B2B Marketing News: Digital Marketing Priorities, Ultimate CX, B2B Burnout, The Power of Podcasting

Digital Marketing Priorities 2020

Where Do Digital Marketers’ Priorities Lie for the Year Ahead?
Digital marketers have a clear vision of their priorities though some are working with less marketing resources than others, according to Altimeter’s State of Digital Marketing report for 2020. The report highlights that organizations are either cutting costs as a response to the financial uncertainties of the crisis or upping investments in digital to keep up with customers moving online. MarketingCharts

The CX Courtship: How B2B Brands Get To The Partnership Stage [Merkle Study]
The B2B customer experience should be just as smooth as B2C. But too often it’s not. Indeed, 35% of businesses with 1,000 or more employees find choosing a B2B supplier to be almost a nightmarish process, judging by Architecting The Ultimate Customer Experience, a study by Merkle, with participation from its gyro and B2B International agencies. MediaPost

B2B Pros Say: ‘We’re Burned Out’ By Pandemic: Study
B2B marketers are falling apart from the stress of COVID-19 and its ongoing impact, according to Revealing What’s Fact And What’s Fiction, a study by RollWorks. Of the marketers surveyed, 50% have suffered from pandemic-related burnout, And 50% say the lines between work and personal life have become more blurred in a negative way.  Email Marketing Daily

Google Page Experience Update To Launch May 2021 With New Snippet Labels.
The update will show new basic page performance and expected experience statistics to searchers, Google says. Search Engine Roundtable

How Social Issues Are Sparking Action Among Brands
A majority of consumers now expect brands to take a stand on social issues and work to effect positive change—though their sentiments are sometimes complicated. A June 2020 survey by Mindshare found that more than two-thirds of US adults said brands should play an important role when it comes to speaking out against racial inequality and injustice. However, six in 10 believed brands that spoke out were being opportunistic. eMarketer

B2B influencer marketing budgets 2021

Marketers Raise Podcast Volume to Eleven – The format is poised to become a permanent and powerful marketing channel
With podcast advertising racking up 48 percent year-over-year growth in 2019, according to an IAB study, the medium’s 14.7 percent projected growth in 2020 might seem anemic. But that slowed growth is merely a pandemic-induced blip on the radar. The longer-term outlook remains stellar, with spending projected to rebound almost 45 percent, to more than $1 billion in 2021, according to eMarketer, and marketers and media companies are making big bets on the format’s staying power. ANA

We’re in this together: 5 takeaways from Adobe Experience Makers EMEA 
This is a unifying moment for businesses. Across virtually every industry and discipline, business leaders are rethinking their approach to leadership, employees are finding new ways to perform their jobs in a digital world, and consumers are re-evaluating the way they make purchases. Adobe

Instagram Adds Keyword Search in Addition to Profiles and Tags 
Instagram has announced an update to its search functionality which will give users the capacity to search for specific keywords, as opposed to being limited to profiles, hashtags and locations. Social Media Today

Executing A B2B Integrated Marketing Strategy: Who and What’s Involved?
7 in 10 organizations have implemented integrated marketing to some extent, though it remains challenging for many, according to Demand Gen Report and True Influence’s report on the state of integrated marketing in B2B. When it comes to the best tools for executing an integrated marketing strategy, respondents cited CRM (80%), data tools (65%), reporting platforms (63%) and collaboration tools (44%) as particularly useful. MarketingCharts

New Survey Says We’re Spending 7 Hours Per Day Consuming Online Media 
A new survey conducted by the research firm DoubleVerify found that we’re now spending about seven hours per day consuming online content. In the past we typically spent about three hours per day consuming media. YouTube streaming has sky-rocketed, up 43% since the pandemic started. We’re also even more obsessed with Facebook with a usage increase of 40%. Forbes

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Strategic Planning Cartoon Tom Fishburne
How to do strategic planning by Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

TOPRANK MARKETING IN THE NEWS:

TopRank Marketing – 2020 Research: The Current State & Future of B2B Influencer Marketing – Onalytica

TopRank Marketing Blog – Top 20 Digital Marketing Blogs and Their Specialties – Vocal

Have you found your own favorite B2B marketing story from the past week of industry news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for joining us for our weekly B2B marketing news, and we hope that you will return again next Friday for another round-up 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.

How to Get Backlinks in 2021 [Series Part 2: Prospecting] — Whiteboard Friday

As we head into 2021, the work of reclaiming lost links and building new ones remains crucial. In this week’s brand new episode of Whiteboard Friday, SEO expert Britney Muller is back with the second installment in her link building series, this time walking us through some tips and tricks for an important part of your link building journey: link prospecting. 

5 SEo tips to maximize internal links

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

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today me and my space buns are taking you into the future to evaluate link prospecting, a really important part of link building.

This is part of my link building series. If you missed the first video, definitely go check it out. It’s all around no-brainer link building. It’s the easiest thing you can possibly do today to reclaim and score some backlinks for your website. So super helpful. Check that out. 

What are your business goals?

To kick things off, this gets a little overwhelming.

There are so many ways that you can prospect backlinks today that it can get a little intimidating. So if you start to find yourself going down a rabbit hole or getting overwhelmed, fall back on this button here. Just think about your business goals.

What are your website’s goals, and is the path that you’re falling down conducive to that? Is it helpful? So that kind of just helps you course correct. I use it all the time, and I still manage to go down tons of rabbit holes. But it can be quite helpful. 

Link prospecting

So there are really two ways to do link prospecting. One is to evaluate what’s worked well in the past. How have websites in this particular industry gotten links in the past? The second is where are there content gaps? Where are there some opportunities to create wanted or desired content for a particular space?

Explore competitive backlinks

Let’s go down the first one. So one of the more popular ways is to use a backlink tool to evaluate competitive backlinks. So not only are you evaluating the backlinks to Competitor A and Competitor B, but you can start to do some fun things with the intersection of these.

So what we’re looking at is: What are the shared backlinks that Competitor A and Competitor B both have that you don’t? What does that look like? If these websites are linking to both A and B, why couldn’t they also potentially link to you? Those tend to be more promising backlink prospects.

It’s also very easy to use a tool like Link Intersect, my all-time favorite, within Moz Pro to very, very quickly identify what those opportunities are. From there, you can also start to evaluate old or outdated linked to content. This is really just sort of setting the stage and better understanding again what’s worked well in the past.

What are the top pages that are linked to for Competitor B and Competitor A? What kind of content is that? Is there anything that’s incredibly outdated that has a ton of backlinks to it, where you could potentially update it and encourage those sites to link to you? There are tons of very interesting and fun ways to explore that. Link Explorer, I mean, honestly so, so powerful and easy to quickly filter and sort different opportunities there.

Leverage advanced search operators

Third is to leverage advanced search operators. Now I’m not going to go through all the operators I listed here. I got a little nuts. But some important ones to remember is that if you use quotes, those words have to be in the search results. So here I’m looking for dog training, and then it must include statistics, tips, resources, news.

Why am I looking for these first and foremost? Because these keywords, they carry link intent. People doing particular searches around something something statistics are more likely to link to one of those resulting pages than your average dog training search that just might be people putting material together or referencing things.

So it’s really great to sort of bake in your link building plan with keywords that have link intent. It just makes so much sense. You can also use intext:, which just means show me results that include this within the text, and here I have “links.” It sounds super old school, but there are still lots of pages that use links within the page to identify resources moving forward.

You can also use the minus to exclude results from a particular URL. We’re going to link to Moz’s Advanced Search Operator Guide. It’s super helpful. It has all of these and more. Definitely play around. Leave comments down below if you have other suggestions. It’s super fun to kind of come up with different formulas.

Evaluate link propensity

Number four is to really evaluate the link propensity of these potential link targets. What I mean by that is have they linked to websites in the past? Do they never link out? Is that not a thing that these particular websites that you’re finding do? It’s really important, and it will help you in the long run to identify sites that are more likely to link to you. Number five, there are so many fun link discovery hacks and tricks, and it’s one of my favorite conversations at SEO conventions and just in general.

Discover fun hacks

Everyone has really fun kind of things within their industry. One of my new favorites is for local SEO, where local links are so incredibly valuable for local SEO sites. A trick that I’ve discovered recently is the one and only Rand Fishkin’s SparkToro tool will show you, if you put in a topic and a particular area, it surfaces what the top media outlets are for that particular area.

It’s incredible, especially if you’re doing work for a local SEO client that isn’t where you live or you don’t have all that awareness of it. It’s extremely insightful. So a fun little trick there. I want to hear your tricks down below. There are tons of others. Super fun.

Content gaps

Then just to briefly touch on where are the content gaps. This deserves a whole other Whiteboard Friday in and of itself. But I have mentioned them before. I am an insanely huge fan of Fractl and the work that they’re doing. They use old-school journalism tactics, and they discovered that they could pull offline DUI data and bring it online in a really beautiful Tableau interface, and it did very well. They got lots of backlinks. It was very, very useful for users, and it just made sense. So I absolutely love that example.

It’s important to kind of look at both of these. Play around and have fun with it. Again, please leave any tips and tricks down below in the comments. I cannot wait to read them.

I will see you all again soon. Thanks for watching.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

12 Expert B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021

Meeting table with people's hands working on predictions image.

Meeting table with people's hands working on predictions image.

What will B2B influencer marketing look like in 2021, and where will it take B2B marketers and brands when a post-pandemic world eventually arrives?

To help answer these questions we’ve gathered top B2B influencer marketing insights from both industry experts and our own team, and present our look at their predictions for 2021.

Let’s jump right in and see how top B2B influencer marketing practitioners expect 2021 to change the way we do business, and why it will likely be a breakout year for building influence.

1 — Anti-Marketing and The Real vs. The Ideal

Ann Boyd
Ann Boyd
Vice President of Communications, Rubrik

My prediction is that we’re moving into an anti-marketing, influencer marketing world. No one has time for the deluge of commercial content coming their way these days on every platform. The pendulum has swung to where the obviously-solicited and carefully-curated feedback is flooding our inboxes and social feeds.

The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.

[bctt tweet=”“The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.” — Ann Boyd @annb” username=”toprank”]

2 —Ethos, Relatability, Affinity and True Partnerships

Ann-Handley
Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

I have 3 predictions for 2021:

1. A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need. Influencer relationships have increasingly been about building long-term partnerships — not short-term, one-off collaborations. This has been evolving for a while… but in 2021 it’s critical. One-offs are choked off so true partnerships can thrive.

2. Purpose-driven partnerships become a thing. It’s not the size of an influencer’s audience — it’s what they stand for. Brand, ethos, character, relatability, affinity… it all matters.

3. A B2B brand will create the first viral TikTok video in partnership with a TikTok creator. (Why not?)

3 1/2. Instagram stops updating its platform in annoying ways that repel users. (Wait. Now I’m just making a Christmas wish list…. Never mind.)

If the pandemic has taught B2B marketing anything, it’s that trust, relatability, and TikTok matter more than ever.

Just kidding on that last one.

Or am I?

[bctt tweet=”“A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need.” — Ann Handley @MarketingProfs” username=”toprank”]

3 — More B2B Influencer Marketing Professionals Will Move the Needle

Ryan Bares
Ryan Bares
Global Social Programs Lead: Social Influencers & Employee Advocacy, IBM Systems

2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. B2B brands should now see the fruits of their influencer marketing labor, but is that really moving the needle?

Influencer marketing professionals – a position that will have more headcount in 2021 – will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience vs. trying everything and seeing what sticks.

[bctt tweet=”“2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. Influencer marketing professionals will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience.” – Ryan Bares @RyanBares” username=”toprank”]

4 — Virtual Events Become Stronger B2B Marketing Tools

Anton Shulke
Anton Shulke
Head of Influencer Marketing (SEO), SEMRush

Influencer marketing for me is about relationships.

Between you, as a part of your brand, and a person — an influencer. Sure, there is some kind of relationship between an influencer and the brand, but still, in the end, it comes down to personal relationships between particular people.

Many of us build it using real-life meetings, a cup of coffee or a beer. What could be better than face-to-face conversations?

It abruptly stopped in 2020 with COVID, and my guess is it won’t be back soon. I don’t want to use a cliche — the world won’t be the same again — but it might be partially true.

What could replace real-life conferences and personal meetings?

The obvious answer — online ones. I think in 2021 a lot of influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool. We will be arranging virtual conferences with the major goal to “steal the soul” of our influencers. Saying so, remember what is the best way to please your influencer/speaker: have a big, engaged audience.

[bctt tweet=”“In 2021 influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool.” — Anton Shulke @anton_shulke” username=”toprank”]

5 — Better Mutual Long-Term Influencer Value

Tim Williams
Tim Williams
CEO, Onalytica

As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.

This in turn has caused a lot of brands and agencies to jump on the bandwagon and collaborate with the same top tier industry global influencers with mixed results.

The increased take up has shone a spotlight on the knowledge gaps and improvements that are required by marketers and influencers to collaborate better as the industry matures.

In 2021 there are 3 key areas for marketers to improve:

  1. Better design of initial brand/influencer partnerships to deliver mutual long-term value
  2. Help develop a community of internal & external influencers as content creators around thought leadership themes
  3. Improve onboarding and management of influencers, as poor processes can negatively affect the relationship

[bctt tweet=”“As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.” — Tim Williams @WilliamsTim” username=”toprank”]

6 — A Blended and More Human Approach

Nic Michael
Nic Michael
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

What we see right now is a distinction between B2C and B2B influencer content creation — but why not blend the two?!

My prediction is that B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.

[bctt tweet=”“B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.” — Nic Michael @TopRank” username=”toprank”]

7 — Deep Engagement and Finding a Value Sweet Spot

Rachel Douglas
Rachel Douglas
Senior Manager of Marketing and Brand, Prophix*

Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why.  Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation, but rather find a value sweet spot where both parties benefit and win.  That means meaningful content, authentic voices and deep engagement.

[bctt tweet=”“Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why.  Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation.” — Rachel Douglas” username=”toprank”]

8 — Seek Up-And-Coming Influencers who Align with Brand Values

Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor
CMO, Treasure Data*

With the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive rush online, and many of these new habits will continue in 2021 and even post-pandemic.

Because of this, the importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments. The smart money will go after influencers on the rise, so look out for up-and-coming influencers who are seeing some success in the platforms your audience prefers, as well as who align with your brand’s values.

[bctt tweet=”“The importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments.” — Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg” username=”toprank”]

9 — Always-On Influence and Greater Sophistication

Debbie Friez
Debbie Friez
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

Brands often engaged influencers around events, and that is where they were able to get budget. With so many events going virtual, I see brands reassessing this tactic. More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on program. Thus, the budgets and alignments are changing.

Additionally, virtual events are not new, but their importance and sophistication is already radically improving. 2021 will continue to see more influencers upping their game around lighting, microphones and cameras to have the best experience for their audience. I’m excited to see how influencers will develop their video and audio presence to help companies share information.

[bctt tweet=”“More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on influencer marketing program.” — Debbie Friez @dfriez” username=”toprank”]

10 — Network and Credential-Building Activities in a Maturing Influencer Industry

Paul Dobson
Paul Dobson
Senior Director of Social and Influencer Marketing, Citrix

Here’s what’s been on my mind while I have been thinking about planning for 2021. With the ongoing discussion about misinformation in the media, I think that B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities that continue to build on their reputations as a strong voice in the industry that they represent.

With the influencer industry maturing, and mindspace on social media shrinking, there is going to be increasing competition to find the right person to help promote B2B brands and brand messages.

[bctt tweet=”“B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities.” — Paul Dobson @svengelsk” username=”toprank”]

11 — Long-Term Cooperation and Deepening Influencer Relationships

Michaela Underdahl
Michaela Underdahl
Senior Community Manager
Nimble

I predict two key trends happening in the B2B influencer marketing space in 2021. The first one will be the continuation of brands’ focus on nurturing existing relationships and building new long-term connections.

At Nimble, we believe in treating business relationships the same way we treat other important relationships in our lives. Long-term cooperation with influencers is our number one priority because it’s a win-win for everybody.

Both we and the influencers we work with invest time, energy, and resources into every campaign we run. We only reach out to people who we want to build a long-lasting relationship with. The end goal with our influencers is to eventually turn them into Nimble power-users and life-long brand advocates.

The other thing I think companies will be focusing on in 2021 is “fishing out” the micro-influencers from the deep waters of their existing base. It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product after you’ve spent months — sometimes years — nurturing a new relationship.

[bctt tweet=”“It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product.” — Michaela Underdahl @Nimble” username=”toprank”]

12 — Experiences, the Business of Influence, Agency Influencer Networks and Brand Individuals


Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing

In our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 80% of B2B marketers agree that influencer marketing will be more important in the coming year and 80% expect their influencer marketing budgets to increase or stay the same. As the pandemic has driven B2B marketing activities decidedly digital, influence will continue to play an increasingly important role in the B2B marketing mix and here’s how:

  • Experiences – 74% of marketers believe working with influencers improves the experience of prospects and customers with the brand. That trend will continue as more influencers are engaged creatively to partner with brands on messaging and trusted content. The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.
  • Business of Influence – More professional influencers will come on the scene in the B2B world to provide brands with everything from analyst level expertise to turn-key research and promotions projects, professional media and content creation that are accountable to more than just “potential social impressions.” Business influence in 2021 means accountability to the bottom line, not just superficial KPIs.
  • Agency Influencer Networks – As more B2B brands come on board the influencer marketing train, they’ll want to fast track the most difficult part: identifying, qualifying and recruiting influencer partners. Specialist agencies will maintain relationships with networks of industry specific influencers and be able to provide new clients with near-immediate connections with experts that might otherwise take months to nurture.
  • Brand Influencers – Employee advocacy can tip the scales in favor of the B2B brands that are able to activate their staff and this trend will continue. Additionally, more B2B brands will invest in the building of influence for their key executives. B2B brands that both harvest relationships with top industry influencers and build the influence of their key execs and subject matter experts could see a multiplier effect on warming the market, building trust, thought leadership, and credibility when it comes to the confidence needed to make purchasing decisions.

[bctt tweet=”“The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

Putting 2021 B2B Influencer Marketing Trends to the Test

2021 will see B2B marketers taking influencer marketing into not only a new year but a new more mainstream era of wider adoption among major brands, and the insightful predictions we’ve examined here are sure to play out in altogether new and sometimes unpredictable ways.

* Prophix and Treasure Data are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post 12 Expert B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021 appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

12 Expert B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021

Meeting table with people's hands working on predictions image.

What will B2B influencer marketing look like in 2021, and where will it take B2B marketers and brands when a post-pandemic world eventually arrives?

To help answer these questions we’ve gathered top B2B influencer marketing insights from both industry experts and our own team, and present our look at their predictions for 2021.

Let’s jump right in and see how top B2B influencer marketing practitioners expect 2021 to change the way we do business, and why it will likely be a breakout year for building influence.

1 — Anti-Marketing and The Real vs. The Ideal

Ann Boyd
Ann Boyd
Vice President of Communications, Rubrik

My prediction is that we’re moving into an anti-marketing, influencer marketing world. No one has time for the deluge of commercial content coming their way these days on every platform. The pendulum has swung to where the obviously-solicited and carefully-curated feedback is flooding our inboxes and social feeds.

The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.

“The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.” — Ann Boyd @annb Click To Tweet

2 —Ethos, Relatability, Affinity and True Partnerships

Ann-Handley
Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

I have 3 predictions for 2021:

1. A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need. Influencer relationships have increasingly been about building long-term partnerships — not short-term, one-off collaborations. This has been evolving for a while… but in 2021 it’s critical. One-offs are choked off so true partnerships can thrive.

2. Purpose-driven partnerships become a thing. It’s not the size of an influencer’s audience — it’s what they stand for. Brand, ethos, character, relatability, affinity… it all matters.

3. A B2B brand will create the first viral TikTok video in partnership with a TikTok creator. (Why not?)

3 1/2. Instagram stops updating its platform in annoying ways that repel users. (Wait. Now I’m just making a Christmas wish list…. Never mind.)

If the pandemic has taught B2B marketing anything, it’s that trust, relatability, and TikTok matter more than ever.

Just kidding on that last one.

Or am I?

“A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need.” — Ann Handley @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

3 — More B2B Influencer Marketing Professionals Will Move the Needle

Ryan Bares
Ryan Bares
Global Social Programs Lead: Social Influencers & Employee Advocacy, IBM Systems

2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. B2B brands should now see the fruits of their influencer marketing labor, but is that really moving the needle?

Influencer marketing professionals – a position that will have more headcount in 2021 – will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience vs. trying everything and seeing what sticks.

“2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. Influencer marketing professionals will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience.” – Ryan Bares @RyanBares Click To Tweet

4 — Virtual Events Become Stronger B2B Marketing Tools

Anton Shulke
Anton Shulke
Head of Influencer Marketing (SEO), SEMRush

Influencer marketing for me is about relationships.

Between you, as a part of your brand, and a person — an influencer. Sure, there is some kind of relationship between an influencer and the brand, but still, in the end, it comes down to personal relationships between particular people.

Many of us build it using real-life meetings, a cup of coffee or a beer. What could be better than face-to-face conversations?

It abruptly stopped in 2020 with COVID, and my guess is it won’t be back soon. I don’t want to use a cliche — the world won’t be the same again — but it might be partially true.

What could replace real-life conferences and personal meetings?

The obvious answer — online ones. I think in 2021 a lot of influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool. We will be arranging virtual conferences with the major goal to “steal the soul” of our influencers. Saying so, remember what is the best way to please your influencer/speaker: have a big, engaged audience.

“In 2021 influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool.” — Anton Shulke @anton_shulke Click To Tweet

5 — Better Mutual Long-Term Influencer Value

Tim Williams
Tim Williams
CEO, Onalytica

As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.

This in turn has caused a lot of brands and agencies to jump on the bandwagon and collaborate with the same top tier industry global influencers with mixed results.

The increased take up has shone a spotlight on the knowledge gaps and improvements that are required by marketers and influencers to collaborate better as the industry matures.

In 2021 there are 3 key areas for marketers to improve:

  1. Better design of initial brand/influencer partnerships to deliver mutual long-term value
  2. Help develop a community of internal & external influencers as content creators around thought leadership themes
  3. Improve onboarding and management of influencers, as poor processes can negatively affect the relationship

“As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.” — Tim Williams @WilliamsTim Click To Tweet

6 — A Blended and More Human Approach

Nic Michael
Nic Michael
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

What we see right now is a distinction between B2C and B2B influencer content creation — but why not blend the two?!

My prediction is that B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.

“B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.” — Nic Michael @TopRank Click To Tweet

7 — Deep Engagement and Finding a Value Sweet Spot

Rachel Douglas
Rachel Douglas
Senior Manager of Marketing and Brand, Prophix*

Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why.  Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation, but rather find a value sweet spot where both parties benefit and win.  That means meaningful content, authentic voices and deep engagement.

“Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why. Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation.” — Rachel Douglas Click To Tweet

8 — Seek Up-And-Coming Influencers who Align with Brand Values

Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor
CMO, Treasure Data*

With the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive rush online, and many of these new habits will continue in 2021 and even post-pandemic.

Because of this, the importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments. The smart money will go after influencers on the rise, so look out for up-and-coming influencers who are seeing some success in the platforms your audience prefers, as well as who align with your brand’s values.

“The importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments.” — Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg Click To Tweet

9 — Always-On Influence and Greater Sophistication

Debbie Friez
Debbie Friez
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

Brands often engaged influencers around events, and that is where they were able to get budget. With so many events going virtual, I see brands reassessing this tactic. More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on program. Thus, the budgets and alignments are changing.

Additionally, virtual events are not new, but their importance and sophistication is already radically improving. 2021 will continue to see more influencers upping their game around lighting, microphones and cameras to have the best experience for their audience. I’m excited to see how influencers will develop their video and audio presence to help companies share information.

“More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on influencer marketing program.” — Debbie Friez @dfriez Click To Tweet

10 — Network and Credential-Building Activities in a Maturing Influencer Industry

Paul Dobson
Paul Dobson
Senior Director of Social and Influencer Marketing, Citrix

Here’s what’s been on my mind while I have been thinking about planning for 2021. With the ongoing discussion about misinformation in the media, I think that B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities that continue to build on their reputations as a strong voice in the industry that they represent.

With the influencer industry maturing, and mindspace on social media shrinking, there is going to be increasing competition to find the right person to help promote B2B brands and brand messages.

“B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities.” — Paul Dobson @svengelsk Click To Tweet

11 — Long-Term Cooperation and Deepening Influencer Relationships

Michaela Underdahl
Michaela Underdahl
Senior Community Manager
Nimble

I predict two key trends happening in the B2B influencer marketing space in 2021. The first one will be the continuation of brands’ focus on nurturing existing relationships and building new long-term connections.

At Nimble, we believe in treating business relationships the same way we treat other important relationships in our lives. Long-term cooperation with influencers is our number one priority because it’s a win-win for everybody.

Both we and the influencers we work with invest time, energy, and resources into every campaign we run. We only reach out to people who we want to build a long-lasting relationship with. The end goal with our influencers is to eventually turn them into Nimble power-users and life-long brand advocates.

The other thing I think companies will be focusing on in 2021 is “fishing out” the micro-influencers from the deep waters of their existing base. It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product after you’ve spent months — sometimes years — nurturing a new relationship.

“It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product.” — Michaela Underdahl @Nimble Click To Tweet

12 — Experiences, the Business of Influence, Agency Influencer Networks and Brand Individuals


Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing

In our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 80% of B2B marketers agree that influencer marketing will be more important in the coming year and 80% expect their influencer marketing budgets to increase or stay the same. As the pandemic has driven B2B marketing activities decidedly digital, influence will continue to play an increasingly important role in the B2B marketing mix and here’s how:

  • Experiences – 74% of marketers believe working with influencers improves the experience of prospects and customers with the brand. That trend will continue as more influencers are engaged creatively to partner with brands on messaging and trusted content. The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.
  • Business of Influence – More professional influencers will come on the scene in the B2B world to provide brands with everything from analyst level expertise to turn-key research and promotions projects, professional media and content creation that are accountable to more than just “potential social impressions.” Business influence in 2021 means accountability to the bottom line, not just superficial KPIs.
  • Agency Influencer Networks – As more B2B brands come on board the influencer marketing train, they’ll want to fast track the most difficult part: identifying, qualifying and recruiting influencer partners. Specialist agencies will maintain relationships with networks of industry specific influencers and be able to provide new clients with near-immediate connections with experts that might otherwise take months to nurture.
  • Brand Influencers – Employee advocacy can tip the scales in favor of the B2B brands that are able to activate their staff and this trend will continue. Additionally, more B2B brands will invest in the building of influence for their key executives. B2B brands that both harvest relationships with top industry influencers and build the influence of their key execs and subject matter experts could see a multiplier effect on warming the market, building trust, thought leadership, and credibility when it comes to the confidence needed to make purchasing decisions.

“The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

Putting 2021 B2B Influencer Marketing Trends to the Test

2021 will see B2B marketers taking influencer marketing into not only a new year but a new more mainstream era of wider adoption among major brands, and the insightful predictions we’ve examined here are sure to play out in altogether new and sometimes unpredictable ways.

* Prophix and Treasure Data are TopRank Marketing clients.

10 Expert Pointers To Create Better B2B Content With Authentic Influence

Smiling woman at computer.

Smiling woman at computer.

How does authentic content help drive better customer experience?

And how does influence help optimize B2B content marketing performance?

Both of these are important questions for today’s B2B marketers heading into the uncertainty of 2021, where we face falling organic social reach and declining brand trust. To help guide the way we have gathered together the answers to these key questions and eight others.

Our CEO and co-founder Lee Odden explored the topics of authentic content and how influence can optimize content marketing performance during virtual presentations for the ContentTECH Summit and the IABC MN Convergence Summit, and we’ll share some of the top take-aways from his insight-filled sessions.

Let’s dig right in and look at Lee’s 10 pointers to create better B2B content with authentic influence in our age of the new normal.

1 — Build Brand Trust With Authentic Content Co-Created With Experts

Women's rowing team image.

Lee explained how in order to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of customers, successful brands should harness the power of authentic content co-created with experts — a process that when done right delivers stellar results and memorable customer experiences.

The pandemic has changed B2B marketing, however, with 72% of B2B events having cancelled their physical experiences (CEIR), and driven buyers to consume 50% more content (MFG), all while three in five CMOs say that marketing is more important than ever (The CMO Survey).

What can B2B marketers do in such a volatile and uncertain market?

Lee pointed out that B2B content preferences have changed significantly in 2020, and noted that smart marketers will need to factor in these changes for successful 2021 efforts.

The top content consumption habit that changed during 2020 has been an increased focus on the trustworthiness of content sources, Lee noted.

He cited a DemandGen study which revealed that 67% of respondents said they rely even more on content than they did last year to research and inform purchase decisions, and noted that 58% of B2B buyers don’t believe the claims made by the vendors they most recently bought from (TrustRadius).

The most successful types of content also changed in 2020, with the same study noting that the top content types were:

  • 65% Video
  • 60% White Papers
  • 56% Blogs
  • 54% Webinars
  • 54% Case Studies

How can B2B marketers stand out in such a crowded and content-filled landscape with less trust than ever?

2 — Savvy Brands Differentiate with Powerful Customer Experience

Rocketship and booster rockets image.

With such a lack of trust in 2020, Lee encouraged marketers looking to differentiate their brands to focus on the power of customer experience in 2021.

What can help in this area, and what kind of experiences are you set to create in 2021 and in an eventual post-pandemic landscape?

74% of B2B marketers said that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand, according to our groundbreaking 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

Lee said that it’s hard to create a great experience if customers don’t trust brand communications, and pointed out that trust is the gateway to influence.

It’s no wonder that interest in influencer marketing is high, as it allows B2B marketers and brands to co-create so many powerful types of content, including:

  • Blog Posts
  • Recorded Video
  • Webinars
  • Interviews
  • Podcasts
  • Live Video
  • Industry Presentations
  • Case Studies
  • Infographics
  • Interactive Content
  • Third-Party Analyst Reports

86% of customers said that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support (Stackla), Lee shared, and offered four insights about what the customers of 2021 will want:

  • Customers Want What’s Real
  • They Want to Trust
  • They Don’t Trust Brands
  • They Trust Peers and Experts

3 — Learn From Brands Putting Authenticity into Action

Lee used real-world client success stories as examples of brands putting authenticity into action, starting with LinkedIn’s* use of authentic influencers.

LinkedIn’s social-first campaign focused on the personal stories behind influencers and their individual and unique marketing careers, which turned into an influencer community of 75, with some 2,000 brand mentions by the influencers and their networks, totaling a potential reach figure of 84 million, Lee explained.

Lee showed how IT service management software firm Cherwell Software* used trusted B2B influencers to achieve 342% better click-through-rate (CTR) on influencer content, with a potential reach of some 5.45 million from influencer shares, and how the firm was successfully able to use influencers to build trust around a topic they hadn’t previously been known for, resulting in 90% of all visitors being entirely new users.

Lee also shared how Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise* (ALE) co-created content with prospects which led to an award-winning program, with the successful IT Vanguard Awards program, using IT industry influencers as judges to honor prospective customers. The awards program facilitated multi-million dollar deals, and went on to win an award at the 2020 Content Marketing Awards, while producing:

  • 52 Nominations
  • 14,000 Micro-Site Views in 10 Weeks
  • 3rd Party Media Recognition & Local Ceremonies

4 — Accelerate Internal Credibility

By matching internal influencers with external experts, B2B marketers can accelerate internal credibility, whether it’s executives, industry experts, analysts, stakeholders, media, peers, or sales, Lee explained.

Using an example from SAP* and its Tech Unknown podcast, Lee showed how the firm created a podcast show with an influencer host in Tamara McCleary, featuring both industry influencers and SAP executives.

This approach resulted in some impressive outcomes, including:

  • 128M in potential reach from influencer shares
  • 101% of industry average for downloads
  • 66% increase in podcast downloads over the show’s previous season

A solution that applied a unified process and specific tools for efficient sourcing, production, and promotion was employed for the SAP Tech Unknown podcast, creating a successful storytelling format surrounding technology topics.

Accelerating internal credibility is just a part of the overall trust equation, however.

5 — Double Down on Activating Customers

Mirrored floor reflections of giant puzzle piece image.

Another step for building trust with authenticity in content marketing is to double down on activating customers, Lee explained.

It’s important to identify both the customer roles and the brands that are most influential — information that can then be applied when leveraging for reviews, testimonials, case studies, as well as a variety of contributions to brand content, Lee noted.

An example Lee shared came from SAP’s Success Factors, a resource for customers that includes both customers and industry influencers alongside employees, to explore the universal issue of wellness versus well-being.

Using brandividuals — a term Lee uses to represent those influencers who have reached the level of being their own brand — along with industry experts, employee experts, and customers, SAP Success Factors delivered:

  • 66% landing page conversion rate
  • 85% of all views driven by organic social (contributors)
  • 69% of all conversions drive by organic social (contributors)

The power of customer activation takes on even more important role when external influencers are included in the credibility mix, however.

6 — Work with External Influencers to Build Credibility

Working with external influencers is also a key step in building credibility and trust with authenticity in content marketing, especially as marketers increasingly face what Lee has called a content attention deficit.

This is especially important today, as 77% of B2B marketers say prospects rely on influencers for information, and 63% believe they would have better marketing results by having an influencer marketing program — two revelations Lee shared from our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

B2B is behind on influencer marketing, however, as just 19% of marketers run ongoing influencer marketing programs, and 60% say they don’t have the knowledge to execute or have the right skills in-house, according the the report.

Lee showed an example from monday.com* in which the remote team management firm significantly boosted brand trust using relevant industry experts.

Content that monday.com co-created with industry influencers added credibility, trust, reach and engagement, leading to impressive results including:

  • 1,700% above-goal social reach from influencer shares
  • 17.9M potential reach from brand mentions by influencers, topping a 1M goal
  • Over 300K organic impressions on social media
  • Nearly 3K video views of a live-stream featuring industry experts within the first week

Lee also showed how monday.com successfully utilized B2B influencer marketing to partner with remote work leaders, driving discussions via live-stream that resulted in exposure to thousands of potential customers.

[bctt tweet=”“With content attention deficit and information overload, buyers can easily be distracted. It’s important for B2B brands to stand out and stay connected with findable, credible content that delivers an experience.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

7 — Create a Content Collaboration Ecosystem

An additional step for building trust through content marketing authenticity comes when B2B marketers work to create a content collaboration ecosystem.

Lee shared a powerful example of such an ecosystem in the Adobe* Insiders program, a diverse group of over 60 influencers that includes leading executives, industry leaders, major media correspondents, contributing journalists, technology pioneers — including Lee.

Adobe utilized its influencers and activated its industry experts for the Adobe Summit event to create a variety of content types — from social shares and live-stream video to blog posts and articles in major publications including Forbes and CMO.

Lee showed how the Adobe Insiders worked together to provide a cornucopia of content creation, resulting in:

  • Millions in social reach from brand mentions and earned media by influencers during and after the event
  • A Twitter DM channel for influencer communications that’s had daily posts since 2019
  • Individuals to sub-groups of influencers continue to be activated

8 — Optimize Measurement to Customer ROI

Another step in the content marketing authenticity equation comes by taking the time to optimize measurements to customer return-on-investment (ROI), Lee showed.

  • By attracting, marketers reach new audiences
  • By engaging, they improve content consumption
  • By converting, they gain subscribers, downloads, trials, demos, leads, & sales
  • By retaining, they increase community participation
  • By advocating, they inspire brand love and referrals

Lee shared an example of how these elements can successfully come together, from Dell Outlet*, which used each to optimize for trust using influencers.

Dell Outlet took a small-to-medium-sized business audience and used industry influencers to combat an initial lack of brand awareness and trust, while also increasing the perceived value of refurbished technology.

Working to build awareness and credibility, Dell Outlet partnered with SMB influencers, and achieved a Finny-award-winning program that saw:

  • Awareness: 425k additional reach from influencers
  • Engagement: 693k video views and 1,350 hours watched
  • Purchase Influence: 175% over goal in traffic referred to product pages

9 — Harness Technology to Help with Influencer Marketing

Hands holding gears and cogs image.

Smartly harnessing an ever-expanding array of software technology can take a good influencer marketing program and make it great, and Lee shared how B2B marketers are using technology to help with influencer marketing, with data from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report showing uses including:

  • 76% to identify influencers
  • 69% to monitor influencer social network activity
  • 65% to qualify influencers
  • 63% to measure and report on campaign or program results
  • 43% to manage influencer campaigns or programs
  • 41% to manage and nurture influencer relationships
  • 35% to activate influencers

In the latest episode of our new Inside Influence series, Lee also took a close look at how B2B marketers can help maximize their return-on-investment (ROI) with data-driven influencer marketing software, exploring the issue in detail with Pierre-Loïc Assayag, CEO and founder at enterprise influencer marketing platform Traackr, in “Inside Influence EP07: Pierre-Loïc Assayag from Traackr on Influencer Marketing Technology.”

Traackr is one of several powerful B2B influencer marketing tools, Lee shared, with a sample including:

  • BuzzSumo — For social, author, and influencer search
  • Onalytica —An enterprise B2B influencer marketing platform
  • Traackr — A B2B & B2C enterprise influencer marketing platform
  • CreatorIQ — A B2C enterprise influencer marketing platform
  • BuzzStream — An outreach tool
  • Pitchbox —An outreach tool
  • Nimble — A social customer relationship management (CRM) and influencer engagement tool
  • GroupHigh — A blogger and influencer discovery and outreach tool
  • Keyhole — A social listening and influencer discovery tool

[bctt tweet=”“The pandemic and the strain on budgets in companies…really forces everybody to face the music and stop focusing on vanity metrics and start focusing on results.” @pierreloic” username=”toprank”]

10 — Achieve Content Marketing Success with Purpose, Relevance, Reach & Resonance

Through the smart use of each of Lee’s steps we’ve outlined and shown examples of here, B2B marketers can achieve content marketing success that is rich in purpose, relevance, reach, and resonance.

Sharing a quote from Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman — “In this time of turmoil people are turning to brands as islands of stability,” — Lee urged marketers to ask themselves two important questions:

How will the world be different after you’re successful doing what you do?

How does that narrative translate into your marketing?

To bring greater relevance to your content marketing efforts, Lee urged marketers to use data to understand and create authentic content experiences, leverage the voices of your customers, prospects, and those they trust, in order to add credibility and context to your message.

To maximize your reach, Lee recommended that marketers look to “be the best answer” for your customers with content that is easy to find and exists in context wherever buyers engage.

Finally, to increase resonance, Lee said that B2B marketers should seek to understand the motivations of their audience throughout the entire buyer journey, to better inform the creation of messaging that truly “clicks,” and inspires the type of action and makes a concrete and measurable business impact.

Ready to learn more about B2B influencer marketing? Contact us and find out why brands from SAP, LinkedIn, AT&T Business, and Adobe to IBM, Dell, Cherwell Software, monday.com and more have chosen TopRank Marketing.

* LinkedIn, Cherwell Software, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, SAP, monday.com, Adobe, and Dell Outlet are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post 10 Expert Pointers To Create Better B2B Content With Authentic Influence appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

10 Expert Pointers To Create Better B2B Content With Authentic Influence

Smiling woman at computer.

How does authentic content help drive better customer experience?

And how does influence help optimize B2B content marketing performance?

Both of these are important questions for today’s B2B marketers heading into the uncertainty of 2021, where we face falling organic social reach and declining brand trust. To help guide the way we have gathered together the answers to these key questions and eight others.

Our CEO and co-founder Lee Odden explored the topics of authentic content and how influence can optimize content marketing performance during virtual presentations for the ContentTECH Summit and the IABC MN Convergence Summit, and we’ll share some of the top take-aways from his insight-filled sessions.

Let’s dig right in and look at Lee’s 10 pointers to create better B2B content with authentic influence in our age of the new normal.

1 — Build Brand Trust With Authentic Content Co-Created With Experts

Women's rowing team image.

Lee explained how in order to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of customers, successful brands should harness the power of authentic content co-created with experts — a process that when done right delivers stellar results and memorable customer experiences.

The pandemic has changed B2B marketing, however, with 72% of B2B events having cancelled their physical experiences (CEIR), and driven buyers to consume 50% more content (MFG), all while three in five CMOs say that marketing is more important than ever (The CMO Survey).

What can B2B marketers do in such a volatile and uncertain market?

Lee pointed out that B2B content preferences have changed significantly in 2020, and noted that smart marketers will need to factor in these changes for successful 2021 efforts.

The top content consumption habit that changed during 2020 has been an increased focus on the trustworthiness of content sources, Lee noted.

He cited a DemandGen study which revealed that 67% of respondents said they rely even more on content than they did last year to research and inform purchase decisions, and noted that 58% of B2B buyers don’t believe the claims made by the vendors they most recently bought from (TrustRadius).

The most successful types of content also changed in 2020, with the same study noting that the top content types were:

  • 65% Video
  • 60% White Papers
  • 56% Blogs
  • 54% Webinars
  • 54% Case Studies

How can B2B marketers stand out in such a crowded and content-filled landscape with less trust than ever?

2 — Savvy Brands Differentiate with Powerful Customer Experience

Rocketship and booster rockets image.

With such a lack of trust in 2020, Lee encouraged marketers looking to differentiate their brands to focus on the power of customer experience in 2021.

What can help in this area, and what kind of experiences are you set to create in 2021 and in an eventual post-pandemic landscape?

74% of B2B marketers said that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand, according to our groundbreaking 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

Lee said that it’s hard to create a great experience if customers don’t trust brand communications, and pointed out that trust is the gateway to influence.

It’s no wonder that interest in influencer marketing is high, as it allows B2B marketers and brands to co-create so many powerful types of content, including:

  • Blog Posts
  • Recorded Video
  • Webinars
  • Interviews
  • Podcasts
  • Live Video
  • Industry Presentations
  • Case Studies
  • Infographics
  • Interactive Content
  • Third-Party Analyst Reports

86% of customers said that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support (Stackla), Lee shared, and offered four insights about what the customers of 2021 will want:

  • Customers Want What’s Real
  • They Want to Trust
  • They Don’t Trust Brands
  • They Trust Peers and Experts

3 — Learn From Brands Putting Authenticity into Action

Lee used real-world client success stories as examples of brands putting authenticity into action, starting with LinkedIn’s* use of authentic influencers.

LinkedIn’s social-first campaign focused on the personal stories behind influencers and their individual and unique marketing careers, which turned into an influencer community of 75, with some 2,000 brand mentions by the influencers and their networks, totaling a potential reach figure of 84 million, Lee explained.

Lee showed how IT service management software firm Cherwell Software* used trusted B2B influencers to achieve 342% better click-through-rate (CTR) on influencer content, with a potential reach of some 5.45 million from influencer shares, and how the firm was successfully able to use influencers to build trust around a topic they hadn’t previously been known for, resulting in 90% of all visitors being entirely new users.

Lee also shared how Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise* (ALE) co-created content with prospects which led to an award-winning program, with the successful IT Vanguard Awards program, using IT industry influencers as judges to honor prospective customers. The awards program facilitated multi-million dollar deals, and went on to win an award at the 2020 Content Marketing Awards, while producing:

  • 52 Nominations
  • 14,000 Micro-Site Views in 10 Weeks
  • 3rd Party Media Recognition & Local Ceremonies

4 — Accelerate Internal Credibility

By matching internal influencers with external experts, B2B marketers can accelerate internal credibility, whether it’s executives, industry experts, analysts, stakeholders, media, peers, or sales, Lee explained.

Using an example from SAP* and its Tech Unknown podcast, Lee showed how the firm created a podcast show with an influencer host in Tamara McCleary, featuring both industry influencers and SAP executives.

This approach resulted in some impressive outcomes, including:

  • 128M in potential reach from influencer shares
  • 101% of industry average for downloads
  • 66% increase in podcast downloads over the show’s previous season

A solution that applied a unified process and specific tools for efficient sourcing, production, and promotion was employed for the SAP Tech Unknown podcast, creating a successful storytelling format surrounding technology topics.

Accelerating internal credibility is just a part of the overall trust equation, however.

5 — Double Down on Activating Customers

Mirrored floor reflections of giant puzzle piece image.

Another step for building trust with authenticity in content marketing is to double down on activating customers, Lee explained.

It’s important to identify both the customer roles and the brands that are most influential — information that can then be applied when leveraging for reviews, testimonials, case studies, as well as a variety of contributions to brand content, Lee noted.

An example Lee shared came from SAP’s Success Factors, a resource for customers that includes both customers and industry influencers alongside employees, to explore the universal issue of wellness versus well-being.

Using brandividuals — a term Lee uses to represent those influencers who have reached the level of being their own brand — along with industry experts, employee experts, and customers, SAP Success Factors delivered:

  • 66% landing page conversion rate
  • 85% of all views driven by organic social (contributors)
  • 69% of all conversions drive by organic social (contributors)

The power of customer activation takes on even more important role when external influencers are included in the credibility mix, however.

6 — Work with External Influencers to Build Credibility

Working with external influencers is also a key step in building credibility and trust with authenticity in content marketing, especially as marketers increasingly face what Lee has called a content attention deficit.

This is especially important today, as 77% of B2B marketers say prospects rely on influencers for information, and 63% believe they would have better marketing results by having an influencer marketing program — two revelations Lee shared from our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

B2B is behind on influencer marketing, however, as just 19% of marketers run ongoing influencer marketing programs, and 60% say they don’t have the knowledge to execute or have the right skills in-house, according the the report.

Lee showed an example from monday.com* in which the remote team management firm significantly boosted brand trust using relevant industry experts.

Content that monday.com co-created with industry influencers added credibility, trust, reach and engagement, leading to impressive results including:

  • 1,700% above-goal social reach from influencer shares
  • 17.9M potential reach from brand mentions by influencers, topping a 1M goal
  • Over 300K organic impressions on social media
  • Nearly 3K video views of a live-stream featuring industry experts within the first week

Lee also showed how monday.com successfully utilized B2B influencer marketing to partner with remote work leaders, driving discussions via live-stream that resulted in exposure to thousands of potential customers.

“With content attention deficit and information overload, buyers can easily be distracted. It’s important for B2B brands to stand out and stay connected with findable, credible content that delivers an experience.” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

7 — Create a Content Collaboration Ecosystem

An additional step for building trust through content marketing authenticity comes when B2B marketers work to create a content collaboration ecosystem.

Lee shared a powerful example of such an ecosystem in the Adobe* Insiders program, a diverse group of over 60 influencers that includes leading executives, industry leaders, major media correspondents, contributing journalists, technology pioneers — including Lee.

Adobe utilized its influencers and activated its industry experts for the Adobe Summit event to create a variety of content types — from social shares and live-stream video to blog posts and articles in major publications including Forbes and CMO.

Lee showed how the Adobe Insiders worked together to provide a cornucopia of content creation, resulting in:

  • Millions in social reach from brand mentions and earned media by influencers during and after the event
  • A Twitter DM channel for influencer communications that’s had daily posts since 2019
  • Individuals to sub-groups of influencers continue to be activated

8 — Optimize Measurement to Customer ROI

Another step in the content marketing authenticity equation comes by taking the time to optimize measurements to customer return-on-investment (ROI), Lee showed.

  • By attracting, marketers reach new audiences
  • By engaging, they improve content consumption
  • By converting, they gain subscribers, downloads, trials, demos, leads, & sales
  • By retaining, they increase community participation
  • By advocating, they inspire brand love and referrals

Lee shared an example of how these elements can successfully come together, from Dell Outlet*, which used each to optimize for trust using influencers.

Dell Outlet took a small-to-medium-sized business audience and used industry influencers to combat an initial lack of brand awareness and trust, while also increasing the perceived value of refurbished technology.

Working to build awareness and credibility, Dell Outlet partnered with SMB influencers, and achieved a Finny-award-winning program that saw:

  • Awareness: 425k additional reach from influencers
  • Engagement: 693k video views and 1,350 hours watched
  • Purchase Influence: 175% over goal in traffic referred to product pages

9 — Harness Technology to Help with Influencer Marketing

Hands holding gears and cogs image.

Smartly harnessing an ever-expanding array of software technology can take a good influencer marketing program and make it great, and Lee shared how B2B marketers are using technology to help with influencer marketing, with data from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report showing uses including:

  • 76% to identify influencers
  • 69% to monitor influencer social network activity
  • 65% to qualify influencers
  • 63% to measure and report on campaign or program results
  • 43% to manage influencer campaigns or programs
  • 41% to manage and nurture influencer relationships
  • 35% to activate influencers

In the latest episode of our new Inside Influence series, Lee also took a close look at how B2B marketers can help maximize their return-on-investment (ROI) with data-driven influencer marketing software, exploring the issue in detail with Pierre-Loïc Assayag, CEO and founder at enterprise influencer marketing platform Traackr, in “Inside Influence EP07: Pierre-Loïc Assayag from Traackr on Influencer Marketing Technology.”

Traackr is one of several powerful B2B influencer marketing tools, Lee shared, with a sample including:

  • BuzzSumo — For social, author, and influencer search
  • Onalytica —An enterprise B2B influencer marketing platform
  • Traackr — A B2B & B2C enterprise influencer marketing platform
  • CreatorIQ — A B2C enterprise influencer marketing platform
  • BuzzStream — An outreach tool
  • Pitchbox —An outreach tool
  • Nimble — A social customer relationship management (CRM) and influencer engagement tool
  • GroupHigh — A blogger and influencer discovery and outreach tool
  • Keyhole — A social listening and influencer discovery tool

“The pandemic and the strain on budgets in companies…really forces everybody to face the music and stop focusing on vanity metrics and start focusing on results.” @pierreloic Click To Tweet

10 — Achieve Content Marketing Success with Purpose, Relevance, Reach & Resonance

Through the smart use of each of Lee’s steps we’ve outlined and shown examples of here, B2B marketers can achieve content marketing success that is rich in purpose, relevance, reach, and resonance.

Sharing a quote from Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman — “In this time of turmoil people are turning to brands as islands of stability,” — Lee urged marketers to ask themselves two important questions:

How will the world be different after you’re successful doing what you do?

How does that narrative translate into your marketing?

To bring greater relevance to your content marketing efforts, Lee urged marketers to use data to understand and create authentic content experiences, leverage the voices of your customers, prospects, and those they trust, in order to add credibility and context to your message.

To maximize your reach, Lee recommended that marketers look to “be the best answer” for your customers with content that is easy to find and exists in context wherever buyers engage.

Finally, to increase resonance, Lee said that B2B marketers should seek to understand the motivations of their audience throughout the entire buyer journey, to better inform the creation of messaging that truly “clicks,” and inspires the type of action and makes a concrete and measurable business impact.

Ready to learn more about B2B influencer marketing? Contact us and find out why brands from SAP, LinkedIn, AT&T Business, and Adobe to IBM, Dell, Cherwell Software, monday.com and more have chosen TopRank Marketing.

* LinkedIn, Cherwell Software, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, SAP, monday.com, Adobe, and Dell Outlet are TopRank Marketing clients.

10 Expert Pointers To Create Better B2B Content With Authentic Influence

Smiling woman at computer.

How does authentic content help drive better customer experience?

And how does influence help optimize B2B content marketing performance?

Both of these are important questions for today’s B2B marketers heading into the uncertainty of 2021, where we face falling organic social reach and declining brand trust. To help guide the way we have gathered together the answers to these key questions and eight others.

Our CEO and co-founder Lee Odden explored the topics of authentic content and how influence can optimize content marketing performance during virtual presentations for the ContentTECH Summit and the IABC MN Convergence Summit, and we’ll share some of the top take-aways from his insight-filled sessions.

Let’s dig right in and look at Lee’s 10 pointers to create better B2B content with authentic influence in our age of the new normal.

1 — Build Brand Trust With Authentic Content Co-Created With Experts

Women's rowing team image.

Lee explained how in order to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of customers, successful brands should harness the power of authentic content co-created with experts — a process that when done right delivers stellar results and memorable customer experiences.

The pandemic has changed B2B marketing, however, with 72% of B2B events having cancelled their physical experiences (CEIR), and driven buyers to consume 50% more content (MFG), all while three in five CMOs say that marketing is more important than ever (The CMO Survey).

What can B2B marketers do in such a volatile and uncertain market?

Lee pointed out that B2B content preferences have changed significantly in 2020, and noted that smart marketers will need to factor in these changes for successful 2021 efforts.

The top content consumption habit that changed during 2020 has been an increased focus on the trustworthiness of content sources, Lee noted.

He cited a DemandGen study which revealed that 67% of respondents said they rely even more on content than they did last year to research and inform purchase decisions, and noted that 58% of B2B buyers don’t believe the claims made by the vendors they most recently bought from (TrustRadius).

The most successful types of content also changed in 2020, with the same study noting that the top content types were:

  • 65% Video
  • 60% White Papers
  • 56% Blogs
  • 54% Webinars
  • 54% Case Studies

How can B2B marketers stand out in such a crowded and content-filled landscape with less trust than ever?

2 — Savvy Brands Differentiate with Powerful Customer Experience

Rocketship and booster rockets image.

With such a lack of trust in 2020, Lee encouraged marketers looking to differentiate their brands to focus on the power of customer experience in 2021.

What can help in this area, and what kind of experiences are you set to create in 2021 and in an eventual post-pandemic landscape?

74% of B2B marketers said that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand, according to our groundbreaking 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

Lee said that it’s hard to create a great experience if customers don’t trust brand communications, and pointed out that trust is the gateway to influence.

It’s no wonder that interest in influencer marketing is high, as it allows B2B marketers and brands to co-create so many powerful types of content, including:

  • Blog Posts
  • Recorded Video
  • Webinars
  • Interviews
  • Podcasts
  • Live Video
  • Industry Presentations
  • Case Studies
  • Infographics
  • Interactive Content
  • Third-Party Analyst Reports

86% of customers said that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support (Stackla), Lee shared, and offered four insights about what the customers of 2021 will want:

  • Customers Want What’s Real
  • They Want to Trust
  • They Don’t Trust Brands
  • They Trust Peers and Experts

3 — Learn From Brands Putting Authenticity into Action

Lee used real-world client success stories as examples of brands putting authenticity into action, starting with LinkedIn’s* use of authentic influencers.

LinkedIn’s social-first campaign focused on the personal stories behind influencers and their individual and unique marketing careers, which turned into an influencer community of 75, with some 2,000 brand mentions by the influencers and their networks, totaling a potential reach figure of 84 million, Lee explained.

Lee showed how IT service management software firm Cherwell Software* used trusted B2B influencers to achieve 342% better click-through-rate (CTR) on influencer content, with a potential reach of some 5.45 million from influencer shares, and how the firm was successfully able to use influencers to build trust around a topic they hadn’t previously been known for, resulting in 90% of all visitors being entirely new users.

Lee also shared how Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise* (ALE) co-created content with prospects which led to an award-winning program, with the successful IT Vanguard Awards program, using IT industry influencers as judges to honor prospective customers. The awards program facilitated multi-million dollar deals, and went on to win an award at the 2020 Content Marketing Awards, while producing:

  • 52 Nominations
  • 14,000 Micro-Site Views in 10 Weeks
  • 3rd Party Media Recognition & Local Ceremonies

4 — Accelerate Internal Credibility

By matching internal influencers with external experts, B2B marketers can accelerate internal credibility, whether it’s executives, industry experts, analysts, stakeholders, media, peers, or sales, Lee explained.

Using an example from SAP* and its Tech Unknown podcast, Lee showed how the firm created a podcast show with an influencer host in Tamara McCleary, featuring both industry influencers and SAP executives.

This approach resulted in some impressive outcomes, including:

  • 128M in potential reach from influencer shares
  • 101% of industry average for downloads
  • 66% increase in podcast downloads over the show’s previous season

A solution that applied a unified process and specific tools for efficient sourcing, production, and promotion was employed for the SAP Tech Unknown podcast, creating a successful storytelling format surrounding technology topics.

Accelerating internal credibility is just a part of the overall trust equation, however.

5 — Double Down on Activating Customers

Mirrored floor reflections of giant puzzle piece image.

Another step for building trust with authenticity in content marketing is to double down on activating customers, Lee explained.

It’s important to identify both the customer roles and the brands that are most influential — information that can then be applied when leveraging for reviews, testimonials, case studies, as well as a variety of contributions to brand content, Lee noted.

An example Lee shared came from SAP’s Success Factors, a resource for customers that includes both customers and industry influencers alongside employees, to explore the universal issue of wellness versus well-being.

Using brandividuals — a term Lee uses to represent those influencers who have reached the level of being their own brand — along with industry experts, employee experts, and customers, SAP Success Factors delivered:

  • 66% landing page conversion rate
  • 85% of all views driven by organic social (contributors)
  • 69% of all conversions drive by organic social (contributors)

The power of customer activation takes on even more important role when external influencers are included in the credibility mix, however.

6 — Work with External Influencers to Build Credibility

Working with external influencers is also a key step in building credibility and trust with authenticity in content marketing, especially as marketers increasingly face what Lee has called a content attention deficit.

This is especially important today, as 77% of B2B marketers say prospects rely on influencers for information, and 63% believe they would have better marketing results by having an influencer marketing program — two revelations Lee shared from our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

B2B is behind on influencer marketing, however, as just 19% of marketers run ongoing influencer marketing programs, and 60% say they don’t have the knowledge to execute or have the right skills in-house, according the the report.

Lee showed an example from monday.com* in which the remote team management firm significantly boosted brand trust using relevant industry experts.

Content that monday.com co-created with industry influencers added credibility, trust, reach and engagement, leading to impressive results including:

  • 1,700% above-goal social reach from influencer shares
  • 17.9M potential reach from brand mentions by influencers, topping a 1M goal
  • Over 300K organic impressions on social media
  • Nearly 3K video views of a live-stream featuring industry experts within the first week

Lee also showed how monday.com successfully utilized B2B influencer marketing to partner with remote work leaders, driving discussions via live-stream that resulted in exposure to thousands of potential customers.

“With content attention deficit and information overload, buyers can easily be distracted. It’s important for B2B brands to stand out and stay connected with findable, credible content that delivers an experience.” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

7 — Create a Content Collaboration Ecosystem

An additional step for building trust through content marketing authenticity comes when B2B marketers work to create a content collaboration ecosystem.

Lee shared a powerful example of such an ecosystem in the Adobe* Insiders program, a diverse group of over 60 influencers that includes leading executives, industry leaders, major media correspondents, contributing journalists, technology pioneers — including Lee.

Adobe utilized its influencers and activated its industry experts for the Adobe Summit event to create a variety of content types — from social shares and live-stream video to blog posts and articles in major publications including Forbes and CMO.

Lee showed how the Adobe Insiders worked together to provide a cornucopia of content creation, resulting in:

  • Millions in social reach from brand mentions and earned media by influencers during and after the event
  • A Twitter DM channel for influencer communications that’s had daily posts since 2019
  • Individuals to sub-groups of influencers continue to be activated

8 — Optimize Measurement to Customer ROI

Another step in the content marketing authenticity equation comes by taking the time to optimize measurements to customer return-on-investment (ROI), Lee showed.

  • By attracting, marketers reach new audiences
  • By engaging, they improve content consumption
  • By converting, they gain subscribers, downloads, trials, demos, leads, & sales
  • By retaining, they increase community participation
  • By advocating, they inspire brand love and referrals

Lee shared an example of how these elements can successfully come together, from Dell Outlet*, which used each to optimize for trust using influencers.

Dell Outlet took a small-to-medium-sized business audience and used industry influencers to combat an initial lack of brand awareness and trust, while also increasing the perceived value of refurbished technology.

Working to build awareness and credibility, Dell Outlet partnered with SMB influencers, and achieved a Finny-award-winning program that saw:

  • Awareness: 425k additional reach from influencers
  • Engagement: 693k video views and 1,350 hours watched
  • Purchase Influence: 175% over goal in traffic referred to product pages

9 — Harness Technology to Help with Influencer Marketing

Hands holding gears and cogs image.

Smartly harnessing an ever-expanding array of software technology can take a good influencer marketing program and make it great, and Lee shared how B2B marketers are using technology to help with influencer marketing, with data from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report showing uses including:

  • 76% to identify influencers
  • 69% to monitor influencer social network activity
  • 65% to qualify influencers
  • 63% to measure and report on campaign or program results
  • 43% to manage influencer campaigns or programs
  • 41% to manage and nurture influencer relationships
  • 35% to activate influencers

In the latest episode of our new Inside Influence series, Lee also took a close look at how B2B marketers can help maximize their return-on-investment (ROI) with data-driven influencer marketing software, exploring the issue in detail with Pierre-Loïc Assayag, CEO and founder at enterprise influencer marketing platform Traackr, in “Inside Influence EP07: Pierre-Loïc Assayag from Traackr on Influencer Marketing Technology.”

Traackr is one of several powerful B2B influencer marketing tools, Lee shared, with a sample including:

  • BuzzSumo — For social, author, and influencer search
  • Onalytica —An enterprise B2B influencer marketing platform
  • Traackr — A B2B & B2C enterprise influencer marketing platform
  • CreatorIQ — A B2C enterprise influencer marketing platform
  • BuzzStream — An outreach tool
  • Pitchbox —An outreach tool
  • Nimble — A social customer relationship management (CRM) and influencer engagement tool
  • GroupHigh — A blogger and influencer discovery and outreach tool
  • Keyhole — A social listening and influencer discovery tool

“The pandemic and the strain on budgets in companies…really forces everybody to face the music and stop focusing on vanity metrics and start focusing on results.” @pierreloic Click To Tweet

10 — Achieve Content Marketing Success with Purpose, Relevance, Reach & Resonance

Through the smart use of each of Lee’s steps we’ve outlined and shown examples of here, B2B marketers can achieve content marketing success that is rich in purpose, relevance, reach, and resonance.

Sharing a quote from Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman — “In this time of turmoil people are turning to brands as islands of stability,” — Lee urged marketers to ask themselves two important questions:

How will the world be different after you’re successful doing what you do?

How does that narrative translate into your marketing?

To bring greater relevance to your content marketing efforts, Lee urged marketers to use data to understand and create authentic content experiences, leverage the voices of your customers, prospects, and those they trust, in order to add credibility and context to your message.

To maximize your reach, Lee recommended that marketers look to “be the best answer” for your customers with content that is easy to find and exists in context wherever buyers engage.

Finally, to increase resonance, Lee said that B2B marketers should seek to understand the motivations of their audience throughout the entire buyer journey, to better inform the creation of messaging that truly “clicks,” and inspires the type of action and makes a concrete and measurable business impact.

Ready to learn more about B2B influencer marketing? Contact us and find out why brands from SAP, LinkedIn, AT&T Business, and Adobe to IBM, Dell, Cherwell Software, monday.com and more have chosen TopRank Marketing.

* LinkedIn, Cherwell Software, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, SAP, monday.com, Adobe, and Dell Outlet are TopRank Marketing clients.

Business as Unusual: How to Communicate Your New and Updated Services with Google My Business

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, business owners have had to move quickly to make drastic changes in their services to meet searchers’ new needs in a continuously unpredictable landscape.

While “Near me” searches saw a slight drop in early 2020, since then, have maintained a steady increase, further solidifying the need for brands and businesses of all sizes to be present and discoverable online.

During the pandemic, almost a third of shoppers have purchased from a brand that’s new to them. In this article, we’ll explore tactics for surfacing your new or updated services digitally to guide and convert these new searchers during their decision-making process.

What types of questions are searchers asking?

How can I do business with you?

When thinking about your Google My Business profile and adjustments to your information, the most important element is informing searchers how they can do business with you.

You’ll want to ensure all of your core location data is updated. This includes marking whether or not you’re temporarily closed. If you’re open, you should have the most accurate operating hours published.

Furthermore, you should make it as easy as possible for searchers to get in contact with you if they have any questions. This includes making sure your phone number is accurate, monitoring your Q&A section on Google My Business, and enabling messaging if you have the staff to respond. These are all methods that make customers feel connected to you, which will encourage them to convert and purchase from you.

What type of safety precautions are you taking with your customers and staff?

The health and safety of customers and employees is top of mind for all searchers. As a business, this information should be front and center so potential customers can understand how important this is to your organization.

It should be incredibly clear to anyone looking to engage with your business what types of safety precautions and protocols you’re following, and how this could impact their trip to your business or the delivery of your services. These should include things like social distancing measures which may result in long lines, mask requirements, etc. Surfacing this information as early as possible makes the decision to do business with you that much easier.

What types of services are you offering, and are these different than normal?

Businesses and consumers have had to adjust to so many new normals. In order to capture new customers and grow the evangelism of existing ones, remove as much friction as possible by communicating changes up front.

If you’ve made changes to services or products that users have come to rely on you for, make it clear what has changed and how. This is especially true for essential businesses that are growing particularly busy and facing supply chain shortages.

What can all businesses do to communicate updates about new and changing services on Google My Business?

1. Update your attributes

Google has rolled out dozens of highly visible attributes and will continue to introduce new ones. This includes details like whether you offer in-person or online service and appointments, delivery and pick up, and safety measures for in-person shopping. Keep an eye on these and make sure all relevant attributes are applied to your business.

2. Publish services and products

If you have these available for your category, they are a great way to introduce new services and products or highlight your most popular ones.

3. Add Google Posts

Now that Google has temporarily lifted the limit on API access for chains, businesses of all sizes should be leveraging posts. Posts allow you to share timely and relevant updates spanning temporary closures, product and service updates, promotions, and gift card options.

4. Update your images

If your product, service, or location looks different to returning customers, this can cause confusion or disappointment. Don’t underestimate the power of updated imagery on your Google My Business profile. Most smartphones have a high enough quality camera that even snapping a few pictures each week and uploading these will be enough.

5. Publish additional hours

Publishing additional hours sets helps to surface the supplemental offerings you have. These include senior hours, online operating hours, drive through hours, pickup hours, and more.

Industry-specific considerations

Healthcare

One of the most impacted industries, especially from a digital perspective, has been healthcare. Both sick and healthy patients have been forced to rethink how they can access their healthcare needs.

Healthcare organizations are making adjustments to serve existing and new patients. There’s been a large shift to offer telehealth appointments in lieu of in-person for a number of specialties from internal medicine to therapy. Governmental agencies also reported increases in telehealth visits, with a 154% increase in the last week of March 2020 alone.

Based on this data, in early April, Google rolled out a telehealth link for healthcare categories. This enabled healthcare organizations and providers to surface and convert patients with non-emergency needs who are cautious of visiting an office in-person.

Just as critical as launching telehealth support was the introduction of the coronavirus testing facility information on maps and search. Google My Business partnered with a number of third party health and governmental sources, as well as with Castlight to ingest data for new testing sites. The roll out of COVID-19 testing information was a phased approach and has evolved over the last few months. For healthcare organizations offering COVID-19 testing, this is the most relevant and critical service you can add to your Google My Business listing.

Retail

For retail businesses, one of the biggest challenges faced over the last few months has likely been inventory fluctuations and ordering methods. This is why businesses of all sizes have been integrating product shopping features and live inventory on their listings. Google even rolled out free product listings in the U.S. to support businesses.

Once retailers have made it easy to see what products are in stock, they’ve had to adjust to support different methods of ordering and pickup. This includes enabling “buy online, pick up in-store”, curbside pickup, and contactless delivery. Google has rolled out attributes to highlight each of these, so businesses should ensure each location’s offerings are reflected.

Financial services

Banks and businesses within the financial service industry have more limited options due to regulations and the nature of their business. In addition to the safety measures they’re taking at their local branches, banking customers have been relying on drive-up support and virtual banking services. By leveraging drive-through and online appointment attributes, as well as by highlighting unique drive-through hours, financial service providers can better help customers understand the ways they can complete their banking.

Restaurants

Restaurants have had to deal with continual and fluctuating mandates that dictate restrictions on how and when they can open. Depending on where the restaurants are located and the guidelines of the area, they have to communicate whether they offer delivery, takeout, and/or dine-in, and what that looks like. Some dine-in has been restricted to outdoor dining only, while others have been restricted to smaller capacities to allow for social distancing.

There are a number of Google My Business features that you can utilize in order to let customers know what dining features you have available. Restaurants should make sure to keep their dine-in, delivery, and take-out attributes updated. Utilizing posts to describe dining accommodations such as outdoor-only or limited indoor capacity can also be helpful for customers. If you’re offering delivery, online orders, or reservations, make sure you’ve reviewed the Online Ordering feature that activates the blue action buttons on your Knowledge Panel.

Conclusion

Businesses of all sizes and industries have made it easier for consumers to engage with them as this pandemic continues to drive changes in everyday life. Follow these tips to make sure your updates are discoverable on your Google My Business profile, where the majority of “near me” searches are happening.

Business as Unusual: How to Communicate Your New and Updated Services with Google My Business

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, business owners have had to move quickly to make drastic changes in their services to meet searchers’ new needs in a continuously unpredictable landscape.

While “Near me” searches saw a slight drop in early 2020, since then, have maintained a steady increase, further solidifying the need for brands and businesses of all sizes to be present and discoverable online.

During the pandemic, almost a third of shoppers have purchased from a brand that’s new to them. In this article, we’ll explore tactics for surfacing your new or updated services digitally to guide and convert these new searchers during their decision-making process.

What types of questions are searchers asking?

How can I do business with you?

When thinking about your Google My Business profile and adjustments to your information, the most important element is informing searchers how they can do business with you.

You’ll want to ensure all of your core location data is updated. This includes marking whether or not you’re temporarily closed. If you’re open, you should have the most accurate operating hours published.

Furthermore, you should make it as easy as possible for searchers to get in contact with you if they have any questions. This includes making sure your phone number is accurate, monitoring your Q&A section on Google My Business, and enabling messaging if you have the staff to respond. These are all methods that make customers feel connected to you, which will encourage them to convert and purchase from you.

What type of safety precautions are you taking with your customers and staff?

The health and safety of customers and employees is top of mind for all searchers. As a business, this information should be front and center so potential customers can understand how important this is to your organization.

It should be incredibly clear to anyone looking to engage with your business what types of safety precautions and protocols you’re following, and how this could impact their trip to your business or the delivery of your services. These should include things like social distancing measures which may result in long lines, mask requirements, etc. Surfacing this information as early as possible makes the decision to do business with you that much easier.

What types of services are you offering, and are these different than normal?

Businesses and consumers have had to adjust to so many new normals. In order to capture new customers and grow the evangelism of existing ones, remove as much friction as possible by communicating changes up front.

If you’ve made changes to services or products that users have come to rely on you for, make it clear what has changed and how. This is especially true for essential businesses that are growing particularly busy and facing supply chain shortages.

What can all businesses do to communicate updates about new and changing services on Google My Business?

1. Update your attributes

Google has rolled out dozens of highly visible attributes and will continue to introduce new ones. This includes details like whether you offer in-person or online service and appointments, delivery and pick up, and safety measures for in-person shopping. Keep an eye on these and make sure all relevant attributes are applied to your business.

2. Publish services and products

If you have these available for your category, they are a great way to introduce new services and products or highlight your most popular ones.

3. Add Google Posts

Now that Google has temporarily lifted the limit on API access for chains, businesses of all sizes should be leveraging posts. Posts allow you to share timely and relevant updates spanning temporary closures, product and service updates, promotions, and gift card options.

4. Update your images

If your product, service, or location looks different to returning customers, this can cause confusion or disappointment. Don’t underestimate the power of updated imagery on your Google My Business profile. Most smartphones have a high enough quality camera that even snapping a few pictures each week and uploading these will be enough.

5. Publish additional hours

Publishing additional hours sets helps to surface the supplemental offerings you have. These include senior hours, online operating hours, drive through hours, pickup hours, and more.

Industry-specific considerations

Healthcare

One of the most impacted industries, especially from a digital perspective, has been healthcare. Both sick and healthy patients have been forced to rethink how they can access their healthcare needs.

Healthcare organizations are making adjustments to serve existing and new patients. There’s been a large shift to offer telehealth appointments in lieu of in-person for a number of specialties from internal medicine to therapy. Governmental agencies also reported increases in telehealth visits, with a 154% increase in the last week of March 2020 alone.

Based on this data, in early April, Google rolled out a telehealth link for healthcare categories. This enabled healthcare organizations and providers to surface and convert patients with non-emergency needs who are cautious of visiting an office in-person.

Just as critical as launching telehealth support was the introduction of the coronavirus testing facility information on maps and search. Google My Business partnered with a number of third party health and governmental sources, as well as with Castlight to ingest data for new testing sites. The roll out of COVID-19 testing information was a phased approach and has evolved over the last few months. For healthcare organizations offering COVID-19 testing, this is the most relevant and critical service you can add to your Google My Business listing.

Retail

For retail businesses, one of the biggest challenges faced over the last few months has likely been inventory fluctuations and ordering methods. This is why businesses of all sizes have been integrating product shopping features and live inventory on their listings. Google even rolled out free product listings in the U.S. to support businesses.

Once retailers have made it easy to see what products are in stock, they’ve had to adjust to support different methods of ordering and pickup. This includes enabling “buy online, pick up in-store”, curbside pickup, and contactless delivery. Google has rolled out attributes to highlight each of these, so businesses should ensure each location’s offerings are reflected.

Financial services

Banks and businesses within the financial service industry have more limited options due to regulations and the nature of their business. In addition to the safety measures they’re taking at their local branches, banking customers have been relying on drive-up support and virtual banking services. By leveraging drive-through and online appointment attributes, as well as by highlighting unique drive-through hours, financial service providers can better help customers understand the ways they can complete their banking.

Restaurants

Restaurants have had to deal with continual and fluctuating mandates that dictate restrictions on how and when they can open. Depending on where the restaurants are located and the guidelines of the area, they have to communicate whether they offer delivery, takeout, and/or dine-in, and what that looks like. Some dine-in has been restricted to outdoor dining only, while others have been restricted to smaller capacities to allow for social distancing.

There are a number of Google My Business features that you can utilize in order to let customers know what dining features you have available. Restaurants should make sure to keep their dine-in, delivery, and take-out attributes updated. Utilizing posts to describe dining accommodations such as outdoor-only or limited indoor capacity can also be helpful for customers. If you’re offering delivery, online orders, or reservations, make sure you’ve reviewed the Online Ordering feature that activates the blue action buttons on your Knowledge Panel.

Conclusion

Businesses of all sizes and industries have made it easier for consumers to engage with them as this pandemic continues to drive changes in everyday life. Follow these tips to make sure your updates are discoverable on your Google My Business profile, where the majority of “near me” searches are happening.

The New Best Practices for Native Advertising on Editorial Sites

Digital advertising is different nowadays.

How and when we interact with ads online drastically changed in March when COVID-19 ushered in a new era of rolling global lockdowns, not to mention lifestyle changes that none of us could predict.

And for native advertising in particular, ad performance has always relied on the nature of consumer behavior on the sites where they appear. Because they fit the form and function of their sites, their best practices are directly dictated by how we interact with the organic content that surrounds them.

On editorial sites (think news, niche blogs and online magazines), consumer behavior has shifted quite a bit.

People started interacting with content from different devices, at different times, and reacting to different types of campaign creatives. All of this resulted in a new set of best practices for marketers to follow when it comes to running effective native ads.

We’ll walk you through those new best practices and answer the following:

  • How have native ads been impacted by COVID-19?
  • How has consumer interaction with native ads changed?
  • What campaign messaging is the most effective?
  • What KPIs are other advertisers in your vertical targeting?
  • What creative strategies perform best?

COVID-19’s impact on news sites and native ads

There was a whole lot of uncertainty this past March, and as a result, many companies pumped the advertising breaks. Despite the slowdown, the industry will spend more on native ads in 2020 than they did in 2019, but at a much smaller growth rate.

According to eMarketer, $47.33 billion will be spent on native ads in 2020 — a 4.8% growth spurt. They expect native ad spend to grow by 21% as digital ad spend recovers next year.

The ads that did run, though, saw a lot of attention. The coronavirus news cycle brought a boom of interest to editorial sites across the web from March to April.

Nieman Lab reported that articles about the pandemic increased overall traffic to 350% week over week, totalling 980 million views.

When the dust settled, it was clear consumer priorities had shifted, and where and when they were spending time on editorial sites did, too.

Where and when consumers interact with native ads

Editorial sites have the potential to serve native ads in a lot of different places. They can appear as promoted articles on a homepage or category page, as native display ads in the middle of an article, and at the bottom of the article, to name a few examples.

We partnered with Nielsen using BrainVu, a cloud-based neurocognition technology, to measure consumer reactions to ads on the page, meaning we physically measured people’s brain waves as they interacted with ads on editorial sites.

Immersive AI and virtual reality technology (think headgear with a ton of wires attached) measured when and where they were paying the most attention and had the highest emotional response.

We found that consumers were paying 20% more attention to ads at the bottom of the article and had a 17% higher emotional response than anywhere else on the page.

Plus, research participants displayed an 8% lower cognitive load at the end of an article. Basically, they had more “brain space”, or memory resources, to pay attention to new content or ads.

A follow-up study from Nielsen revealed that these moments occurred most often as we were on our way to bed or just waking up, taking a work break, or using the restroom. Lunch breaks, lines, and commutes had been deprioritized.

When we’re in those moments of next, primed and ready to discover content or advertising from brands, what are the topics engaged with the most?

We’ve seen three major shifts in consumer interest that should shape the messaging for your next native advertising campaigns.

Campaign messaging people engage with the most

The news topics gaining the most attention on editorial sites have changed, which should signal to marketers a need for a shift in native ad messaging.

Long-term trends in news are a reflection of consumers most relevant and immediate concerns. Aligning your campaign messaging with these long-term trends will improve your native ad performance.

So, what are those long-term trends?

First off, content related to the coronavirus and political climate has all but eclipsed consumer attention on editorial sites.

Underneath those high-level basic interests, we’ve identified four trending topics that have emerged since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, and with which we’re seeing a lot of engagement:

  • Investing: The combination of coronavirus and the 2020 election has resulted in some ups and downs in the stock market, and everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. (Nerdwallet pushed a partnership with Fundrise just in time for the trend).
  • Food: Quarantine baking has resulted in a burst of attention to the food category, specifically for topics related to desserts and baking. (Just Egg leaned into marketing as a faux egg alternative when quarantine baking took off.)
  • Racism: George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter movement have sparked a recent increase in engagement with topics related to racism and equality. (Mint promoted a webinar and video series on how to close the racial wage gap.)
  • Work: How and when we’re getting back to work is on our minds. (Nestlé released a series of content, including this article, about how parents were handling working from home.)

Here’s how interest in these content topics have broken down over the past six months, measured in pageviews:

While specific news stories have created spikes of pageviews for content related to these topics, interest has stayed steady for all four since April.

How coronavirus influenced native advertising KPIs

Native advertising KPIs shifted after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.

To illustrate this change, we took a look at the total advertiser spend on our network across each vertical, and broke it down by three high-level KPIs: brand awareness, lead generation, and purchases.

If the percentage of spend allocated to one of those KPIs changed more than 5% after March or April, we included it here.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness includes campaigns optimized for KPIs like impressions, clicks, and pageviews.

For the fashion and technology verticals, brand awareness became a much higher priority after March 8th.

Lead generation

Lead generation includes KPIs like form fills, engagement on the page, or newsletter subscriptions.

Both the entertainment and auto industries prioritized lead generation just after the pandemic was declared.

They eventually focused more on brand awareness by April, when a need for education and finance products took their place.

As consumers looked to support schooling at home, and make sure their finances were in order, education and finance brands started to prioritize lead generation over other KPIs.

Purchase

Purchase KPIs include cart checkouts, contacting a sales representative, or any digital step in the funnel that results in a sale.

Directly after the pandemic hit, healthcare and home good brands prioritized purchase KPIs as consumers looked to stay healthy and improve their inside spaces. Healthcare has continued to prioritize purchase KPIs since the pandemic was announced.

Moving into April, more and more education marketers also prioritized purchase KPIs to support homeschooling and professional development needs. Beauty advertisers also filled a need left by closing salons across the globe.

Fashion marketers started prioritizing purchase KPIs again through April as it became clear how consumer priorities had shifted.

Creative best practices since coronavirus

When pen meets paper (figuratively speaking) and it’s time to build your campaign creatives, you’ll want to be sure to include creative elements that consumers find engaging.

Below you’ll find insights for native ads that are either driven by sponsored content (think articles, e-books, photo galleries, and videos on the landing page) and video (think video creatives where a click isn’t necessarily the goal).

Sponsored content

These ads are made up of a headline and photo to entice consumers to click and learn more about what you have to offer. Both require a bit of attention to make sure your ad performs as best as it can.

We’re seeing increases in click-through-rates (CTRs) for the following photo elements:

Photos without text

Photography over illustrations

People over landscapes

Colors over black and white​

Close-ups over photos at a distance

We recommend A/B testing photos with one or two of these elements to see what works best for your campaign.

Keywords

After your photo catches your eye, your headline has to convince people to click and keep reading. We’ve seen certain keywords give advertisers a better chance at a user clicking through to their landing page.

Over the past month, the following keywords have had a positive impact on CTRs:

These keywords used to have a positive impact on CTR, but are now used in many different ad campaigns, meaning you’ll likely have to bid higher in order to get in front of consumers.

Finally, these keywords haven’t quite made it into the ‘strong engagement’ bucket, but have had a positive CTR impact for a smaller selection of advertiser campaigns and might be worth testing if relevant to your brand.

Video campaigns

When producing video assets, there are specific action types and characteristics to include to make an impact on completion rate and viewability.

High completion rate

Consider showing scenes with swimming, air travel, stretching, and other high-movement related action types to encourage people to watch your video ad all the way to the end.

In addition, video characteristics like winter scenes, men, videos without people, and food are also showing a positive impact on completion rates.

High viewability

When it comes to catching someone’s eye, actions like eating, climbing, and stretching seem to be the most effective.

Male actors, videos that aren’t illustrated, colors, and food are also great characteristics to include to make sure your video isn’t missed.

Main takeaways

​The native advertising landscape has changed since March and the declaration of a global pandemic. Ad spend changed in response to consumer behavior, and we walked away with a new set of best practices to use as a basis for our native advertising campaigns.

When you’re building your next native advertising campaign, ask yourself:

  • Can I incorporate a messaging angle related to investing, food, racial justice or work?
  • Are other advertisers seeing success with my desired KPI in my vertical?
  • Have I considered testing native ad placements at the bottom of the page where people are most likely to be engaged?
  • Am I following creative best practices like including colorful, close-up images of people?

You should always A/B test—best practices should always be taken with a grain of salt. Using these best practices as a basis for testing your native advertising campaigns moving forward will make your optimization process a bit easier, and ultimately lead to better performance marketing.

You can stay up to date on the latest content topics and creative trends at Taboola Trends.