The Future (& Present) of Marketing: Collaboration, Technology & Innovation

What do you get when you combine an enterprise CMO and a partner at one of the world’s largest professional services firms?

I can’t speak for all scenarios but at B2BMX in Scottsdale this week, it led to an entertaining and insightful conversation, from two different perspectives.

Jeanniey Mullen, CMO of Mercer and Vince Walden, Partner at Ernst and Young led an engaging discussion on the importance of innovation within organizations (large and small) as well as opportunities for better operationalizing your marketing department. Below are three ideas for how to future and present-proof your marketing.   

3 Ideas for Future-Proofing Your Marketing

Encourage Cross-Functional Collaboration

Often when brands talk about collaborating with others, it’s in the context of their own departments. Marketing teams look for insights from other marketers, salespeople look to a top seller and so on.

However, as more and more marketers are facing tough questions about ROI, revenue and business impact, it’s time to push the boundaries of collaboration.

If you look at the makeup of your leadership team, it’s likely that there are different individual objectives, that ultimately should role up to major business goals. To create alignment within your WHOLE company (not just your department) start seeking insights and advice from other departments.

Ensuring that your strategies are aligned with your C-Suite and other departments will:

  1. Improve the quality of your output
  2. Spark new ideas
  3. Build credibility and trust with leadership

The marketing content that we develop should always keep our customers in mind. We should also ensure that what we’re creating can be absorbed by the rest of our internal teams as well. In fact, passing marketing materials through other departments before launching is a good way to gain additional perspective. Moral of the story: Don’t make decisions in a silo.

Always make sure your marketing materials are written in a way that anyone in the organization can understand and identify quickly. @jeannieymullen Click To Tweet

Embrace AI and Machine Learning

Sorry folks, the robots are here, and they’re here to stay.

Companies that are successful with digital transformation have worked these new(ish) technologies into their marketing in order to scale. So, instead of feeling threatened by these technologies, marketers have an opportunity to embrace them and make AI and machine learning work for their team.

Still need proof?

  • 83% of early AI adopters have already achieved substantial (30%) or moderate (53%) economic benefits. (Deloitte)
  • AI will boost profitability by 38% and generate $14 trillion of additional revenue by 2035. (Accenture)
  • 20% of the C-Suite is already using machine learning. (McKinsey)

A recent report from Salesforce also found that by 2020 (that’s next year people!), 57% of buyers will depend on companies know what they want before the first interaction. So, if we don’t begin embracing these technologies (and soon), it’ll be nearly impossible to live up to the expectations of our customers. Which means, we’ll lose them.

Data wizard Chris Penn has speaking and writing about AI what seems like forever. And when it comes down to it, AI will enable marketers to BETTER utilize the data we have, more quickly.

We have a data fever, and the prescription is cognitive marketing. @cspenn #AI Click To Tweet

If you’re looking for a jumpstart, be sure to check out Chris’ new book: AI for Marketers: An Introduction & Primer. 

Develop A Process for Innovation

Brands invest a significant amount of time in developing a series of processes for how they sell, how they execute, how they improve the quality of their work. Most brands, however, do not have a documented way to approach innovation. And unfortunately, this can lead to a couple of scenarios:

  • Innovation is slow moving or non-existent
  • Too much time is spent on innovation, but misguided and not successful

But how can you overcome this hurdle and make innovation a part of your documented process?

Vincent suggested following an innovation model like the one below that will not only keep your team aligned in how to innovate but will help you identify if a particular innovation is worth investing in further.

Technology alone does not drive innovation. @VincentWaldenEY Click To Tweet

Are You Ready to Embrace the Present & Future of Marketing?

Marketers, the future is here and ultimately, teams that work better together, embrace new technology and innovate in a more predictable way will win the hearts, minds and wallets of target customers.

Thank you Jeanniey and Vincent for the great advice on how marketers can begin to operationalize in a more successful way.

Sales & Marketing Alignment: Shahid Javed Shares How to Go from Hate to Love in 60 Days

It’s a tale as old as time. The marketing team is hyper-focused on awareness campaigns, events, and driving more leads to fill the funnel. Meanwhile, the sales team is hyper-focused on meeting sales and revenue goals, and nurturing relationships to empty the funnel.

These two teams occupy two very different functional areas within a company. They’re moving at completely different speeds. They’re operating under their own rules. And as a result, there’s tension, misunderstanding, and even … hate.

But according to Shahid Javed, Director of Enterprise Marketing for Hughes Network Systems, B2B marketers can be change agents here. They can give and get love from their sales teams. And they can do it in as little as 60 days.

How? Shahid says you need a short- and long-term strategy to foster the collaboration, love, and alignment needed to drive results. In his session at B2B Marketing Exhange in Scottsdale, AZ, he focused on the short-term strategy to help marketers understand where they can start and get some immediate traction. Let’s dive in.

The Three Phases of Overcoming Sales & Marketing Beefs

In 2016, Shahid joined the Hughes Network Systems, which is a broadband network provider, team on the enterprise marketing side. When he arrived at the first meeting ahead of a massive annual tradeshow event, he found tension and chaos between the marketing and sales leaders. And he vowed to change it.

“We had 23 different sales decks,” he shared. “Now we have two. We also had 500 dashboards in Salesforce—we deleted nearly all of them.”

To make change, Shahid leveraged a three-part framework:

Phase 1: Listening & Information Gathering

According to Shahid, the first phase is all about listening.

“I met with everyone—the head of east coast sales, the head of west coast sales, the head of marketing, executive leadership,” he shared. “I wanted perspectives. I wanted to know what everyone was thinking and how they saw their roles.”

During those meetings he had some core questions that he asked every stakeholder:

  • What were your objectives, roles, and responsibilities in the last year?
  • What are some of your top highlights from the past year?
  • What are some of the misses you experienced this past year?
  • What are your goals for this year?
  • What do you need from marketing to reach your goals?

It seems simple, but the act of listening is a critical first step. Why? As Bill Gates once said: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

“Marketing is a service provider to sales—sales is our customer,” Shahid said. “We need to be able to empower them and enable them to solve problems. We need to make them the hero in the buyer’s eyes.”

[bctt tweet=”#Marketing is a service provider to #sales—sales is our customer. We need to be able to empower them and enable them to solve problems. We need to make them the hero. @shahidj” username=”toprank”]

Phase 2: Finding the Sweet Spot

Once you’ve collected all the data, it’s time to analyze and normalize that data so you can create a plan that management and leadership will buy into.

“This is where you look for common goals between leadership, sales, and marketing,” Shahid said. “It’s all about finding that sweet spot—and making sure everyone is in agreement on where things fall. You cannot do it on your own because sales and marketing leaders have to be able to sell your end-plan to their managers and teams.”

Once the common goals are agreed upon, you can create a plan that helps you hit that sweet spot and sell it to the C-suite. And there are four key steps that Shahid outlined:

  • Define and agree on objectives and roles. Who’s doing what and how does that support the overall business goals?
  • Identify short- and long-term goals. If you only think long-term, you’ll never get anything accomplished because everyone is so busy. You need a short-term plan to get traction.
  • Outline the tactics and strategies you’re going to use to reach those goals. And marketers, be honest about what you can and cannot do. Some things you may not be capable of doing yet, and that’s OK. Your sales team just needs to know.
  • Document plans and actions. These are the marching order for each team.

And a bonus piece of advice to work into this phase: Make sure you have agreement on what qualifies as an MQL or SQL—and really, you should let the sales team define that.

“The biggest nightmare for us was the MQL and the SQL,” Shahid said with a laugh. “We let sales define it and come up with the scoring. We knew that if we defined these and delivered leads under that scoring, sales would never take them. They needed to define it.”

Phase 3: Empowering Execution

Now it’s time to profess your love to sales by making it easy for them to become that hero for the customer.

For Shahid’s team, that meant making it easy for the sales teams to access and internalize marketing materials and messaging. Here’s just a sampling of what that looked like:

  • Leveraging Dropbox, Shahid’s team created and shared templates, style guides, brand guides, and more with the sales team.
  • The team used Salesforce Chatter, a communications tool, to collaborate and share information.
  • They created social messaging and visual assets that sales reps and sales leaders could leverage on their personal social media platforms.

“Most buyers have already made up their mind on the kind of solution they need,” Shahid said. “When it comes time for the sales person to come in, buyers need to know that they’re the problem solver. So we need to help the sales person come in as the superhero.”

Love Has Its Benefits

The collaborative approach to fostering sales and marketing love didn’t just lead to alignment and trust for Hughes Network Systems. It led to big, beautiful business results. In the last year, the sales and marketing teams have seen:

  • 120% boost in web engagements
  • 118& increase in email engagements
  • 108% rise in tradeshow engagements
  • 62% lift in social engagements
  • 22% jump in win rates

“Twenty years ago, it was an actual best practice for sales and marketing to work in silos,” Shahid said. “But alignment has become absolutely critical now. The expectations are too high, [internally and externally].”

So, B2B marketers: Are you ready to give and get love from your sales team? Now is the time.

For more updates and insights form the conference, you can follow @toprank, @leeodden, @azeckman, and @CaitlinMBurgess on Twitter. Stay tuned for more by following the blog here.

The post Sales & Marketing Alignment: Shahid Javed Shares How to Go from Hate to Love in 60 Days appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Affordable, Stat-Based Retail Strategy For Your Agency’s Clients

Retail clients are battling tough economics offline and tough competitors online. They need every bit of help your agency can give them. 

I was heartened when 75 percent of the 1,400+ respondents to the Moz State of Local SEO Industry Report 2019 shared that they contribute to offline strategy recommendations either frequently or at least some of the time. I can’t think of a market where good and relatively inexpensive experiments are more needed than in embattled retail. The ripple effect of a single new idea, offered up generously, can spread out to encompass new revenue streams for the client and new levels of retention for your agency.

And that’s why win-win seemed written all over three statistics from a 2018 Yes Marketing retail survey when I read it because they speak to motivating about one quarter to half of 1,000 polled customers without going to any extreme expense. Take a look:

I highly recommend downloading Yes Marketing’s complete survey which is chock-full of great data, but today, let’s look at just three valuable stats from it to come up with an actionable strategy you can gift your offline retail clients at your next meeting.

Getting it right: A little market near me

For the past 16 years, I’ve been observing the local business scene with a combination of professional scrutiny and personal regard. I’m inspired by businesses that open and thrive and am saddened by those that open and close.

Right now, I’m especially intrigued by a very small, independently-owned grocery store which set up shop last year in what I’ll lovingly describe as a rural, half-a-horse town not far from me. This locale has a single main street with less than 20 businesses on it, but I’m predicting the shop’s ultimate success based on several factors. A strong one is that the community is flanked by several much larger towns with lots of through traffic and the market is several miles from any competitor. But other factors which match point-for-point with the data in the Yes Marketing survey make me feel especially confident that this small business is going to “get it right”. 

Encourage your retail clients to explore the following tips.

1) The store is visually appealing

43–58 percent of Yes Marketing’s surveyed retail customers say they’d be motivated to shop with a retailer who has cool product displays, murals, etc. Retail shoppers of all ages are seeking appealing experiences.

At the market near me, there are many things going on in its favor. The building is historic on the outside and full of natural light on this inside, and the staff sets up creative displays, such as all of the ingredients you need to make a hearty winter soup gathered up on a vintage table. The Instagram crowd can have selfie fun here, and more mature customers will appreciate the aesthetic simplicity of this uncluttered, human-scale shopping experience.

For your retail clients, it won’t break the bank to become more visually appealing. Design cues are everywhere!

Share these suggestions with a worthy client:

Basic cleanliness is the starting point

This is an old survey, but I think we’re safe to say that at least 45 percent of retail customers are still put off by dirty premises — especially restrooms. Janitorial duties are already built into the budget of most businesses and only need to be accomplished properly. I continuously notice how many reviewers proclaim the word “clean” when a business deserves it.

Inspiration is affordable

Whatever employees are already being paid is the cost of engaging them to lend their creativity to creating merchandise displays that draw attention and/or solve problems. My hearty winter soup example is one idea (complete with boxed broth, pasta, veggies, bowls, and cookware). 

For your retail client? It might be everything a consumer needs to recover from a cold (medicine, citrus fruit, electric blanket, herbal tea, tissue, a paperback, a sympathetic stuffed animal, etc.). Or everything one needs to winterize a car, take a trip to a beach, build a beautiful window box, or pamper a pet. Retailers can inexpensively encourage the hidden artistic talents in staff.

Feeling stuck? The Internet is full of free retail display tips, design magazines cost a few bucks, and your clients’ cable bills already cover a subscription to channels like HGTV and the DIY network that trade on style. A client who knows that interior designers are all using grey-and-white palettes and that one TV ad after another features women wearing denim blue with aspen yellow right now is well on their way to catching customers’ eyes.

Aspiring artists live near your client and need work

The national average cost to have a large wall mural professionally painted is about $8,000, with much less expensive options available. Some retailers even hold contests surrounding logo design, and an artist near your client may work quite inexpensively if they are trying to build up their portfolio. I can’t predict how long the Instagram mural trend will last, but wall art has been a crowd-pleaser since Paleolithic times. Any shopper who stops to snap a photo of themselves has been brought in close proximity to your front door.

I pulled this word cloud out of the reviews of the little grocery store:

While your clients’ industries and aesthetics will vary, tell them they can aim for a similar, positive response from at least 49 percent of their customers with a little more care put into the shopping environment.

2) The store offers additional services beyond the sale of products

19–40 percent of survey respondents are influenced by value-adds. Doubtless, you’ve seen the TV commercials in which banks double as coffee houses to appeal to the young, and small hardware chains emphasize staff expertise over loneliness in a warehouse. That’s what this is all about, and it can be done at a smaller scale, without overly-strapping your retail clients.

At the market near me, reviews like this are coming in:

The market has worked out a very economic arrangement with a massage therapist, who can build up their clientele out of the deal, so it’s a win for everybody.

For your retail clients, sharing these examples could inspire appealing added services:

The cost of these efforts is either the salary of an employee, nominal or free.

3) The store hosts local events

20–36 percent of customers feel the appeal of retailers becoming destinations for things to learn and do. Coincidentally, this corresponds with two of the tasks Google dubbed micro-moments a couple of years back, and while not everyone loves that terminology, we can at least agree that large numbers of people use the Internet to discover local resources.

At the market near me, they’re doing open-mic readings, and this is a trend in many cities to which Google Calendar attests:

For your clients, the last two words of that event description are key. When there’s a local wish to build community, retail businesses can lend the space and the stage. This can look like:

Again, costs here can be quite modest and you’ll be bringing the community together under the banner of your business.

Putting it in writing

The last item on the budget for any of these ventures is whatever it costs to publicize it. For sure, your client will want:

  • A homepage announcement and/or one or more blog posts
  • Google Posts, Q&A, photos and related features
  • Social mentions
  • If the concept is large enough (or the community is small) some outreach to local news in hopes of a write-up and inclusion of local/social calendars
  • Link building would be great if the client can afford a reasonable investment in your services, where necessary
  • And, of course, be sure your client’s local business listings are accurate so that newcomers aren’t getting lost on their way to finding the cool new offering

Getting the word out about events, features, and other desirable attributes don’t have to be exorbitant, but it will put the finishing touch on ensuring a community knows the business is ready to offer the desired experience.

Seeing opportunity

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a client meeting and things will be a bit flat. Maybe the client has been disengaged from your contract lately, or sales have been leveling out for lack of new ideas. That’s the perfect time to put something fresh on the table, demonstrating that you’re thinking about the client’s whole picture beyond CTR and citations.

One thing that I find to be an inspiring practice for agencies is to do an audit of competitors’ reviews looking for “holes” In many communities, shopping is really dull and reviews reflect that, with few shoppers feeling genuinely excited by a particular vertical’s local offerings. Your client could be the one to change that, with a little extra attention from you.

Every possibility won’t be the perfect match for every business, but if you can help the company see a new opportunity, the few minutes spent brainstorming could benefit you both.

Bye-Bye Boring B2B: Lee Odden Shows B2BMX Attendees the Power of Interactive Influencer Content

Interactive Influencer Content Marketing

Interactive Influencer Content Marketing

Quick question, B2B marketers: How many of you wake up feeling like this about your B2B content?

via GIPHY

Not so much? Hey, it’s OK. You’re a passionate and proud B2B marketer. But finding a way to create exciting, inspiring, infotaining content that connects with your audience is hard work. After all, B2B isn’t innately sexy—it’s booooooring. Oh, and between content overload, changing consumer preferences for personalization, and diminishing audience trust, it’s increasingly hard to capture and keep attention.

So, here’s another question: Are you ready to say bye-bye to boring content and hello to exciting, inspiring, and infotaining content experiences?

Yes so much? Good. Because, as TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden told a packed room at B2B Marketing Exchange this week, you can.

How? By bringing two incredibly powerful content marketing tactics together: interactive content and influencer content.

Why interactive? Why influencers? Why interactive and influencers? Here’s how Lee broke it down.

Why Interactive Content?

The digital content landscape is increasingly competitive. If brands don’t create great content experiences that grab and hold attention, they simply can’t compete. But interactive content can be a B2B game-changer.

Interactive content informs. Interactive content engages and entertains. Interactive content connects. Oh, and interactive content converts. And as Lee pointed out, research shows that 81% of marketers agree that interactive content grabs attention more effectively than static content (CMI) and 70% of marketers say interactive content is effective at converting site visitors (Ion Interactive).

Why Influencer Content?

As Lee said, these days “buyers expect more, but trust less.” In fact, according to a HubSpot report, 65% of buyers don’t trust ads and a whopping 55% of those surveyed said they don’t even trust the companies they’re already doing business with.

The good news? Buyers desperately want to trust.

[bctt tweet=”Buyers desperately want to trust. And we can give them trust with relevant #B2B content that features credible voices. – @leeodden #InfluencerMarketing #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

But who do buyers trust? Simply put, buyers trust people they know—or people they think they know. (Just for fun, take a peek at where marketers rank as compared to baristas. Uh huh.)

HubSpot Research

(Image credit: HubSpot)

Eighty-one percent of HubSpot respondents said they trust friends and family over business. In addition, DemandGen Report’s 2018 Content Preferences Survey showed that 78% of B2B buyers place a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the content source, and 65% have a higher preference for credible content from industry influencers.

[bctt tweet=”Co-creating and collaborating with influencers can play a role at every stage of the customer lifecycle. – @leeodden #InfluencerMarketing #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Why Interactive Influencer Content?

To remain competitive, marketers need to create engaging experiences for their audiences while also building credibility and trust. And that’s precisely where interactive influencer content comes in. To really drive the point home, Lee pointed to a fabulous quote from Amisha Gandhi, Vice President of Influencer Marketing for SAP Ariba:

“Working with influencers to co-create content delivers mutual value. When that content is interactive, it creates an experience that is more engaging and inspires action.”

[bctt tweet=”Working with #influencers to co-create content delivers mutual value. When that #content is interactive, it creates an experience that is more engaging and inspires action. – @AmishaGandhi” username=”toprank”]

What Does Effective B2B Interactive Influencer Content Look Like?

When you put relevant, useful, and credible content in an eye-catching, engaging format, incredible things can happen. Not only are you creating an infotaining experience for your buying audience, but also for influencer partners. You’re creating mutual value.

Examples of Interactive Influencer Content

#1 – Interactive Infographic

Topic: The Future of Influencer Marketing

Objective: Drive leads from original research report while also repurposing influencer tips.

Results: 6,971 pageviews and an impressive 42% conversion rate

Future of Influencer Marketing Interactive Infographic

#2 – Interactive eBook

Topic: Future-Proof Content Marketing

Objective: Leverage an entire year’s worth of content and insights around content marketing strategy, planning, and measurement to boost awareness and lead gen (small ask: participate in content marketing planning survey; big ask: request a trial).

Results: Exceeded small and big ask benchmark goals four times over.

Back to the Future Interactive eBook

#3 – Interactive Voice Assistant and Microsite + SEO-Driven Content

Topic: AI and the Next Evolution of Finance

Objective: Build industry credibility and engagement on AI and Finance with thought leadership content.

Results: 189% increase over benchmark pageview goals and 642% increase over benchmark engagement goals; 84 net-new keyword rankings

Interactive Influencer Asset with Voice Assistant

Buh-Bye Boring. Hello Infotaining Interactive Influencer Content.

B2B brands need to break free of its boring-to-boring reputations if they want to engage, inspire, and convert modern buyers. Buyers are ready for bigger, better, bolder content experiences—experiences they can trust.

So, B2B marketers, it’s time to ask yourself: Are your ready to create meaningful, trustworthy connects with buyers through your content? If you are, interactive influencer content deserves your consideration. Not sure where to start? Here’s Lee high-level checklist:

  • Identify a customer solution topic that is relevant to your brand’s expertise and your audience’s information needs.
  • Pick an interactive content type, story arch, and call-to-action that makes sense for the topic, audience, and objectives.
  • Identify, qualify, and validate influencers that have the topical expertise and the right audience for the end-product. And map them to your topics and subtopics.
  • Collect influencer tips, work them into the experience, and promote the heck out of the final product.
  • Nurture influencers for future engagement; strong relationships are at the center of successful influencer programs.

In the meantime, here’s a little something to snack on:

For more live updates from the conference, you can follow @TopRank, @leeodden, @azeckman and @CaitlinMBurgess on Twitter. In addition to speaking and tweeting, team members from TopRank Marketing will be live blogging sessions (like this one) throughout the conference so be sure to follow the blog for more.

The post Bye-Bye Boring B2B: Lee Odden Shows B2BMX Attendees the Power of Interactive Influencer Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

14 SEO Predictions for 2019 and Beyond, as Told by Mozzers

With the new year in full swing and an already busy first quarter, our 2019 predictions for SEO in the new year are hopping onto the scene a little late — but fashionably so, we hope. From an explosion of SERP features to increased monetization to the key drivers of search this year, our SEO experts have consulted their crystal balls (read: access to mountains of data and in-depth analyses) and made their predictions. Read on for an exhaustive list of fourteen things to watch out for in search from our very own Dr. Pete, Britney Muller, Rob Bucci, Russ Jones, and Miriam Ellis!

1. Answers will drive search

People Also Ask boxes exploded in 2018, and featured snippets have expanded into both multifaceted and multi-snippet versions. Google wants to answer questions, it wants to answer them across as many devices as possible, and it will reward sites with succinct, well-structured answers. Focus on answers that naturally leave visitors wanting more and establish your brand and credibility. [Dr. Peter J. Meyers]

Further reading:

2. Voice search will continue to be utterly useless for optimization

Optimizing for voice search will still be no more than optimizing for featured snippets, and conversions from voice will remain a dark box. [Russ Jones]

Further reading:

3. Mobile is table stakes

This is barely a prediction. If your 2019 plan is to finally figure out mobile, you’re already too late. Almost all Google features are designed with mobile-first in mind, and the mobile-first index has expanded rapidly in the past few months. Get your mobile house (not to be confused with your mobile home) in order as soon as you can. [Dr. Peter J. Meyers]

Further reading:

4. Further SERP feature intrusions in organic search

Expect Google to find more and more ways to replace organic with solutions that keep users on Google’s property. This includes interactive SERP features that replace, slowly but surely, many website offerings in the same way that live scores, weather, and flights have. [Russ Jones]

Further reading:

5. Video will dominate niches

Featured Videos, Video Carousels, and Suggested Clips (where Google targets specific content in a video) are taking over the how-to spaces. As Google tests search appliances with screens, including Home Hub, expect video to dominate instructional and DIY niches. [Dr. Peter J. Meyers]

Further reading:

6. SERPs will become more interactive

We’ve seen the start of interactive SERPs with People Also Ask Boxes. Depending on which question you expand, two to three new questions will generate below that directly pertain to your expanded question. This real-time engagement keeps people on the SERP longer and helps Google better understand what a user is seeking. [Britney Muller]

Further reading:

7. Local SEO: Google will continue getting up in your business — literally

Google will continue asking more and more intimate questions about your business to your customers. Does this business have gender-neutral bathrooms? Is this business accessible? What is the atmosphere like? How clean is it? What kind of lighting do they have? And so on. If Google can acquire accurate, real-world information about your business (your percentage of repeat customers via geocaching, price via transaction history, etc.) they can rely less heavily on website signals and provide more accurate results to searchers. [Britney Muller]

Further reading:

8. Business proximity-to-searcher will remain a top local ranking factor

In Moz’s recent State of Local SEO report, the majority of respondents agreed that Google’s focus on the proximity of a searcher to local businesses frequently emphasizes distance over quality in the local SERPs. I predict that we’ll continue to see this heavily weighting the results in 2019. On the one hand, hyper-localized results can be positive, as they allow a diversity of businesses to shine for a given search. On the other hand, with the exception of urgent situations, most people would prefer to see best options rather than just closest ones. [Miriam Ellis]

Further reading:

9. Local SEO: Google is going to increase monetization

Look to see more of the local and maps space monetized uniquely by Google both through Adwords and potentially new lead-gen models. This space will become more and more competitive. [Russ Jones]

Further reading:

10. Monetization tests for voice

Google and Amazon have been moving towards voice-supported displays in hopes of better monetizing voice. It will be interesting to see their efforts to get displays in homes and how they integrate the display advertising. Bold prediction: Amazon will provide sleep-mode display ads similar to how Kindle currently displays them today. [Britney Muller]

11. Marketers will place a greater focus on the SERPs

I expect we’ll see a greater focus on the analysis of SERPs as Google does more to give people answers without them having to leave the search results. We’re seeing more and more vertical search engines like Google Jobs, Google Flights, Google Hotels, Google Shopping. We’re also seeing more in-depth content make it onto the SERP than ever in the form of featured snippets, People Also Ask boxes, and more. With these new developments, marketers are increasingly going to want to report on their general brand visibility within the SERPs, not just their website ranking. It’s going to be more important than ever for people to be measuring all the elements within a SERP, not just their own ranking. [Rob Bucci]

Further reading:

12. Targeting topics will be more productive than targeting queries

2019 is going to be another year in which we see the emphasis on individual search queries start to decline, as people focus more on clusters of queries around topics. People Also Ask queries have made the importance of topics much more obvious to the SEO industry. With PAAs, Google is clearly illustrating that they think about searcher experience in terms of a searcher’s satisfaction across an entire topic, not just a specific search query. With this in mind, we can expect SEOs to more and more want to see their search queries clustered into topics so they can measure their visibility and the competitive landscape across these clusters. [Rob Bucci]

Further reading:

13. Linked unstructured citations will receive increasing focus

I recently conducted a small study in which there was a 75% correlation between organic and local pack rank. Linked unstructured citations (the mention of partial or complete business information + a link on any type of relevant website) are a means of improving organic rankings which underpin local rankings. They can also serve as a non-Google dependent means of driving traffic and leads. Anything you’re not having to pay Google for will become increasingly precious. Structured citations on key local business listing platforms will remain table stakes, but competitive local businesses will need to focus on unstructured data to move the needle. [Miriam Ellis]

Further reading:

14. Reviews will remain a competitive difference-maker

A Google rep recently stated that about one-third of local searches are made with the intent of reading reviews. This is huge. Local businesses that acquire and maintain a good and interactive reputation on the web will have a critical advantage over brands that ignore reviews as fundamental to customer service. Competitive local businesses will earn, monitor, respond to, and analyze the sentiment of their review corpus. [Miriam Ellis]

Further reading:

We’ve heard from Mozzers, and now we want to hear from you. What have you seen so far in 2019 that’s got your SEO Spidey senses tingling? What trends are you capitalizing on and planning for? Let us know in the comments below (and brag to friends and colleagues when your prediction comes true in the next 6–10 months). 😉

Carlos Abler of 3M Asks B2BMX Attendees: Can Marketing Save the World?

For many B2B marketers, it can be so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tactics of marketing to where we don’t take the time to pause and ask ourselves: Can marketing save the world?

To help us answer that question, Carlos Abler, Leader of Content Marketing & Strategy at 3M took the stage for a keynote at the B2B Marketing Exchange conference in Scottsdale, AZ.

In his keynote, Carlos shared a variety of ways that B2B marketers can approach marketing differently to increase their impact on customers, prospects and the world. Below are some of the key takeaways.

3 Ways Marketing Can Save the World

Marketers as Publishers

In the 21st century, it’s no surprise that the internet has become THE location for conducting business. We know that the majority of customer relations are done through content. Why? The internet allows consumers to self-serve.

We also know that if your B2B brand isn’t there to answer the questions of your prospects, someone else will, and therefore win the business.

And while it’s essential that brands become publishers as a means to provide excellent content and have a presence, it’s an incomplete approach and one that finds marketers stuck.

Why Are We Stuck? Today’s marketers are finding themselves in a black hole of sorts. They continue to pump content into the void. Even when deploying a mix of great tactics, something is missing.

Successful Brands Looking Outside of Business for Inspiration

One of the best frameworks for brands to follow for profitability actually doesn’t come from businesses at all says Carlos. He shares that it will become inevitable that brands learn social entrepreneurship and how it can help guide their business.

Social entrepreneurship is defined by Wikipedia as the use of start-up companies and other entrepreneurs to develop, fund and implement solutions to social, cultural, or environmental issues.

Brands that have followed this model have time and again seen an increase in exposure, awareness and ultimately: leads.

AmEx Open is a great example of an organization that provides valuable insights for their customers and prospects, without creating content that is hyper-focused on their product. They’ve won numerous awards and increased business substantially by creating a community of connected professionals looking to solve common business problems. In fact, it’s their number one source for their small business credit division according to Carlos.

Kraft is another company that is successfully targeting and inspiring their audience to come back again and again to binge on their content (and recipes). In fact, Carlos shared that their online community generates a staggering 19.5M monthly users.

Making The World Better Through Sustainable Development Goals

Over the years, the United Nations has developed a list of 17 goals that are focused on sharing a blueprint of peace and prosperity for people and the planet. Here is the full list of goals from the United Nations website:

There is a large number of enterprise, mid-sized and small businesses that have started to rework their infrastructure to make these goals an integral part of their brand.

One example of such a company is enterprise brand SAP.

Recently, our team partnered on an influencer-driven content program with SAP to highlight three of those core pillars including:

  • Gender Equality
  • Safe Supply Chain
  • Global Education

As a part of this program, we reached out to business leaders and activists supporting these key pillars and included them as part of a podcasting interview series. The whole interactive experience can be found on the SAP website.

Are You Ready to Save the World?

So how exactly can content marketing save the world? According to Carlos, brands that internalize a framework model for how to help and empower people will be the brands that make the best content that exists on the planet while meeting measurable business goals.

For more live updates from the conference, you can follow @TopRank, @leeodden, @azeckman and @CaitlinMBurgess on Twitter. In addition to speaking and tweeting, team members from TopRank Marketing will be live blogging sessions (like this one) throughout the conference so be sure to follow the blog for more.

Disclosure: 3M is a TopRank Marketing client.