B2B Marketing News: Biggest B2B Differentiators Study, Facebook Buys Giphy, LinkedIn Prepares Stories, & Facebook’s New Video Chat

2020 May 22 MarketingCharts Chart

B2B Decision-Maker Survey: COVID-19’s Impact on Marketing, Buying, and Sales
65 percent of enterprise B2B buyers now view online interactions as being more important than traditional vendor conversations, one of several findings of interest to digital marketers contained in newly-released U.S. B2B pandemic response survey data. MarketingProfs

Facebook just bought Giphy
Facebook has acquired popular animated GIF image platform Giphy in a $400 million move that will likely bring deeper integration with both Facebook-owned Instagram and its messaging features, the social media giant announced.Engadget

LinkedIn Stories Is Almost Here: Will It Reinvent the B2B Social Media Landscape?
LinkedIn (client) has tested its variation of the popular ephemeral stories format. When rolled out to the Microsoft-owned platform’s 690 million users, LinkedIn Stories would bring B2B marketers on the platform a new digital storytelling tool option. MarketingProfs

Brand Awareness is Top of Mind in Email Signature Marketing
82 percent of marketers seek brand awareness from email signature marketing, topping the list of objectives in recently-released survey data, which also showed that 48 percent look to drive website traffic via email, while just 19 percent are looking for customer retention, the survey found. MarketingCharts

Google is auditioning candidates to succeed the third-party cookie
With the use of traditional Web tracking cookies largely being abandoned, Google has continued its testing of the firm’s recently-announced Privacy Sandbox alternative, which still works with the ad auction format, the search giant announced. Digiday

ANA Report Finds Most Marketers Have Supplier ‘Diversity’ Programs, About Half Impact Marketing/Ad Services
While some 75 percent of marketing firms incorporate supplier diversity initiatives, just 40 percent is specifically for advertising services, one of several findings of interest to digital marketers in recently-released report data from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). MediaPost

2020 May 22 Statistics Image

Facebook’s ‘Messenger Rooms’ Multi-Participant Video Chat Option is Now Available to All
Facebook has launched its Messenger Rooms video messaging feature with a global release that includes up to 50 video participants and the ability to drop in via Facebook’s feed, the firm recently announced. Social Media Today

Reddit overhauls ad sales, with a new boss from Pinterest
Reddit has tapped a former Pinterest and Google advertising leader in a new move aimed at bringing more brand advertising activity to the platform, a shift that has also seen the firm restructuring its sales team to adjust to changes brought by the global health crisis. Digiday

Pandemic Sentiment Shifts From ‘Acute’ To ‘Transitory,’ Here’s What Consumers Want From Brands
Some 56 percent of global consumers say that they now approve of brands advertising primarily as normal, according to recently-released survey data of interest to online marketers. 10 percent of respondents, however, said that they somewhat disapprove of brands returning to normal advertising, while 5 percent strongly disapprove, the survey noted.MediaPost

Marketers at B2B Firms Tout the Value of Social Media
37 percent of B2B decision-makers see a brand’s social media presence as the biggest online differentiator, according to newly-release survey data, followed by the digital experience and self-service options both at 33 percent, and content marketing and community involvement, both at 31 percent. MarketingCharts

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 May 22 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at “communicating in a crisis” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Freelancer Channels Inner Don Draper to Write $15 Blog for Used Car Dealership — The Hard Times

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • TopRank Marketing — 25 Best Digital Marketing Blogs You Need to Follow in 2020 — Better Business Tools
  • Lee Odden — Marketing Through Uncertain Times: Insights From 15 Experts [PDF] — InsightBrief
  • Lee Odden — 20 Marketing Experts on Content that Helps Sales Reps Sell – Part 1 — Modus
  • Lee Odden — 20 Marketing Experts on Content that Helps Sales Reps Sell – Part 2 — Modus
  • Lee Odden and TopRank Marketing — The Definitive List of 2020 Content Marketing Predictions and Other Goodies — UpScribed
  • Lee Odden — Social Media in Times of Social Distancing Planable Webinar [VIDEO] — Planable
  • TopRank Marketing — 20 Clever Link Building Techniques to Earn High-Quality Backlinks — Kevin Payne
  • Lee Odden — 6 Engaging Webinar Formats to Create More Compelling Content — TwentyThree
  • TopRank Marketing — 25 Best Digital Marketing Blogs You Need to Follow in 2020 — Better Business Tools

Have you found your own top B2B content marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week of news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for joining us this week, and we hope you’ll return again next Friday for more of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. 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.

5 Common Objections to SEO (& How to Respond) – Best of Whiteboard Friday

With marketing budgets taking a hit under the economic strain of COVID-19, advocating for the value SEO can bring to a struggling business is a new take on an old battle. This popular Whiteboard Friday episode by Kameron Jenkins covers five common objections you’ll hear to SEO and how to counter them with smart, researched, fact-based responses — an important skill to brush up on now more than ever.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, everybody. Welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins, and today we’re going to be going through five common objections to SEO and how to respond. Now I know, if you’re watching this and you’re an SEO, you have faced some of these very objections before and probably a lot of others.

This is not an exhaustive list. I’m sure you’ve faced a ton of other objections, whether you’re talking to a potential client, maybe you’re talking to your friend or your family member. A lot of people have misunderstandings about SEO and that causes them to object to wanting to invest in it. So I thought I’d go through some of the ones that I hear the most and how I tend to respond in those situations. Hopefully, you’ll find that helpful.

1. “[Other channel] drives more traffic/conversions, so it’s better.”

Let’s dive in. The number one objection I hear a lot of the time is this other channel, whether that be PPC, social, whatever, drives more traffic or conversions, therefore it’s better than SEO. I want to respond a few different ways depending. 

Success follows investment

So the number one thing I would usually say is that don’t forget that success follows investment.

So if you are investing a lot of time and money and talent into your PPC or social and you’re not really doing much with organic, you’re kind of just letting it go, usually that means, yeah, that other channel is going to be a lot more successful. So just keep that in mind. It’s not inherently successful or not. It kind of reflects the effort you’re putting into it.

Every channel serves a different purpose

Number two, I would say that every channel serves a different purpose. You’re not going to expect social media to drive conversions a lot of the time, because a lot of the time social is for engagement. It’s for more top of the funnel. It’s for more audience development. SEO, a lot of the time that lives at your top and mid-funnel efforts. It can convert, but not always.

So just keep that in mind. Every channel serves a different purpose. 

Assists vs last click only

The last thing I would say, kind of dovetailing off of that, is that assists versus last click only I know is a debate when it comes to attribution. But just keep in mind that when SEO and organic search doesn’t convert as the last click before conversion, it still usually assists in the process. So look at your assisted conversions and see how SEO is contributing.

2. “SEO is dead because the SERPs are full of ads.”



The number two objection I usually hear is SEO is dead because the SERPs are full of ads. To that, I would respond with a question. 

What SERPs are you looking at? 

It really depends on what you’re querying. If you’re only looking at those bottom funnel, high cost per click, your money keywords, absolutely those are monetized.

Those are going to be heavily monetized, because those are at the bottom of the funnel. So if you’re only ever looking at that, you might be pessimistic when it comes to your SEO. You might not be thinking that SEO has any kind of value, because organic search, those organic results are pushed down really low when you’re looking at those bottom funnel terms. So I think these two pieces of research are really interesting to look at in tandem when it comes to a response to this question.

I think this was put out sometime last year by Varn Research, and it said that 60% of people, when they see ads on the search results, they don’t even recognize that they’re ads. That’s actually probably higher now that Google changed it from green to black and it kind of blends in a little bit better with the rest of it. But then this data from Jumpshot says that only about 2% to 3% of all search clicks go to PPC.

So how can these things coexist? Well, they can coexist because the vast majority of searches don’t trigger ads. A lot more searches are informational and navigational more so than commercial. 

People research before buying

So just keep in mind that people are doing a lot of research before buying.

A lot of times they’re looking to learn more information. They’re looking to compare. Keep in mind your buyer’s entire journey, their entire funnel and focus on that. Don’t just focus on the bottom of the funnel, because you will get discouraged when it comes to SEO if you’re only looking there. 

Better together

Also, they’re just better together. There are a lot of studies that show that PPC and SEO are more effective when they’re both shown on the search results together for a single company.

I’m thinking of one by Seer, they did right now, that showed the CTR is higher for both when they’re on the page together. So just keep that in mind. 

3. “Organic drives traffic, just not the right kind.”

The number three objection I hear a lot is that organic drives traffic, just not the right kind of traffic. People usually mean a few different things when they say that. 

Branded vs non-branded

Number one, they could mean that organic drives traffic, but it’s usually just branded traffic anyway.

It’s just people who know about us already, and they’re searching our business name and they’re finding us. That could be true. But again, that’s probably because you’re not investing in SEO, not because SEO is not valuable. I would also say that a lot of times this is pretty easily debunked. A lot of times inadvertently people are ranking for non-branded terms that they didn’t even know they were ranking for.

So go into Google Search Console, look at their non-branded queries and see what’s driving impressions and clicks to the website. 

Assists are important too

Number two, again, just to say this one more time, assists are important too. They play a part in the eventual conversion or purchase. So even if organic drives traffic that doesn’t convert as the last click before conversion, it still usually plays a role.

It can be highly qualified

Number three, it can be highly qualified. Again, this is that following the investment thing. If you are actually paying attention to your audience, you know the ways they search, how they search, what terms they search for, what’s important to your brand, then you can bring in really highly qualified traffic that’s more inclined to convert if you’re paying attention and being strategic with your SEO.

4. “SEO takes too long”

Moving on to number four, that objection I hear is SEO takes too long. That’s honestly one of the most common objections you hear about SEO. 

SEO is not a growth hack

In response to that, I would say it’s not a growth hack. A lot of people who are really antsy about SEO and like “why isn’t it working right now” are really looking for those instant results.

They want a tactic they can sprinkle on their website for instant whatever they want. Usually it’s conversions and revenue and growth. I would say it’s not a growth hack. If you’re looking at it that way, it’s going to disappoint you. 

Methodology + time = growth

But I will say that SEO is more methodology than tactic. It’s something that should be ingrained and embedded into everything you do so that over time, when it’s baked into everything you’re doing, you’re going to achieve sustained growth.

So that’s how I respond to that one. 

5. “You can’t measure the ROI.”

Number five, the last one and probably one of the most frustrating, I’m sure this is not exclusive to SEO. I know social hears it a lot. You can’t measure the ROI, therefore I don’t want to invest in it, because I don’t have proof that I’m getting a return on this investment. So people kind of tend to mean, I think, two things when they say this.

A) Predicting ROI

Number one, they really want to be able to predict ROI before they even dive in. They want assurances that if I invest in this, I’m going to get X in return, which there are a lot of, I think, problems with that inherently, but there are some ways you can get close to gauging what you’re going to get for your efforts. So what I would do in this situation is use your own website’s data to build yourself a click-through rate curve so that you know the click-through rate at your various rank positions.

By knowing that and combining that with the search volume of a keyword or a phrase that you want to go after, you can multiply the two and just say, “Hey, here’s the expected traffic we will get if you will let me work on improving our rank position from 9 to 2 or 1” or whatever that is. So there are ways to estimate and get close.

A lot of times, when you do improve, you’re focusing on improving one term, you’re likely going to get a lot more traffic than what you’re estimating because you tend to end up ranking for so many more longer tail keywords that bring in a lot of additional search volume. So you’re probably going to even underestimate when you do this. But that’s one way you can predict ROI. 

B) Measuring ROI



Number two here, measuring ROI is a lot of times what people want to be doing.

They want to be able to prove that what they’re doing is beneficial in terms of revenue. So one way to do this is to get the lifetime value of the customer, multiply that by the close rate so that you can have a goal value. Now if you turn on your conversions and set up your goals in Google Analytics, which you I think should be doing, this assumes that you’re not an e-commerce site.

There’s different tracking for that, but a similar type of methodology applies. If you apply these things, you can have a goal value. So that way, when people convert on your site, you start to rack up the actual dollar value, the estimated dollar value that whatever channel is producing. So you can go to your source/medium report and see Google organic and see how many conversions it’s producing and how much value.

This same thing applies if you go to your assisted conversions report. You can see how much value is in there as well. I think that’s really beneficial just to be able to show people like, “Look, it is generating revenue.My SEO that’s getting you organic search traffic is generating value and real dollars and cents for you.” So those are some of the most common objections that I hear.

I want to know what are some of the ones that you hear too. So pop those in the comments. Let me know the objections you hear a lot of the time and include how you’re either struggling to respond or find the right response to people or something that you found works as a response. Share that with us. We’d all love to know. Let’s make SEO better and something that people understand a lot better. So that’s it for this week’s Whiteboard Friday.

Come back again next week for another one.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

The MozCon Virtual 2020 Initial Agenda

It’s the question that’s been on plenty of people’s minds: What’s up with MozCon this year?

We’re happy to report that 2020’s MozCon is on like Donkey Kong, and as you can tell from its brand-new name, the format this year is just a tad bit different. MozCon 2020 is now MozCon Virtual, an online conference experience delivering every ounce of digital marketing expertise you expect in-person with the safety and security of social distancing at home.

Today, we’re here to tell you all about it — changes, challenges, nitty-gritty details, who’s speaking and what you’ll learn, and more!

Here’s the skinny on MozCon Virtual

MozCon Virtual will take place from the comfort of your at-home office space across July 14 & 15, 2020. Business on top, social distancing sweatpants on the bottom — you’ll be cozier than ever while learning all the latest and greatest in the world of SEO.

Twenty-two industry thought leaders will walk you through the hottest topics of 2020, covering everything from SEO automation to modern content promotion to strategies for handling keyword research in the midst of a crisis. You’ll see fondly familiar faces and exciting new names to the MozCon stage, and you can rest assured that we’re keeping the bar as high as it’s ever been for content quality.

Additionally, we know that budgets are tight right now. We want to do our part to help by making MozCon Virtual as accessible to everyone as we can. Tickets are now priced at $129. This also includes full access to the MozCon video bundle once it’s released!

Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

Changes, challenges, & nitty-gritty details

A note about transparency and making really hard decisions

We’re not going to lie — organizing this year’s MozCon was a challenge. As it became more and more clear that an in-person event was neither feasible nor responsible (not to mention illegal here in Washington state!), we had a relatively short window of time to pivot from a 1,600-attendee event that we ran year after year using a concrete, smooth-as-butter process, to the virtual unknown. (Pardon the pun.)

There were many, many meetings. There was research and projections and debate, and more than one idea changed form three or four times before it took shape.

In the end, it came down to what was best for our community. MozCon has never operated from a profit standpoint — most years we aim to break even — but even with the risk and cost associated with such a monumental change to the event, we knew the show must go on. SEO doesn’t just stop. And right now, it’s picking up speed: People are turning to the internet to solve their problems now more than ever before, and businesses of all stripes are depending on that online visibility to sustain them through hardship. SEOs and digital marketers still need access to cutting-edge thought leadership, techniques, and strategies, and MozCon can deliver — even if it means we only get to daydream about all the high fives, fist bumps, and Roger hugs.

Not your typical marketing couchference

It was important that we find ways to maintain that special MozCon magic that makes folks excited to wake up extra early on a Monday morning, don their conference badge, and skip happily to the Washington State Convention Center for a day full of educational goodness.

We’re gonna miss the snacks — that’s just the truth. Doughnuts and coffee aside, we’ve energized our virtual conference with that snazzy MozCon spirit you look forward to every year:

  • The highest caliber speakers and topics in town: Twenty-two of digital marketing’s top experts will share their very best advice, strategies, tactics, and research over two jam-packed days of learning. You’ll have all their decks available for download, and the new choice of attending the talks that most interest you.
  • Friendly neighborhood Mozzers emceeing the event: MozCon stage superstars Cyrus Shepard and Britney Muller will keep the sparkle going between session.
  • Interactive Q&A with the experts: You’ll be able to participate in live Q&A sessions with speakers to answer your most burning digital marketing questions and quandaries.
  • Virtual networking with Birds of a Feather breakout sessions: Birds of a Feather tables are a lunchtime hit every single year. And we’ve heard your feedback: networking is a huge part of the MozCon experience. That’s why we’re introducing Birds of a Feather virtual discussions — a special online experience where you’ll be able to join expert-hosted events, connect with like-minded marketers, and forge professional relationships through the magic of the internet.
  • Charitable donations: Our belief in giving back hasn’t changed just because we’re going online. For every ticket sold we’ll be making a donation, with more details to come as we draw closer to showtime.
  • Awesome partners: MozCon is fortunate to have the support of our fantastic sponsors who have stuck with us through all the changes this year. They’ll be sharing their expertise in special hosted breakout groups. Curious about who our partners are? Check them out: 97th Floor, Base Search Marketing, CallRail, Crowd Content, Duda, GatherUp, and PAGES!

Two days chock full of conference goodness

We know it’s tough to take a full three days away from your day job, so we’re approaching MozCon Virtual with multi-track options to let attendees choose their own conference adventure — with full access to every talk via the MozCon video bundle once the conference is over.

A global experience at a more accessible price

We’re streaming MozCon!

Every year we’ve heard our community ask: I can’t make the trip. Will you be streaming MozCon? To our friends around the world, we’re glad to be able to answer yesthis year, MozCon will be fully available to remote attendees. While those in particularly opposite timezones may be enjoying the show in your jammies, for the first time MozCon will serve you on your sofa. And you won’t miss out on a single session — every ticket holder will have full access to the MozCon video bundle after the event, meaning you can re-watch your favorites and catch up on any you missed.

MozCon quality at a price more folks can afford: Tickets are now $129

We’ve lowered the price to attend this year’s conference for a couple of reasons.

One, while there are still some pretty significant costs to throwing a large virtual conference, those costs don’t include some of our biggest-ticket items, such as a conference space and food & beverage. Delicious treats and comfy seats are a real investment!

And two, times are really darn tough right now. We know agencies, brands, and freelancers are struggling in the midst of the economic downturn, and that it’s more important than ever to hone skills and build new ones. We originally lowered ticket prices by about 40%. Then, based on community feedback and suggestions, we decided to forego the idea of shipping out swag and snacks and lowered them again — to the tune of $129.

Every MozCon ticket purchased also includes full access to the MozCon video bundle, a $349 value. Our video bundles are professionally produced and fully shareable with your team, so you can keep the learning going throughout the rest of the year and revisit the talks that mattered most.

Register for MozCon Virtual


Initial agenda

Ready to explore what we’ve got planned for this year? Check out our current speakers and topics — and stay tuned for more information as the agenda evolves!

Alexis Sanders

Senior SEO Account Manager, Merkle
The Science of Seeking Your Customer

Users are at the core of everything we do in modern SEO. However, finding and understanding audiences can be daunting. Alexis will cover how to find your audience, share tools that are available for all price points, and show ways in which she’s found audience research to be useful as an SEO.

Andy Crestodina

Co-founder and CMO, Orbit Media
Thought Leadership and SEO: The 3 Key Elements and Search Ranking Strategies

Everyone wants to do it, but no one really knows what it is. So what is thought leadership? What isn’t it? And how does it affect search rankings?

This presentation is a data-rich perspective on the oh-so-popular topic of thought leadership, filled with practical takeaways for becoming an authority. And it’s all about the relationship between thought leadership and SEO. We’ll see how the research answers the questions and informs the tactics: Can brands be thought leaders? Can it be outsourced? Do you need to publish research? Or strong opinion? And how does it attract links and authority, rankings, and qualified visitors? Learn how a personal brand combines with content to drive big wins in SEO.

Britney Muller

Senior SEO Scientist, Moz
TBD

Last year, Britney wowed the crowd with a bevy of new research, data, and actionable tactics for understanding and winning featured snippets. We’re still piecing together all the intricate details of this year’s talk, so keep an ear to the ground as we continue to evolve our agenda!

Brian Dean

Founder, Backlinko
How to Promote Your Content Like a Boss

Creating content is easy. But getting people to see your content? That’s a different story. Brian Dean shares over a dozen practical strategies that you can use to spread the word about your latest blog post, podcast episode, or YouTube video.

Casie Gillette

Senior Director of Digital, KoMarketing
Counterintuitive Content: How New Trends Have Disrupted Years of Bad Advice

Content marketers don’t have it easy. We’re constantly adapting to our ever-shifting landscape and juggling an overwhelming amount of information and advice: Do we produce as much content as possible? Should we focus on quality, while still maintaining consistent schedules? And now, what about YouTube, voice search, and even TikTok?

The fact is, there’s no one way to do content marketing. Casie will showcase content in an entirely new light, with ideas and tips on how you can start creating content on your own terms.

Dana DiTomaso

President and partner, Kick Point
TBD

MozCon veterans know the value and vibrancy Dana brings to the stage, and this year will be no exception. Be on the lookout for juicy details about her 2020 talk — we can’t wait to share.

David Sottimano

VP, Keyphraseology
Everyday Automation for Marketers

As a general rule, we shouldn’t be doing things that a computer can do better. However, a lot of automation is achieved through programming expertise — and that expertise isn’t usually a marketer’s forte. In this session, you’ll learn how to gather data, use machine learning, and automate everyday tasks for marketers using low-code or no-code solutions.

Flavilla Fongang

Brand Strategist, 3 Colours Rule
How to Go Beyond Marketing for Clients: The Value of a Thriving Brand Ecosystem

Too many marketers serve their clients the bare minimum of what’s expected from an agency. To stand out among the crowd, cultivate real loyalty, and maximize the lifetime value of your clients, you have to go beyond mere marketing — developing a thriving brand ecosystem that aligns with the brand’s ultimate goals. Flavilla Fongang shares her tried-and-true framework for optimizing the customer journey, improving acquisition and retention, and going beyond what’s expected to serve your clients well.

Francine Rodriguez

Manager of Customer Success, WordStream
Let It Go: How to Embrace Automation and Get Way More Done

Let the robot uprising begin! We’ve all heard horror stories about the dangers of automating your tasks, but now is not the time to deny yourself extra help. Robots never sleep. They don’t get tired or overwhelmed by their to-do lists, and they’re ready to work round-the-clock to accomplish whatever task we set before them. In this talk, you’ll explore all the areas were automation is kicking butt in PPC — and how you can harness the power of robots to make more time for other efforts.

Heather Physioc

Group Connections Director, Discoverability, VMLY&R
Competitive Advantage in a Commoditized Industry

SEO isn’t dead — it’s commoditized. In a world where search companies are a dime a dozen and brands tout bland “unique selling propositions” that aren’t unique at all, how can you avoid drowning in the sea of sameness? What are you doing that’s any different from every other SEO firm? In this talk, you’ll learn how to find, activate, and articulate your competitive advantage. Learn how to identify unique strengths and innovative offerings that equate to competitive advantage through these real, working examples so you can bring them to life in search. You’ll leave with actionable tips and homework to help your search business stand out — and that you can use with clients to help them find their competitive edge, too.

Izzi Smith

Technical SEO Analyst, Ryte
How to Be Ahead of the (CTR) Curve

Let’s face it: Carrying out SEO magic is all in vain when you’re forgetting about how your brand and products are being surfaced in the SERPs. By not properly analyzing or enhancing our organic CTR, we’re greatly limiting our potential. Izzi will help you create the perfect SERP engagement strategy by covering practical ways to uplift your significant CTR, such as remedying your critical keyword rankings that could soon be lost, leveraging brand-empowering entity features (and assessing the risks of doing so), more intelligent testing of rich & featured snippet optimizations, and a whole lot more. CTR-you-ready?? You better be!

Joy Hawkins

Owner, Sterling Sky Inc.
Google My Business: Battling Bad Info & Safeguarding Your Search Strategy

What’s the harm in a little misinformation here and there? In the realm of local SEO, Joy Hawkins is here to outline exactly that. When it comes to local search and Google My Business, it can be make or break for your campaigns. Follow real data from a recent case study that illustrates why strategic decisions should be based on accurate information — and what can happen when that info is bad, wrong, or just plain incomplete.

Mike King

Managing Director, iPullRank
TBD

Mike redefined technical SEO and its importance in our industry back in 2016. In 2018, he taught us everything we didn’t know about SEO. This year, he’s back to share the hottest technical tactics to uplevel your efforts, plus the case studies and data that should be guiding your decisions.

Dr. Peter J. Meyers

Marketing Scientist, Moz
Moving Targets: Keywords in Crisis

Too often, we take a once-and-done approach to keyword research, but Google changes at the pace of information, and that pace speeds up even more during a crisis. How do we do keyword research in fast-paced industries and during world-changing moments? Dr. Pete provides concrete tactics for adaptive keyword research and spotting trends as they happen.

Phil Nottingham

Brand and Video Marketing Strategist, Phil Nottingham Ltd.
How to Build a Global Brand Without a Global Budget

As funnel-based marketing becomes less effective and harder to measure, “building a brand” is frequently touted as the panacea for all marketer’s woes. But it’s unclear how this can be achieved scalably and with a limited budget. Large enterprises resort to huge creative advertising campaigns that get their names out there by force of spend alone — but this isn’t realistic for the smaller companies and the number of impressions is not the number of people impressed. In this session, Phil explains how modern brands are built through advocacy more than awareness alone, offering a deliverable method of brand marketing to radically shake up your content strategy.

Rob Ousbey

VP Product, Moz
TBD

Rob is no stranger to the MozCon stage — he’s graced it in the past as emcee, and in 2019 he covered the intimidating topic of running your own SEO tests (and how to do it right.) While we’re still nailing down the details of his 2020 talk, we’re confident that this year’s topic will be every bit as impressively daunting.

Robin Lord

Consultant, Distilled
Whatever You Do, Put Billboards in Seattle – Getting Brand Awareness Data from Google

How can you harness the vast power of Google data to gain special insight into city- and product-level brand awareness? Robin will lead us on a journey through his Google Trends methodology to use Adwords search volume data for better brand intelligence.

Ross Simmonds

CEO, Foundation
Designing a Content Engine: Going from Ideation to Creation to Distribution

What does it take to develop a content engine that drives results? In this presentation, Ross will share data around the power of having a content engine, tools & strategies for content ideation, tools and tactics for content creation, and frameworks that brands can use to ensure that their content is distributed effectively after hitting publish. This presentation will help you not only uncover content-market fit, but also capitalize on it.

Russ Jones

Principal Search Scientist, Moz
I Wanna Be Rich: Making Your Consultancy Profitable

How will your company weather the next update? How will you avoid layoffs and salary cuts? Being a master of SEO doesn’t guarantee that your consultancy will succeed. After a decade and a half of experience, Russ Jones will outline the techniques that will keep your clients happy and your bottom line healthy.

Sarah Bird

CEO, Moz
Welcome to MozCon Virtual + the State of the Industry

Sarah has a storied history of kicking MozCon off with a bright, sparkly bang. The fearless leader of Moz will be welcoming each and every one of us to this year’s virtual event, laying out all the pertinent details of the conference, and setting the tone for two jam-packed days of learning with a look at the State of the Industry.

Shannon McGuirk

Head of PR & Content, Aira
Great Expectations: The Truth About Digital PR Campaigns

In her talk, Shannon will challenge the desire for virality over consistency when it comes to digital PR and link building campaigns, while exploring the impact on the industry, team morale, and client expectations. By honestly sharing her own shortcomings, she’ll push you to learn from your own campaign failures using tried and tested frameworks that’ll mean you can face any creative campaign or outreach struggle head-on.

Wil Reynolds

Founder & Vice President of Innovation, Seer InteractiveThe CMO Role Has Been Disrupted – Are You Ready for Your New Boss?

CMOs have the shortest tenure in the c-suite, and the CMO role has been eliminated at some of the largest brands. CEOs are now asking tougher and tougher questions about the value of marketing — and oftentimes marketers are not prepared.

Connecting your data and building your data flywheel is one way to support the swift answers CEOs expect from their CMOs. We need to get stronger at bridging our day-to-day work to the value it drives. And more than ever, “brand lift” isn’t enough to satisfy CEOs.

This presentation will start at the top. How businesses are run, how CEOs talk, and how we as search marketers can use the data we have access to everyday in new ways to answer the questions of the c-suite and raise our visibility and value in organizations.


We hope to see your smiling faces online in July!

Thanks to each and every one of you for your patience as we hammered out the details of this year’s conference, for the questions you’ve asked and the honest feedback you’ve given us. We’re super excited to try out something new this year! Join us this July for our first MozCon Virtual and let’s explore the future of digital marketing together:

Yes, I’m going to MozCon!

How to Measure Changing Marketing Goals During a Crisis

Seated man looking a monitor of marketing goals.

Seated man looking a monitor of marketing goals.

In recent months, I’ve been listening to Paramore’s song “Hard Times” a lot. Their 2017 hit talks about struggling to overcome challenging circumstances above ’80s-inspired new wave pop. It’s a bop, as the kids say, and confronts hardship — truthful and emphatic with a spoonful of sugar.

via GIPHY

During this global health crisis, I’m sure most marketers want to wake up fine, be told that they’re alright, and — in their weakest moments — have “wonder[ed] why [we] even try.”

While we have no control over the state of the world, we do have control over how we react or work in tandem with it. With data, we get a glimpse into how our respective markets have been impacted, and it can inform a new perspective and next steps. Let’s take a look at how the pandemic affects data and analytics, and if B2B marketers need to shift their pre-pandemic goals.

Examine Pre- & Post-Crisis Data, Then Decide If Goals Need Updating

This may be the first time in our lifetimes where the whole world is going through the same crisis, but that doesn’t mean that all businesses are being affected in the same way. Some businesses within industries like tech, religious goods, home improvement, and health and fitness are finding themselves in higher demand. Other industries see buyers backing away from the table or putting processes on hold, waiting for more certain times.

Since stay-at-home orders across the U.S. started in early March, we now have enough data to see how this time has impacted shopping and purchasing. We can examine market trends — for example, has search volume around your target keywords changed since March? If so, how? Look at website traffic and revenue data for the last 90 days and compare it to pre-crisis and average or seasonal data. It should be evident whether your business is growing or slowing.

via GIPHY

Both camps can benefit from an update in goals. I say “update” rather than “pivot” because sales expectations haven’t disappeared. The journey has just changed.

Businesses that are experiencing increased demand want to become as visible and available to their customers as possible while supplies last, while those with the short end of the stick want to mitigate sales losses and prepare for the end of the crisis. An update to marketing goals may bring changes to strategies, which brings changes to how we measure performance.

[bctt tweet=”“Sales expectations haven’t disappeared. The journey has just changed.” @birdie_zepeda” username=”toprank”]

Ensure Your Approach Fits Updated Goals

For Sales-Centric Goals

SEO

As shared in a previous SEO for B2B Marketers post, we are seeing reports that both B2B and B2C brands have seen increases in website traffic, improving 13 percent in March 2020 compared to February, according to HubSpot benchmark data. Buying online is even more popular and many users are using search engines to find online stores.

Consequently, those with sales-centric goals should focus on optimizing landing pages with high conversion rates and that target keywords for the bottom of the sales funnel (i.e. Intent, Purchase, and Customer Loyalty).

Content

Even if growing brand awareness isn’t the primary target of your updated crisis goals, it’s important to update copy to reflect the tone of current times. Customers or clients may not want to partner with someone who isn’t acknowledging that the way of the world has changed, even though it may be temporary.

This allows for the opportunity to ensure high trafficked pages have calls to action that are relevant for visitors that navigate or land there. That way, you can help customers best find what they’re searching for during this time.

Paid Advertisements

Similar to SEO efforts, focusing on search queries or campaigns that are high converters or at the bottom of the funnel can make the most of your ad spend. If possible, consider increasing ad spend where you’re already seeing great returns.

For Branding-Centric Goals

via GIPHY

We’re seeing marketers anticipate longer sales cycles by shifting focus from explicit sales to brand awareness for when the crisis begins to settle, so that customers and clients think of your business first when they’re ready to act. For example, just because I can’t travel right now doesn’t mean I’m not dreaming of being on a beach or visiting my family once travel restrictions are lifted!

Content & Influencer Marketing

Content with a distinct voice is at the center of any brand awareness campaign. It supports SEO efforts by creating content for gaps in coverage of top- and middle-of-funnel search queries. It builds credibility and thought leadership when paired with industry leaders and influencers. As audiences become more skeptical of brand marketing and tired of in these uncertain times, we’re here for you ads, unique content can build relationships.

Find your voice and work to make it stand out and provide value to your audience.

SEO

Identifying keywords and optimizing content for the top and middle of the sales funnel (such as: Awareness, Discovery, and Evaluation) supports brand awareness efforts and can help you reach sales goals without coming off as “salesy.” While your customer may not be ready today, you’re proactively helping them make a buying decision.

Paid Advertisements

If you find your budget is smaller, target smarter. Are there geographies that are or aren’t buying? Can your targeting better reflect your converting demographic? Can you focus on keywords or tactics that have a better return on advertising spend (ROAS)?

If you find your budget is unchanged or has even increased, don’t be afraid to try new tactics to gain visibility. This can come in the form of display campaigns, social media promotions, or commercials on digital media platforms.

[bctt tweet=”“Content with a distinct voice is at the center of any brand awareness campaign. It supports SEO efforts by creating content for gaps in coverage of top-and-middle-of-funnel search queries.” @birdie_zepeda” username=”toprank”]

Measurement for New Times (KPIs)

Organic Search & Content Marketing

  • increase in impressions
  • improvement in ranking/position for target keywords
  • increase in organic traffic
  • increase in conversions

Paid Advertisements

  • improved ROAS
  • increased click-through rates (CTR)
  • increase in conversions

Social Media or Influencer Marketing

  • increase in impressions
  • increase in engagement
    • likes, shares
  • brand mentions in social and earned media
  • referral traffic to website from social

Hard Times Feeling Easier?

via GIPHY

These hard times are trying, but we hope in covering this topic that times start to feel a bit easier.

If hard times were to be easier with some extra support or guidance, reach out to TopRank Marketing to learn how we can help.


Source: SEO blog

Day 4,777: Remote Work Tips From 13+ Years As A Distance Marketer

Hand marking days on a chalkboard image.

Hand marking days on a chalkboard image.

Today is day 4,777.

Not days quarantined, but days working remotely.

On Monday, March 23, 2007 I started working remotely, and 4,777 days later I still do.

A staple aspect of my daily work life that had been the exception for most marketers is now — at least temporarily — the rule, with most people working from home due to the global health crisis.

Having been a remote worker for a long time, I wanted to share the helpful practices that I wish I’d known when first starting out, and expand on my previous article “Remote Communication Opportunities For B2B Marketers.”

Many have been working remotely much longer than me, and each one will have their own stories of remote work successes and snafus.

According to my “days-since” calculator, my 4,777 days of remote work has been comprised of:

  • 412,732,800 seconds
  • 6,878,880 minutes
  • 114,648 hours
  • 4777 days
  • 682 weeks and 3 days
  • 13.08 years

That’s a lot of remote work time, yet for me I wouldn’t want it any other way, as I’ve found that the many advantages of working remotely outnumber those of traditional business office work settings.

Remote Work Has Changed Forever

How cataclysmically have the changes brought about by the pandemic collectively affected perceptions surrounding remote work, and what lasting changes will forever alter how — and especially where — we work?

Survey data has begun to show that people are increasingly seeing remote work as being at least as efficient and in some cases even more effective than traditional pre-pandemic office-based work.

65 percent of B2B decision makers now view their new work model as being as effective or more effective than pre-pandemic models, an increase of 5 percent over just one month, as shown in the following chart from McKinsey.

B2B Remote Sales Model Chart McKinsey

Even with dismal unemployment rates, new remote work job opportunities have begun to expand, as Entrepreneur recently explored in “These 50 Companies Are Growing and Hiring Remotely Right Now.”

Let’s take a look at five helpful practices I’ve learned during my 13-plus year stint of remote work, including a third option that sits squarely between traditional work-spaces and the work-from-home model.

1 — Create Your Own Separate & Pleasant Physical Workspace

It’s helpful to create your own separate physical workspace that’s both pleasant and conductive to productive remote work. Whether it’s a dedicated room in your home where you’ll be doing the bulk of your work, a makeshift office set up in a garage or attic space, or a co-working space in another location, having a physical place — no matter how small — that you can leave at the end of the workday is a helpful way to separate your personal and professional life.

When it comes to where you physically work, another option to consider is leasing your own private office space. This can be an ideal way to work remotely while also keeping home life separated from business, although depending on your location office space can be expensive.

I’m lucky enough to live in a city with inexpensive office space where I’ve kept a private office for over 13 years, and I highly recommend this approach when possible. It combines most of the advantages of traditional offices in a corporate environment with the benefits of working remotely.

2 — Implement and Stick To a Firm Schedule

I’ve always found it helpful to build a regular schedule into each remote workday, starting and ending at predetermined times as much as possible.

At the other end of the remote work spectrum are situations where you can take advantage of the flexibility of certain remote schedules, and work as needed throughout each 24-hour period. This will depend on your particular company, duties, and the value you place on either regular work hours or the freedom of work-time flexibility.

Whichever method you choose, during that first year of remote work it’s helpful to devise your own personalized schedule that pulls in some of the best elements from your previous office location in order to bring a sense of familiarity and organization to your new working environment.

3 — Gain Energy By Embracing Remote Work’s Advantages

Although they may be difficult to find early on while you’re adjusting to remote work, it can be helpful to take the time to learn and savor the advantages of working remotely, especially for those working from a home office.

Particularly if your remote work situation isn’t a permanent one, it’s beneficial to take the time to appreciate the little things that working remotely provides — whether it’s sharing a lunch with your partner or children, taking a break-time walk in a new nearby area, or simply enjoying some extra time you’ve saved by not having to contend with a lengthy work commute.

Once stay-at-home safety measures are a thing of the past, another advantage of remote work to explore will be the ability to work from a variety of locations, which can help keep your B2B marketing work fresh and provide extra energy as you bring your laptop office to different spots in your city — and eventually as the pandemic subsides — state, country, and internationally.

Remote work situations will likely become permanent for many in the months and years ago, while a variety of hybrid scenarios may also proliferate, such as splitting the work-week between remote and time at the company office.

4 — Creatively Insulate Yourself From Distraction

Just as in a traditional office environment, it’s smart to minimize distractions as much as possible, so that you can use remote work to achieve a newfound focus on your projects.

If working from home, be sure the people in your home know your working schedule, and encourage them to connect with you only during set times such as over lunch or breaks.

Some remote workers like to get outside when possible, especially if distractions threaten to interfere with important meetings or projects. Other remote workers chose to wear noise-cancelling headphones or to listen to music while working if noisy distractions are otherwise unavoidable.

5 — Utilize Powerful Remote Collaboration Software

During the Internet’s amazing 50-year history we’ve never had such powerful remote collaboration software available as we do now, and during the pandemic more people than ever have learned to use tools such as Zoom and Slack.

Marketers typically use a vast number of tools daily, and thankfully nearly all can be used successfully in remote work settings, as our senior operations strategist Anne Leuman recently explored in “5 Examples of Effective B2B Content Marketing in Times of Crisis,” also showing how marketers are adjusting messaging during the pandemic.

Offering a complete remote work operating system, our client monday.com has been sharing the fascinating stories of how its team has been finding success during the pandemic in a series of team member portraits called #MyRemoteLife, and publishing helpful information such as “19 WFH Stats That Might Surprise You.”

Whatever tools you work with, in a remote work setting it’s just as important as in a traditional office environment to make sure that all your hardware and software are fully set up and ready for marketing action.

Bonus 6 — Implement Remote-Friendly Tech Gadgets

As with a traditional business office, remote workers should set up the technology hardware necessary for doing your best work, whether it’s a second, third, or fourth monitor, or a WiFi signal extender.

The size and number of monitors you work with is a personal preference, and may be limited by your laptop or desktop’s graphic cards.

For me, I found the jump in productivity of going from two monitors to three was much more noticeable than the move long ago from one to two.

I first worked with a multiple-monitor setup all the way back in the 1980s, when I used three monitors in a multiple Commodore Amiga computer system.

Lane Ellis Triple Commdore Amiga Monitors

Technology and marketing have both changed significantly during the intervening years, yet thankfully much also still remains the same, such as the importance of trust in marketing and the power of telling a good story.

Get Closer To Your Projects Than Ever Through Remote Work

A properly set up remote work environment can provide a positive and distraction-free place to focus intensely on your projects, and research continues to emerge showing that this is a very real advantage of working outside of a traditional office environment.

Every successful remote worker has their own favorite productivity and well-being tips, and our team at TopRank Marketing has penned the following recent remote work articles offering additional insight:

There’s never been a better time to tackle remote work, and the challenges and opportunities created by a workforce that will likely continue to make this switch in numbers the world has never seen, will combine to make this an era unlike any other.

As B2B marketers, even if we continue to work from the traditional office building, we’ll be working with a new era of clients, associates, and business partners featuring more remote workers than ever — a grand experiment with unique outcomes and possibly unforeseen consequences.

Looking for help with your B2B marketing? Contact us today and find out why clients such as LinkedIn, Adobe, Dell, 3M, Slack, and Oracle have chosen TopRank Marketing, and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and our YouTube channel.


Source: SEO blog

Break Free B2B Marketing: Latane Conant of 6sense on Reinventing the CMO Role

Latane Conant

Latane Conant

What’s in a job title? In my tenure as a marketer, I’ve met gurus who don’t live on mountaintops, ninjas who don’t know martial arts, and evangelists who don’t preach on Sunday. 

At worst, these creative job titles are pure puffery. But at best, they serve as a statement of purpose. I’m thinking of titles like Shep Hyken’s Chief Amazement Officer, or Ann Handley as Chief Content Officer: They tell us something about what the person — and their organization — values.

Latne Conant from 6sense has a subtly unusual job title: Chief Market Officer. She dropped the ‘ing’ from ‘Marketing,’ and that tiny change signals a major shift in the way she approaches her job. Instead of focusing on the verb of marketing — what tactics to deploy to reach an audience —  her job is to deeply understand the market, the people her brand is trying to reach.

For Latane, getting rid of that ‘ing’ makes all the difference in turning marketers into revenue-generating dynamos. In her Break Free B2B interview with our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis, Latane elaborated on how 6sense’s approach is unique, what technologies they use, and how they’ve achieved some truly impressive results.

[bctt tweet=”“If I am engaging accounts more effectively than my competition, I will generate more pipeline, I’ll win more often, I’ll have bigger deals, and I will set my relationship off with those customers better.” #B2BMarketing @LataneConant @6senseInc” username=”toprank”]

Break Free B2B Interview with Latane Conant


Timeline and Highlights

:58 – How can CMOs better understand customer insight in the age of the “dark funnel?”

2:52 – Changing focus from the tactics of marketing to knowing your audience

4:00 – The Chief Market Officer – losing the “ing”

6:45 – Not accepting limitations in pursuing a career

7:29 – Getting what you want is easy; knowing what you want is hard

8:30 – The Fun Factor in managing a team

9:00 V2MOM and organization

10:15 – If you’re not effing up, you’re not pushing the envelope hard enough

12:21 – Inverting the org chart — leading from the bottom

13:45 – Leads are not the primary measure of success

16:10 – Marketing is a revenue team

17:25 – Engagement is the new oil

18:45 – The new standard for marketing executives

Susan:

You were recently quoted saying that today’s CMOs need to be the masters of understanding customer insights and putting them to use. So are CMOs progressing in this area of insights, or is it just still a massive black hole, and that’s why you’re preaching? 

Latane:

Well, first of all, I hope I would never seem preachy, because we are all in this together, we’re all in the black hole together. I think the challenge that we have is only 13% of sales and marketing teams have any confidence in their data, because it’s primarily opportunity data in CRM, or it’s map data, which is basically lead-based. 

And if you think about the buying journey, most of it happens anonymously, or what we at 6sense call your “dark funnel.” So that’s where all the rich research is really happening. 

No one’s coming to your website and downloading your content anymore. It’s also a buying team. It’s not a lead or contact, and buyer journeys aren’t linear. So you think about this new modern buying journey, which is anonymous. It’s a buying team, not a leader contact, and it’s not linear. And you look at the tools that we have at our disposal as CMOs, and it’s sort of like we are a Model T trying to get to the moon. 

And so thinking about the black hole, it’s really looking for platforms that are AI and big data based. Because at the end of the day, even if you’re amazing, your data is gonna suck, and it’s okay. So I think admit that all our data sucks. Yeah, we’ve got to marry our data up with a much bigger platform and be able to understand that anonymous activity so we have a true picture of this nonlinear buying journey. Once you have that, you can start to re-imagine a better what I call prospect experience.

Susan:
How do you manage your teams and get them motivated? How do you hold the bar where you hold it?

Latane:
I would say the first thing is I’m clear that my expectations are high. And I’m very clear in the interview process, that my expectations are going to be very, very high. And you have to want that! Some people don’t want that. So the first thing is, do you want to do good work or do you want to do great work? And it is okay if this is not the gig for you. So I think that’s the first level of it.

The second level of it is, I really believe in having fun. So my old CEO, Chris Barban, taught me this: He said, eight out of 10 working days, you must be having fun. And that’s we call the fun factor. And so everyone on my team, what’s your fun factor? And if it’s not an eight, what’s going on, but it’s also up to me to bring the fun, right? To say, hey, let’s go grab a soulcycle class or let’s go for a run or let’s — you know what, we’re all strung out — let’s do something fun together. So, I think having fun and enjoying each other is allowed. We laugh a lot. We joke around a lot. 

And then the third really key thing for me is a strategic planning process that I use called V2MOM. And it originated with Salesforce. But it’s now really popular — a lot of tech companies use it and I’ve used it at two companies now, and two of the boards that I work on have adopted it, and it’s all about prioritization. 

I don’t know if I can cuss on this show, but I consulted The CMOs that I work with, from an advisory perspective, I say you have to know what you give an F about. And know what you don’t give an F about, because you can’t give an F about everything. So what V2MOM forces is everything is time-bound, and everything is prioritized. 

So I have high expectations for these things. I don’t care. Don’t wait. Like, if you’re spending one second over there — that’s not going to be an excuse for missing on this. And we all agree to those priorities every single quarter. So it’s very clear what we’re doing and we’re gonna do it right.

Latane:
I actually just changed my title to Chief Market Officer. And it’s an important distinction that a lady who was actually on our board — who’s amazing, her name is Christine Heckard, And she’s been a CMO. And now she’s the CEO. And she’s talked a lot about the role of the CMO. And we have gotten ourselves really mired down in ‘ing.’ “I did a blog, I did webinars, look at all these MQLs I pass to sales, here’s my funnel, here’s my tech stack.” That is all ing ing ing. 

Her challenge to CMOs is to redefine that. We are the seat at the table that needs to understand the market. That is customers today and customers tomorrow. That’s why this audience-first approach and understanding the market, then you can apply the ing. But it’s not a cheap financing offer sir or cheap selling officer. We sort of diminished our role by not taking that seat at the table. 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few more highlights from this season:

 


Source: SEO blog

Break Free B2B Marketing: Latane Conant of 6sense on Reinventing the CMO Role

Latane Conant

What’s in a job title? In my tenure as a marketer, I’ve met gurus who don’t live on mountaintops, ninjas who don’t know martial arts, and evangelists who don’t preach on Sunday. 

At worst, these creative job titles are pure puffery. But at best, they serve as a statement of purpose. I’m thinking of titles like Shep Hyken’s Chief Amazement Officer, or Ann Handley as Chief Content Officer: They tell us something about what the person — and their organization — values.

Latne Conant from 6sense has a subtly unusual job title: Chief Market Officer. She dropped the ‘ing’ from ‘Marketing,’ and that tiny change signals a major shift in the way she approaches her job. Instead of focusing on the verb of marketing — what tactics to deploy to reach an audience —  her job is to deeply understand the market, the people her brand is trying to reach.

For Latane, getting rid of that ‘ing’ makes all the difference in turning marketers into revenue-generating dynamos. In her Break Free B2B interview with our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis, Latane elaborated on how 6sense’s approach is unique, what technologies they use, and how they’ve achieved some truly impressive results.

“If I am engaging accounts more effectively than my competition, I will generate more pipeline, I’ll win more often, I’ll have bigger deals, and I will set my relationship off with those customers better.” #B2BMarketing @LataneConant… Click To Tweet

Break Free B2B Interview with Latane Conant

Timeline and Highlights

:58 – How can CMOs better understand customer insight in the age of the “dark funnel?”

2:52 – Changing focus from the tactics of marketing to knowing your audience

4:00 – The Chief Market Officer – losing the “ing”

6:45 – Not accepting limitations in pursuing a career

7:29 – Getting what you want is easy; knowing what you want is hard

8:30 – The Fun Factor in managing a team

9:00 V2MOM and organization

10:15 – If you’re not effing up, you’re not pushing the envelope hard enough

12:21 – Inverting the org chart — leading from the bottom

13:45 – Leads are not the primary measure of success

16:10 – Marketing is a revenue team

17:25 – Engagement is the new oil

18:45 – The new standard for marketing executives

Susan:

You were recently quoted saying that today’s CMOs need to be the masters of understanding customer insights and putting them to use. So are CMOs progressing in this area of insights, or is it just still a massive black hole, and that’s why you’re preaching? 

Latane:

Well, first of all, I hope I would never seem preachy, because we are all in this together, we’re all in the black hole together. I think the challenge that we have is only 13% of sales and marketing teams have any confidence in their data, because it’s primarily opportunity data in CRM, or it’s map data, which is basically lead-based. 

And if you think about the buying journey, most of it happens anonymously, or what we at 6sense call your “dark funnel.” So that’s where all the rich research is really happening. 

No one’s coming to your website and downloading your content anymore. It’s also a buying team. It’s not a lead or contact, and buyer journeys aren’t linear. So you think about this new modern buying journey, which is anonymous. It’s a buying team, not a leader contact, and it’s not linear. And you look at the tools that we have at our disposal as CMOs, and it’s sort of like we are a Model T trying to get to the moon. 

And so thinking about the black hole, it’s really looking for platforms that are AI and big data based. Because at the end of the day, even if you’re amazing, your data is gonna suck, and it’s okay. So I think admit that all our data sucks. Yeah, we’ve got to marry our data up with a much bigger platform and be able to understand that anonymous activity so we have a true picture of this nonlinear buying journey. Once you have that, you can start to re-imagine a better what I call prospect experience.

Susan:
How do you manage your teams and get them motivated? How do you hold the bar where you hold it?

Latane:
I would say the first thing is I’m clear that my expectations are high. And I’m very clear in the interview process, that my expectations are going to be very, very high. And you have to want that! Some people don’t want that. So the first thing is, do you want to do good work or do you want to do great work? And it is okay if this is not the gig for you. So I think that’s the first level of it.

The second level of it is, I really believe in having fun. So my old CEO, Chris Barban, taught me this: He said, eight out of 10 working days, you must be having fun. And that’s we call the fun factor. And so everyone on my team, what’s your fun factor? And if it’s not an eight, what’s going on, but it’s also up to me to bring the fun, right? To say, hey, let’s go grab a soulcycle class or let’s go for a run or let’s — you know what, we’re all strung out — let’s do something fun together. So, I think having fun and enjoying each other is allowed. We laugh a lot. We joke around a lot. 

And then the third really key thing for me is a strategic planning process that I use called V2MOM. And it originated with Salesforce. But it’s now really popular — a lot of tech companies use it and I’ve used it at two companies now, and two of the boards that I work on have adopted it, and it’s all about prioritization. 

I don’t know if I can cuss on this show, but I consulted The CMOs that I work with, from an advisory perspective, I say you have to know what you give an F about. And know what you don’t give an F about, because you can’t give an F about everything. So what V2MOM forces is everything is time-bound, and everything is prioritized. 

So I have high expectations for these things. I don’t care. Don’t wait. Like, if you’re spending one second over there — that’s not going to be an excuse for missing on this. And we all agree to those priorities every single quarter. So it’s very clear what we’re doing and we’re gonna do it right.

Latane:
I actually just changed my title to Chief Market Officer. And it’s an important distinction that a lady who was actually on our board — who’s amazing, her name is Christine Heckard, And she’s been a CMO. And now she’s the CEO. And she’s talked a lot about the role of the CMO. And we have gotten ourselves really mired down in ‘ing.’ “I did a blog, I did webinars, look at all these MQLs I pass to sales, here’s my funnel, here’s my tech stack.” That is all ing ing ing. 

Her challenge to CMOs is to redefine that. We are the seat at the table that needs to understand the market. That is customers today and customers tomorrow. That’s why this audience-first approach and understanding the market, then you can apply the ing. But it’s not a cheap financing offer sir or cheap selling officer. We sort of diminished our role by not taking that seat at the table. 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few more highlights from this season:

Interdisciplinarity: How to Integrate Organic Search, Paid Search, and Content Teams

As an industry, we talk a good game about collaboration, but the truth is it’s not really happening the way we tell our clients and bosses it happens. We stroll into new business pitches and make big claims about how “integrated” we are. We preach that our recommendations are better because we have a more “holistic” offering. But whether it’s across agencies working on the same client, different teams working within the same agency, or different teams in-house on the client side, collaboration is much harder to achieve in reality than we make it look on the outside.

More often than not, experts get sucked into their respective silos, buried by the day-to-day task lists of their jobs, focusing on their own areas of expertise. Agencies write SEO scopes and PPC scopes separately, often without accounting for content resource needs to make the channels successful. Teams bring recommendations forward to their bosses that don’t have buy-in from their peers. We don’t bring each other in, but we complain about not being brought in.

Learnings from multiple mergers

My company has gone through many mergers and acquisitions over the years, and just in the last three, we’ve merged with three other agencies in our network. We doubled in size and tripled our global footprint overnight. With those mergers came tons of complementary skill sets and client lists we could do great work for.

Through the mergers, we had a unique opportunity presented to us to solve persistent collaboration and content problems by bringing the organic search, paid search, and performance content teams together under one unified group. Now our “Discoverability” group is nearly 35 people in four offices across North America.

With all this change and merging of teams, we had some hard choices to make and hard work to do to make this integration of different capabilities and cultures successful.

Introducing interdisciplinarity

I want to introduce you to the concept of interdisciplinarity.

It’s an academic term describing when two or more areas of expertise join forces to solve new kinds of problems together. It’s when they combine and bust traditional silos to solve shared challenges, benefiting from integrating and updating their individual approaches into a new, holistic approach. Interdisciplinarity helps with the negative effects of siloing and over-specialization.

In the rapidly evolving and increasingly commoditized field of search, we need to be talking about this.

Interdisciplinarity is common in well-known technical and scientific fields like neuroscience, biochemistry, and cybernetics. There is new ground to be forged in our industry.

There is a key difference between complementarity and interdisciplinarity. Just about anyone can go online and learn SEO or PPC. Plenty of companies do “complementary” search work — sitting next to one another and at least not harming each other’s work.

But few do truly interdisciplinary work — offering new, evolved capabilities in search. In the next five years, interdisciplinarity will be the difference between search teams with a competitive edge, and search teams that stagnate.

True interdisciplinarity is when the sum of the whole is greater than its parts. It’s the Gestalt benefit of bringing distinct specialties together to create a completely custom solution for a problem. People with relevant expertise bring unique knowledge and experiences for a more cohesive, end-to-end offering that is bespoke for each need. But the work is repeatable and refinable as similar problems arise.

This concept has been a driving force guiding our way through merging teams to create something new. And now we consult with clients in complex organizations to help them achieve interdisciplinarity, too. This is more than enhancing our implementation of tactical SEO and PPC. This is about helping companies evolve how they think about and deliver on the promise of search.

Why bother with integration?

As a search professional, you have probably been perfectly smart and successful independently, so why go to the trouble of moving away from separate swim lanes to one cohesive, unified practice? And equally important, how?

Increase advocacy

The majority of our growth typically comes from better serving and expanding existing relationships, not winning big chunks of new business. You go from a select few team members on different teams advocating for their own work, to a combined force of all the team members advocating for all of each other’s work.

Cross-sell and up-sell more

An integrated search team finds it easier to cross-sell and up-sell when clients get stuck on related services. Merging our teams helps us shift budget seamlessly between practices based on demand, pilot other services to our clients, and show our chops and prove outcomes we can earn. We can also talk to our clients about capturing every opportunity possible on whole search engine results pages, instead of thinking of SERPs in chunks.

Increased speed and scale

Having an integrated team with areas of overlap allows leaders to better distribute labor across the team. For example, our performance content team now writes SEO metas and PPC ad copy. Our paid and organic search teams are conducting keyword research and competitive analysis together, reducing duplication of effort. We’re dividing and conquering to cover more research ground more quickly, share learnings from our own areas of expertise, delivering a stronger product, and speeding it up by weeks.

Create a culture of knowledge-sharing

Data-sharing becomes second-nature to an integrated search and content team. It helps you to find opportunities you wouldn’t have spotted before. A deeper and wider pool of knowledge builds a deeper and smarter search talent bench. This creates a culture of crowd-sourcing and sharing where no one feels the pressure to know everything. We solve digital marketing problems faster by pooling our knowledge.

Reduce cannibalism and competition

When individual teams have individual objectives, it runs the risk of being “every team for themselves.” But ultimately, everyone in the company or at the agency is held to a set of central, core objectives. A unified team can help search and content practitioners stop worrying about whose budgets and whose targets, and instead focus on what’s best for the business. It allows you to steer resources to where the greatest impact will be felt. It doesn’t matter so much which channels deliver — as long as we deliver.

Increase trust in recommendations

Recommendations have more weight and credibility together when they’re vetted from multiple experts. Experts should talk about joint opportunities, discuss how channels perform together and separately, and balance paid and organic recommendations. A more thoughtful, utilitarian approach is more easily defensible to a client. Demonstrating more bang for their marketing bucks makes it easier for them to say yes and invest.

Identify new capabilities

When you integrate different specialties, you are likely to develop new capabilities at the intersections between those practices. This enables you to build and launch new, unified services that increase the value we can add for clients. In our case, this led to an end-to-end digital shelf optimization offering and enhanced landing page development.

Create competitive advantage

True interdisciplinarity is difficult to accomplish, so it’s hard for competitors to replicate. Competitive advantage happens when you put in the legwork that competitors can’t, don’t, or won’t. Mastering integrated services can give you unique points of distinction that competitors don’t have, and you become increasingly indispensable to your clients and your company.

Risks and roadblocks to integration

There will be no shortage of risks, roadblocks, and obstacles to integrating teams. Following are some of the growing pains you can anticipate as a driver of change.

Moving from theory to reality

We deceive ourselves into thinking we collaborate well for so long that it’s easy to become complacent and fail to see how things could be better. We have to make the case for the benefits of working together to our colleagues and counterparts. As a group, we have to agree on the importance of collaborating on projects and proving joint outcomes with meaningful case studies. It’s a massive cultural shift to change from individual athletes on three different teams to a single, all-star, world champion team. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Risk of becoming less agile

Counterintuitively, the larger the team, the harder it is to collaborate. This is especially true when the team does several different things. Integration runs the risk of making your group too big to move quickly. It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to force adoption of one team or the other’s way of doing things, or to collaborate constantly on everything. But we quickly learned that design-by-committee doesn’t work and we can’t force it. Group identity doesn’t negate the need for autonomy. In fact, interdisciplinary teams fail without being able to maintain their identity and autonomy, and being empowered to make decisions that are right for their team and clients. Now we keep the connective tissue that bonds us as a group, but allow for “slicing and dicing” into smaller teams to serve any need and combat the problem of getting too big to stay nimble.

Negotiating roles and defending turf

When integrating teams, conflicts are inevitable, whether it’s perceived competition for diminishing budgets, or vying for the final say on a course of action. With teams of very smart people in different areas there is bound to be some negotiating of roles, maybe even turf-defending. But through integration, we’re all sharing the same turf. It takes extra effort to give the benefit of the doubt, assume good intent, and get on the same page. It’s an exercise in humility to give everyone’s expertise equal weight, and actively seek perspective instead of it being an accidental afterthought. You have to create a culture where everyone wins when one of us wins.

Merging processes creates complexity in the short-term

Merging processes that worked reasonably well before is a common challenge. Each team had its own comfortable way of doing things, so they might be resistant and slow to change. You may encounter conflicting expertise and opinions. It’s important to understand each team’s processes thoroughly before ripping them apart and sewing them back together — take the time to learn why things are the way they are.

Change fatigue

A constant barrage of non-stop change makes it hard for evolution to stick. It’s too much for people to absorb and adopt. It causes them to burn out and lose interest because it feels like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Companies that have a culture of ongoing testing, learning and optimization and where change is always expected for growth tend to fare well in the face of change, but everyone has their limits.

12 tips for integration success

Now that you are going into the process of integrating other teams informed on the risks and rewards, here are tactical tips to get it right.

1. Announce change quickly

Search team leaders should move quickly to announce the change and inform their teams. Make it clear what you’re doing and why, make the case for the benefits, and be honest about the challenges to get buy-in. Get the teams involved in the mission as soon as possible. Set the expectation that we sink or swim together. The most successful people in the face of change are those who don’t waste time obstructing the inevitable, but instead roll up their sleeves and look for ways to help.

2. Introduce and immerse immediately

Once announced, quickly take action to bring the teams together and activate. Get search and content practitioners in the room face-to-face as early and often as possible, and start a dialogue about a common mission and vision. Work together to brainstorm ideas on how to move forward. Our integration sessions included introductions and ice-breakers, overarching sessions about the department and teams, capability and case study sharing, and team-building exercises. Once you have established the new team or process, reintroduce the team to the organization to put faces with names, and educate others on what the new group is capable of and responsible for.

Get a sample agenda for an integration workshop here.

3. Implement change jointly and steadily

Announce and immerse quickly, but slow down to speed up when beginning to implement the changes. Don’t try to boil the ocean — focus on one-percent changes, one change at a time at natural points of intersection. Give ownership of different initiatives to people from each side to make sure you’re considering all the angles, which helps with buy-in across the group. Charge everyone with making it successful.

Also, try to make early changes iteratively and at natural points of friction at first, so change actually feels like a relief. For example, every SEO can relate to being left out of the content process, where keyword research is an afterthought (if it happens at all). One simple change is adding keywords and questions to a new content brief prior to creating content. This will make both writers’ and SEOs’ jobs easier. As a bonus, small wins can build momentum and endurance for more change.

4. No process is precious

Process is supposed to be a flexible framework, not a rigid set of rules that stifles innovation. Commit to establishing clear processes that incorporate key search and content stakeholders, and bring those voices to the table to collaborate in creating and refining workflows. Create a living wiki to document recurring processes, which reinforces the message of steady evolution. Update and reorganize them regularly — everyone on the team should have access and trust to refine them. Finally, check in periodically on what isn’t working and discard what doesn’t serve you.

5. Cross-train to build advocacy

Conduct cross-trainings both in immersion and continuously over time. The intent is not to be able to do each other’s jobs, but rather to be able to speak about them, advocate for them and cross-sell them. We’ve done workshops, hands-on training, and even short-term job swaps like having SEOs write e-commerce product detail pages. It creates empathy and builds trust, and makes it easier to advocate for each other’s work. It helps create mental checks, too, for search experts to ask, “Am I including the right people?” or content writers to ask, “Can someone else add value here?” Make it a habit for your group by course-correcting people when they forget, and validating and rewarding when they get it right.

6. Productize service offerings

As your search and content (or other integrated) team develops all-new joint services and processes, appoint small, cross-team committees to productize those offerings. They should clearly articulate the service, define the value, identify inputs and outputs, and ballpark costs and timing. These should be simple packages that can be “pulled off the shelf” when a relevant opportunity arises. For our team, these included things like search-driven content insights to support big burst campaigns, an end-to-end e-commerce discoverability process, and a meticulous approach to website rebuilds and redesigns.

7. Recommend and report together

Integrated search and content teams should be recommending and reporting together. It sounds obvious, but it’s rarely done well. Too often, experts regurgitate data in a silo and then smash some slideware together. Instead, compile and discuss your data together to identify the story the information tells, and how clients and marketers can make decisions across channels to best optimize. Search and content practitioners should be working together to roadmap and prioritize where to focus for the biggest opportunities, rather than one channel dictating to the other or operating on independent tracks.

8. Monthly account strategy sessions

It’s easy to retire to our individual corners and get stuck in the status quo, where search and content teams don’t talk to each other. These account strategy sessions are bigger than a task list — they are a time to collaborate, share what’s happening, and talk about the future. Discuss how the brand is performing in each channel, problems the search and content experts are solving, opportunities we see, big risks or threats, and potential joint efforts, tests, or case studies. This simple meet-up model can benefit any group you’re trying to collaborate with. Establish recurring round tables between search and other departments or global regions.

Get a sample account strategy discussion guide here.

9. Build a networked team

As your teams grow in size, geography, and complexity, a “networked team” model might make sense. A networked team has central sources of truth and process (we document ours on Confluence in living wikis), but the operations and execution are decentralized. In this model you have common standards and best practices that all practitioners can draw from, but a networked team can shapeshift and adjust to deliver the work however necessary. It’s a balance of centralized control and local team empowerment.

10. Create a culture of feedback

When merging search and content teams, coaching and direct, immediate feedback greatly speeds integration. Make transparency and accountability a part of your group’s culture. This means providing feedback to each other and feedback to you. It means peer reviewing each other’s search and content work. It means scrutinizing your shared processes and ways of working. It makes the discoverability work stronger and reduces the margin for error. Creating a culture of feedback depersonalizes the feedback and makes it about the quality of the work.

11. Market collaborative successes

Marketing success can be a major driver of integration across discoverability teams. You should always look for wins (or warnings) to create case studies that demonstrate how your team is most effective together. Find meaningful wins that cross teams, and make sure your team, clients, bosses, and colleagues hear these stories. It increases buy-in, understanding, and engagement with your newly integrated group.

12. Stay close to collaborate

Who you “sit with” matters — even in a world where a majority of us are now working from home. Connect your search and content experts as much as possible. Make it easy to strike up a conversation about things they’re working on, and turn around their chairs (or turn on their video chat) and ask questions of each other. While rearranging the floorplan at the office isn’t in the cards for everyone, or if people in different cities or companies are collaborating, look for every possible opportunity for human connection. That means video chat, traveling for in-person meetings, desk drive-bys, spending part of your day parked with colleagues in their part of the office, real-time instant messaging, or phone calls. Do whatever it takes to be present and engaged with people in other disciplines as much as possible.

Integration is the future of search and content

To quote my colleague, Britt Hankins, “As individual teams, we’re experts. As an integrated practice, we’re a powerhouse.”

Creating whole, end-to-end services that have greater impact together than separately makes us more indispensable to clients who can’t imagine going back to the disjointed world of silos. Combining and evolving our search and content capabilities into one discoverability group helps us stand out from the competition.

The cultural shift can be huge, but worth it. It’s an iterative process with plenty of growing pains along the way. Even if it doesn’t make sense to reorganize or merge teams, it does make sense to break down barriers between other disciplines. These steps can help integrate search with any other department. It could be as simple as creating a competency circle around a certain type of work or client that transcends your org chart.

As time goes on, new things are created, the group and its processes mature, and the lines between them start to blur. When your new culture is established, hire and promote for the traits to sustain it, like communication, collaboration, accountability, transparency, and empathy.

There will always be bumps along the way as you integrate search with other practices like content, technology, analytics, or user experience. It can be frustrating and time-consuming up front. People won’t always agree and conflicts will happen.

But as a leader of discoverability in your organization, you can create a culture of openness, vulnerability, and feedback. You can create the expectation of iteration, evolution, and change. You can push through obstacles together and forge something entirely new.

Remember that competitive advantage comes from doing the work your competitors can’t, don’t, or won’t. Because if it were easy, everyone would do it.

10 Worst Practices for B2B Influencer Marketing – Don’t be a Clown

Worst Practices B2B Influencer Marketing

Worst Practices B2B Influencer Marketing

When it comes to sharing B2B marketing advice, I prefer not to clown around too much and do my best to be positive and optimistic with trends, insights and how to’s focused on looking forward towards best practices and getting better results.

Marketers expect serious results but unfortunatley, many B2B marketers insist on clowning around with half-hearted or incomplete influencer marketing efforts.

I know this from stories told by brand marketers that have worked with other agencies and from being on the receiving end of clueless pitches, minimum viable engagement efforts and willfully ignorant attempts to get me to promote something I really have no business caring about. I’ve heard much of the same from other people who are often engaged as influencers as well.

This post is an appeal to B2B marketers to stop clowning around with influencer marketing efforts, especially now when marketing has no room to be wasteful or unsuccessful. Below is a list of some of the worst offenders. If your B2B company is doing these things, whatever efficiency or shortcut you’re hoping for is a joke on you in terms of program success and building real relationships with the credible experts your customers listen to.

1. Lead Gen Disguised as Brand Awareness – Marketers initiating an influencer program with stated goals of increasing brand awareness inevitably always shift their thinking midway through and start talking about lead generation and sales expectations if not from the start. Of course building brand awareness and lead generation are two different strategies with different types of metrics. Expecting both from the same campaign is like expecting a flying car to also be a submarine. It’s possible, but not very practical.

2. Choosing Influencers Based on What? – Companies hire influencer marketing staff, consultants or agency specialists to help with influencer identification and qualification more than just about any other aspect of an influencer marketing program. And yet, some marketers prefer to choose influencers based on who they think would be influential or based on the opinions of a few executives vs. based on data.

Influencer Programs have a strategy for how to achieve a particular goal with the identified audience using a specific mix of content and tactics. Influencers play a role like ingredients in a recipe and data informed selection incorporates a minimum of topical relevance, audience resonance, network size, publishing type, style and cadence as well as brand alignment into consideration. When you start deciding on ingredients for recipe you haven’t made before based on what you like vs. what tastes good for your guests, it’s possible the dish will be tasty, but probably not.

3.  Overpromise and Underdeliver – Marketers are busy and often overzealous when pressed for time and resources to recruit influencers for a project. Value exchange scenarios emerge where the influencer is asked to X and the brand will do Y in exchange. Then surprises start to happen, like being asked to do this one extra thing. Or two. Or three.

When a big exposure opportunity implied in the recruiting effort falls through (it was actually speculative), gets switched for another thing the influencers don’t want or requires the influencers to sell their soul to the brand with some kind of endorsement to participate – all contribute to the experience the brand is creating for the influencer. When expectations are not met either by the brand or the influencer, nobody wins. Such disconnects are avoidable with effective influencer program management.

4. Transactional Engagement – Efficiency is an expectation now more than ever in marketing departments and at the same time, influencer engagement is a relationship focused practice. When marketers treat influencer interactions like sales transactions or as impersonal exchanges, it may create conveniences for the marketer, but it’s nothing special or worth repeating for the influencer.

The classic transactional engagement example is when the marketer invites the influencer to contribute to a project of relevance and then sends a link to a form with 10 more questions than implied in the invite. Once the form is complete, there is no thank you, no acknowledgement and no follow up until the content is published and the marketer sends an email with the exact same 5 social share message suggestions that were sent to the other 49 people who were asked to fill out the form. Yuk.

5. Nowhere to Publish – Less an issue with small or medium sized companies, publishing influencer content on the large B2B brand websites or blogs should already be coordinated and approved before the influencers are recruited and informed where they will see exposure. Nobody wins when a top lineup of experts share their expertise and the brand doesn’t have somewhere for that content to live.

Also, simply publishing episodic content like a podcast to aggregators and not creating a web page index for the podcast or episodes is a huge missed opportunity. Web pages are hooks in the water for search engines, social shares, industry blogs and media websites. Plus, those web pages also create exposure for the contributing influencers, which is probably why they said yes to the invitation.

6. Fear of Commitment – Relationships take time, effort and investment of resources and can pay incredible dividends over a long period of time. It’s definitely a best practice for B2B brands to conduct a pilot influencer project to work out processes and capture initial data for insight into building a program. But make no mistake, it is an ongoing effort towards influencer engagement that builds the kinds of relationships that drive high ROI advocacy from the people your customers trust the most.

Fear of committing to some kind of ongoing effort to nurture influencers as part of a strategy to drive brand conversations, grow brand influence, reach new customers and inspire more business has a cost that shows no ROI.

7. Management by Spreadsheet – Like any marketing program, there are many elements to manage in an influencer program from the marketing plan, campaign, assets and measurement to the management, engagement and measurement of influencers. Doing all of that by spreadsheet can work for a pilot but for any B2B company to scale it’s influencer marketing efforts, investment in technology like an influencer marketing platform will be worthwhile.

An influencer marketing platform should enable marketers to find, manage and measure influencer relationships (at a minimum).

8. Promotion Black Hole – Imagine an exciting new project where everything comes together: the influencers, the brand executives and SMEs and the content is impressive. Then the content publishes and… nothing.  Sometimes brands overestimate the value of publishing on their own properties including social channels.

Promotion of influencer content is a bit part of why influencers agree to contribute to a brand’s influencer marketing program. Of course the influencer will promote to their own channels and the brand will benefit from that. But if the content the influencer contributed to is not promoted on brand channels, it deflates the influencers motivation and that’s a lost opportunity for the brand.

9. One Night Stands – Engaging and activating influencers comes in many forms and some marketers miss the boat entirely on the relationship aspect of co-creating with influencers in search of quickie content capture and social shares. That quickie for a listicle might be satisfying for the marketer as efficient content creation, but it does very little to create a real relationship with trusted experts making product and service recommendations to their loyal audiences.

Engaging influencers only when you need them shows them you only care about yourself. That’s not how successful relationships are built.

It’s perfectly fine to engage in small or individual projects with influencers. Just don’t make that the only thing. Ongoing, or “always on” influencer engagement is practical, manageable and it creates a mutual will scenario for the brand, its customers and the influencers.

10. Goals to Measurement FUBAR – Influencer Marketing is still relatively new to B2B and many marketers add-on influencer contributions to existing content marketing programs than implement dedicated influencer programs on their own. Ambiguity about goals for the influencer part of a content marketing program leads to lack of defined metrics and performance measurement.

It could happen that a B2B brand adds a few high profile influencers to a demand gen project that achieves millions of social impressions. But it turns out, very few people shared their email for the download. If the project had goals of name capture, a specific type of influencer that more middle-funnel appropriate should be engaged and provided with UTM encoded URLs for influencer level tracking.

When goals to measurement are not clear with influencers that are part of a content project or a dedicated influencer marketing program, measuring and reporting success is basically guesswork.

For even more laughs about the ways B2B marketers are sidetracking the results of their influencer marketing efforts, check out this timeless list of 50 ways to fail at influencer engagement.

There’s nothing funny about failing but it’s a lot of fun to hit and exceed program goals. Be sure to check out these examples of successful influencer marketing for B2B brands, big and small and here are 25 campaign ideas.

 

 

 

 


Source: SEO blog

How to Get Quick Results With SEO Sprints: The DriveSafe Case Study

Currently, many businesses face challenging times and are moving their SEO budget to disciplines which offer quicker wins.

But you can also create instant results with SEO, and it can be done on a small budget even when you are up against bigger players in your industry.

In this blog post I will show you my framework to do SEO sprints. I will show you how you can use Google’s ability to index and rank faster to your advantage. Later, you will be presented with a case study, where we used SEO sprints for a chain of opticians. The result: an increase in bookings of vision tests of 73%.

But first, let’s have a look at the layout on page one of Google (for most queries).

Google never took SEOs into account when designing for the user. As a result, their transformation over the last few years from the “10 blue links” format to “the portal” has pushed the organic results on page one down by several pixels.

Today, the four Google Ads at the top of the SERP cover most of the pixels above the fold. In many cases, your screen can also be covered with a Google Shopping ad. Apart from the ads, Google fills up the space on page one with SERP features such as featured snippets or their own platforms such as Youtube or Google Maps.

In some industries, Google will even place their booking search engine at the top. Examples are Google Flights or Google Hotels.

During the last few months we have seen more desktop traffic, but in general users are moving to mobile. An iPhone’s screen of 758 pixels makes it nearly impossible to rank above the fold for an organic result.

We, as SEOs, have to rethink our way of doing SEO.

The Google challenge

Do you know your numbers?

For a particular query, how high is the expected click-through-rate if you rank number one? Is it 20%? Twenty-five? These are the typical estimations coming from CTR benchmark studies. But in reality, for competitive queries, the right CTR will be much lower, which means that you could be basing your business case on the wrong numbers.

Instead, I would recommend looking at your Google Search Console data to see what your CTR is when ranking number one for a non-branded term.

As an example: In the retail industry I have a client ranking consistently at number one for a broad generic term with a monthly search volume of 2.8K. How high do you think their CTR is?

3.8%!

They are not the only ones with a meager CTR. Doing some research, I discovered that positions three and four for this query had CTRs of 1.1% and 2.4%, respectively.

When CTRs used to be higher, I went after the big keywords. At the peak of my “Big Keywords” career, I reached the number one ranking in Google (Denmark) for the biggest keyword in the banking industry: “Lån” (loan). It took one and a half years to go from the bottom of page three to number one in Google, and the investment paid off handsomely for the client.

The strategy was straightforward, with a focus on technical SEO, on-page, and off-page factors. In other words, SEO as we have always approached it. However, working with SEO in a silo frustrated me, because I felt that we could get better and faster results by working together across disciplines and across departments.

In October 2018, a new insight gave me the chance to rewire my SEO thought process. This led me to develop a new framework aligning SEO with other marketing activities.

The big insight: Google indexes and ranks faster

Back in the year 2000, Google updated their index every five to eight weeks. This gave SEO a reputation as a discipline where patience was key, and where results were a long-term project. This understanding is still common inside the industry, and many SEOs will still tell their clients to be patient and expect the results to come inside one or two years.

However, if you do it right, this is not the case anymore.

Let’s fast-forward to 2018: I discovered that Google had changed gears.

My client was planning to run a marketing campaign starting in October. My SEO team was invited late to the party, as I only met with the client two weeks before the campaign launch.

I was not too optimistic about the time frame to get them results, but we gave it a shot.

The results surprised me.

Inside 20 days, they went from not being indexed to ranking in the top three for their main keyword.

I was baffled. This was not the Google I knew.

This insight was huge, because it meant that SEO could break free of the classic silo and be part of other marketing activities.

The idea of the SEO sprint was born.

What is an SEO sprint?

Let’s stop and think for a minute.

How often do marketing campaigns ignore SEO? SEO data can actually be a central element in marketing, because the data reveals the inner feelings of users when they search on Google. This is data which would be very hard to get from qualitative interviews.

Have you tried to convert mentions to links months after a PR campaign ran?

Ever worked on an SEO project where you never talked to the PPC team (even though they have valuable information, like which keywords convert, that you can use for your SEO work)?

Have you delivered a tech audit with a long list of to-dos without really knowing what the business strategy was, hence the priorities of the SEO tasks?

These are examples of SEO working in a silo. Silos waste knowledge and they miss the big picture. Instead, SEO activities should be aligned with the marketing plan.

When you rank at the top of Google for the keywords and user intentions which support your business strategy, it is due to teamwork across your marketing department.

This is what SEO sprints are all about: Based on the company’s business strategy, SEO sprints are an integrated part of your marketing mix. They are SEO activities which support a marketing campaign, where the objective is to be present at the most important touch points in Google for particular customer journeys.

An SEO sprint consists of five steps:

  1. Strategy
  2. Data
  3. Insights
  4. Execution
  5. Measurement

I’ll dig into each of these steps in the case study below.

The secret behind a successful SEO sprint

In late 2018, I performed other SEO sprints, which proved to me that there was an opportunity to work differently within SEO. For example: a New Year’s campaign where the client’s main keyword went from out-of-index to the bottom of page one within 10 days. While they didn’t make the top three, they still obtained a 6% CTR from a ready-to-buy audience.

So, how can you use a sprint to rank faster in Google? Do sprints focus on links, content, or page speed?

Those factors are only partly important. The main ranking factor is the competition. Let’s face it: You rank number one at the mercy of your competition. It matters a lot for your ranking if competitors don’t focus their SEO efforts in the same direction as you.

In my experience, when broad media sites and forums rank, it’s a good sign that competition is not so strong. The ideal scenario is when competition is manageable and Google results have low volatility, meaning the results don’t fluctuate much. This is a signal to me that I can rank quickly and remain at the top of Google for a longer period.

While you should try to rank for all your keywords, the key is to identify and prioritize important, low-competition keywords to get results quickly. When you have established yourself, then you can start to build out your topical authority and aim for the keywords with tougher competition.

The DriveSafe case study

Let’s put the SEO sprint framework into practice. Nyt Syn is a Danish chain of 57 opticians. They have a 6% market share in a market dominated by three bigger players. During 2018 and 2019, I ran two successful SEO sprints for their DriveSafe campaign.

DriveSafe glasses are glasses produced by ZEISS. You can use them as normal eye glasses, but they are particularly useful to avoid being blinded by the headlights of oncoming cars at night. They retail at $500 (USD), so it is not a low-priced item, but they are the safest solution in the market.

The target group of the DriveSafe campaign is primarily 35-year-old women and above. They are not worse off than men when it comes to seeing badly at night, but our research showed that they are more ready to do something about it. Our main objective was to have them book an eyesight test at their local Nyt Syn optician.

The results

After running the first DriveSafe campaign in Q4 2018, which was fairly successful, we managed to triple the organic traffic during the second SEO sprint a year later.

During the period, 23.7% of the organic traffic to nytsyn.dk went to the DriveSafe pages. More importantly, Nyt Syn increased their bookings by 73% for the second campaign when compared to the first.

How we did it

1. Strategy

Before we started our SEO tasks, we needed to understand the objective of the DriveSafe campaign and how SEO would support the business goals.

In order to translate the marketing strategy into SEO activities, I use customer journeys to map out the customer needs and define the content touchpoints on Google.

This was our SEO mission statement:

“We are present in Google when users make queries related to night vision with the intent to solve a user challenge leading to the booking of an eyesight test.”

2. Data

You need to understand user behavior before you can execute your strategy. Fortunately, it has never been easier to get access to data. While many still stick to one tool (e.g. Google Keyword Planner or Moz), I have come to realize that the more tools you add, the more you will identify your user’s intentions. I use Google’s own tools (Google Search Console, Google Analytics) and different Clickstream tools (e.g. Moz Keyword Explorer). Each tool will bring something new to the table.

To this stack I also add the company’s own data sources, like live chat. It’snot only a tool to communicate with your customers! No one ever contacts a company simply to engage in small talk. The data from the chat history is a gold mine of user questions. Zendesk and Internal Site Search are two other underestimated resources, where small observations can turn into big insights.

In the end we managed to identify hundreds of keywords within the range from general symptom searches to specific product requests.

3. Insights

Insights depend on the strength of your data. If you don’t dive deep enough during data retrieval, you won’t get a full understanding of user behavior, thus missing out on important user intentions. By looking at the keyword list, we identified various user intentions. With them in hand we created customer journeys to map out which content to build or repurpose.

Here are the user intentions mapped out in different stages of the customer journey for this campaign:

Awareness: What is night blindness?

Consideration: Do I have a bad night vision? Can I use glasses with yellow tint?

Decision: DriveSafe glasses from ZEISS

We discovered four interesting insights from the data:

1. Early funnel content is notoriously underestimated. We identified the bridge between the symptom searches for “night blindness” in the early stage of the customer journey and the need to drive safely at night. By creating the page “What is night blindness?”, we answered the users’ symptom questions and moved them on in the funnel towards our solution.

2. The keyword data revealed a need from users to test their eye sight online. We converted a general eye vision test into a night vision test. The test took off. More than 180,000 users ended up completing the test via different channels.

To boost the general authority of the DriveSafe pages and this particular online test, we also acquired links. Apart from the extra authority, the referral traffic was decent.

3. We could see that users went for a premature choice when looking for a solution. If you are a mountain bike rider, you probably use cheap plastic glasses with yellow tint. These are not good for driving at night, but this was the best guess for many users.

An interview with a professor from the School of Optometry in Denmark revealed that glasses with yellow tint let in too much blue light. This is the light which our eyes are exposed to at night. Instead of ignoring users searching for yellow tinted glasses, we decided to warn them instead. The page “Don’t use glasses with yellow tint!” attracted a lot of traffic. It also showed that you can rank number one for keywords which counter the primary user intention on page one of Google.

4. The optometry industry jargon is different than the terms that users search for. Company policy can sometimes prevent you from optimizing your site for the user terms, but Nyt Syn embraced the opportunity.

There are 800 monthly searches for the query “natbriller” (night glasses). This is not an industry term, but we decided to create a page with it anyway It paid off. Nyt Syn has now ranked consistently number one and two on Google for this important keyword for more than a year, bringing in lots of profitable traffic.

The search terms mentioned in the last two insights. are low competition, low volatility keywords, which made us rank quickly. An instant result motivates the team, and it builds authority in the eyes of Google. Subsequently, this enabled us to rank for more difficult search terms. Today we rank in the top three for over 100 non-branded keywords, and every tenth search results in a click on a DriveSafe page.

4. Execution

From these insights, the Nyt Syn content team went to work on the pages we needed to be present at every important touch point in Google.

The team is small with only one content writer. However, this case shows that you don’t need to be a big team to beat your competitors as long as you know where to focus. In total, five pages were created and a couple of existing pages were repurposed.

You need some time at this step, since it takes time to write great content. At this point we also prepared a link building strategy based on advertorials, which we rolled out during the campaign.

We were ready to launch.

5. Measurement

We use a dashboard to constantly measure the performance and gain new insights. This enabled us to change course midway if necessary.

Here are two good examples:

1. One month after the launch of the second SEO sprint, Nyt Syn decided to run two Facebook campaigns based on the SEO data. The first campaign aimed at getting users to take the online night vision test. The second campaign told users to avoid glasses with yellow tint for night driving.

The two campaigns worked great and increased the number of bookings significantly. This was a perfect example of using SEO data across channels.

2. During the campaign we obtained some nice customer testimonials. With the customers’ permission, we placed them on the DriveSafe pages. This enabled us to display the five star ratings in the Google SERPs, which lifted the general CTR overnight by 2-5%.

Learning and adjusting is central to SEO sprints. With Google’s ever-changing landscape, we need to be agile and ready to adapt. We learn from each SEO sprint and use what worked for the next sprint to constantly improve the results.

The third SEO sprint for DriveSafe is set for September. What can we do to build upon our past achievements?

Let me leave you with some insights gained, which you can hopefully use for your own campaigns:

1. GSC data tells us when users will start searching for night vision search terms. This means that we know when to launch our campaign next time. For SEO sprint one, we had a blank page. We could only use Google Trends data, so it started in October. Now we run it from mid-September because the data tells us that users are asking Google earlier.

2. GSC data will reveal new user intentions because we are building up more data. This data, coupled with customer feedback, creates a base to produce even more relevant content and thereby a better chance to own the most important touch points on Google.

3. From our PPC data, we now have more data to know which keywords generate orders and vice versa. We will have more GSC data to add new keywords to our Google Ads.

4. By A/B testing the communication on Google Ads and Facebook, we know which words and which USPs work. We can use these insights to update titles and meta descriptions to communicate more directly on Google.

5. We know that SEO insights can be used to create successful Facebook campaigns. We will double down on Facebook and test other channels such as Instagram.

6. We know which links brought us referral traffic, so we will focus on similar links for the third sprint. While it is only correlated data, we can compare the ranking history with the publication of advertorials to look for keyword jumps. Some advertorials are duds. Some are gold. It does help us to pick the better link opportunities.

7. We got the star ratings for the DriveSafe pages. By studying the Google landscape, we can see which other Schema markups we should add.

Summary

Companies are currently looking for instant results, which make them put SEO on hold. However, with SEO sprints you have an agile framework to get quick results — when done right.

You can use Google’s speed in indexing and ranking results to your advantage. It will enable your organization to integrate SEO as part of the marketing mix. While you can now rank inside a few days or weeks, fast rankings will depend on the level of competition on page one in Google. When you have low competition and low volatility for keywords with strategic importance, then you have found your sweet spot for quicker results and stable traffic long-term.

SEO sprints consist of five steps, and they can be performed on a small budget inside a short period. The learnings from one SEO sprint are passed on to the next one, so you can reuse what worked efficiently.

Good luck with your SEO sprint!