Measure for Success: 7 Secrets of Actionable Content Marketing Dashboards

Elements of an Actionable Content Marketing Dashboard

Elements of an Actionable Content Marketing Dashboard

Hey, content marketers. Imagine this: You’re sitting in a marketing meeting and you hear the following:

  • Our conversions are up 50% year-over-year!
  • Our blog traffic is down.
  • We saw a big spike in traffic this month to our primary service page!
  • Our bounce rate is all over the place.
  • This blog post about “X” had 2,000 page views last month!

What are the first thoughts that come to mind? For many, the first thought would likely be: Why? Followed by a: Is that good or bad? And then finally: What do we need to do next?

If you’ve ever experienced a similar scenario, you’ve come face-to-face with insight famine. The statements above simply relay data points and lack the insight needed to take any sort of action. And this is why an actionable content marketing dashboard is so incredibly important.

When properly set up, an actionable dashboard marries data and insight, helping you quickly see how you’re performing against your benchmarks, goals, and key performance indicators (KPIs), and where you have opportunities to improve results or need to dig deeper.

What makes a dashboard actionable? What key data and insight elements should be included? Let’s dig in.

What Makes a Marketing Dashboard Actionable?

For a content marketing dashboard to be actionable, it has to answer two simple questions:

  • Is what we’re doing working?
  • Why is it (or is it not) working?

In order to answer those questions, there are specific metrics to include based on your overall objectives. For example, if your objective is to drive qualified leads for your sales team, you might measure the amount of inquiries that resulted from a piece of content, how many of those inquiries turned into MQLs, then SQLs, then ultimately customers.

If you apply those metrics to each piece of content, you’ll quickly see which content is hitting the mark, and what needs to be adjusted. And if your objective varies by topic cluster or funnel stage, you’ll need different sets of KPIs for each.

7 Essential Elements of an Actionable Marketing Dashboard

So, how do we answer those two simple questions posed above? There are several key components to consider including in your dashboard:

#1 – Content Benchmarks

Benchmarks are essential for understanding how different types of content have performed on average over a specific period of time. Your benchmarks can and should be different based on the content type and its objective.

For example, a top-of-funnel blog post meant to drive traffic will have a different benchmark than a middle-funnel infographic meant to engage. By keeping these front-and center in your marketing dashboard, you can compare at-a-glance.

#2 – Goals

More than likely your goals are to beat your benchmarks every single time. But it’s important to document your goals so you can gauge success. By adding your goals to your marketing dashboard, you can quickly determine whether you’re on pace to hit your goal and if you’ve been able to surpass it.

And ultimately, keeping that data within your dashboard will help you course-correct where needed and celebrate wins as they occur.

#3 – Real-Time KPI Monitoring

Depending on your objective for the content you’re creating, there could be any number of KPIs to watch. Automating those reports in a dashboard will help you report to your internal team and leadership in an easily consumable way.

For example, if your KPIs are pageviews and asset downloads for a specific campaign, pull those into an executive summary that’s easy to digest with an option to drill down into more specific sources of traffic and conversions.

#4 – Traffic Trends

While measuring specific pieces of content is helpful to enhance performance, it’s important to keep your eyes on overall performance as well. Knowing whether overall website or blog traffic is trending up or down versus the previous year or month will help you inform the types of content you need to create next.

For example, if you notice your organic traffic is trending down month-over-month, you will want to dig into your content report to determine why that is and what needs to be done to repair the situation on a more granular level.

#5 – Performance by Topic and Persona

If you’re trying to reach a specific persona, or increase visibility around an important topic, segmenting your data within a dashboard can be hugely valuable. You’ll be able to tell if your content is more or less visible for your target, or if your content marketing strategy needs to shift to meet a different type of demand for that topic.

#6 – Engagement Metrics

All of the traffic in the world won’t mean a thing if would-be customers are bouncing off your site immediately. Make sure you’re monitoring your bounce rate and time-on-page for each post to determine if the content is resonating and adjust as needed. While these are often bucketed as vanity metrics, that doesn’t mean they can’t provide meaningful insight or should be forgotten.

#7 – Proof of ROI

To be fully actionable, integrate your sales team’s data sources into your dashboard. With the right analytics strategy, you can pull in performance by page or post from visit to sale. This will help you prove the value of your content, and understand which kind of content converts the prospects you’re looking for.

As a bonus, your sales team will be able to share that kind of converting content as a follow-up from an initial meeting or as a pre-meeting email with their prospects.

Take Action to Spur Action

An actionable content marketing dashboard is a pivotal piece to a data-informed content marketing strategy. If your data is accurate and your dashboard is actionable, you’re in the right place to start creating and marketing incredible content that has proven ROI and helps your sales team meet their goals. Talk about a win-win!

And before I go, I’d like to leave you with a few rules for measurement mastery:

  • Setting up a custom and integrated dashboard takes time and patience. You may set it up in one way and realize that the KPIs and metrics you have aren’t the ones you need, and that’s okay. Looking at the data in different ways can tell you different parts of the same story. Edits aren’t rework, they’re character development.
  • Don’t be afraid to spend some quality time with your data. As you create the dashboard, it’s important to dig in and manipulate data from different sources to understand how it’s best pulled in to complement the rest of your data set. Sometimes this means changing the way you have forms or tags set up. The more time you spend digging into data up front and understanding the finer points, the better equipped you’ll be to answer questions and provide insights into remaining questions.
  • If you find yourself asking why, look deeper. Sometimes you’ll put all the data together expecting answers, and you’ll encounter more questions. Questions are good, it means the data is telling you something you need to investigate. Don’t be afraid to dig deep, and ask other departments or SMEs for their perspective.
  • Always, always, always annotate. Did you run a really great campaign that showed a spike in traffic or conversions? Make an annotation. Did you lose tracking for a little while? Make an annotation. Did you implement some major website changes, or do a migration? Make an annotation. Those kinds of anomalies in the data seem major at the time, but easily get lost in the day-to-day management of your world. Annotations will save you from having to dig into your notes, emails or previous campaign data every time it pops up in a report.

Don’t forget: You can’t achieve goals you don’t set. And you can’t optimize performance without measurement. Your content marketing dashboard can hold you accountable to both and more.

Are data challenges holding your content marketing dashboard or other initiatives back? Check out our post covering the five top marketing data and analytics challenges, complete with tips to start solving them.

The post Measure for Success: 7 Secrets of Actionable Content Marketing Dashboards appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Content Marketing Gold Rush: How to Unearth Content Gold at Marketing Industry Events

The promise of professional growth. The excitement of striking new connections. The anticipation of hearing and learning from industry legends and up-and-comers. The marketing industry conference and event circuit is an absolute gold mine of opportunity.

What’s one of our favorite ways to strike-it-rich at any industry event? Panning for content gold.

via GIPHY

The content marketing gold rush that started roughly a decade ago has content marketers stamping, picking, drilling, and grinding away at content creation so they can break-ground with their audience and fend off the competition. And industry events can be boomtowns, not only allowing you to make the most of your time, budget, and resources—but also ideate, create, amplify, and repurpose compelling content that will resonate with your audiences.

How do you uncover golden content nuggets at industry events? Let’s dig in.

Before the Rush, Put Your Pre-Prospector’s Hat On

Before rushing to golden conference lands, it’s critical to pre-prospect your mission to ensure you have the right information, focus, and tools to unearth content opportunities.

Some of the actions to take here include:

  • Dig up event-related hashtags so you can keep track of what’s happening before, during, and after the event, as well as engage with speakers and attendees. Pay close attention to specific themes or topics being shared. This can be the start of content ideation.
  • Strike a connection with speakers, presenters, and attendees on social media and start to engage with them. This could not only help you land some new friends before the event, but also lay the foundation for amplifying the event-inspired content you create.
  • Survey the schedule of events and pre-select the digging fields (e.g. keynote addresses and breakout sessions) you want to go to. Pay special attention to sessions that have the most promise for helping you grow as a marketer—not simply create content. If a session has the potential to inspire you, it’s likely that you’ll be able to parlay that into great content for your audience, whether they’re fellow marketers or chief technology officers.

Read: 12 Helpful Tips for Effectively Using Social Media at Events

Bonus Nugget

If you thought content gold could only be found when you’re physically at the event, that’s fools gold. Pre-event content creation is a golden opportunity for any marketer.

“Reach out to the conference organizer, sponsors or speakers at the event that represent topics and brands of interest to your community to do pre-conference interviews,” Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing’s CEO and a seasoned conference speaker and prospector, suggests. “A series of interviews can be branded with a common theme and header image to let readers know there’s a connection to a conference.”

The key here? Choosing speakers that align to the topics and brands of interest to your unique community.

[bctt tweet=”Tip for creating #ContentGold around industry events: Reach out to organizers, sponsors, or speakers that represent topics and brands of interest to your community to do pre-conference interviews. @leeodden” username=”toprank”]

Once Your Arrive, Stake Your Claim

You’ve arrived in the land of golden content opportunity. You have your content prospecting plan in place. Now it’s time to sharpen your marketing pickaxe and start digging up the field. This is where you stake your content claim.

To break-ground on content mining and creation, we suggest that you:

  • Get to your digging fields early to get a primo spot. This will ensure you can clearly hear and see the presentation, and give you a better photo opportunity. All of this is critical for creating content on the fly.
  • Leverage flakes of speaker and presenter insights to create content gold in real-time. Whether you’re live-blogging or live-tweeting, keep an ear out for inspiring quotes and insights that you can share quickly with your audience. (If you’ve done your pre-prospecting diligence, it should be easy to mention/tag speakers in your social media posts. This will add credibility and make it easier for speakers to engage with and amplify your content.)
  • Participate in Q&A sessions to extract nuggets of insight that can enhance your content. Most speakers try to leave time at the end for audience questions. Use this as an opportunity to ask a specific question that can not only add more depth to your content, but also something that your audience would truly want to know.

Read: 10 Conference Hacks to Help You Crush Marketing Event Attendance

Bonus Nugget

Whether you missed your opportunity to ask a burning question or you’re interested in some one-on-one time with a speaker, take the time before or after their session to introduce yourself. You may just strike gold.

“Many speakers will also share their slides with you (if you ask nicely), which can be a fantastic resource for live blogging or taking information back to your team,” Ashley Zeckman, TopRank Marketing’s Senior Director of Digital Strategy, speaker, and seasoned live-blogger, shares.

[bctt tweet=”Tip for striking #ContentGold at industry events: Many speakers will share their slides with you if you ask nicely, so don’t be shy. @azeckman #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Once the Rush is Over, Take Your Content to Repurposing Boomtown

Think that content gold isn’t possible after a conference has panned out? Guess again. Gold fever can strike again. How? Repurposing.

For starters:

  • Those quotable moments you pushed out via Twitter? Roundup up your favorites and repackage them as a conference wrap-up post. Or leverage one quote that directly speaks to a pain-point, attitude, or question your target audience can identify with, and build almost net-new content around it.
  • That one-on-one question you asked a speaker? Share it out on your social networks and ask for your audience to weigh in, too. (Oh, and then, leverage that UGC for another blog post or two.)
  • Those photos you took? Bring them to life by putting them into a video slideshow and sharing with your network.
  • Those interesting topics or common themes that arose during your networking interactions or learning sessions? Run them through your editorial process to determine whether they’re a fit for your audience, opportunities, and objectives.

Read: 12 Ways to Crush the Competition With Content From Events

Bonus Nugget

Whether you feel a conference produced dust, flakes, or enormous golden content nuggets, don’t underestimate the value of the content that you have gathered.

As I recently shared in a post (which coincidentally covered how to repurpose content marketing leftovers … and was inspired by another piece on repurposed content cobbler, which happened to feature one of my favorite conference quotes from Jay Acunzo):

“All content—fresh or seemingly expired—has the potential to be carved into something new and fresh.”

See. Content gold right there.

[bctt tweet=”All content—fresh or seemingly expired—has the potential to be carved into something new and fresh. @CaitlinMBurgess #ContentMarketing #ContentGold” username=”toprank”]

Strike Content Gold at Your Next Event

Seasoned content marketing writer or not, industry conferences and events are golden content ideation, creation, amplification, and repurposing opportunities for every marketer.

So, as you saddle up for your next conference, remember that content gold awaits you—if you’re willing to claim it.

Speaking of conferences? TopRank Marketing’s next stop is B2B Marketing Exchange from Feb. 25-27, 2019 in sunny Scottsdale, AZ. Our own Lee Odden will lead a session on leveraging influencers and interactive content to take B2B content from boring to bold. In addition, myself and Ashley Zeckman will be on-hand to learn, connect, and, of course, create content gold.

Will we see you there? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post Content Marketing Gold Rush: How to Unearth Content Gold at Marketing Industry Events appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

5 Examples of B2B Influencer Marketing to Inspire You in 2019

B2B Influencer Marketing Examples 2019

B2B Influencer Marketing Examples 2019

B2B brands don’t have it easy when trying to attract, engage and persuade today’s increasingly distracted and distrustful buyers. Many are experimenting with influencer marketing but results without an informed plan can be a mixed bag. Trust me, I know.

We’ve been experimenting heavily with B2B influencer marketing for over 6 years, partnering with hundreds of B2B influencers and B2B brands of all sizes while also learning a lesson or two.

Fast forward to today and we understand that for successful influencer marketing in the B2B world. relationships are key, right along with shared values and some robust validation when it comes to topical relevance, ability to create and engage on-topic with an interested community.

Beyond simply collaborating with expert voices that have an audience in the hopes that the influencer will promote brand messages, successful B2B marketers are seeing value across the entire customer lifecycle. Influencer engagement creates mutual value for both brand and influencer as well as for customers. From building brand trust to helping to humanize a brand, the value of influencer relationships is much broader than most B2B marketers realize.

We’ve learned many lessons about working with B2B brands on influencer content programs ranging from Dell to SAP and more than anything, we’ve realized the value of learning through examples. That’s why I’ve put together this collection of 5 B2B influencer marketing program examples that TopRank Marketing is working with to help you visualize ways to make your influencer marketing efforts more impactful and meaningful.

Dell Luminaries

Dell Luminaries – Led by Dr. Konnie Alex, Head of B2B Influencer Relations at Dell, Dell Technologies has launched an influencer hosted business podcast called Luminaries that features conversations with technology visionaries and the very human face of innovation. Influencer hosts Mark Schaefer & Doug Karr are “phenomenal digital storytellers and bring the outside-in view into every episode, every conversation with every guest with a deep commitment to and appreciation of our combined audiences.”

Beyond the podcast, Dell works with influencers like Tamara McCleary, Daniel Newman and Sally Eaves to author blog posts, do interviews on podcasts, attend Dell events and engage in briefings with Dell subject matter experts.

What’s inspiring about this program is that Dell has successfully been able to simultaneously develop solid relationships with a core group of influencers for a variety of content collaboration opportunities on an ongoing basis as well as partner with two key industry influencers to highlight internal Dell subject matter experts (internal influencers) from across the different companies that make up Dell Technologies. Dell is effectively benefitting from influencers and creating influencers at the same time – all while creating value for their customers.

Employee Experience
SAP App Center – The SAP App Center is a hub for 3rd party applications that integrate with SAP solutions. While functional, SAP realized there was an opportunity to better attract and engage an audience looking for applications as solutions more robust, credible content that would be easy to find through search.

To make SAP App Center topics of focus become “the best answer”, for customer, robust Power Pages including The SAP Guide to Employee Well-BeingThe SAP Guide to Employee Experience, and The SAP Guide to Talent Acquisition were created incorporating SEO keyword research, SAP domain expertise and topically relevant influencer contributions.

Attraction objectives were reached through improved search visibility on topics that aligned with influencer expertise, social promotion by brand and influencers and link optimization. Engagement objectives were achieved with more robust, “best answer” content optimized for credibility with influencer experts and optimized link placement from the Power Pages to solutions content.

What’s inspiring about this program is the effort to understand demand from the buying audience through keyword research helped inform both relevant content creation and influencer engagement. Influencers added credibility and amplification as well as SEO relevance to content intended to deliver answers for customers that were actively looking – thereby attracting and engaging an audience that is further along in the sales journey.

 

Science Champions Podcast 3M
3M Science Champions – With the objective of making science accessible to the every day person, 3M launched the State of Science Index research report in connection with the Science Champions podcast hosted by 3M Chief Science Advocate, Jayshree Seth. As 3M’s first ever podcast, the first season featured 21 science experts/influencers discussing a variety of science related topics ranging from introduction to science to science in everyday life to careers in science. The number of listens/downloads per episode far exceeded expectations and the podcast will return with season 2 in 2019.

What’s inspiring about this program is that 3M was able to take a data rich research report and humanize topics by connecting them to real people with expertise in the field. By featuring an internal influencer as the host, 3M was able to facilitate natural discussions around the topic of science in a way that achieves the objective of making science accessible to non-scientists while also honoring 3M brand expertise. Publishing through a conversation in podcast format also effectively supported distribution and engagement goals.

AI Finance

Prophix: AI & the Next Evolution of Finance – As a provider of Corporate Performance Management software, Prophix wanted to empower their customer audience, finance leaders, with insights on future technologies like Artificial intelligence affecting their industry. Prophix went beyond engaging with influencers to co-create useful content on the desired topic. An interactive microsite was created using a common application of AI, a simulated voice assistant. In the spirit of Siri and Alexa, this voice assistant named Penny served as host to expertise from a group of influencers in AI and machine learning as well as the office of finance.

Experts including Oliver Christie and Christoper Penn provided insight on how to plan for industry changes and embrace AI with an opportunity to further explore the topic with a worksheet download: The CFOs guide to AI and Machine Learning in Finance. The combination of interactive experience, voice and text content, relevant finance and AI influencers plus brand thought leadership resulted in record setting engagement.

What’s inspiring about this program is that Prophix was willing to create a relevant and credible interactive content experience that was not only new to their marketing mix, but new to their industry. The microsite featuring top industry influencers and Penny, the simulated voice assistant, continues to attract and engage customers plus the Prophix Sales team is using the microsite as a tool for engaging with prospective customers.

Cybersecurity Intelligence Report

Oracle Dyn – Known for world class managed DNS services, Oracle Dyn wanted to create awareness and authority for their Web Application Security solutions focused on bot management and mitigation services.

To create awareness and credibility for this new cyber security capability, internal subject matter experts and relevant industry influencers including Eric Vanderburg and Kevin L. Jackson with authority in the cyber security space were engaged to collaborate on The Cybersecurity Intelligence Report: Bot Management and Mitigation.

In addition to adding credibility to the campaign content and Oracle Dyn brand, influencer shares were combined with a comprehensive promotional strategy to help Oracle Dyn’s bot management and mitigation services expertise reach the desired audiences. In the first 60 days, program goals were exceeded substantially.

What’s inspiring about this program is that Oracle Dyn was able to reach credibility and reach objectives on a topic they were not known for, bot management and mitigation services, by combining their internal subject matter experts with relevant industry influencers. The relevance of this connection was so great that 100% of engaged influencers helped promote the report.

Whether you’re a CMO thinking about how to grow brand trust and authority in the marketplace, a marketing director seeking a way to break free of boring B2B with an interactive microsite featuring influencers like Prophix or a VP of PR wanting to implement a thought leadership podcast like 3M and Dell have done, it’s clear that an influencer content program can be a powerful force in your B2B marketing mix.

The post 5 Examples of B2B Influencer Marketing to Inspire You in 2019 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

A Simple Three-Point Checklist for Documenting Your B2B Content Strategy Right Now

On the first day of 2019, I laid out a series of New Year’s resolutions for content marketers. At the top of the list was creating a documented content strategy.

Maybe you came across the post. Maybe you nodded your head while reading that particular item and said, “Yup, I’m gonna do that.” But most likely, you still haven’t yet. I’m not trying to be presumptive, just speaking in probabilities: research tells us that documenting a content strategy has been the subject of pervasive and perpetual procrastination across our field for some time.

What gives? Why do we keep putting it off?

“Usually procrastination happens because the task seems too difficult,” according to psychiatrist A. Chris Heath, MD (via PsyCom). Makes sense, based on my personal experience.

In this case, I think the difficulty and complexity seem a lot greater than they actually are. So, B2B content marketers, today I’m going to try and make both the “why” and “how” of this matter as simple and straightforward as possible. We’ll start with the first part.

Why is a Documented B2B Content Strategy So Important?

There are two primary reasons.

First of all, neuroscience has found that we are more likely to accomplish our goals if we write them down. According to an article on Forbes last year from Mark Murphy, there are a couple of psychological factors driving this:

  • External storage: When your goals are written down, in a tangible and visible form (whether a physical piece of paper or even a digital document) they are harder to ignore. This is why Post-it Notes exist.
  • Encoding: The actual process of writing something down makes it far more ingrained in our memories. This owes to the generation effect, “a phenomenon where information is better remembered if it is generated from one’s own mind rather than simply read.”

So that’s a big part of it. The second component is tangentially related, but has more to do with the collaborative nature of a marketing operation. When you’re trying to keep numerous individuals aligned around the same vision, it’s essential to have a single source of truth that’s accessible to everyone.

The above psychological principles come into play from a team aspect — your colleagues will better adhere to a strategy if they can actually see it, and the process of encoding will take place if everyone is collectively involved with documentation — but there are also more basic and practical elements.

When your content strategy is documented, you don’t have to re-explain things to people over and over again. You have a central point of reference for various freelancers, contractors, new hires, clients, external business partners, and so forth. It provides a concrete and objective basis for decision-making.

You also might spot flaws in your strategy more quickly (for example, an SEO specialist may see something amiss in the documentation and say, “We’ve gotta fix that,” whereas it may have gone unnoticed).

Are we all agreed on the value of a documented content strategy? Good. Let’s get one put together.

A Three-Point Checklist for Documenting Your B2B Content Strategy

In the interest of keeping things simple, we’ll flesh this out in high-level fashion. When you cut through all the variables and moving parts, content marketing strategy almost universally nests under three buyer stages: Discovery, Consumption, Action.

If our content is going to accomplish anything, it needs to be discovered, it needs to be consumed, and it needs to ultimately drive action (all with the right audiences, of course).

Discovery: Who is your target audience and how will they find your content?

That first part is arguably the most important in this entire discussion. Who is your audience? What makes them tick? The more specific you can get, the better. When you gain a firm and comprehensive understanding of the people you want to reach — the challenges they’re trying to solve, the questions they’re trying to answer, the channels they tend to use — it can and should guide your entire strategy.

This is one foundational area where the documentation process is particularly valuable. Going through the exercise of articulating details about your audience can expose gaps in your knowledge, and force you to challenge existing assumptions.

The “Discovery” phase of your content strategy should account for the following:

  • Who is our buying audience?
  • What differentiates the various segments and buyer personas?
  • How can we develop an SEO strategy that aligns with their search behavior?
  • Which channels do they use?
  • Who do they listen to and respect in the industry or niche?
  • What topic clusters or editorial themes will dictate our content direction?

From here, you can build out your editorial plan and start focusing on consumption.

Consumption: How and why will people engage and interact with your content?

Once you’ve fleshed out a mix of channels and topics that align with your audience, the next step is focusing on engagement. Creating a bunch of content — even if it’s relevant and strategically aligned — won’t do you any good if people aren’t consuming it. Documenting your approach for making this happen will help keep everyone on the same page, while tying consumption to discovery.

The “Consumption” phase of your content strategy should account for the following:

  • How will our content stand out from competitors?
  • Are we optimizing on all fronts for mobile users?
  • How will we compel clicks with our headlines, meta descriptions and social messaging?
    What will be the timing and cadence for publishing?
  • What tools and technology will you use to plan, publish, and track your content?
  • How will you respond and interact to audience engagement? Whose responsibility?
  • Where do organic, paid, and influencers fit in?

With consumption covered, you’re to focus on action.

Action: What are your end goals, and how does your tactical mix connect to them?

Strategy is defined as “a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim,” so ultimately it all comes down to the outcome. We’ve listed this part last, to keep things chronological, but really you’ll want to start with your objectives and work backward. Your content strategy is a bridge between your purpose/mission statement and your goals. You have to know where you’re going before you can chart a course.

The “Action” phase should account for the following:

  • How will we convert our buying audience into customers?
  • How will we build and maintain relationships?
  • What are our key performance indicators (KPIs)?
  • Where do our benchmarks lie?
  • How will success ultimately be judged?
  • What ongoing steps are in place for conversion optimization?
  • How does every piece of the Discovery/Consumption framework above lead into this piece?

Create a steady stream of qualified traffic at the top, engage them through the middle, and drive action at the bottom. That’s a simple strategic content funnel, and as long as it keeps flowing you’ll be in good shape. Documenting strategy helps everyone in your organization rally around the same structure for making it happen.

Write It Down, Ramp It Up

If you can confidently check all three boxes above, you’ve got yourself a fundamental content marketing strategy that is built for success. There are plenty of extensions and additional elements that come into play, but for the sake of simplicity, this should cover your bases.

By documenting all of this, creating external storage and encoding it for your team, you’ll be on your way to full focal alignment, minimizing miscommunications and ambiguities that plague many operations.

And if you don’t have time to create that documented B2B content strategy at this moment? Make a note to yourself. Don’t underestimate the power of writing something down.

Want more resources from our blog to help solidify your content strategy? Check out these past articles:

The post A Simple Three-Point Checklist for Documenting Your B2B Content Strategy Right Now appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Buffer’s State of Social Report, LinkedIn’s Interest Targeting, Consumer Trust & Twitter’s Emojis

The post Digital Marketing News: Buffer’s State of Social Report, LinkedIn’s Interest Targeting, Consumer Trust & Twitter’s Emojis appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

How Can B2B Brands Benefit from Collaborating with Influencers? Let’s Get the Scoop from the Experts

Top Benefits of Influencer Collaboration

Top Benefits of Influencer Collaboration

Spokespeople. Brand advocates. Experts. Sponsors. Thought Leaders. Influencers. Call them what you will, but leveraging the voices, expertise, appeal, and reach of influential people has been a standard marketing and advertising practice for at least a century. In the B2C realm, that is.

As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden recently pointed out: “B2B brands are running a little behind B2C in terms of influencer marketing sophistication and have not been investing as much in technology, staff or the influencers themselves.”

In fact, recent research shows that an impressive 48% of B2C influencer programs are ongoing, however, just 11% of B2B influencer programs are always-on. But on the flip side, research also shows that interest and commitment are growing. In fact, 65% of multinational brands will increase influencer marketing spending in the next 12 months, reaching $10 billion over the next five years.

So, how do we reconcile the different worlds these statistical snapshots create? From my perspective, it all comes down to perceived value. B2B marketers, who have the difficult task of nurturing buyers through a long and winding sales cycle, want to ensure that a traditionally B2C tactic can drive the kind of results they need and want.

In a digital landscape that’s bursting with content, bubbling with consumer distrust, and growing demand for personalization—influencer collaborations offer enormous value and benefits. But don’t just take my word for it; take it from influencer marketing leaders at a range of B2B brands.

Benefit #1: Influencers help you build a narrative of trust.

From security scandals and privacy concerns to consumers’ dwindling confidence in the world’s core institutions, consumer trust is on the downslide. That general distrust coupled with an historical skepticism of marketing and advertising messages makes it imperative that B2B marketers work to build genuine trust and credibility with buyers and prospects.

When you co-create content with influencers, 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.

“Year over year, we’ve seen consumer trust of brands decreasing, and people turning to seemingly more objective sources when making buying decisions: peers, third-party review sites, analysts, etc.” Whitney Magnuson, Global Head of Social Media and Influencer Programs at IBM, told us not long ago. “Partnering with an influencer allows you to highlight your brand’s own existing narrative in a new way, so that you can reinforce the proof points you really want your customers to know.”

[bctt tweet=”Partnering with an #influencer allows you to highlight your brand’s own existing narrative in a new way, so that you can reinforce the proof points you really want your customers to know. @whitneymagnuson @IBMSystems #B2BInfluencerMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Read our full interview with Whitney.

Benefit #2: Influencers bring a human element to your brand.

With low consumer trust and competition forever increasing, authenticity can be one of the biggest differentiators for brands. At the end of the day, your B2B buyers are consumers who are looking for partners that understand them and that they can feel comfortable with. Influencers can help you do through the content you create together.

“The main benefit is that influencers humanize a brand and capture the personality behind the logo,” Rani Mani, Head of Social Influencer Enablement at Adobe, says. “Additionally, influencers raise brand awareness and engagement by giving companies access to an audience they may not otherwise have through a trusted and credible source.

[bctt tweet=”The main benefit is that #influencers humanize a brand and capture the personality behind the logo. @ranimani0707 @adobe #B2BInfluencerMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Read our full interview with Rani.

Benefit #3: Influencers help you garner relevant reach.

The modern digital landscape is not only overloaded with content and simmering with distrust, but demand for personalization and relevance is increasing. But influencers provide a way to overcome these obstacles and capture new content opportunities.

As Luciana Moran, Senior Vice President, Digital, Content and Creative at Dun & Bradstreet, shared with us, she sees two of the top benefits of influencer partnerships as “exposing your message to a new or different audience than you are currently reaching today, especially through your website or other organic channels,” and “adding credibility to your message by partnering with a trusted voice in the industry.”

[bctt tweet=”Two of the top benefits of working with #influencers according to @lucymoran of @DnBUS: Reach and credibility. #B2BInfluencerMarketing” username=”toprank”]

And Martin Jones, Senior Marketing Manager of Business Social Media, Content Marketing, & Employee Advocacy, at Cox Communications, is right there with her.

“[One of the] primary benefits of collaborating with influencers is to overcome evolving shifts in marketing that is making it increasingly difficult for brands to reach consumers,” he said. “For example, adoption of ad blockers is soaring and traditional banner ads have become ineffective. Organic reach for brands on social media hovers around 1-2%, and consumers trust in brand advertising is at an all-time low.”

He added: “Influencers connect with a much more targeted audience than banner ads have in quite some time,” Martin said. “Ad blockers do not impact influencers and their content still has significant social media reach. Trust from an influencer’s audience typically runs somewhere north of 90%.”

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

Read our full interviews with Lucy and Martin.

Benefit #4: Influencers help you keep a pulse on audience needs and pain points.

Deep audience knowledge is part of the foundation of your marketing strategy. Beyond demographics, you need to understand their needs, pain points, motivations, and how and where they search for answers. What better way to collect qualitative, near real-time intel than engaging and collaborating with an industry expert on a regular basis?

“Working with B2B influencers allows our brand to have a constant pulse check with purchase decision-makers,” Dr. Konstanze Alex, Head of Corporate Influencer Relations for Dell, said. “Informed influencers who share our vision of the future based on their own experience and expertise provide for independent, third party validation.”

She added: “Strategic partnerships with influencers provide for an outside in view when creating content for our customers. We need to constantly ensure that, as a brand, we don’t start talking to ourselves, but keep a keen focus on the evolving challenges our customers have and on language they use to express these challenges.”

[bctt tweet=”Working with B2B influencers allows our brand to have a constant pulse check with purchase decision-makers. @konstanze @dell” username=”toprank”]

Read our full interview with Konnie.

The B2B Influencer Benefit Bottom Line

You heard it from the experts. B2B influencer collaborations can help you create content that builds trust and credibility with your audience, humanize your brand, overcome ad and algorithm barriers to garner targeted reach, and keep your finger on the pulse of your audience.

Now for a final piece of wisdom to any B2B marketer who’s still on the fence, courtesy of our own “Influencer Marketing Influencer” Lee Odden:

“Influence is the ability to affect action,” he often says. “And everyone is influential about something.”

The bottom line? For any kind of content a business creates and releases to the world, there is an opportunity for collaboration with credible voices that have active networks interested in what those voices have to say.

[bctt tweet=”Influence is the ability to affect action. @leeodden #B2BInfluencerMarketing” username=”toprank”]

We have no shortage of strategic tips, tactical tricks, and amazing insights on influencer marketing. Take some time to peruse our recent posts on the subject.

The post How Can B2B Brands Benefit from Collaborating with Influencers? Let’s Get the Scoop from the Experts appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

How Marketers Can Improve the Customer Experience (And Why They Should Want To)

How Marketers Can Improve the Customer Experience

How Marketers Can Improve the Customer Experience

Recent research from Gartner shows that 89% of companies compete primarily on customer experience. The way your brand makes customers feel can mean the difference between advocating for the brand or going with a competitor.

So, who owns customer experience?

It’s not just the customer service team or the Chief Experience Officer or any other dedicated department. Every touch point with a customer or potential customer is an opportunity to enhance the experience. It’s everyone’s responsibility.

As customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author Blake Morgan puts it:

“Today, companies are thinking about customer experience in everything they do, from hiring and leadership development to marketing, supply chain, logistics, IT infrastructure, product design and continuous improvement for the entire business.”

Customers don’t distinguish between the marketing department, the customer service team, or the sales department. Any contact they make with the brand, on any channel, is part of their experience of the brand as a whole.

So, it’s crucial for marketers to be mindful of customer experience, and active in helping improve it wherever we might encounter current and potential customers. Here’s how to get started.

[bctt tweet=”Every touch point with a customer or potential customer is an opportunity to enhance the #customerexperience. It’s everyone’s responsibility. – @NiteWrites says to #marketers everywhere” username=”toprank”]

How Marketers Can Get Started on Improving the Customer Experience

Rethink the Customer Journey

Most marketers still think about buying in some version of the old marketing funnel. We invite people into the top of the funnel, nurture them through the middle to a purchase decision, and then… well, they drop off the chart.

For marketers to make a difference in customer experience, we need to think differently about past, current, and potential customers. Julia McCoy’s “Marketing Lifecycle” is a good place to start:

The Marketing Lifecycle

In this model, everyone’s on the same journey. Whether they’re current, potential, or past customers, they all need and can benefit from marketers’ attention. Marketers can engage at every stage, helping to reduce friction and provide relevant, personalized content. That not only improves customer experience, it helps move more people toward sales, repeat sales, and advocacy.

Refine Your Content Strategy

To better align your content to improve customer experience, it’s important to re-evaluate what your content is for. Are you still drafting content for a linear customer journey?

Co-Founder of Orbit Media Andy Crestodina recently wrote an eye-opening post about the content strategy of the top 1% of B2B companies. According to Andy, content is far more about providing value than creating a straight line through to the “contact us” page. More valuable content earns trust, earns repeat visitors, and earns back-links that boost your SEO ranking.

How can you make content more valuable? Write for your current prospects, Andy says:

“The best source for content ideas is the audience themselves. When you talk to prospects and customers, you learn their cares, hopes and worries. You find out what kind of questions they have. It’s the job of your content to answer those questions.”

When you create best-answer content, you’re investing in your brand’s search visibility, its reputation, and its future and current customers. Someone who searches for an answer, finds your brand’s content, and gets help is likely to remember that positive experience.

Create Content for the Customer

How often do you write blog posts aimed at your current customers? Content aimed at helping use your product more efficiently, or addressing customer concerns and pain points with the product?

It’s easy to write about your current customers when you’re writing a success story in a case study. But writing for your customers is a crucial way marketers can improve the customer experience. Show customers that you care about their concerns after the sale, that your brand is committed to helping them succeed. As the inimitable Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, puts it:

“Make the customer the hero of your story.”

This type of content is good for customer experience, and it’s also good for marketing to potential customers. As you demonstrate to existing that you’re committed to helping your customers, your prospects are watching, too. You’re demonstrating what they can expect from the brand should they choose to buy.

Create a Consistent Experience on Social Media

Most brands are in a weird place with social media, and it’s easy to see why: It is a marketing channel and a customer service channel rolled into one. It’s a channel where causal followers, brand advocates, and customers with problems they need solved are all rubbing (virtual) elbows. Yet social media accounts are far more likely to be considered solely marketing’s responsibility.

Marketers can enhance the customer experience on social media by responding quickly to questions and starting the conversation. Then marketers can help meet needs that they can meet, or provide a quick and seamless hand-off when another department has to be involved.

Remember, customers don’t think in terms of “this is the marketing department and I should contact customer service.” They’re just reaching out with a problem your brand needs to solve.

Great Customer Experience Is Great Marketing

When marketers fully own their contribution to customer experience, they can help turn prospects into customers and customers into raving fans. It’s the great circle of marketing (sing it with me): Your most loyal customers become your most powerful marketing, and they do it for free. Or, as customer service expert, keynote speaker, and bestselling author Shep Hyken puts it:

“The best advertising you can have is a loyal customer spreading the word about how incredible your business is.”

So, marketers, it’s time to dig deep and ask yourself: What am I doing on a marketing level to enhance the customer experience? And what do I need to be doing?

Learn more about customer experience, convenience, and marketing in our interview with Shep Hyken.

The post How Marketers Can Improve the Customer Experience (And Why They Should Want To) appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

5 Marvelous B2B Content Marketing Lessons From Mrs. Maisel

The post 5 Marvelous B2B Content Marketing Lessons From Mrs. Maisel appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Top Marketing Resources for CMOs in 2019

Marketing Resources CMO

Marketing Resources CMO

A seat at the executive table for marketers in the form of the CMO role has not come without costs. CMOs have half the tenure of CEOs and the spotlight is on marketing leadership like never before.

While it’s undoubtedly a tough job, there’s plenty of opportunity. More than 25% of CEOs at large publicly traded companies have a marketing background. A CMO title has become the ultimate goal for many marketers and those that make the grade have to continue working hard on advancing their knowledge, skills and staying on top of industry trends.

To help CMOs and aspiring CMOs connect to strategic, useful and engaging information, here are 5 of the top resources worthy of a CMOs time.

1. CMO Moves – Nadine Dietz, aka “The Beyonce of CMOs”, has created a new site and interview series that shares what she calls the human side of game-changing CMOs. CMO Moves asks CMOs at brands ranging from Ameritrade to Ford to Walmart questions like, How did they get to the top? What rules did they have to break along the way? Who do they see as their role models? How do they inspire and grow their teams to greatness?

CMO Moves was recently acquired by Advertising Age with 52 podcast episodes plus articles and resources. The site is a great opportunity for CMOs and fast tracking marketers alike to learn from their peers.

2. Marketing Industry Influencers of CMOs – Of course resources for marketing knowledge come in many forms and we all know that peers are far more influential than brands, including the topics tracked by CMOs. Speaking of tracking, Forbes has reported on the top influencers of CMOs citing research from Leadtail and their tracking of nearly 1,300 North American CMOs.

CMO Influencers

Here is a list of the top 10 influencers of CMOs:

  • Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar): Chief Digital Evangelist, Salesforce
  • Tamara McCleary (@TamaraMcCleary): CEO, Thulium.co
  • Scott Brinker (@ChiefMartec): VP Platform Ecosystem, HubSpot
  • Gary Vaynerchuk (@GaryVee): CEO, Vayner Media
  • Kim Whitler (@KimWhitler): Former GM / CMO, Forbes contributor
  • Evan Kirstel (@EvanKirstel): Cofounder, EviraHealth
  • Brian Solis (@BrianSolis): Principal Analyst, Altimeter Group
  • Michael Brenner (@BrennerMichael): CEO, Marketing Insider Group
  • Margaret Molloy (@MargaretMolloy): CMO, Siegel + Gale
  • Jay Baer (@JayBaer): Founder, Convince and Convert

While this list is from 2017, I have found lists of this type to be fairly consistent year after year. Hopefully Leadtail will publish an updated report in 2019 or maybe we should.

CMOs also learn from their peers. Here is a list of the top 10 most influential CMOs according to 2018 research from Forbes and Sprinklr:

  • Keith Weed (@keithweed): Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Unilever
  • Linda Boff (@lindaboff): Chief Marketing Officer, GE
  • Leslie Berland (@leslieberland): Chief Marketing Officer & Head of People, Twitter
  • Antonio Lucio (@ajlucio5): Global Chief Marketing Officer, Facebook
  • Raja Rajamannar (@RajaRajamannar): Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and President, Healthcare Business, Mastercard
  • Ann Lewnes (@alewnes): EVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Adobe
  • Phil Schiller (@pschiller): Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Apple
  • Dean Evans (@Hyundai): Chief Marketing Officer, Hyundai
  • Kristin Lemkau (@KLemkau): Chief Marketing Officer, JPMorgan Chase
  • Marc Mathieu (@marcfmath): Chief Marketing Officer, Samsung Electronics America

3. Websites – There are many marketing publications but not that many websites specifically focused on content for CMOs. Here is a list of 6 industry publications dedicated to the chief marketing officer.

4. Podcasts – When you’re as busy as a CMO is, you have to use every spare bit of time as efficiently as possible and podcasts on a commute, on a plane or similar time are just that. Here are 10 of the top podcasts recommended by CMOs via the CMO Club:

5. Special Interest Groups – Communities for senior marketing decision makers.

Of course there are many more useful resources ranging from industry conferences to executive education to special analyst reports but hopefully this post has provided you with links to information and communities that are helpful. It might take some trial and error to find the right sources for your specific needs and interests, but one thing is certain: there will alway be a need to feed a marketing executive’s brain with up to date analysis, insight and trends.

If you are a senior marketing executive, what resources would you add?

The post Top Marketing Resources for CMOs in 2019 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: YouTube’s Bubble-Under Suggestions, New B2B Studies, & Making Marketing More Human

The post Digital Marketing News: YouTube’s Bubble-Under Suggestions, New B2B Studies, & Making Marketing More Human appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.