5 Ways B2B Marketers Can Boost Productivity and Focus

Focused and Productive B2B Marketer

Focused and Productive B2B Marketer

Across every industry, profession, and discipline, work productivity is in peril.

How could it not be? Outside distractions have mounted over the course of the year, from a global pandemic to rampant social unrest to a headline-hijacking presidential election, all in the midst of economic turmoil. Through it all, many of us have been acclimating to a remote work setting that upends our established workflows and routines.

Frankly, we all deserve a pat on the back for being able to stay focused on work at all. So go ahead and give yourself one. But with plenty left to accomplish here in 2020, there’s little time to sit back and take a beat.

Marketing is a field that’s especially susceptible to negative productivity impacts at a time like this. We’re scrambling to adapt to changing circumstances for our companies, clients, and strategies. We’re rewriting best practices on the fly. And in a job where creativity is often a driving force, we’re trying to keep our minds clear and energized enough to produce unique and high-quality content.

If you find yourself looking for new ways to power up your team’s productivity (or your own) and get more done each day, here are a few suggestions that might help.

Boosting B2B Marketing Productivity

Based on my own experiences and some tips shared by others around the web, here are five techniques that are working when it comes to finding your groove and producing great work in tough times.

1 — Find and Preserve Your Productivity Pockets

Right now, each day can feel like a constant barrage of forces beckoning us away from the work we are trying to get done. Setting aside everything happening in the outside world, there are the things going on in your own space — maybe kids at home from school, or increased familial commitments, or a roommate who’s sharing an “office” (living room) with you.

As I wrote when sharing my own experiences as a content marketer in the pandemic, I believe it’s essential to carve out “productivity pockets” — dedicated periods of time where you can completely tune into your work, uninterrupted. Use this pocket to tackle your most intensive tasks.

It may be that your circumstances aren’t conducive to routinely scheduling this productivity pocket during standard work hours. In these cases, aim to create asynchronous structures that enable active collaboration with your coworkers, even if it’s not simultaneous.

[bctt tweet=”“It’s essential to carve out ‘productivity pockets’ — dedicated periods of time where you can completely tune into your work, uninterrupted. Use this pocket to tackle your most intensive tasks.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

2— Scrutinize the Purpose Behind Meetings and Video Calls

At Digital Summit MPLS 2019, Workfront’s Mike Riding shared marketing productivity tips and noted that almost two-thirds of marketers point to meetings as the No. 1 barrier that gets in the way of their work. One year later, the environment has changed but that underlying issue has not; if anything, it’s magnified.

Zoom fatigue is real, y’all.

Riding listed five reasons why meetings exist:

  1. Give information
  2. Get information
  3. Develop ideas
  4. Make decisions
  5. Create warm, magical human contact

I would argue that in many cases, only the last one requires an actual meeting (and while the warmth and magic may feel a bit more artificial through a computer screen, they are still plenty valuable). Now more than ever, his recommendations for managing meeting overload are worth heeding:

  • Shave meeting times from 60 minutes to 30 minutes when possible.
  • Decline meetings that don’t have a set agenda.
  • Stack meetings back-to-back so as to minimize unproductive gaps in between.
  • And, as suggested above, block out time for your real work that is off-limits for scheduling meetings.

3— Consume New and Unfamiliar Content

Yes, it’s worthwhile to keep an eye on what your peers in the B2B marketing world are doing to stay informed and inspired. But I would also advise moving outside of your typical lane or comfort zone. Look into successful examples of B2C marketing campaigns to see how brands are connecting with their customers in empathetic, humanized ways. Watch a show or movie on Netflix that is beyond your usual genre mix. Play a story-driven video game. Read a new book.

Sameness, silos, and unrelenting routines can be destructive for creativity and productivity. As we like to say around here … Break free!

4— Unplug During the Weekend

Just as it’s important to have dedicated and uninterrupted work time, it is equally important to have dedicated and uninterrupted non-work time. The nature of our current situation is that work/life balance can be exceedingly difficult to maintain. If you can, try to keep the weekends to yourself.

This doesn’t mean you need to lay around and do nothing all day on Saturday and Sunday. In a recent post at Forbes on developing weekend habits to boost happiness and productivity, Syed Balkhi offers up ideas like going on solo “dates” and conducting weekly personal check-ins. The idea is to occupy yourself with enjoyable and invigorating activities, so you can return to the grind on Monday morning feeling refreshed and motivated.

Bottom line? It’s tough to be professionally productive if we aren’t personally content and fulfilled.

5— Manage Attention, Not Time

We recently helped our clients at monday.com put together a collection of tips on maximizing creative team output from a varied field of influential experts. All of the insights are worth perusing for those interested in the subject at hand, as is the accompanying guide, 7 Habits of Highly Productive Marketing and Design Teams. One concept that was raised multiple times in these contributions was a shift in mindset: from time management to attention management.

“The biggest challenge for getting important work done is not that we don’t have enough time. It’s that we have too many distractions,” said author and speaker Maura Nevel Thomas. “This is especially true for creative professionals who need to maximize their imagination, innovation, and inspiration. Instead of time management, focus on attention management.”

“One often-undervalued component of this is daydreaming,” she added, “which is when new ideas and insights form — a necessity for creative professionals.”

This ties back to the first recommendation above. You may very well produce more (and better) output during the one hour in the evening where you can fully focus and commit yourself to the work, as opposed to three hours during the day where you’re being continually pulled away by family, emails, chat messages, and meetings.

[bctt tweet=”“The biggest challenge for getting important work done is not that we don’t have enough time. It’s that we have too many distractions.” — Maura Nevel Thomas @mnthomas” username=”toprank”]

Find Your Edge and Finish Strong in 2020

Talent, tactics, technologies … they all contribute to successful results for B2B marketing organizations. But heightened productivity is that one difference-making intangible that can really set apart high-performing teams.

Finding and maintaining a strong level of productivity may require different mindsets and techniques than it did a year ago. Identify habits and routines that work for you and your teammates, get locked in, and produce your best work for the rest of the year and beyond.

Want more guidance on doing more with less? Uncover 5 Time-Saving Tips to Overclock Your B2B Marketing Efficiency from our own Lane Ellis.

The post 5 Ways B2B Marketers Can Boost Productivity and Focus appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

5 Ways B2B Marketers Can Boost Productivity and Focus

Focused and Productive B2B Marketer

Across every industry, profession, and discipline, work productivity is in peril.

How could it not be? Outside distractions have mounted over the course of the year, from a global pandemic to rampant social unrest to a headline-hijacking presidential election, all in the midst of economic turmoil. Through it all, many of us have been acclimating to a remote work setting that upends our established workflows and routines.

Frankly, we all deserve a pat on the back for being able to stay focused on work at all. So go ahead and give yourself one. But with plenty left to accomplish here in 2020, there’s little time to sit back and take a beat.

Marketing is a field that’s especially susceptible to negative productivity impacts at a time like this. We’re scrambling to adapt to changing circumstances for our companies, clients, and strategies. We’re rewriting best practices on the fly. And in a job where creativity is often a driving force, we’re trying to keep our minds clear and energized enough to produce unique and high-quality content.

If you find yourself looking for new ways to power up your team’s productivity (or your own) and get more done each day, here are a few suggestions that might help.

Boosting B2B Marketing Productivity

Based on my own experiences and some tips shared by others around the web, here are five techniques that are working when it comes to finding your groove and producing great work in tough times.

1 — Find and Preserve Your Productivity Pockets

Right now, each day can feel like a constant barrage of forces beckoning us away from the work we are trying to get done. Setting aside everything happening in the outside world, there are the things going on in your own space — maybe kids at home from school, or increased familial commitments, or a roommate who’s sharing an “office” (living room) with you.

As I wrote when sharing my own experiences as a content marketer in the pandemic, I believe it’s essential to carve out “productivity pockets” — dedicated periods of time where you can completely tune into your work, uninterrupted. Use this pocket to tackle your most intensive tasks.

It may be that your circumstances aren’t conducive to routinely scheduling this productivity pocket during standard work hours. In these cases, aim to create asynchronous structures that enable active collaboration with your coworkers, even if it’s not simultaneous.

“It’s essential to carve out ‘productivity pockets’ — dedicated periods of time where you can completely tune into your work, uninterrupted. Use this pocket to tackle your most intensive tasks.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

2— Scrutinize the Purpose Behind Meetings and Video Calls

At Digital Summit MPLS 2019, Workfront’s Mike Riding shared marketing productivity tips and noted that almost two-thirds of marketers point to meetings as the No. 1 barrier that gets in the way of their work. One year later, the environment has changed but that underlying issue has not; if anything, it’s magnified.

Zoom fatigue is real, y’all.

Riding listed five reasons why meetings exist:

  1. Give information
  2. Get information
  3. Develop ideas
  4. Make decisions
  5. Create warm, magical human contact

I would argue that in many cases, only the last one requires an actual meeting (and while the warmth and magic may feel a bit more artificial through a computer screen, they are still plenty valuable). Now more than ever, his recommendations for managing meeting overload are worth heeding:

  • Shave meeting times from 60 minutes to 30 minutes when possible.
  • Decline meetings that don’t have a set agenda.
  • Stack meetings back-to-back so as to minimize unproductive gaps in between.
  • And, as suggested above, block out time for your real work that is off-limits for scheduling meetings.

3— Consume New and Unfamiliar Content

Yes, it’s worthwhile to keep an eye on what your peers in the B2B marketing world are doing to stay informed and inspired. But I would also advise moving outside of your typical lane or comfort zone. Look into successful examples of B2C marketing campaigns to see how brands are connecting with their customers in empathetic, humanized ways. Watch a show or movie on Netflix that is beyond your usual genre mix. Play a story-driven video game. Read a new book.

Sameness, silos, and unrelenting routines can be destructive for creativity and productivity. As we like to say around here … Break free!

4— Unplug During the Weekend

Just as it’s important to have dedicated and uninterrupted work time, it is equally important to have dedicated and uninterrupted non-work time. The nature of our current situation is that work/life balance can be exceedingly difficult to maintain. If you can, try to keep the weekends to yourself.

This doesn’t mean you need to lay around and do nothing all day on Saturday and Sunday. In a recent post at Forbes on developing weekend habits to boost happiness and productivity, Syed Balkhi offers up ideas like going on solo “dates” and conducting weekly personal check-ins. The idea is to occupy yourself with enjoyable and invigorating activities, so you can return to the grind on Monday morning feeling refreshed and motivated.

Bottom line? It’s tough to be professionally productive if we aren’t personally content and fulfilled.

5— Manage Attention, Not Time

We recently helped our clients at monday.com put together a collection of tips on maximizing creative team output from a varied field of influential experts. All of the insights are worth perusing for those interested in the subject at hand, as is the accompanying guide, 7 Habits of Highly Productive Marketing and Design Teams. One concept that was raised multiple times in these contributions was a shift in mindset: from time management to attention management.

“The biggest challenge for getting important work done is not that we don’t have enough time. It’s that we have too many distractions,” said author and speaker Maura Nevel Thomas. “This is especially true for creative professionals who need to maximize their imagination, innovation, and inspiration. Instead of time management, focus on attention management.”

“One often-undervalued component of this is daydreaming,” she added, “which is when new ideas and insights form — a necessity for creative professionals.”

This ties back to the first recommendation above. You may very well produce more (and better) output during the one hour in the evening where you can fully focus and commit yourself to the work, as opposed to three hours during the day where you’re being continually pulled away by family, emails, chat messages, and meetings.

“The biggest challenge for getting important work done is not that we don’t have enough time. It’s that we have too many distractions.” — Maura Nevel Thomas @mnthomas Click To Tweet

Find Your Edge and Finish Strong in 2020

Talent, tactics, technologies … they all contribute to successful results for B2B marketing organizations. But heightened productivity is that one difference-making intangible that can really set apart high-performing teams.

Finding and maintaining a strong level of productivity may require different mindsets and techniques than it did a year ago. Identify habits and routines that work for you and your teammates, get locked in, and produce your best work for the rest of the year and beyond.

Want more guidance on doing more with less? Uncover 5 Time-Saving Tips to Overclock Your B2B Marketing Efficiency from our own Lane Ellis.

Search Intent and SEO: A Quick Guide

Understanding search intent can be the secret ingredient that brings your content strategy from okay to outstanding. As an SEO Strategist at a digital marketing agency (Brainlabs), we often find clients on the brink of ranking success. They’re sitting on stellar content that simply isn’t ranking for their target keywords. Why? Oftentimes, the keywords and the intent simply don’t match.

Here we’ll discuss the different types of search intent, how to determine the best intent for given keywords, and how to optimize for search intent. First–let’s iron out the basics.

What is search intent?

Search intent (also known as user intent) is the primary goal a user has when searching a query in a search engine. Many times, users are searching for a specific type of answer or resource as they search.

Take pizza for example. Searching for a pizza recipe has a different intent than searching for a takeout pizza, which is also different from searching for the history of pizza. Though they all revolve around the same overall topic (pizza), these users all have different intents.

Why is search intent important for SEO?

Google cares about search intent

The short answer is: Satisfying search intent is a primary goal for Google, which in turn makes it a primary goal for SEOs. When a user searches for a specific term and finds irrelevant information, that sends a signal back to Google that the intent is likely mismatched.

For example, if a user searches “How to build a website,” and they’re shown a slew of product pages for CMS platforms and hosting sites, they’ll try another search without clicking on anything. This is a signal to Google that the intent of those results do not reflect the intent of the searcher.

Broaden your reach across funnel stages

When it comes to running a business and building a successful content marketing strategy, I can’t stress enough the importance of remembering search intent, and letting that be the driving force behind the pieces of content you create and how you create them.

And just why is this so important? The more specific your content is to various search intents, the more users you can reach, and at different stages of the funnel. From those who are still to discover your brand to those looking to convert, you can increase your chances of reaching them all by focusing your efforts on matching search intent.

You can improve rankings

Since Google’s primary ranking factors are relevance, authority, and user satisfaction, it’s easy to connect the dots and see how improving your keyword targeting to mirror search intent can improve your overall rankings.

Relevance: This has to do with your user’s behavior. If they find the information they’re looking for on your site, they’re less likely to return to Google within seconds and explore a different result (pogo-sticking). You’ll notice a difference in such KPIs as click-through rate and bounce rate when your content is relevant to search intent.

Authority: While much of a site’s authority is connected to backlinks, it’s also important to develop a strong internal linking strategy that signals to Google “I have a lot of content covering all angles and intents surrounding this topic” to rank well. Additionally, you can increase brand authority and visibility by creating valuable content around topics your brand is well versed in, that satisfies various intents.

User satisfaction: Does the content you create provide value and is it relevant to your audience? End of story.

Types of search intent

While there are endless search terms, there are just four primary search intents:

  1. Informational
  2. Preferential/Commercial Investigation
  3. Transactional
  4. Navigational

Now you may be thinking, that’s all well and good, but what do they mean for my content? Luckily, I’ve broken each one down with example terms that suggest intent. Keep in mind, however, that searches are not binary –– many will fall under more than one category.

Informational

As you may have guessed, searches with informational intent come from users looking for… information! This could be in the form of a how-to guide, a recipe, or a definition. It’s one of the most common search intents, as users can look for answers to an infinite number of questions. That said, not all informational terms are questions. Users searching for simply “Bill Gates” are most likely looking for information about Bill Gates.

Examples:

  • How to boil an egg
  • What is a crater
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Directions to JFK Airport

Preferential/Commercial Investigation

Before they’re ready to make a purchase, users start their commercial investigation. This is when they use search to investigate products, brands, or services further. They’re past the informational stage of their research and have narrowed their focus to a few different options. Users here are often comparing products and brands to find the best solution for them.

Note: These searches often include non-branded localized terms such as “best body shop near me” or “top sushi restaurant NYC.”

Examples:

  • Semrush vs Moz
  • Best website hosting service
  • Squarespace reviews
  • WordPress or wix for blog

Transactional

Transactional searchers are looking to make a purchase. This could be a product, service, or subscription. Either way, they have a good idea of what they’re looking for. Since the user is already in buying mode, these terms are usually branded. Users are no longer researching the product, they’re looking for a place to purchase it.

Examples:

  • Buy Yeti tumbler
  • Seamless coupon
  • Shop Louis Vuitton bags
  • Van’s high tops sale

Navigational

These searchers are looking to navigate to a specific website, and it’s often easier to run a quick search in Google than to type out the URL. The user could also be unsure of the exact URL or looking for a specific page, e.g. a login page. As such, these searches tend to be brand or website names and can include additional specifications to help users find an exact page.

Examples:

  • Spotify login
  • Yelp
  • MOZ beginner SEO
  • distilledU

How to determine search intent

Consider keyword modifiers

As we briefly noted above, keyword modifiers can be helpful indicators for search intent. But it’s not enough just to know the terms, you may also be wondering, when it comes to keyword research, how do you find these terms?

Thankfully, there are a range of trusted keyword research tools out there to use. Their filter features will be most useful here, as you can filter terms that include certain modifiers or phrases.

Additionally, you can filter keywords by SERP feature. Taking informational intent for example, you can filter for keywords that rank for knowledge panels, related questions, and featured snippets.

Read the SERPs

Another way to determine search intent is to research the SERPs. Type in the keyword you’re targeting into the search bar and see what Google comes up with. You’ll likely be able to tell by the types of results what Google deems the most relevant search intent for each term.

Let’s take a closer look at search results for each intent type.

SERP results for informational intent

As mentioned above, informational keywords tend to own SERP results that provide condensed information. These include knowledge grabs, featured snippets, and related questions. The top results are most likely organic results, and consist of Wikipedia, dictionary, or informative blog posts.

SERP results for preferential/commercial research intent

Preferential intent is similar in that results may include a featured snippet, but they’ll also include paid results at the top of the SERP. The results will also likely provide information about the brands searched, rather than topical information.

In the example below, the organic results compare product features between competing site hosts, rather than explaining what site hosts are and how they function.

SERP results for transactional intent

Transactional SERPs are some of the most straightforward to spot. They usually lead with paid results and/or shopping results, shopping carousels, and reviews. The organic results are largely product pages from online and brick and mortar retailers, and depending on the search, can include maps to their locations.

SERP results for navigational intent

Since users with navigational intent already know which website they’re looking for, these results usually feature the most relevant page at the top: e.g. if the user searches “Spotify”, Spotify’s homepage will be the first result, whereas the login page will take first position for “Spotify login.”

Additional features such as site links, knowledge cards, and top stories may also be present, depending on the specific search.

Look at the full picture

Keep in mind that terms often have more than one search intent, so looking only at keywords or the SERP is rarely enough to truly define it. That said, taking this holistic approach will bring you closer to the most prominent intent.

It’s also important to note that SERPs are volatile, so while a keyword may rank for one intent this month, that could change next month.

How to optimize for search intent

Match metadata and content type to the intent

You’ve done your research and know which keywords you’re targeting with which pages. Now it’s time to optimize. A solid place to start is with your pages’ metadata –– update your title tag, H1, and H2s to reflect your specific keyword targeting. To increase click-through rate, try to leverage your title tag with some snappy copy (without creating clickbait).

Examine the competition

As with most competitions, it’s a good idea to suss out the current winners prior to the event. So, before jumping in to creating new pages or reformatting existing content, take a look at the top-ranking pages and ask yourself the following questions:

  • How are they formatted?
  • What’s their tone?
  • Which points do they cover?
  • What are they missing?

You can now use your answers to create the best, most relevant piece of content on the topic.

Format content for relevant SERP features

Just as you used the SERP features as clues to search intent, they can also be used to inform your pages’ formatting and content. If the featured snippet contains a numbered list, for example, it’s safe to say that Google appreciates and rewards that format for that term.

In a similar vein, if the SERP returns related questions, be sure to answer those questions clearly and concisely in your content.

Key takeaways:

When creating SEO content around search intent, be sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Understand the search intent before optimizing content
  • When discovering new terms, use specific modifiers in your keyword research
  • Use the SERPs to determine optimal formatting and content options
  • Provide valuable, quality content every time

Creating SEO optimized content for specific search intents is simple, but not easy. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to giving users the content they need in a format that they want.

For a deeper dive on fulfilling search intent, be sure to check out this informative Whiteboard Friday from Britney Muller.