New B2B Marketing Research, LinkedIn Sales Navigator & Ad Transparency Updates, Using AI Wisely, & US Digital Ads Top $100B

2019 May 31 IPA The Drum Chart

Digital Ads Are Raking In More Cash Than Ever
A new Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) report shows that 2018 was the first year U.S. digital advertising earnings topped the $100 billion mark, hitting $107.5 billion, up from 2017’s $88.3 billion, led primarily by the strength of mobile and video. Users also spent 22 percent more time on social media properties in 2018 than during 2017, the report details. Adweek

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eMarketer Reduces US Time Spent Estimates for Facebook and Snapchat
U.S. adults are using Instagram more than ever, at an average of 27 minutes daily and expected to increase through 2020, while Facebook and Snapchat have both seen a drop in the average number of minutes of use per day, according to new forecast data from consultancy eMarketer. eMarketer

More Than Half of Marketers Say AI Is Not Meeting Their Needs
Recently-released report data from Forrester Research shows how smart artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t necessarily always being used smartly among marketers, with 9 out of 10 using it but over 50 percent seeing their implementations come up short. Adweek

The Influencer Marketing Statistics You Need to Know [Infographic]
Influencer marketing statistics are explored in a new infographic, including predictions showing the practice is poised to top the $10 billion mark by 2022, and revealing a 1,500 percent increase in searches for information about influencer marketing over the past three years. Social Media Today

LinkedIn Sales Navigator’s New Homepage Brings Alerts to the Forefront
LinkedIn (client) has added a number of new features to its Sales Navigator lead-management dashboard, including updated homepage alerts, and Adweek takes a look at the changes and what they offer digital marketers. Adweek

Social advertising channels 2019: Growth, trends, spend [Report]
Social media advertising spending has risen 27 percent year-over-year, topped by a 44 percent increase for video ads, with accompanying impressions also up 20 percent, some of the results of interest to digital marketers in new first-quarter 2019 report data from Kenshoo’s recently-released trends report. ClickZ

2019 May 31 Statistics Image

Twitter’s MoPub gives publishers impression-level revenue data, links with attribution platforms
Twitter’s mobile advertising exchange MoPub has given mobile app publishers a slew of additional data relating to user acquisition campaign performance, offering potentially easier identification of top revenue-generating users, Twitter recently announced. Marketing Land

LinkedIn Follows Facebook’s Lead with New Ad Transparency Tab on Pages
LinkedIn (client) has brought company pages advertising transparency information, available in a new tab allowing members to easily see six months’ worth of sponsored content data, the platform recently announced. Social Media Today

4 Reasons Emotional Data Is Key for Building Brand Loyalty
A recently-release study by Deloitte Digital examines how emotional data, authentic connections, and clear boundaries can play key roles in building communications and increasing brand loyalty. Adweek

An exclusive look at Binet and Field’s new B2B marketing research
Recently-released marketing research explores how investing in brand and demand work in B2B, and how they can combine to create stronger strategy than when solely relying on lead generation, among other findings of interest to digital marketers. The Drum

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2019 May 31 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at data privacy, consent fatigue, and GDPR by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

The Wagon Wheel Effect Shows the Limits of the Human Brain — Wired

Amazing! This New Gmail Feature Will Let You Know If You’re Being Normal In An Email — ClickHole

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — A Sophisticated Marketer’s Perspective: Lee Odden on Ruling the Content Kingdom — LinkedIn (client)
  • TopRank Marketing — Leading Influencer Marketing Agencies (2019) — Influencer Marketing Hub
  • Lee Odden — What’s Trending: Rise of the Micro-Influencer — LinkedIn (client)
  • Nick Nelson — 10 Tips for Overcoming Mistakes and Obstacles as a Small Business Owner — Small Business Trends

Have you found your own top new influencer marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week?

Thanks for joining us, and we hope you’ll join us again next week for more of the most relevant digital marketing industry news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

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

B2B marketing lessons from home improvement (1)

B2B marketing lessons from home improvement (1)

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

Best-Laid Plans

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

She was such a beauty following her construction last fall.

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

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

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

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

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

Facing Failure

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

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

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

Finding Focus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Source: SEO blog

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

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

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

via GIPHY

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

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

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

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

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

7 Underutilized B2B Content Promotion Channels

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

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

#1 – Influencers

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

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

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

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

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

#2 – Employees

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

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

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

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

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

#3 – Customers

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

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

#4 – Topical Forums

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

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

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

#5 – Industry Associations/Publications

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

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

#6 – Email Segments

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

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

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

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

#7 – Direct Mail

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

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

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

Sophisticated Marketers Guide Quarterly

Find New Audiences for Your Best B2B Content

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

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

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

via GIPHY

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

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

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


Source: SEO blog

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

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

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

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

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

#1 – The Fit Factor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#3 – A Commitment to Co-Creation Collaboration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Source: SEO blog

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

Marekting Tips for Avoiding the Summer Slump

Marekting Tips for Avoiding the Summer Slump

Summer is coming.

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

via GIPHY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip #4 – Create convenient content experiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot Fun in the Summertime

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

*Cue the music*

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

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

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


Source: SEO blog

Self Expression is About Other People

The modern business world is all about conveying a lot of information digitally for those times when you can’t be face to face with your customer. It is the perfect opportunity for a massive company to bring a down-to-earth personable set of interactions to people who they hope to serve, and it’s a chance to say to those people, “Hey, we see you over there and we want to serve you. Come join up and we can help.”

There’s effort required to make this happen. Whether talking internally with employees or externally with customers and partners, a lot of what has to happen comes from being stronger in your ability to express yourself and also to reflect more of who you really are and what matters to you in your interactions and communication. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but you can definitely learn to reach people and interact better, with a little advice.

Self Expression is Really About Other People

I should clarify that self expression as it relates to business is about other people. If you’re simply making art, then that’s yours to figure out. But if you want to reach, connect, and motivate an interaction between people whether inside or outside of a company, that’s about making sure the person you’re trying to reach gets what they need in the process.

Here’s a quick checklist to help guide your thinking about your own communications. You can use this for making videos, for writing emails, compositing an article and more.

  • Start with the goal – All interaction must have a point. If you’re sitting someone down for some guidance, then your goal is to guide that person towards a better path. If your goal is to get your team to sell more warrantee contracts, then you keep that in mind. Write the goal down as you plan your interaction.
  • What has to happen? – When you communicate, there’s a desired result. You want people to buy more printers. You want your employee to take on more responsibility. You want better feedback on project milestones. This is different than the goal. It’s an outcome you want to see happen.
  • What needs saying? – A word of caution: most people overpack every opportunity for interaction with too much. Too many words. Too many points made. Our brains can only handle so much information. If you tell the team there are 11 major priorities, they’ll remember one or two at most.
  • Who is the recipient of this information? – The key to self expression is here. Talk in your words but be mindful of the person who needs to hear them. Most importantly, is there anything you can say that will help people know you mean them specifically and not the masses. People need to see themselves in your words. They have to know you’re talking to them.
  • Mix novelty and familiarity – Did you know that the most popular way to pitch movies in Hollywood is to mix two disparate elements together to explain what makes a film unique? The movie Alien was pitched by Ridley Scott as “Jaws in space.” Novelty – something new and unique to our brain – and familiarity – something we feel comfortable with – are the two main ingredients of expressing yourself in a memorable way.
  • Read it aloud – If you’re working on an article or a letter to the staff, before you publish or send it, read it aloud. Sometimes, our ideas seem smart when we’re typing them out but they don’t come out great on paper. And a secret hint. Sometimes, if the words aren’t coming, you can pull out your smartphone, open the voice recorder, and talk to yourself a bit. Our spoken word often helps us awaken our written word.

If you’d like to read a book about building a much stronger writing voice, check out this fast and easy read I wrote for you!

Fear is the Enemy

Our brains can be real jerks. The inner critic voice can be so much louder than any other voice in your head, and this comes out in people’s attempts to express themselves. While it’s hard to admit to fears for some people, I can tell you that this is what will wreck your attempts at expression.

I’ll look stupid. We are so worried how others perceive us. Sometimes, this means we pull out “big” words when everyday words will do. Stop it. The only time ever to use a really big word is when the audience are all operating at a high intellectual level (like scientists and surgeons and stuff). The rest of the time, say it the way you’d explain it to your aunt.

I’ll appear weak. If there’s anything we hate more than looking stupid, it’s worrying that someone will think you’re weak or vulnerable. The thing is, couched well, your vulnerabilities when paired with your confidence and your clarity of expression can be a very strong appeal to the people you’re trying to reach. The reason Superman movies aren’t all that fun is that we can’t relate to someone who’s invulnerable. The flaws are as important as the strengths.

What if I’m wrong? Okay, this is technically a variation of the “stupid” fear. Especially when we write something, we worry about being wrong. People are always wrong. It’s okay. We check things over. We get a second set of eyes to review our work sometimes. And then we send it out there. If it’s wrong, we’ll recover from that. A lot more of your life than you realize is built around recovering from stumbles.

And Give More Than You Take

Finally, expression is about giving. People choose to connect with those that make them feel fed and nourished. If your work is very self-absorbed, it means you’re needy and seeking praise, and people – even those who love you dearly – will stop paying attention if they feel you take far more than you ask.

My model in selling business advisory services and executive coaching has been to give away 90% or so of what I know for free, and then only charge when it’s time to go further. Seek to give quality information in your interactions. Be generous with your praise. Give people rewards and value when you express yourself, and that will yield value to you.

If ever you need more on expression, I wrote Find Your Writing Voice that might help. Also, you can connect with me directly, if you want to talk about a workshop or coaching on the process. I’m here to serve!

What Your Google Tag Manager Container Should Contain – Whiteboard Friday

Agencies, are you set up for ongoing Google Tag Manager success? GTM isn’t the easiest tool in the world to work with, but if you know how to use it, it can make your life much easier. Make your future self happier and more productive by setting up your GTM containers the right way today. Dana DiTomaso shares more tips and hints in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, Moz fans. My name is Dana DiTomaso. I am President and partner at Kick Point, which is a digital marketing agency based in Edmonton, Alberta. Today I’m going to be talking to you about Google Tag Manager and what your default container in Google Tag Manager should contain. I think if you’re in SEO, there are certainly a lot of things Google Tag Manager can do for you.

But if you’ve kind of said to yourself, “You know, Google Tag Manager is not the easiest thing to work with,” which is fair, it is not, and it used to be a lot worse, but the newer versions are pretty good, then you might have been a little intimidated by going in there and doing stuff. But I really recommend that you include these things by default because later you is going to be really happy that current you put this stuff in. So I’m going to go through what’s in Kick Point’s default Google Tag Manager container, and then hopefully you can take some of this and apply it to your own stuff.

Agencies, if you are watching, you are going to want to create a default container and use it again and again, trust me. 

Tags

So we’re going to start with how this stuff is laid out. So what we have are tags and then triggers. The way that this works is the tag is sort of the thing that’s going to happen when a trigger occurs. 

Conversion linker

So tags that we have in our default container are the conversion linker, which is used to help conversions with Safari.

If you don’t know a lot about this, I recommend looking up some of the restrictions with Safari tracking and ITP. I think they’re at 2.2 at the time I’m recording this. So I recommend checking that out. But this conversion linker will help you get around that. It’s a default tag in Tag Manager, so you just add the conversion linker. There’s a nice article on Google about what it does and how it all works. 

Events

Then we need to track a number of events. You can certainly track these things as custom dimensions or custom metrics if that floats your boat. I mean that’s up to you. If you are familiar with using custom dimensions and custom metrics, then I assume you probably know how to do this. But if you’re just getting started with Tag Manager, just start with events and then you can roll your way up to being an expert after a while. 

External links

So under events, we always track external links, so anything that points out to a domain that isn’t yours.

The way that we track this is we’re looking at every single link that’s clicked and if it does not contain our client’s domain name, then we record it as an external link, and that’s an event that we record. Now remember, and I’ve seen accidents with this where someone doesn’t put in your client’s domain and then it tracks every single click to a different page on your client’s website as an external link. That’s bad.

When you transfer from HTTP to HTTPS, if you don’t update Google Tag Manager, it will start recording links incorrectly. Also bad. But what this is really useful for are things like when you link out to other websites, as you should when you’re writing articles, telling people to find out more information. Or you can track clicks out to your different social properties and see if people are actually clicking on that Facebook icon that you stuck in the header of your website. 

PDF downloads

The next thing to track are PDF downloads.

Now there’s a limitation to this, of course, in that if people google something and your PDF comes out and then they click on it directly from Google, of course that’s not going to show up in your Analytics. That can show up in Search Console, but you’re not going to get it in Analytics. So just keep that in mind. This is if someone clicks to your PDF from a specific page on your website. Again, you’re decorating the link to say if this link contains a PDF, then I want to have this.

Scroll tracking

Then we also track scroll tracking. Now scroll tracking is when people scroll down the site, you can track and fire an event at say 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of the way down the page. Now the thing is with this is that your mileage is going to vary. You will probably pick different percentages. By default, in all of our containers we put 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. Based on the client, we might change this.

An advanced, sort of level up tactic would be to pick specific elements and then when they enter the viewport, then you can fire an event. So let’s say, for example, you have a really important call to action and because different devices are different sizes, it’s going to be a different percentage of the way down the page when it shows up, but you want to see if people got to that main CTA. Then you would want to add an event that would show whether or not that CTA was shown in the viewport.

If you google Google Tag Manager and tracking things in the viewport, there are some great articles out there on how to do it. It’s not that difficult to set up. 

Form submits

Then also form submits. Of course, you’re going to want to customize this. But by default put form submits in your container, because I guarantee that when someone is making your container let’s say for a brand-new website, they will forget about tracking form submits unless you put it in your default container and they look at it and say, “Oh, right, I have to edit that.” So always put form submits in there. 

Tel: & mailto: links

Of course you want to track telephone links and mailto: links. Telephone links should always, always be tappable, and that’s something that I see a lot of mistakes. Particularly in local SEO, when we’re dealing with really small business websites, they don’t make the telephone links tappable. It’s probably because people don’t know how. In case you don’t know how, you just telephone and then a colon and then the telephone number.

<a href="tel:+5555555555">(555) 555-5555</a>

That’s it. That’s all you need to do. Just like a link, except rather than going out to an HTTPS://, you’re going out to a telephone number. That is going to make your visitors’ lives so much easier, particularly on mobile devices. You always want to have those be tappable. So then you can track the number of people who tap on telephone links and people who tap on mailto: links exactly the same way. Now something that I do have to say, though, is that if you are using a call tracking provider, like CallRail for example, which is one that we use, then you’re going to want to shut this off, because then you could end up in double counting.

Particularly if you’re tracking every call made out from your website, then CallRail would have an Analytics integration, and then you would be tracking taps and you might also be tracking telephone clicks. So you can track it if you want to see how many people tap versus picking up the phone and calling the old-fashioned way with landlines. You can also do that, but that’s entirely up to you. But just keep that in mind if you are going to track telephone links.

All pages tracking

Then, of course, all pages tracking. Make sure you’re tracking all of the pages on your website through Google Analytics. So those are the tags. 

Triggers

Next up are the triggers. So I have a tag of external links. Then I need a trigger for external links. The trigger says when somebody clicks an external link, then I want this event to happen.

Clicks

So the event is where you structure the category and then the action and the label. 

External links

The way that we would structure external links, for example, we would say that the category for it is an external link, the action is click, and then the label is the actual link that was clicked for example. You can see you can go through each of these and see where this is happening.

Form submits

Then on things like form submit, for example, our label could be the specific form. 

Tel: & mailto:

On telephone and mailto:, we might track the phone number. 

PDFs

On other things, like PDFs, we might track like the page that this happened on. 

Page scroll

For scroll tracking, for example, we would want to track the page that someone scrolled down on. What I recommend when you’re setting up the event tracking for page scroll, the category should be page scroll, the action should be the percentage of which people scroll down, and then the label should be the URL.

Really think of it in terms of events, where you’ve got the category, which is what happened, the action, which is what did the person do, and the label is telling me more information about this. So actions are typically things like scroll, click, and tap if you’re going to be fancy and track mobile versus desktop. It could be things like form submit, for example, or just submit. Just really basic stuff. So really the two things that are going to tell you the difference are things like categories and labels, and the action is just the action that happened.

I’m really pedantic when it comes to setting up events, but I think in the long term, again, future you is going to thank you if you set this stuff up properly from the beginning. So you can really see that the tag goes to this trigger. Tag to trigger, tag to trigger, etc. So really think about making sure that every one of your tags has a corresponding trigger if it makes sense. So now we’re going to leave you with some tips on how to set up your Tag Manager account.

Tips

1. Use a Google Analytics ID variable

So the first tip is use a Google Analytics ID variable. It’s one of the built-in variables. When you go into Tag Manager and you click on Variables, it’s one of the built-in variables in there. I really recommend using that, because if you hardcode in the GA ID and something happens and you have to change it in the future or you copy that for someone else or whatever it might be, you’re going to forget.

I guarantee you you will forget. So you’re going to want to put that variable in there so you change it once and it’s everywhere. You’re saving yourself so much time and suffering. Just use a Google Analytics ID variable. If you have a really old container, maybe the variable wasn’t a thing when you first set it up. So one of the things I would recommend is go check and make sure you’re using a variable. If you’re not, then make a to-do for yourself to rip out all the hardcoded instances of your GA ID and instead replace it with a variable.

It will save you so much headaches. 

2. Create a default container to import

So the next thing — agencies, this is for you — create a default container to import. Obviously, if you’re working in-house, you’re probably not making Google Tag Manager containers all that often, unless you work at say a homebuilder and you’re making microsites for every new home development. Then you might want to create a default container for yourself. But agency side for sure, you want have a default container that you make so every cool idea that you think of, you think, oh, we need to track this, just put it all in your default container, and then when you’re grabbing it to make one for a client, you can decide, oh, we don’t need this, or yes, we need this.

It’s going to save you a ton of time when you’re setting up containers, because I find that that’s the most labor-intensive part of working with a new Tag Manager container is thinking about, “What is all the stuff I want to include?” So you want to make sure that your default container has all your little tips and tricks that you’ve accumulated over the years in there and documented of course, and then decide on a client-by-client basis what you’re going to leave and what you’re going to keep.

3. Use a naming scheme and folders

Also use a naming scheme and folders, again because you may not be working there forever, and somebody in the future is going to want to look at this and think, “Why did they set it up like this? What does this word mean? Why is this variable called foo?” You know, things that have annoyed me about developers for years and years and years, developers I love you, but please stop naming things foo. It makes no sense to anyone other than you. So our naming scheme, and you can totally steal this if you want, is we go product, result, and then what.

So, for example, we would have our tag for Google Analytics page download. So it would say Google Analytics. This is the product that the thing is going to go to. Event is what is the result of this thing existing. Then what is the PDF download. Then it’s really clear, okay, I need to fix this thing with PDF download. Something is wrong.

It’s kind of weird. Now I know exactly where to go. Again, with folders as well, so let’s say you’ve implemented something such as content consumption, which is a Google Tag Manager recipe that you can grab on our website at Kickpoint.ca, and I’ll make sure to link to it in the transcript. Let’s say you grab that. Then you’re going to want to take all the different tags and triggers that come along with content consumption and toss that into its own folder and then separate it out from all of your basic stuff.

Even if you have everything to start in a folder called Basics or Events or Analytics versus Call Tracking versus any of the other billion different tracking pixels that you have on your website, it’s a good idea to just keep it all organized. I know it’s two minutes now. It is saving you a lifetime of suffering in the future, and the future you, whether it’s you working there or somebody who ends up taking your job five years from now, just make it easier on them.

Especially too, when you think back to say Google Analytics has been around for a long time now. When I go back and look at some of my very, very first analytics that I set up, I might look at it and think, “Why was I doing that?” But if you have documentation, at least you’re going to know why you did that really weird thing back in 2008. Or when you’re looking at this in 2029 and you’re thinking, “Why did I do this thing in 2019?” you’re going to have documentation for it. So just really keep that in mind. 

4. Audit regularly!

Then the last thing is auditing regularly, and that means once every 3, 6, or 12 months. Pick a time period that makes sense for how often you’re going into the container. You go in and you take a look at every single tag, every single trigger, and every single variable. Simo Ahava has a really nice Google Tag Manager sort of auditing tool.

I’ll make sure to link to that in the transcript as well. You can use that to just go through your container and see what’s up. Let’s say you tested out some sort of screen recording, like you installed Hotjar six months ago and you ended up deciding on say another product instead, like FullStory, so then you want to make sure you remove the Hotjar. How many times have you found that you look at a new website and you’re like, “Why is this on here?”

No one at the client can tell you. They’re like, “I don’t know where that code came from.” So this is where auditing can be really handy, because remember, over time, each one of those funny little pixels that you tested out some product and then you ended up not going with it is weighing down your page and maybe it’s just a couple of microseconds, but that stuff adds up. So you really do want to go in and audit regularly and remove anything you’re not using anymore. Keep your Google Tag Manager container clean.

A lot of this is focused on obviously making future you very happy. Auditing will also make future you very happy. So hopefully, out of this, you can create a Google Tag Manager default container that’s going to work for you. I’m going to make sure as well, when the transcript is out for this, that I’m going to include some of the links that I talked about as well as a link to some more tips on how to add in things like conversion linker and make sure I’m updating it for when this video is published.

Thanks so much.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com