.

It’s time to bridge the digital divide. How? When? Where? Let’s dive in.

#1 - Highlight influencers and/or their brands with live event coverage.

B2B industry conferences and events are marketing gold mines. Not only do events give you an opportunity to have facetime with customers, prospects, and industry experts and influencers, but also the opportunity to create insightful (and influential) content.

If one or more of your warm or targeted influencers or another representative from their brand are delivering a keynote address or are part of a learning track that’s relevant to your audience, plan to attend their sessions and amplify the insights they share via social media, blog content, or both. Giving influencers this kind of thoughtful attention benefits everyone, helping you:

  • Deliver your wider digital audience with credible, relevant, and valuable content.
  • Capitalize on event engagement and reach.
  • Deepen your connections with existing influencer partners.
  • Help grow your partners’ influence among your audience and within the industry.
  • Get on the radar of prospective influencer partners.
  • Provide additional perspective and insight into who your current and prospective partners are, helping you further vet or find new connection points.

[bctt tweet="Cutting edge B2B influencer marketing focuses on both online and offline engagements. @konstanze" username="toprank"]

#2 - Conduct on-site video interviews at industry conferences and events.

Co-creating content with influencers provides influential experts with a medium to share valuable insights and gives your audience a mix of perspectives—upping your brand’s storytelling capabilities and credibility. Industry events and conferences provide the perfect platform for capturing original insights—especially on video.

Set aside the fact that video is an increasingly preferred learning and entertainment medium for modern consumers and buyers alike. When it comes to working with influencers, video can help capture their essence as well as their expertise. This can add a new degree of authenticity and credibility to their insights and resonate more deeply with your audiences.

Here’s an example from our own vault. While attending MarketingProfs B2B Forum in 2017, our team conducted a series of interviews with marketing experts and influencers, including MarketingProf’s own Chief Content Officer Ann Handley. The “Content Conversations” series covered top marketing learnings from the year, predictions for the coming year and decades, and tips and insights to finding success in the future.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kM1BMOSMpw[/embed]

*SAP’s video coverage of its own SAPPHIRENOW event is a fantastic example of how influencers can play an active role in bridging the real and digital worlds.

Working in partnership with SAP, Eric Kavanagh, CEO of The Bloor Group and a respected technology analyst, actually interviewed SAP’s own Chief Innovation Officer Max Wessel. This is just one of several unique examples from the conference.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IITUVS34cec[/embed]

[bctt tweet="If you want content to be great, ask influencers to participate. @leeodden" username="toprank"]

#3 - Host a VIP appreciation and networking event.

There may be no better way to create meaningful connections than over good food, drinks, and great conversation. Whether it’s a cocktail hour, leisurely lunch, or sit-down dinner, inviting influencers to come together for a couple hours of relaxed fun is a great way to show your appreciation for their partnership, nurture prospective partners, and connect influencers with one another.

This is a practice that is near and dear to our hearts. We absolutely love the work we do and almost always carve out time for this while attending larger industry events. And of course, you can chronicle your interactions on your owned digital properties to let your audiences in on the fun. Here’s a little shot from our dinner at B2B Marketing Exchange 2019, courtesy of our CEO Lee Odden’s Instagram.

B2BMX 2019 Dinner

This sort of engagement can certainly be planned independently of any industry conference, but it can be yet another way to make the most out of your trip to an event.

[bctt tweet="Companies should approach influencers as partners, not just as people that they can use for their marketing efforts and launches. @AmishaGandhi @SAPAriba" username="toprank"]

#4 - Play matchmaker when the opportunity arises.

There will undoubtedly come a time during your work with industry experts and influencers where you can help them connect with one another. Whether they’re looking for insight, a new product or solution, or you’ve discovered two people share a common hobby or interest, take the lead on introducing them.

Why? Because you have the opportunity to provide more value. The relationship you’re cultivating needs to be mutually beneficial to go the distance, and helping influencers solve problems or grow their network has value written all over it.

[bctt tweet="We pride ourselves on cultivating and nurturing long-term relationships with our influencers … which means we are always looking to establish a ‘give to get’ exchange where all parties come out ahead. @ranimani0707 @adobe" username="toprank"]

#5 - Embrace the “show, don’t tell” mantra when it comes to influencer appreciation.

Your online efforts to nurture, engage, and showcase the expertise of your influencer partners are incredibly important. Your prospects are online. Your customers are online. Your influencers are online. The world is online.

But there is absolutely an opportunity to add a personal, human touch to show your influencer partners you care about and appreciate them. New job? Send a handwritten letter filled with well wishes. New baby? Send a congratulatory gift basket. New campaign launch? Deliver a tasty treat or bit of swag to give thanks.

A couple years back, we helped our friends at DivvyHQ introduce the world to Grandma Gertrude, as well as easy-as-pie recipes for content planning. Following the launch, we sent pies to the influencers who contributed their thoughts and insights.

DivvyHQ Pie for Influencers

[bctt tweet="Grow your influencer network long before you need them. The day to create an army of influential advocates isn’t the first day of the war. Find common interests and develop rapport. - @leeodden " username="toprank"]

Build a Bridge to Stronger Influencer Relationships

Influencer relationships are often cultivated in the digital realm. But they can be nurtured and grown to new heights in the real world.

Take advantage of any opportunity to spotlight, co-create, or connect with influencers at industry events. In addition, go the extra mile to create valuable, memorable connections. Taking action here not only helps you strengthen relationships and generate content for the digital world, but also plant the seeds of partnership.

What’s on the horizon for B2B influencer marketing? Check out Lee Odden’s rundown of seven B2B influencer marketing trends to watch.

*Disclaimer: SAP is TopRank Marketing client.

The post How to Intertwine Online & Offline Tactics to Cultivate B2B Influencer Relationships appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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