B2B Marketing News: B2B Ad Spending Soars, Google’s New Audio Ad Features, Facebook’s Partnership Group Ads, & Top B2B Buyer Challenges

2020 August 14 MarketingCharts Chart

B2B Buyers’ Top Challenges With Their Current Vendors
51 percent of B2B buyers have changed their vendor preferences during the global health crisis, and they find that slow and inefficient inquiry responses from vendors is their biggest challenge — two of several findings of interest to B2B marketers in recently-released survey data. MarketingProfs

Facebook Adds New Sponsored Post Options for Groups
Facebook has launched a new option for digital marketers allowing paid partnership posts in Facebook Groups, giving admins new branded post advertising opportunities, the social media giant recently announced. Social Media Today

eMarketer: US B2B digital ad spend soars 22.6%
Bucking the overall pandemic ad spending trend, 2020 B2B digital ad spend in the U.S. is expected to rise over 22 percent from 2019 figures, a significantly better performance outlook than the 1.7 percent forecast increase in overall U.S. digital ad spend, according to newly-released B2B ad spending findings. The Drum

Google Sees Big Potential in Audio for Marketers and Publishers
Google has launched a new audio-specific area in its Google Ad Manager that offers marketers a variety of advertising options dedicated solely to digital audio ads, the search giant recently announced, as the digital audio market is poised to hit $1.3 billion by 2022 by some estimates. Adweek

Black Gen-Zers Want To See More Joy On Social Media, Study Finds
Almost 90 percent of black Gen-Z social media users would like to see more online content that celebrates joy, with the demographic also noting that the top emotions missing from content are excitement, joy, and comfort — some of the findings in recently-released Gen-Z social media survey data. Forbes

YouTube Publishes New Data on Rising Trends During COVID-19
Social connection, self-care and identity-related video content were among the top rising pandemic trends among newly-released YouTube viewership data, the Google-owned firm announced recently. Social Media Today

2020 August 14 Statistics Image

US Mobile Ad Spending Will Manage to Grow in 2020
As with the previously-mentioned B2B ad spending forecast, mobile ad spending in the U.S. is also forecast to buck the overall ad spend trend by climbing 4.8 percent this year, helping to keep total digital ad sales for the year on track for modest growth, according to recently-released report data. eMarketer

Google extends lead forms to YouTube, Discovery campaigns
Google has expanded its Google Ads platform to give digital marketers an array of new lead form extensions that allow advertisers to show forms directly in search, YouTube, and Discovery content, the search giant recently announced. Marketing Land

YouTube will stop emailing subscribers about new videos next week
YouTube has ceased sending the email notifications about newly-added content and live-stream events it has for years sent out to channel subscribers, noting that fewer than one percent of recipients typically opened the notification emails, parent company Google announced recently. 9to5Google

B2B Buyers’ Engagement With Digital Content Has Grown During the Pandemic, With Some Behavior Changes
B2B content engagement has risen by 40 percent during the pandemic, with the largest increases coming from executive summaries, landing pages, webinars, brochures, and briefs, while data sheets and presentations have seen decreased consumption, according to recently-released survey data. MarketingCharts

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 August 14 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at “From Brand Safety to Brand Suitability” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Apple Brilliantly Imagines a Parallel Universe Where Hollywood Always Used Vertical Video — Adweek

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Introducing AWeber’s New Email Marketing Podcast — The FWD: Thinking Show! — AWeber
  • TopRank Marketing — 8 Types of B2B Influencer Marketing for You to Consider (with 18 Examples) — ExpertClick
  • TopRank Marketing — Call for nominations: The Online Influence Awards 2020 — Vuelio
  • TopRank Marketing — Will Unions Make or Break Influencer Marketing [Video] — Cornett
  • TopRank Marketing — 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing (IM) Report from TopRank — Social Media Explorer
  • TopRank Marketing — Influencer Marketing Believed To Improve CX, According To New TopRank Marketing Report — Demand Gen Report
  • Lee Odden — Top 10 Social Media Marketing Podcasts You Should Listen To — PostBeyond

Have you found your own favorite marketing stories from the past week of news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for joining us, and we hope that you’ll return again next Friday for another collection 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.

Desktop, Mobile, or Voice? (D) All of the Above — Best of Whiteboard Friday

Needless to say, we’re facing more and more complexity in our everyday work, and the answers to our questions are about as clear as mud. In the wake of the 2018 mobile-first index, and since more searchers are home and not on-the-go, we’re left wondering where to focus our optimization efforts. Is desktop the most important? Is mobile? What about the voice phenomenon that’s now become part of our day-to-day lives?

As with most things, the most important factor is to consider your audience. People aren’t siloed to a single device — your optimization strategy shouldn’t be, either. In this informative Whiteboard Friday, Dr. Pete soothes our fears about a multi-platform world and highlights the necessity of optimizing for a journey rather than a touchpoint.

Desktop, Mobile, or Voice? All of the above.

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

Video Transcription

Hey, everybody. It’s Dr. Pete here from Moz. I am the Marketing Scientist here, and I flew in from Chicago just for you fine people to talk about something that I think is worrying us a little bit, especially with the rollout of the mobile index recently, and that is the question of: Should we be optimizing for desktop, for mobile, or for voice? I think the answer is (d) All of the above. I know that might sound a little scary, and you’re wondering how you do any of these. So I want to talk to you about some of what’s going on, some of our misconceptions around mobile and voice, and some of the ways that maybe this is a little easier than you think, at least to get started.

The mistakes we make

So, first of all, I think we make a couple of mistakes. When we’re talking about mobile for the last few years, we tend to go in and we look at our analytics and we do this. These are made up. The green numbers are made up or the blue ones. We say, “Okay, about 90% of my traffic is coming from desktop, about 10% is coming from mobile, and nothing is coming from voice. So I’m just going to keep focusing on desktop and not worry about these other two experiences, and I’ll be fine.” There are two problems with this:

Self-fulfilling prophecy

One is that these numbers are kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. They might not be coming to your mobile site. You might not be getting those mobile visitors because your mobile experience is terrible. People come to it and it’s lousy, and they don’t come back. In the case of voice, we might just not be getting that data yet. We have very little data. So this isn’t telling us anything. All this may be telling us is that we’re doing a really bad job on mobile and people have given up. We’ve seen that with Moz in the past. We didn’t adopt to mobile as fast as maybe we should have. We saw that in the numbers, and we argued about it because we said, “You know what? This doesn’t really tell us what the opportunity is or what our customers or users want. It’s just telling us what we’re doing well or badly right now, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Audiences

The other mistake I think we make is the idea that these are three separate audiences. There are people who come to our site on desktop, people who come to our site on mobile, people who come to our site on voice, and these are three distinct groups of people. I think that’s incredibly wrong, and that leads to some very bad ideas and some bad tactical decisions and some bad choices.

So I want to share a couple of stats. There was a study Google did called The Multiscreen World, and this was almost six years ago, 2012. They found six years ago that 65% of searchers started a search on their smartphones. Two-thirds of searchers started on smartphones six years ago. Sixty percent of those searches were continued on a desktop or laptop. Again, this has been six years, so we know the adoption rate of mobile has increased. So these are not people who only use desktop or who only use mobile. These are people on a journey of search that move between devices, and I think in the real world it looks more something like this right now.

Another stat from the series was that 88% of people said that they used their smartphone and their TV at the same time. This isn’t shocking to you. You sit in front of the TV with your phone and you sit in front of the TV with your laptop. You might sit in front of the TV with a smartwatch. These devices are being used at the same time, and we’re doing more searches and we’re using more devices. So one of these things isn’t replacing the other.

The cross-device journey

So a journey could look something like this. You’re watching TV. You see an ad and you hear about something. You see a video you like. You go to your phone while you’re watching it, and you do a search on that to get more information. Then later on, you go to your laptop and you do a bit of research, and you want that bigger screen to see what’s going on. Then at the office the next day, you’re like, “Oh, I’ll pull up that bookmark. I wanted to check something on my desktop where I have more bandwidth or something.” You’re like, “Oh, maybe I better not buy that at work. I don’t want to get in trouble. So I’m going to home and go back to my laptop and make that purchase.” So this purchase and this transaction, this is one visitor on this chain, and I think we do this a lot right now, and that’s only going to increase, where we operate between devices and this journey happens across devices.

So the challenge I would make to you is if you’re looking at this and you’re saying, “Only so many percent of our users are on mobile. Our mobile experience doesn’t matter that much. It’s not that important. We can just live with the desktop people. That’s enough. We’ll make enough money.” If they’re really on this journey and they’re not segmented like this, and this chain, you break it, what happens? You lose that person completely, and that was a person who also used desktop. So that person might be someone who you bucketed in your 90%, but they never really got to the device of choice and they never got to the transaction, because by having a lousy mobile experience, you’ve broken the chain. So I want you to be aware of that, that this is the cross-device journey and not these segmented ideas.

Future touchpoints

This is going to get worse. This is going to get scarier for us. So look at the future. We’re going to be sitting in our car and we’re going to be listening — I still listen to CDs in the car, I know it’s kind of sad — but you’re going to be listening to satellite radio or your Wi-Fi or whatever you have coming in, and let’s say you hear a podcast or you hear an author and you go, “Oh, that person sounds interesting. I want to learn more about them.” You tell your smartwatch, “Save this search. Tell me something about this author. Give me their books.” Then you go home and you go on Google Home and you pull up that search, and it says, “Oh, you know what? I’ve got a video. I can’t play that because obviously I’m a voice search device, but I can send that to Chromecast on your TV.” So you send that to your TV, and you watch that. While you’re watching the TV, you’ve got your phone out and you’re saying, “Oh, I’d kind of like to buy that.” You go to Amazon and you make that transaction.

So it took this entire chain of devices. Again now, what about the voice part of this chain? That might not seem important to you right now, but if you break the chain there, this whole transaction is gone. So I think the danger is by neglecting pieces of this and not seeing that this is a journey that happens across devices, we’re potentially putting ourselves at much higher risk than we think.

On the plus side

I also want to look at sort of the positive side of this. All of these devices are touchpoints in the journey, and they give us credibility. We found something interesting at Moz a few years ago, which was that our sale as a SaaS product on average took about three touchpoints. People didn’t just hit the Moz homepage, do a free trial, and then buy it. They might see a Whiteboard Friday. They might read our Beginner’s Guide. They might go to the blog. They might participate in the community. If they hit us with three touchpoints, they were much more likely to convert.

So I think the great thing about this journey is that if you’re on all these touchpoints, even though to you that might seem like one search, it lends you credibility. You were there when they ran the search on that device. You were there when they tried to repeat that search on voice. The information was in that video. You’re there on that mobile search. You’re there on that desktop search. The more times they see you in that chain, the more that you seem like a credible source. So I think this can actually be good for us.

The SEO challenge

So I think the challenge is, “Well, I can’t go out and hire a voice team and a mobile team and do a design for all of these things. I don’t want to build a voice app. I don’t have the budget. I don’t have the buy-in.” That’s fine.
One thing I think is really great right now and that we’re encouraging people to experiment with, we’ve talked a lot about featured snippets. We’ve talked about these answer boxes that give you an organic result. One of the things Google is trying to do with this is they realize that they need to use their same core engine, their same core competency across all devices. So the engine that powers search, they want that to run on a TV. They want that to run on a laptop, on a desktop, on a phone, on a watch, on Goggle Home. They don’t want to write algorithms for all of these things.

So Google thinks of their entire world in terms of cards. You may not see that on desktop, but everything on desktop is a card. This answer box is a card. That’s more obvious. It’s got that outline. Every organic result, every ad, every knowledge panel, every news story is a card. What that allows Google to do, and will allow them to do going forward, is to mix and match and put as many pieces of information as it makes sense for any given device. So for desktop, that might be a whole bunch. For mobile, that’s going to be a vertical column. It might be less. But for a watch or a Google Glass, or whatever comes after that, or voice, you’re probably only going to get one card.

But one great thing right now, from an SEO perspective, is these featured snippets, these questions and answers, they fit on that big screen. We call it result number zero on desktop because you’ve got that box, and you’ve got a bunch of stuff underneath it. But that box is very prominent. On mobile, that same question and answer take up a lot more screen space. So they’re still a SERP, but that’s very dominant, and then there’s some stuff underneath. On voice, that same question and answer pairing is all you get, and we’re seeing that a lot of the answers on voice, unless they’re specialty like recipes or weather or things like that, have this question and answer format, and those are also being driven by featured snippets.

So the good news I think, and will hopefully stay good news going forward, is that because Google wants all these devices to run off that same core engine, the things you do to rank well for desktop and to be useful for desktop users are also going to help you rank on mobile. They’re going to help you rank on voice, and they’re going to help you rank across all these devices. So I want you to be aware of this. I want you to try and not to break that chain. But I think the things we’re already good at will actually help us going forward in the future, and I’d highly encourage you to experiment with featured snippets to see how questions and answers appear on mobile and to see how they appear on Google Home, and to know that there’s going to be an evolution where all of these devices benefit somewhat from the kind of optimization techniques that we’re already good at hopefully.

Encourage the journey chain

So I also want to say that when you optimize for answers, the best answers leave searchers wanting more. So what you want to do is actually encourage this chain, encourage people to do more research, give them rich content, give them the kinds of things that draw them back to your site, that build credibility, because this chain is actually good news for us in a way. This can help us make a purchase. If we’re credible on these devices, if we have a decent mobile experience, if we come up on voice, that’s going to help us really kind of build our brand and be a positive thing for us if we work on it.

So I’d like you to tell me, what are your fears right now? I think we’re a little scared of the mobile index. What are you worried about with voice? What are you worried about with IoT? Are you concerned that we’re going to have to rank on our refrigerators, and what does that mean? So it’s getting into science fiction territory, but I’d love to talk about it more. I will see you in the comment section.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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A Day in the Life of a Content Marketer During the Pandemic: Challenges and Tips

Working at Home with Cat on Laptop

Working at Home with Cat on Laptop

I’ll never forget the night that everything really changed.

It was my wife’s birthday, March 11th. I took her out for dinner at a lovely restaurant in South Minneapolis, and for a couple of blissful hours, over exotic cocktails and delicious food, we unplugged from the loudening noise of a worrisome outside world.

After we walked out of that restaurant, there would be no more tuning out.

Stepping out from the darkly lit building, I looked down at my phone, and tried to process the sudden rush of stunning headlines:

WHO declares global pandemic. NBA suspends season. Trump addresses the nation. Tom Hanks has coronavirus. Tom Hanks!

It all happened on the same day, like a floodgate bursting. And the ensuing deluge has since uprooted almost every sense of normalcy we once knew. Around that time, I stopped going into work, as did most others around the country. I haven’t gone back since, save for the odd trip to water a plant or record a video in an empty office.

TopRank Marketing has been in WFH mode for more than five years now. Sorry, did I say years? Months. Needless to say, I know we are not alone, which is why I thought I’d offer a look at my typical day as a content marketer in the (ugh) “new normal,” and share some helpful things I’ve learned.

We’re all figuring this out as we go.

Overcoming New Daily Challenges as a Content Marketer During the Summer of COVID

I count myself as a lucky man, for a lot of reasons. One of them is that I can do my job pretty frictionlessly from home. While I miss seeing my coworkers, and there are newfound challenges (as I’ll discuss), I’m able to stay productive. In part that’s because I’ve developed my own personal solutions to these WFH hurdles. Maybe some of them can help you.

Getting Going in the Morning

I’m not what one would call a “morning person.” Generally I am rather groggy and cloudy after waking up. In this respect, going into the office was always helpful for me – the routine of showering, getting dressed, prepping some breakfast and coffee, and hopping into the car was inherently awakening.

I can’t say I take all those steps on a typical morning anymore. For a while, it was tough, getting in the mindset of traveling from bedroom to living room, and suddenly entering Work Mode. But what I’ve found helpful is using the morning as a bit of personal zen time. Unless I have early meetings, I’ll usually rouse myself gradually, pour some coffee, scroll Twitter, and size up my day. I’ll go through my emails, prioritize my tasks, and check in with account managers. This helps me build momentum toward optimal mid-day productivity.

Takeaway: Work/life balance can be tough during these times. (It’s often cited in surveys as one of the biggest challenges for full-time remote workers.) Don’t force yourself to instantly flip a switch. Find a comfortable routine that works for you.

Managing Distractions and Finding the Zone

Being in the office can bring its own set of distractions, but there are some unique ones associated with working from home. For many people, creating a designated workspace around the house is helpful. Personally, I live in a small apartment with my wife (who’s also working from home), and all of our building’s common areas have been closed, so finding our own space can be a challenge.

There are no easy answers to this one. Folks who have children home all day have it much worse than me. Especially in creative pursuits like planning and developing content, it’s key to find a zone, and the disruptions of screaming kiddos or a construction worker banging away outside can be anathema when it comes to getting things done.

The main thing I would advise is this: embrace asynchronous work to the extent possible. This basically refers to operating around your own schedule rather than those of others. For example, if there’s no timely need for me to work on something during the day, and my wife has meetings throughout the afternoon, maybe I’ll set aside a few hours in the evening to dive in.

Takeaway: Flexible work is becoming the new norm. Free yourself from the constrictions of a 9-to-5 workday and determine a schedule that facilitates your best work (while still being there for your teammates and clients as needed).

[bctt tweet=”“Overcome WFH distractions by embracing asynchronous work to the extent possible.” @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #WFHtips” username=”toprank”]

Communicating with Colleagues and Clients

In Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report 2020, when respondents were asked about their biggest struggle with working remotely, there was a two-way tie for first place:

  • Collaboration and communication
  • Loneliness

No surprise, as these responses basically tie back to the same ultimate downside of working away from our coworkers: disconnection and isolation. Collaboration is vital to producing the best work possible, as I rely on the talents and smarts of my teammates to enhance my own efforts.

There is no way to replicate the energy and organic spontaneity of working in the physical proximity of your coworkers. My best recommendation is finding varied ways to coordinate and communicate. Don’t rely on just one channel. Slack is good, and Zoom is good, but both can cause fatigue when overdone. Try different methods of collaborating, like generating ideas with a teammate simultaneously in a Google Doc, or even jumping on the good ol’-fashioned telephone.

One more thing: carve out “do not disturb” zones. When you’re in the office, you can plug in your headphones and signal that you’re focusing. Work with your team to create similar arrangements in the WFH, where this is far more ambiguous. You might even collectively decide on a consistent portion of the day where no meetings are scheduled and expectations for responsiveness are lowered (for us at TopRank, this is from noon to one every afternoon).

Takeaway: Maintaining consistent and constructive communication is one of the toughest challenges for distributed teams. The best way to foster remote collaboration is to … collaborate. Work together to develop practices and protocols that best align with everyone’s preferences.

[bctt tweet=”“The best way to foster remote collaboration is to … collaborate. Work together to develop practices and protocols that best align with everyone’s preferences.” @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #WFHtips” username=”toprank”]

Breaking Up the Day

Monotony can be one of the biggest inhibitors of creativity and productivity in WFH settings. There is a natural variety that plays out when you go into the office: interacting with different people, moving between meeting rooms, maybe running out for coffee or lunch as a change of scenery. Working from home, especially at a time where we’re all encouraged to quarantine and avoid public places, can really make the hours and days run together.

This leads to one of the biggest benefits I’ve discovered in the altered routine. It is now much easier to get out and get active. Sure, we’d occasionally go out for team walks when we were in the office, but without the ability to shower and change clothes I wasn’t exactly going out for intense exercise. And by the time I got home, I was often too tuckered out.

Now, I find myself getting out for a run, bike ride, or brisk walk almost every afternoon. It’s rejuvenating for body and mind. One silver lining of this pandemic is its timing; at least it struck as the summer was getting underway, which has allowed me to enjoy a lot of nice weather outdoors.

Takeaway: Find activities you enjoy to break up your workday and keep your mind fresh. Whether it’s exercise, a hobby, or simply unplugging, working from home provides the freedom to step away. And embracing asynchronicity enables you to distribute your work throughout the day.

For Better or Worse… There’s No Place Like Home

Plenty of people have been working from home full-time for years, and have developed their own habits and routines to optimize for it. But for many, like myself and surely many reading this, it’s something we’ve had to learn on the fly, out of necessity.

The good news is that our adaptations during this time will benefit us and our companies going forward. I am in full agreement with our clients at Sococo, who make a strong evidence-based argument that distributed work is here to stay and will forever be part of our reality going forward. Those individuals and teams that take this opportunity to innovate and create seamless remote work infrastructures will be poised to excel in the (groan) new normal.

With all that said, when I’m finally able to go back into the office and see my coworkers face to face, I’m definitely going to have an all-new appreciation for it.

For tips from one of those full-time remote workers who has been doing it a long time, explore Lane Ellis’s post from earlier this year sharing remote working tips from a distance marketer.

The post A Day in the Life of a Content Marketer During the Pandemic: Challenges and Tips appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

A Day in the Life of a Content Marketer During the Pandemic: Challenges and Tips

Working at Home with Cat on Laptop

I’ll never forget the night that everything really changed.

It was my wife’s birthday, March 11th. I took her out for dinner at a lovely restaurant in South Minneapolis, and for a couple of blissful hours, over exotic cocktails and delicious food, we unplugged from the loudening noise of a worrisome outside world.

After we walked out of that restaurant, there would be no more tuning out.

Stepping out from the darkly lit building, I looked down at my phone, and tried to process the sudden rush of stunning headlines:

WHO declares global pandemic. NBA suspends season. Trump addresses the nation. Tom Hanks has coronavirus. Tom Hanks!

It all happened on the same day, like a floodgate bursting. And the ensuing deluge has since uprooted almost every sense of normalcy we once knew. Around that time, I stopped going into work, as did most others around the country. I haven’t gone back since, save for the odd trip to water a plant or record a video in an empty office.

TopRank Marketing has been in WFH mode for more than five years now. Sorry, did I say years? Months. Needless to say, I know we are not alone, which is why I thought I’d offer a look at my typical day as a content marketer in the (ugh) “new normal,” and share some helpful things I’ve learned.

We’re all figuring this out as we go.

Overcoming New Daily Challenges as a Content Marketer During the Summer of COVID

I count myself as a lucky man, for a lot of reasons. One of them is that I can do my job pretty frictionlessly from home. While I miss seeing my coworkers, and there are newfound challenges (as I’ll discuss), I’m able to stay productive. In part that’s because I’ve developed my own personal solutions to these WFH hurdles. Maybe some of them can help you.

Getting Going in the Morning

I’m not what one would call a “morning person.” Generally I am rather groggy and cloudy after waking up. In this respect, going into the office was always helpful for me – the routine of showering, getting dressed, prepping some breakfast and coffee, and hopping into the car was inherently awakening.

I can’t say I take all those steps on a typical morning anymore. For a while, it was tough, getting in the mindset of traveling from bedroom to living room, and suddenly entering Work Mode. But what I’ve found helpful is using the morning as a bit of personal zen time. Unless I have early meetings, I’ll usually rouse myself gradually, pour some coffee, scroll Twitter, and size up my day. I’ll go through my emails, prioritize my tasks, and check in with account managers. This helps me build momentum toward optimal mid-day productivity.

Takeaway: Work/life balance can be tough during these times. (It’s often cited in surveys as one of the biggest challenges for full-time remote workers.) Don’t force yourself to instantly flip a switch. Find a comfortable routine that works for you.

Managing Distractions and Finding the Zone

Being in the office can bring its own set of distractions, but there are some unique ones associated with working from home. For many people, creating a designated workspace around the house is helpful. Personally, I live in a small apartment with my wife (who’s also working from home), and all of our building’s common areas have been closed, so finding our own space can be a challenge.

There are no easy answers to this one. Folks who have children home all day have it much worse than me. Especially in creative pursuits like planning and developing content, it’s key to find a zone, and the disruptions of screaming kiddos or a construction worker banging away outside can be anathema when it comes to getting things done.

The main thing I would advise is this: embrace asynchronous work to the extent possible. This basically refers to operating around your own schedule rather than those of others. For example, if there’s no timely need for me to work on something during the day, and my wife has meetings throughout the afternoon, maybe I’ll set aside a few hours in the evening to dive in.

Takeaway: Flexible work is becoming the new norm. Free yourself from the constrictions of a 9-to-5 workday and determine a schedule that facilitates your best work (while still being there for your teammates and clients as needed).

“Overcome WFH distractions by embracing asynchronous work to the extent possible.” @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #WFHtips Click To Tweet

Communicating with Colleagues and Clients

In Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report 2020, when respondents were asked about their biggest struggle with working remotely, there was a two-way tie for first place:

  • Collaboration and communication
  • Loneliness

No surprise, as these responses basically tie back to the same ultimate downside of working away from our coworkers: disconnection and isolation. Collaboration is vital to producing the best work possible, as I rely on the talents and smarts of my teammates to enhance my own efforts.

There is no way to replicate the energy and organic spontaneity of working in the physical proximity of your coworkers. My best recommendation is finding varied ways to coordinate and communicate. Don’t rely on just one channel. Slack is good, and Zoom is good, but both can cause fatigue when overdone. Try different methods of collaborating, like generating ideas with a teammate simultaneously in a Google Doc, or even jumping on the good ol’-fashioned telephone.

One more thing: carve out “do not disturb” zones. When you’re in the office, you can plug in your headphones and signal that you’re focusing. Work with your team to create similar arrangements in the WFH, where this is far more ambiguous. You might even collectively decide on a consistent portion of the day where no meetings are scheduled and expectations for responsiveness are lowered (for us at TopRank, this is from noon to one every afternoon).

Takeaway: Maintaining consistent and constructive communication is one of the toughest challenges for distributed teams. The best way to foster remote collaboration is to … collaborate. Work together to develop practices and protocols that best align with everyone’s preferences.

“The best way to foster remote collaboration is to … collaborate. Work together to develop practices and protocols that best align with everyone’s preferences.” @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #WFHtips Click To Tweet

Breaking Up the Day

Monotony can be one of the biggest inhibitors of creativity and productivity in WFH settings. There is a natural variety that plays out when you go into the office: interacting with different people, moving between meeting rooms, maybe running out for coffee or lunch as a change of scenery. Working from home, especially at a time where we’re all encouraged to quarantine and avoid public places, can really make the hours and days run together.

This leads to one of the biggest benefits I’ve discovered in the altered routine. It is now much easier to get out and get active. Sure, we’d occasionally go out for team walks when we were in the office, but without the ability to shower and change clothes I wasn’t exactly going out for intense exercise. And by the time I got home, I was often too tuckered out.

Now, I find myself getting out for a run, bike ride, or brisk walk almost every afternoon. It’s rejuvenating for body and mind. One silver lining of this pandemic is its timing; at least it struck as the summer was getting underway, which has allowed me to enjoy a lot of nice weather outdoors.

Takeaway: Find activities you enjoy to break up your workday and keep your mind fresh. Whether it’s exercise, a hobby, or simply unplugging, working from home provides the freedom to step away. And embracing asynchronicity enables you to distribute your work throughout the day.

For Better or Worse… There’s No Place Like Home

Plenty of people have been working from home full-time for years, and have developed their own habits and routines to optimize for it. But for many, like myself and surely many reading this, it’s something we’ve had to learn on the fly, out of necessity.

The good news is that our adaptations during this time will benefit us and our companies going forward. I am in full agreement with our clients at Sococo, who make a strong evidence-based argument that distributed work is here to stay and will forever be part of our reality going forward. Those individuals and teams that take this opportunity to innovate and create seamless remote work infrastructures will be poised to excel in the (groan) new normal.

With all that said, when I’m finally able to go back into the office and see my coworkers face to face, I’m definitely going to have an all-new appreciation for it.

For tips from one of those full-time remote workers who has been doing it a long time, explore Lane Ellis’s post from earlier this year sharing remote working tips from a distance marketer.

The MozCon Virtual Video Bundle Is Here (Plus, Our 2019 Videos are FREE!)

This year’s MozCon was unlike any other. In the midst of a global pandemic, we pivoted from planning our traditional 1,600-plus in-person shindig to an online conference that ended up bigger and more well-attended than anything we’d done before. MozCon Virtual was a delightful journey into the unknown. Just a few of the practical lessons we learned:

And while it may have felt a little different this year, with 21 industry experts covering topics all the way from easy-to-implement machine learning to effective content promotion to crafting a keyword strategy that accounts for a world in crisis, MozCon Virtual offered up the same caliber of high-quality content as any in-person event we’ve ever thrown.

And we’re happy to share that if you missed the conference live, the MozCon 2020 video bundle is now available for your viewing pleasure!

Start watching now

For $129, you’ll gain access to every presentation and speaker deck to watch as many times as you’d like. Schedule a viewing party with your team and get everyone on board with the best digital marketing advice, data, tools, and resources for the coming year.

If you’d like a taste of what this year’s video bundle’s got cooking, check out Rob Ousbey’s talk from this year’s event:

A Novel Approach to Scraping Websites

Throughout a decade in SEO consulting, Rob needed to extract data from websites on many an occasion. Often this was at scale from sites that didn’t have an API or export feature, or on sites that required some kind of authentication. While this was primarily a way to collect & combine data from different SEO tools, the use-cases were endless.

He found a technique that helped immensely, particularly when traditional tools couldn’t do the job — but hadn’t seen anyone using the same approach. In this very tactical session, Rob will walk through the steps he’s used to extract data from all sorts of sites, from small fry to the giants, and give you the tools and knowledge to do the same.

As a bonus, Rob’s put together a list of handy resources on his website to support you as you pursue your own data collection dreams!


Watch the MozCon 2019 videos for free in our SEO Learning Center!

Now that our MozCon Virtual videos are out in the world, we’ve released all the content from MozCon 2019 for free in our SEO Learning Center. Twenty-six sessions full of actionable insights and digital marketing advice await you — read on to see what goodies you might have missed last year!

Web Search 2019: The Essential Data Marketers Need

Rand Fishkin

It’s been a rough couple years in search. Google’s domination and need for additional growth has turned the search giant into a competitor for more and more publishers, and plateaued the longstanding trend of Google’s growing referral traffic. But in the midst of this turmoil, opportunities have emerged, too. In this presentation, Rand will look not only at how Google (and Amazon, YouTube, Instagram, and others) have leveraged their monopoly power in concerning ways, but also how to find opportunities for traffic, branding, and marketing success.

Human > Machine > Human: Understanding Human-Readable Quality Signals and Their Machine-Readable Equivalents

Ruth Burr Reedy

The push and pull of making decisions for searchers versus search engines is an ever-present SEO conundrum. How do you tackle industry changes through the lens of whether something is good for humans or for machines? Ruth will take us through human-readable quality signals and their machine-readable equivalents and how to make SEO decisions accordingly, as well as how to communicate change to clients and bosses.

Improved Reporting & Analytics Within Google Tools

Dana DiTomaso

Covering the intersections between some of our favorite free tools — Google Data Studio, Google Analytics, and Google Tag Manager — Dana will be deep-diving into how to improve your reporting and analytics, even providing downloadable Data Studio templates along the way.

Local SERP Analytics: The Challenges and Opportunities

Rob Bucci

We all know that SERPs are becoming increasingly local. Google is more and more looking to satisfy local intent queries for searchers. There’s a treasure-trove of data in local SERPs that SEOs can use to outrank their competitors. In this session, Rob will talk about the challenges that come with trying to do SERP analytics at a local level and the opportunities that await those who can overcome those challenges.

Keywords Aren’t Enough: How to Uncover Content Ideas Worth Chasing

Ross Simmonds

Many marketers focus solely on keyword research when crafting their content, but it just isn’t enough if you want to gain a competitive edge. Ross will share a framework for uncovering content ideas leveraged from forums, communities, niche sites, good old-fashioned SERP analysis, tools and techniques to help along the way, and exclusive research surrounding the data that backs this up.

How to Supercharge Link Building with a Digital PR Newsroom

Shannon McGuirk

Everyone who’s ever tried their hand at link building knows how much effort it demands. If only there was a way to keep a steady stream of quality links coming in the door for clients, right? In this talk, Shannon will share how to set up a “digital PR newsroom” in-house or agency-side that supports and grows your link building efforts. Get your note-taking hand ready, because she’s going to outline her process and provide a replicable tutorial for how to make it happen.

From Zero to Local Ranking Hero

Darren Shaw

From zero web presence to ranking hyper-locally, Darren will take us along on the 8-month-long journey of a business growing its digital footprint and analyzing what worked (and didn’t) along the way. How well will they rank from a GMB listing alone? What about when citations were added, and later indexed? Did having a keyword in the business name help or harm, and what changes when they earn a few good links? Buckle up for this wild ride as we discover exactly what impact different strategies have on local rankings.

Esse Quam Videri: When Faking It Is Harder than Making It

Russ Jones

Covering a breadth of SEO topics, Russ will show us how the correct use of available tools makes it easier to actually be the best in your market rather than try to cut corners and fake it. If you’re a fan of hacks and shortcuts, come prepared to have your mind changed.

Building a Discoverability Powerhouse: Lessons from Merging an Organic, Paid, & Content Practice

Heather Physioc

Search is a channel that can’t live in a silo. In order to be its most effective, search teams have to collaborate successfully across paid, organic, content and more. Get tips for integrating and collaborating from the hard knocks and learnings of merging an organic, paid and performance content team into one Discoverability group. Find out how we went from three teams of individual experts to one integrated Discoverability powerhouse, and learn from our mistakes and wins as you apply the principles in your own company.

Brand Is King: How to Rule in the New Era of Local Search

Mary Bowling

Get ready for a healthy dose of all things local with this talk! Mary will deep-dive into how the Google Local algorithm has matured in 2019 and how marketers need to mature with it; how the major elements of the algo (relevance, prominence, and proximity) influence local rankings and how they affect each other; how local results are query-dependent; how to feed business info into the Knowledge Graph; and how brand is now “king” in local search.

Making Memories: Creating Content People Remember

Casie Gillette

We know that only 20% of people remember what they read, but 80% remember what they saw. How do you create something people actually remember? You have to think beyond words and consider factors like images, colors, movement, location, and more. In this talk, Casie will dissect what brands are currently doing to capture attention and how everyone, regardless of budget or resources, can create the kind of content their audience will actually remember.

20 Years in Search & I Don’t Trust My Gut or Google

Wil Reynolds

What would your reaction be if you were told that one of Wil’s clients got more conversions from zero-volume search terms than search terms with 1000+ searches per month? It’s true. Wil found this out in seconds, leading him to really look at his whole client strategy through a new lens. It also made him question company-wide strategies. How prevalent is this across all clients? Don’t they all deserve to get these insights? It required him to dig into the long tail, deep. To use big data and see PPC data as insights, not just marketing.

What would your reaction be if you were told that Google’s “bad click” business could be generating as much annually as Starbucks or McDonalds?

Wil will be making the case for big data, agencies, and why building systems that looking at every single search term you get matched to is the future of search marketing.

Super-Practical Tips for Improving Your Site’s E-A-T

Marie Haynes

Google has admitted that they measure the concept of “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness” in their algorithms. If your site is categorized under YMYL (Your Money or Your Life), you absolutely must have good E-A-T in order to rank well. In this talk, you’ll learn how Google measures E-A-T and what changes you can make both on site and off in order to outrank your competitors. Using real-life examples, Marie will answer what E-A-T is and how Google measures it, what changes you can make on your site to improve how E-A-T is displayed, and what you can do off-site to improve E-A-T.

Fixing the Indexability Challenge: A Data-Based Framework

Areej AbuAli

How do you turn an unwieldy 2.5 million-URL website into a manageable and indexable site of just 20,000 pages? Areej will share the methodology and takeaways used to restructure a job aggregator site which, like many large websites, had huge problems with indexability and the rules used to direct robot crawl. This talk will tackle tough crawling and indexing issues, diving into the case study with flow charts to explain the full approach and how to implement it.

What Voice Means for Search Marketers: Top Findings from the 2019 Report

Christi Olson

How can search marketers take advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of today’s voice assistants? Diving into three scenarios for informational, navigational, and transactional queries, Christi will share how to use language semantics for better content creation and paid targeting, how to optimize existing content to be voice-friendly (including the new voice schema markup!), and what to expect from future algorithm updates as they adapt to assistants that read responses aloud, no screen required. Highlighting takeaways around voice commerce from the report, this talk will ultimately provide a breakdown on how search marketers can begin to adapt their shopping experience for v-commerce.

Redefining Technical SEO

Paul Shapiro

It’s time to throw the traditional definition of technical SEO out the window. Why? Because technical SEO is much, much bigger than just crawling, indexing, and rendering. Technical SEO is applicable to all areas of SEO, including content development and other creative functions. In this session, you’ll learn how to integrate technical SEO into all aspects of your SEO program.

How Many Words Is a Question Worth?

Dr. Peter J. Meyers

Traditional keyword research is poorly suited to Google’s quest for answers. One question might represent thousands of keyword variants, so how do we find the best questions, craft content around them, and evaluate success? Dr. Pete dives into three case studies to answer these questions.

Fraggles, Mobile-First Indexing, & the SERP of the Future

Cindy Krum

Before you ask: no, this isn’t Fraggle Rock, MozCon edition! Cindy will cover the myriad ways mobile-first indexing is changing the SERPs, including progressive web apps, entity-first indexing, and how “fraggles” are indexed in the Knowledge Graph and what it all means for the future of mobile SERPs.

Killer CRO and UX Wins Using an SEO Crawler

Luke Carthy

CRO, UX, and an SEO crawler? You read that right! Luke will share actionable tips on how to identify revenue wins and impactful low-hanging fruit to increase conversions and improve UX with the help of a site crawler typically used for SEO, as well as a generous helping of data points from case studies and real-world examples.

Content, Rankings, and Lead Generation: A Breakdown of the 1% Content Strategy

Andy Crestodina

How can you use data to find and update content for higher rankings and more traffic? Andy will take us through a four-point presentation that pulls together the most effective tactics around content into a single high-powered content strategy with even better results.

Running Your Own SEO Tests: Why It Matters & How to Do It Right

Rob Ousbey

Google’s algorithms have undergone significant changes in recent years. Traditional ranking signals don’t hold the same sway they used to, and they’re being usurped by factors like UX and brand that are becoming more important than ever before. What’s an SEO to do?

The answer lies in testing.

Sharing original data and results from clients, Rob will highlight the necessity of testing, learning, and iterating your work, from traditional UX testing to weighing the impact of technical SEO changes, tweaking on-page elements, and changing up content on key pages. Actionable processes and real-world results abound in this thoughtful presentation on why you should be testing SEO changes, how and where to run them, and what kinds of tests you ought to consider for your circumstances.

Dark Helmet’s Guide to Local Domination with Google Posts and Q&A

Greg Gifford

Google Posts and Questions & Answers are two incredibly powerful features of Google My Business, yet most people don’t even know they exist. Greg will walk through Google Posts in detail, sharing how they work, how to use them, and tips for optimization based on testing with hundreds of clients. He’ll also cover the Q&A section of GMB (a feature that lets anyone in the community speak for your business), share the results of a research project covering hundreds of clients, share some hilarious examples of Q&A run wild, and explain exactly how to use Q&A the right way to win more local business.

How to Audit for Inclusive Content

Emily Triplett Lentz

Digital marketers have a responsibility to learn to spot the biases that frequently find their way into online copy, replacing them with alternatives that lead to stronger, clearer messaging and that cultivate wider, more loyal and enthusiastic audiences. Last year, Help Scout audited several years of content for unintentionally exclusionary language that associated physical disabilities or mental illness with negative-sounding terms, resulting in improved writing clarity and a stronger brand. You’ll learn what inclusive content is, how it helps to engage a larger and more loyal audience, how to conduct an audit of potentially problematic language on a site, and how to optimize for inclusive, welcoming language.

Get the Look: Improve the Shopper Experience with Image and Visual Search Optimization

Joelle Irvine

With voice, local, and rich results only rising in importance, how do image and visual search fit into the online shopping ecosystem? Using examples from Google Images, Google Lens, and Pinterest Lens, Joelle will show how image optimization can improve the overall customer experience and play a key role in discoverability, product evaluation, and purchase decisions for online shoppers. At the same time, accepting that image recognition technology is not yet perfect, she will also share actionable tactics to better optimize for visual search to help those shoppers find that perfect style they just can’t put into words.

Factors that Affect the Local Algorithm that Don’t Impact Organic

Joy Hawkins

Google’s local algorithm is a horse of a different color when compared with the organic algo most SEOs are familiar with. Joy will share results from a SterlingSky study on how proximity varies greatly when comparing local and organic results, how reviews impact ranking (complete with data points from testing), how spam is running wild (and how it negatively impacts real businesses), and more.

Featured Snippets: Essentials to Know & How to Target

Britney Muller

By now, most SEOs are comfortable with the idea of featured snippets, but actually understanding and capturing them in the changing search landscape remains elusive. Britney will share some eye-opening data about the SERPs you know and love while equipping you with a bevy of new tricks for winning featured snippets into your toolbox.


Ready for more?

You’ll uncover even more SEO goodness in the MozCon 2020 video bundle. At this year’s special low price of $129, this is invaluable content you can access again and again throughout the year to inspire and ignite your SEO strategy:

  • 21 full-length videos from some of the brightest minds in digital marketing
  • Instant downloads and streaming to your computer, tablet, or mobile device
  • Downloadable slide decks for presentations

Get my MozCon 2020 video bundle

Show Me The Numbers: 20 B2B Marketing Insights From Audience Poll Data

Group of people with hands on a large colorful data chart image.

Group of people with hands on a large colorful data chart image.

What can poll results tell B2B marketers about a year unlike any other, and how can this valuable audience data help us refine our marketing strategy as we push towards 2021?

For more than a year we’ve run weekly social media polls on our Twitter profile, and for several months now have simultaneously also placed a weekly user poll on our LinkedIn* page.

We wanted to share some of the fascinating insights you have shared with us in the form of results from our polls, in order to see the trends that have emerged during this unprecedented year.

Let’s look at trends in social media communications, how marketing is changing in 2020, and the rising effectiveness of B2B influencer marketing, all through the lens of poll-derived feedback.

Social Media Communication Expectations

Insight #1 — Social Response Times

How quickly do we expect a response from a brand when we ask a question publicly on social media?

The majority marketers we polled expect to hear back from a brand within 24 hours, with 61 percent of respondents on LinkedIn expecting a reply within a day, 24 percent within one hour, and 16 percent by the end of the workday.

Twitter respondents voiced similar sentiments, with 38 percent looking to get a reply from a brand within 24 hours, 33 percent by the end of the current workday, and 21 percent within an hour.

If you’re not answering social media inquiries within 24 hours you may come under fire, as not even one respondent to our poll said that they expect brands to take longer than a day to reply.

2020July28LIPoll

Insight #2 — Email Response Times

We also asked the same question for a different form of online communications, curious about expectations when sending an old-fashioned email to a brand.

50 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they expected an email reply within 24 hours, mostly echoing the expectations for public social media questions. 22 percent said they expected brands to reply by the end of the workday, 18 percent within a week — a notable difference from social media queries — and just 9 percent within an hour.

2020February18TwitterPoll

Insight #3 — Unfollowing

What drives people who have already taken the time and effort to follow a brand on social media to later unfollow them, and what messages can we learn from these mistakes?

When we asked this question in a poll, our LinkedIn respondents said the top reason they unfollow brands comes down to posting poor quality content, followed by irrelevant content and brands that post too much content. Just two percent of respondents said that they unfollow brands that don’t post enough content.

44 percent of our Twitter respondents said that irrelevant content was their top reason for unfollowing a brand, followed by poor quality content at 33 percent, and too much content at 22 percent.

2020July14LIPoll

Insight #4 — Stories Format

We also ran a poll asking how the ephemeral stories format would fare on LinkedIn if the platform were to make its test of the post type a permanent part of the service. 33 percent of respondents said that LinkedIn Stories would be a great addition to the platform, while 25 percent felt it would be a good match. 25 percent also said that it would be an unlikely match, and 16 percent noted that the stories format would be a poor match for LinkedIn.

2020May19TwitterPoll

Insight #5 — Experiential Content

We were also curious how B2B marketers are using experiential content in 2020. 58 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they expected to incorporate experiential content very frequently into their marketing efforts during 2020, followed by 41 percent who planned to do so somewhat frequently.

2020March3TwitterPoll

Experiential content is playing a greater role in B2B marketing efforts in 2020, which I looked at in “What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Experiential Content,” and our Nick Nelson examined recently in “How to Hit a Marketing Home Run with Experiential Content.”

Insight #6 — Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence

How B2B marketers communicate is constantly shifting as new technologies become available and gain wider adoption. We asked our Twitter followers who use chatbots or other forms of messaging featuring artificial intelligence (AI) to chime in on how the technology has performed for them.

49 percent of B2B marketers who responded said that chatbots and AI-assisted technology has performed better than expected, yet 42 percent noted that the technology has under-performed, while 14 percent found that it performed as they had expected.

2020May5TwitterPoll

Insight #7 — Virtual Meeting Length

We were curious what our audience of B2B marketers on Twitter felt the most effective length of time might be when it comes to virtual meetings.

58 percent of respondents said that 30 minutes was the optimal length of time for effective virtual meetings, while 17 percent felt that 15 minutes or less works best, with 17 percent also noting that 45 minutes is the most effective, followed by just 5 percent who said an hour was best.

2020March24TwitterPoll

Insight #8 — Reviews & Testimonials

Another part of marketing communications is user feedback, reviews, and testimonials, and we asked our Twitter followers to share how often they use positive reviews in their marketing efforts.

47 percent of respondents said that they use positive reviews in their marketing efforts occasionally, however 23 percent noted that they never do, followed by 17 percent who said that they always do, and 11 percent who do so frequently.

2020February25TwitterPoll

Insight #9 — Newsletter Preferences

Speaking of email, we also wondered when B2B marketers prefer to receive monthly newsletters. 45 percent of our respondents said they prefer the first of the month, followed by 27 percent who are fond of mid-month newsletters, 18 percent who prefer a time early in the month, and 9 percent who want to see newsletters arrive at the end of the month.

2020February11TwitterPoll

Insight #10 — The Emoji Divide

The use of emojis in social media messaging was an area of contention among our poll respondents. 35 percent said that emoji were somewhat effective, while the same number noted their use to rarely be effective. 17 percent said emoji were extremely effective, and some 11 percent noted that they never use them.

2020January28TwitterPoll

The Changing Face of 2020 Marketing

The global health crisis has changed the face of marketing events in 2020, as nearly all conferences have made the jump to virtual events, as I wrote about recently in “17+ Top Virtual Marketing Conferences for Summer 2020 & Beyond.”

Insight #11 — Virtual Event Attendance

Are B2B marketers planning to attend newly-virtual events, and if so how many?

We asked our LinkedIn and Twitter users how many virtual marketing events they planned to attend over the final five months of 2020.

Most respondents said that they will attend between one and five virtual marketing events, while the second most frequent choice was those who said they won’t be attending a single virtual event, followed by those who plan to attend between six and 10.

2020July21LIPoll

Virtual events and webinars are undoubtedly seeing an unexpected golden age this year, and we’ve explored how to best utilize them, in “How B2B Marketers Can Get the Most Out of Webinars in 2020.”

[bctt tweet=”“One great way to promote the webinar, and focus your content at the same time, is to poll your audience via social media. Ask for their thoughts on your topic. Ask what they most want to know about it.” @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

Insight #12 — Top Pain Points

We wanted to find out what the biggest pandemic pain points have been for B2B marketers, and among those answering our LinkedIn poll 64 percent said that a decrease in budget or business has been the top challenge, followed by the difficulty in engaging customers at 36 percent.

46 percent of Twitter respondents also revealed that falling budgets and business were their top pain points, followed by engaging customers at 38 percent and remote work issues for some 15 percent of marketers.

2020July7LIPoll

Insight #13 — Learning New Skills

63 percent of poll respondents said that they have used their time during the pandemic to learn new marketing skills online, while 18 percent said that they planned to do so.

2020May12TwitterPoll

Insight #14 — Digital Asset Management

54 percent of B2B marketers we polled on Twitter said that they either already use a digital asset management (DAM) solution in their marketing stack or plan to implement one, while 45 percent didn’t use a DAM.

2020April28TwitterPoll

If you aren’t familiar with how DAM can help B2B marketers, I looked into the issue in “Why B2B Marketers Should Give a DAM: Top Tips on Digital Asset Management.”

Insight #15 — Podcast Growth

With U.S. podcast listeners topping the 100 million mark for the first time in 2020, we wondered how the global health crisis has affected listening frequency among B2B marketers.

40 percent of our Twitter respondents said that they have been listening to more podcasts during the pandemic, with 22 percent noting that they’ve listened to fewer, 18 percent about the same amount, and another 18 percent who said they don’t listen to podcasts.

2020March31TwitterPoll

Insight #16 — Streaming Ad Use

With numerous studies showing that streaming music ads were booming in 2019, we wondered what B2B marketers planned for 2020, and 50 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they had no streaming ad plans for the year, while 25 percent said they planned to implement more streaming ads, 16 percent fewer of them, and 8 percent about the same.

2020January14TwitterPoll

Insight #17 — The Customer Journey

Content creation efforts are also shifting in 2020, and we asked B2B marketers to share which stage of the customer journey they are focusing on the most.

47 percent of respondents said that generating awareness was where they were placing the greatest focus, followed by brand advocacy at 35 percent, consideration and intent at 11 percent, and evaluation and purchase at 5 percent.

2020February4TwitterPoll

The Rising Effectiveness of Influencer Marketing

Insight #18 — Influencer Marketing Program Length

We asked our LinkedIn and Twitter followers to chime in on the ideal length of time a B2B influencer marketing program should run for maximum effectiveness, and the majority of our savvy followers chose always-on and ongoing programs — 73 percent of our LinkedIn respondents and 64 percent of our Twitter respondents.

Influencer marketing programs encompassing at least two campaigns was the second most popular choice, the choice of 21 percent of LinkedIn respondents and 18 percent of our Twitter respondents.

2020June16LIPoll

Insight #19 — Pandemic Focus Areas

We asked B2B marketers which area of marketing they were the most likely to increase focus on during the global health crisis, and topping the list was influencer marketing at 35 percent, followed by content marketing at 30 percent, search marketing at 20 percent, and email marketing, which garnered 12 percent of the poll responses.

2020April21TwitterPoll

Insight #20 — Volume of Influencer Marketing Work

We were also curious how the pandemic has affected the volume of work B2B marketers have done with influencers. The greatest number of our respondents — some 36 percent — said that their volume of work with influencers had increased, followed by 32 percent who said that they didn’t use influencers, 24 percent who found that the volume of work was about the same, while 8 percent noted that the volume decreased.

2020April14TwitterPoll

Listening To Your Audience & Taking Action

via GIPHY

Keeping your finger on the pulse of your audience — whether it’s from poll results, surveys, questionnaires or other forms of feedback — goes a long way when it comes to making your marketing efforts authentic, and will help ensure that your communication is a two-way street and not just a publish-and-forget effort.

We hope you’ve found this glimpse into some of our own poll results helpful as you navigate the sometimes murky marketing waters 2020 has given us. Let us know your thoughts by voting in our current weekly poll about Instagram’s new short-form video offering, Reels — you’ll find it on LinkedIn here and on Twitter here.

You can learn more about poll data and statistics, and how to get more from audience feedback in every form by taking a look are some of the related articles we’ve written on the subject, such as the five listed here:

* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Show Me The Numbers: 20 B2B Marketing Insights From Audience Poll Data appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Show Me The Numbers: 20 B2B Marketing Insights From Audience Poll Data

Group of people with hands on a large colorful data chart image.

What can poll results tell B2B marketers about a year unlike any other, and how can this valuable audience data help us refine our marketing strategy as we push towards 2021?

For more than a year we’ve run weekly social media polls on our Twitter profile, and for several months now have simultaneously also placed a weekly user poll on our LinkedIn* page.

We wanted to share some of the fascinating insights you have shared with us in the form of results from our polls, in order to see the trends that have emerged during this unprecedented year.

Let’s look at trends in social media communications, how marketing is changing in 2020, and the rising effectiveness of B2B influencer marketing, all through the lens of poll-derived feedback.

Social Media Communication Expectations

Insight #1 — Social Response Times

How quickly do we expect a response from a brand when we ask a question publicly on social media?

The majority marketers we polled expect to hear back from a brand within 24 hours, with 61 percent of respondents on LinkedIn expecting a reply within a day, 24 percent within one hour, and 16 percent by the end of the workday.

Twitter respondents voiced similar sentiments, with 38 percent looking to get a reply from a brand within 24 hours, 33 percent by the end of the current workday, and 21 percent within an hour.

If you’re not answering social media inquiries within 24 hours you may come under fire, as not even one respondent to our poll said that they expect brands to take longer than a day to reply.

2020July28LIPoll

Insight #2 — Email Response Times

We also asked the same question for a different form of online communications, curious about expectations when sending an old-fashioned email to a brand.

50 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they expected an email reply within 24 hours, mostly echoing the expectations for public social media questions. 22 percent said they expected brands to reply by the end of the workday, 18 percent within a week — a notable difference from social media queries — and just 9 percent within an hour.

2020February18TwitterPoll

Insight #3 — Unfollowing

What drives people who have already taken the time and effort to follow a brand on social media to later unfollow them, and what messages can we learn from these mistakes?

When we asked this question in a poll, our LinkedIn respondents said the top reason they unfollow brands comes down to posting poor quality content, followed by irrelevant content and brands that post too much content. Just two percent of respondents said that they unfollow brands that don’t post enough content.

44 percent of our Twitter respondents said that irrelevant content was their top reason for unfollowing a brand, followed by poor quality content at 33 percent, and too much content at 22 percent.

2020July14LIPoll

Insight #4 — Stories Format

We also ran a poll asking how the ephemeral stories format would fare on LinkedIn if the platform were to make its test of the post type a permanent part of the service. 33 percent of respondents said that LinkedIn Stories would be a great addition to the platform, while 25 percent felt it would be a good match. 25 percent also said that it would be an unlikely match, and 16 percent noted that the stories format would be a poor match for LinkedIn.

2020May19TwitterPoll

Insight #5 — Experiential Content

We were also curious how B2B marketers are using experiential content in 2020. 58 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they expected to incorporate experiential content very frequently into their marketing efforts during 2020, followed by 41 percent who planned to do so somewhat frequently.

2020March3TwitterPoll

Experiential content is playing a greater role in B2B marketing efforts in 2020, which I looked at in “What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Experiential Content,” and our Nick Nelson examined recently in “How to Hit a Marketing Home Run with Experiential Content.”

Insight #6 — Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence

How B2B marketers communicate is constantly shifting as new technologies become available and gain wider adoption. We asked our Twitter followers who use chatbots or other forms of messaging featuring artificial intelligence (AI) to chime in on how the technology has performed for them.

49 percent of B2B marketers who responded said that chatbots and AI-assisted technology has performed better than expected, yet 42 percent noted that the technology has under-performed, while 14 percent found that it performed as they had expected.

2020May5TwitterPoll

Insight #7 — Virtual Meeting Length

We were curious what our audience of B2B marketers on Twitter felt the most effective length of time might be when it comes to virtual meetings.

58 percent of respondents said that 30 minutes was the optimal length of time for effective virtual meetings, while 17 percent felt that 15 minutes or less works best, with 17 percent also noting that 45 minutes is the most effective, followed by just 5 percent who said an hour was best.

2020March24TwitterPoll

Insight #8 — Reviews & Testimonials

Another part of marketing communications is user feedback, reviews, and testimonials, and we asked our Twitter followers to share how often they use positive reviews in their marketing efforts.

47 percent of respondents said that they use positive reviews in their marketing efforts occasionally, however 23 percent noted that they never do, followed by 17 percent who said that they always do, and 11 percent who do so frequently.

2020February25TwitterPoll

Insight #9 — Newsletter Preferences

Speaking of email, we also wondered when B2B marketers prefer to receive monthly newsletters. 45 percent of our respondents said they prefer the first of the month, followed by 27 percent who are fond of mid-month newsletters, 18 percent who prefer a time early in the month, and 9 percent who want to see newsletters arrive at the end of the month.

2020February11TwitterPoll

Insight #10 — The Emoji Divide

The use of emojis in social media messaging was an area of contention among our poll respondents. 35 percent said that emoji were somewhat effective, while the same number noted their use to rarely be effective. 17 percent said emoji were extremely effective, and some 11 percent noted that they never use them.

2020January28TwitterPoll

The Changing Face of 2020 Marketing

The global health crisis has changed the face of marketing events in 2020, as nearly all conferences have made the jump to virtual events, as I wrote about recently in “17+ Top Virtual Marketing Conferences for Summer 2020 & Beyond.”

Insight #11 — Virtual Event Attendance

Are B2B marketers planning to attend newly-virtual events, and if so how many?

We asked our LinkedIn and Twitter users how many virtual marketing events they planned to attend over the final five months of 2020.

Most respondents said that they will attend between one and five virtual marketing events, while the second most frequent choice was those who said they won’t be attending a single virtual event, followed by those who plan to attend between six and 10.

2020July21LIPoll

Virtual events and webinars are undoubtedly seeing an unexpected golden age this year, and we’ve explored how to best utilize them, in “How B2B Marketers Can Get the Most Out of Webinars in 2020.”

“One great way to promote the webinar, and focus your content at the same time, is to poll your audience via social media. Ask for their thoughts on your topic. Ask what they most want to know about it.” @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

Insight #12 — Top Pain Points

We wanted to find out what the biggest pandemic pain points have been for B2B marketers, and among those answering our LinkedIn poll 64 percent said that a decrease in budget or business has been the top challenge, followed by the difficulty in engaging customers at 36 percent.

46 percent of Twitter respondents also revealed that falling budgets and business were their top pain points, followed by engaging customers at 38 percent and remote work issues for some 15 percent of marketers.

2020July7LIPoll

Insight #13 — Learning New Skills

63 percent of poll respondents said that they have used their time during the pandemic to learn new marketing skills online, while 18 percent said that they planned to do so.

2020May12TwitterPoll

Insight #14 — Digital Asset Management

54 percent of B2B marketers we polled on Twitter said that they either already use a digital asset management (DAM) solution in their marketing stack or plan to implement one, while 45 percent didn’t use a DAM.

2020April28TwitterPoll

If you aren’t familiar with how DAM can help B2B marketers, I looked into the issue in “Why B2B Marketers Should Give a DAM: Top Tips on Digital Asset Management.”

Insight #15 — Podcast Growth

With U.S. podcast listeners topping the 100 million mark for the first time in 2020, we wondered how the global health crisis has affected listening frequency among B2B marketers.

40 percent of our Twitter respondents said that they have been listening to more podcasts during the pandemic, with 22 percent noting that they’ve listened to fewer, 18 percent about the same amount, and another 18 percent who said they don’t listen to podcasts.

2020March31TwitterPoll

Insight #16 — Streaming Ad Use

With numerous studies showing that streaming music ads were booming in 2019, we wondered what B2B marketers planned for 2020, and 50 percent of our Twitter poll respondents said that they had no streaming ad plans for the year, while 25 percent said they planned to implement more streaming ads, 16 percent fewer of them, and 8 percent about the same.

2020January14TwitterPoll

Insight #17 — The Customer Journey

Content creation efforts are also shifting in 2020, and we asked B2B marketers to share which stage of the customer journey they are focusing on the most.

47 percent of respondents said that generating awareness was where they were placing the greatest focus, followed by brand advocacy at 35 percent, consideration and intent at 11 percent, and evaluation and purchase at 5 percent.

2020February4TwitterPoll

The Rising Effectiveness of Influencer Marketing

Insight #18 — Influencer Marketing Program Length

We asked our LinkedIn and Twitter followers to chime in on the ideal length of time a B2B influencer marketing program should run for maximum effectiveness, and the majority of our savvy followers chose always-on and ongoing programs — 73 percent of our LinkedIn respondents and 64 percent of our Twitter respondents.

Influencer marketing programs encompassing at least two campaigns was the second most popular choice, the choice of 21 percent of LinkedIn respondents and 18 percent of our Twitter respondents.

2020June16LIPoll

Insight #19 — Pandemic Focus Areas

We asked B2B marketers which area of marketing they were the most likely to increase focus on during the global health crisis, and topping the list was influencer marketing at 35 percent, followed by content marketing at 30 percent, search marketing at 20 percent, and email marketing, which garnered 12 percent of the poll responses.

2020April21TwitterPoll

Insight #20 — Volume of Influencer Marketing Work

We were also curious how the pandemic has affected the volume of work B2B marketers have done with influencers. The greatest number of our respondents — some 36 percent — said that their volume of work with influencers had increased, followed by 32 percent who said that they didn’t use influencers, 24 percent who found that the volume of work was about the same, while 8 percent noted that the volume decreased.

2020April14TwitterPoll

Listening To Your Audience & Taking Action

via GIPHY

Keeping your finger on the pulse of your audience — whether it’s from poll results, surveys, questionnaires or other forms of feedback — goes a long way when it comes to making your marketing efforts authentic, and will help ensure that your communication is a two-way street and not just a publish-and-forget effort.

We hope you’ve found this glimpse into some of our own poll results helpful as you navigate the sometimes murky marketing waters 2020 has given us. Let us know your thoughts by voting in our current weekly poll about Instagram’s new short-form video offering, Reels — you’ll find it on LinkedIn here and on Twitter here.

You can learn more about poll data and statistics, and how to get more from audience feedback in every form by taking a look are some of the related articles we’ve written on the subject, such as the five listed here:

* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

How to Nurture B2B Influencer Relationships During the Pandemic

Two glove-covered hands fist-bumping image.

Two glove-covered hands fist-bumping image.

I’m so glad that I went to B2BMX this past February.

For one thing, we did some amazing interviews with some very smart marketers. The very idea of these interviews seems weird now — we were just sitting! Three feet apart! With no masks! At a giant marketing conference at a hotel!

The cancellation of in-person events means I’ll miss one or two conferences this year. But for folks who make a living as keynote speakers and thought leaders, it’s a massive adjustment. And that includes a sizable subset of B2B influencers — those who are primarily keynote speakers and in-person consultants.

As an agency, we’re true believers in B2B influencer marketing (see our latest report to learn why). But we have had to adjust our strategy as influencers’ needs change. Like everything else in 2020, influencer relationship-building takes a different approach than you might be used to.

Debbie Friez is an Influencer Marketing Strategist at TopRank Marketing, and she’s an expert at finding the right influencers and developing ongoing relationships. Here’s what Debbie and I have observed and how we’ve changed our outreach strategy.

How to Nurture B2B Influencer Relationships During the Pandemic

Influence relationships operate by much the same rules as any friendship: Get to know the person, don’t talk about yourself too much, give something before you ask for anything, and be sensitive to their emotions and needs. And, of course, don’t propose marriage on the first date (unless it’s going REALLY well).

On top of those rules, here are a few ways to adjust your approach for the current crisis.

[bctt tweet=”“Influence relationships operate by much the same rules as any friendship: Get to know the person, don’t talk about yourself too much, give something before you ask for anything, and be sensitive to their emotions and needs.” @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

#1: Scale Back Your Requests

It’s easy to imagine that influencers have nothing but free time right now. After all, they’re not traveling as much, and all the events are virtual — that means they should have ample time to write a blog post or film a webinar, right?

What we’ve seen, however, is the opposite is true. Those who make a living at public speaking are hustling harder than ever. “Now that all the events are virtual, there is a disconnect between how influencers are compensated,” says Debbie. Instead of a 90-minute in-person talk, influencers might need to do a dozen webinars to make ends meet.

Now is a good time to focus on micro-content — keep the requests down to 50-100 words. Where you might have asked one influencer for a 500-word blog, ask three influencers the same question and do a roundup of their answers. Or focus on social-first content that can be bite-sized but still foster engagement.

Simply put, it’s more important than ever to respect influencers’ time and make sure your requests are appropriate. Speaking of which…

[bctt tweet=”“It’s more important than ever to respect influencers’ time and make sure your requests are appropriate.” @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

#2: Offer a Good Value Exchange

Every good influencer relationship is based on a value exchange. You’re giving the influencer something they want, and getting something you want in return. When you build relationships for long-term, always-on influencer marketing, that value exchange tends to be in terms of co-creating awesome content together, exposure to each others’ audience, and other non-monetary benefits. However, direct compensation is always part of the influencer marketing toolkit.

Right now, influencers may see less value in co-creation and be looking for more ways to supplement their income. “Frequently, influencers would co-create content for free, as they were taking payment to speak at or attend events,” Debbie says. With events on pause, it’s important for influencer marketers to budget for the right type of compensation.

#3: Be Empathetic 

As you might have noticed, it’s rough out in the world right now. Odds are you’re stressed out, concerned about keeping your family safe and the bills paid. You may even have scaled back on your social media and focused more energy inward. 

Influencers are no different. It’s important that your outreach be warm (no blind InMail requests or impersonal emails), sympathetic, and respectful. Just as you’ve adjusted your content marketing to meet your audience’s current mental state, make sure your influencer outreach is appropriate for the times.

#4: Offer Creative Opportunities

Odds are any influencer you reach out to has done multiple webinars, guest blogs, and livestreams in the past six months. And they’re likely filling their calendars with as many more gigs as they can get. What can you offer an influencer that will get their attention?

Now is a good time to pitch fun, creative ideas for content. How about a brief interview that you’ll turn into a fully-produced podcast, complete with background music and sound design? Or a short contribution that will be featured in a dynamic, interactive asset? The easier you can make the ask, and the cooler you can make the end product, the better.

#5: Explore Always-On Influence

As you’ve seen, it can be challenging to establish relationships with influencers right now. People are busy, distracted and stressed, and it’s easy for your messages to get lost in the shuffle. It’s not impossible, of course, to add net new influencers to your marketing — it just takes more effort.

Right now, brands that have ongoing influencer nurturing programs are doing better than those without. It’s easy to see why — they’re not starting from scratch. They have built up a community of influencers over time, co-creating content, helping each other out, even introducing influencers to each other to help them network. It’s easier to maintain an ongoing relationship than start a brand new one.

[bctt tweet=”“Right now, brands that have ongoing influencer nurturing programs are doing better than those without. It’s easy to see why — they’re not starting from scratch.” @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

Relationships Are Worth the Work

We surveyed hundreds of marketers for our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report. The vast majority said that influencer marketing works for B2B: 74% agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand, and 90% plan to increase their budget in the near future. 

While the current business climate may make it more challenging to develop influencer relationships, the results are well worth the effort. 

Need help with B2B influencer marketing? It’s our specialty.

The post How to Nurture B2B Influencer Relationships During the Pandemic appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

How to Nurture B2B Influencer Relationships During the Pandemic

Two glove-covered hands fist-bumping image.

I’m so glad that I went to B2BMX this past February.

For one thing, we did some amazing interviews with some very smart marketers. The very idea of these interviews seems weird now — we were just sitting! Three feet apart! With no masks! At a giant marketing conference at a hotel!

The cancellation of in-person events means I’ll miss one or two conferences this year. But for folks who make a living as keynote speakers and thought leaders, it’s a massive adjustment. And that includes a sizable subset of B2B influencers — those who are primarily keynote speakers and in-person consultants.

As an agency, we’re true believers in B2B influencer marketing (see our latest report to learn why). But we have had to adjust our strategy as influencers’ needs change. Like everything else in 2020, influencer relationship-building takes a different approach than you might be used to.

Debbie Friez is an Influencer Marketing Strategist at TopRank Marketing, and she’s an expert at finding the right influencers and developing ongoing relationships. Here’s what Debbie and I have observed and how we’ve changed our outreach strategy.

Influence relationships operate by much the same rules as any friendship: Get to know the person, don’t talk about yourself too much, give something before you ask for anything, and be sensitive to their emotions and needs. And, of course, don’t propose marriage on the first date (unless it’s going REALLY well).

On top of those rules, here are a few ways to adjust your approach for the current crisis.

“Influence relationships operate by much the same rules as any friendship: Get to know the person, don’t talk about yourself too much, give something before you ask for anything, and be sensitive to their emotions and needs.” @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

#1: Scale Back Your Requests

It’s easy to imagine that influencers have nothing but free time right now. After all, they’re not traveling as much, and all the events are virtual — that means they should have ample time to write a blog post or film a webinar, right?

What we’ve seen, however, is the opposite is true. Those who make a living at public speaking are hustling harder than ever. “Now that all the events are virtual, there is a disconnect between how influencers are compensated,” says Debbie. Instead of a 90-minute in-person talk, influencers might need to do a dozen webinars to make ends meet.

Now is a good time to focus on micro-content — keep the requests down to 50-100 words. Where you might have asked one influencer for a 500-word blog, ask three influencers the same question and do a roundup of their answers. Or focus on social-first content that can be bite-sized but still foster engagement.

Simply put, it’s more important than ever to respect influencers’ time and make sure your requests are appropriate. Speaking of which…

“It’s more important than ever to respect influencers’ time and make sure your requests are appropriate.” @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

#2: Offer a Good Value Exchange

Every good influencer relationship is based on a value exchange. You’re giving the influencer something they want, and getting something you want in return. When you build relationships for long-term, always-on influencer marketing, that value exchange tends to be in terms of co-creating awesome content together, exposure to each others’ audience, and other non-monetary benefits. However, direct compensation is always part of the influencer marketing toolkit.

Right now, influencers may see less value in co-creation and be looking for more ways to supplement their income. “Frequently, influencers would co-create content for free, as they were taking payment to speak at or attend events,” Debbie says. With events on pause, it’s important for influencer marketers to budget for the right type of compensation.

#3: Be Empathetic 

As you might have noticed, it’s rough out in the world right now. Odds are you’re stressed out, concerned about keeping your family safe and the bills paid. You may even have scaled back on your social media and focused more energy inward. 

Influencers are no different. It’s important that your outreach be warm (no blind InMail requests or impersonal emails), sympathetic, and respectful. Just as you’ve adjusted your content marketing to meet your audience’s current mental state, make sure your influencer outreach is appropriate for the times.

#4: Offer Creative Opportunities

Odds are any influencer you reach out to has done multiple webinars, guest blogs, and livestreams in the past six months. And they’re likely filling their calendars with as many more gigs as they can get. What can you offer an influencer that will get their attention?

Now is a good time to pitch fun, creative ideas for content. How about a brief interview that you’ll turn into a fully-produced podcast, complete with background music and sound design? Or a short contribution that will be featured in a dynamic, interactive asset? The easier you can make the ask, and the cooler you can make the end product, the better.

#5: Explore Always-On Influence

As you’ve seen, it can be challenging to establish relationships with influencers right now. People are busy, distracted and stressed, and it’s easy for your messages to get lost in the shuffle. It’s not impossible, of course, to add net new influencers to your marketing — it just takes more effort.

Right now, brands that have ongoing influencer nurturing programs are doing better than those without. It’s easy to see why — they’re not starting from scratch. They have built up a community of influencers over time, co-creating content, helping each other out, even introducing influencers to each other to help them network. It’s easier to maintain an ongoing relationship than start a brand new one.

“Right now, brands that have ongoing influencer nurturing programs are doing better than those without. It’s easy to see why — they’re not starting from scratch.” @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

Relationships Are Worth the Work

We surveyed hundreds of marketers for our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report. The vast majority said that influencer marketing works for B2B: 74% agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand, and 90% plan to increase their budget in the near future. 

While the current business climate may make it more challenging to develop influencer relationships, the results are well worth the effort. 

Need help with B2B influencer marketing? It’s our specialty.

Adjusting Paid Campaigns During a Recession

Our world changed dramatically in March of 2020 as a new viral threat to our livelihoods took hold in the United States and around the world. Here in the US (at the time of writing this post), COVID-19 has not relented

Some industries have been more heavily affected than others. For example, travel and tourism businesses have been hurting far more than many other industries due to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders.

However, all businesses should re-evaluate their planned budgets for paid search and other paid digital campaigns for the next 12 to 24 months. Hopefully, this pandemic cedes faster than that and the economy comes out of our pending depression more rapidly at some point next year. But since nobody can know for sure when that will happen, it’s better to be safe and plan accordingly. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What assumptions did you make about your priorities heading into 2020?
  • How has the global pandemic and economic recession affected those priorities thus far?
  • How have your trends changed and what shift(s) have you already had to make?

You’ll be on your way to creating a more stable plan for your paid digital advertising campaigns once you’re able to answer those questions.

Now comes the most difficult part: how do you take these changes into account and plan ahead for the next year, or even two years?

To do this effectively, you need to make a choice about which overarching business goal is more important to you:

1. Drive sufficient sales volume even at the expense of profitability.

OR

2. Maintain a profitability margin even if it means losing out on sales volume.

Don’t pick both. Obviously, you want to drive more sales and maintain or increase profitability — everyone wants to do that. But if your business has struggled since the breakout of this recession, you don’t have the luxury right now of picking both. If you pursue both goals, you’re more likely to implement competing tactics in your campaigns that may result in hitting neither. So, pick one. If you can hit it consistently going forward in this new environment, then you can start striving to hit the other in addition.

Focusing on sales volume

If your primary goal is sales volume, reference the year-over-year trends you’ve witnessed since the COVID-19 outbreak and the onset of the recession. Pay close attention to the last month or two since things have started returning to a “more normal” outlook with regards to businesses reopening (albeit with strong rules around social distancing). For instance:

  • Have you seen website traffic bounce back a bit since May, but not sales or conversions?
  • Have these things increased in certain channels but not in others?
  • How has your ad spend volume correlated with these shifts in conversions?
  • Have you seen increases in cost per conversion levels that look more stable now?
  • How do all of these things compare year over year?

Whatever you’re witnessing after answering these questions, plan on those year-over-year trends continuing for the foreseeable future. Take into account seasonality and plan out how many conversions, sales, and/or how much revenue you want to acquire each month or each week going forward. Once you have those hard numbers planned out, do some quick math by accounting for your cost per conversion and return on ad spend (ROAS) levels, and correlate how much money you’re going to need to spend to meet those sales targets.



Do these new budgets and targets allow you to meet your overall sales goals? You may find you’re able to hit targets for a certain channel directly (paid search, for example), but will still be behind overall. If that’s the case, reference your impression share or share of voice metrics, competitive insights, and tools like Moz or Google Trends to see if it’s realistic to push for even more sales volume if your existing forecasts don’t meet your goals.

If these things indicate little room for potential growth, revise your sales volume targets and expectations down to account for this new post-COVID normal. In this instance, your opportunity for potential growth will lie in high-funnel channels (e.g. programmatic advertising, digital video ads, traditional media buying) to reach more potential new customers. Just be sure to account for how many conversions or sales these high-funnel channels actually assist with to make sure you’re putting your advertising budgets to good use.

Focusing on profitability

If your primary goal is profitability, reference the same trends and answer the same set of questions as above. Again, pay close attention to the last month or two as the economic recession has begun settling itself in for the long haul. Whatever you’re witnessing, plan on those year-over-year trends continuing. Then, taking into account seasonality, forecast what your campaign budgets should be by month or by week given your desired ROAS or ROI levels.

Instead of having to adjust your budgets up in order to hit a desired sales volume threshold, you may find that your forecasted budget is lower than you originally anticipated coming into 2020. You’re likely going to have to cut budgets down or pause certain campaigns entirely that just aren’t profitable right now as changes in conversion costs and/or demand have negatively impacted your trends. If this is happening to you, plan on taking that budget you’re now cutting out of your certain paid campaigns and reinvest any potential remaining funds into other channels or savings (assuming such funds aren’t wiped out by lower sales volume).

This opportunity to maintain a certain profit margin will likely result in less overall revenue and return for your business as a whole. The goal here is to stay profitable enough where you don’t have to make significant cuts to your overall business. Sacrifice what you need to in paid digital advertising to stay afloat and maintain viability throughout the duration of this economic recession.

One more thing to keep in mind

As we’re still in the early stages of vast uncertainty, be nimble and reactive as economic circumstances change. You may find yourself doing a lot more re-forecasting on a consistent basis this year and next year due to fluctuation in economic climate and outlook. Just remember everyone else is in the same boat as you — nobody knows what’s coming in the next year or two, let alone the next few months.


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