What Does Award-Winning B2B Influencer Marketing Look Like?

Professional businessman making a heart with his fingers image.

In a time of increased competition and uncertainty, standing out is more important than ever.

Of course there’s plenty of B2B marketing that stands out, but what kind performs? Is it ads, content marketing, SEO, social, ABM or influence?

At TopRank Marketing we make it our business to deliver on and exceed expectations for content experiences that will inspire customers through influencer marketing. But what does award-winning B2B influencer marketing look like?  How can you infuse your own campaigns with the type of powerful elements that combine to deliver stellar marketing performance?

To help answer those questions, let’s take a look at two highly-successful efforts from our clients LinkedIn and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) to find out what common elements both campaigns share to make for decidedly uncommon success.

Award Winning B2B Influencer Marketing in Action

Awards Image

We were thrilled that the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) B2 Awards awarded TopRank Marketing its silver winner in the social media category, for our work with LinkedIn in the successful “LinkedIn’s Social-First Approach to Engaging Influencers & Audiences Alike” campaign, and that the 2020 Content Marketing Awards has selected TopRank Marketing as a finalist in its best content marketing program in technology, for our work with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) in the successful “IT Vanguard Awards” campaign.

The ANA’s B2 Awards recognize the top performing B2B marketers with a unique focus on driving demonstrable business results, and in 2020 entrants submitted in 47 categories which have evolved to reflect the growing role of B2B marketing and rapid industry changes.

The 2020 Content Marketing Awards recognize and award the best content marketing projects, agencies and marketers in the industry each year, recognizing all aspects of content marketing, from strategy to distribution, from design to editorial, and is the leading international awards program for corporate content creation and distribution.

LinkedIn’s Social-First Approach to Engaging Influencers & Audiences Alike

LinkedIn Case Study Image

The average daily time that a user spends on social media is approximately 153 minutes (Statista). And, with 706+ million registered users (63 million of which are in decision-making positions), the LinkedIn platform presents a big opportunity for brands to engage their target audience. (LinkedIn).

But reaching and connecting with both marketers and sales professionals has become increasingly difficult due to the overload of information thrown at them each day. The brand LinkedIn also faced this challenge, even on their own platform.

So, in order to better reach these decision makers, LinkedIn Marketing and LinkedIn Sales Solutions set out to create a social-first campaign that would communicate authentically to then attract attention to specific LinkedIn Showcase Pages. Goals included:

  • Increase engagement and continue to humanize LinkedIn as a brand by partnering with well respected industry experts to share real-life struggles, stories and obstacles with a focused audience.
  • Drive new audiences to the targeted Showcase Pages via the influencer’s audiences (that were not already following or engaging with the LinkedIn brand).
  • Continue to nurture and grow relationships with the influencers themselves as part of an ongoing influencer program.
  • Engage the audience in-channel (versus sending to alternate content off platform).

LinkedIn Campaign Insights & Strategy

LinkedIn Image

To create and optimize this social-first influencer content campaign, specific insights and strategies were leveraged:

  • High-level audit of the LinkedIn Marketing and Sales Showcase pages to identify the most engaging content based on:
    • Content Length
    • Topic
    • Visuals
    • Featured Influencers
    • Best Publishing Time/Day
  • Identification of best-fit target influencers based on:
    • Audience Relevance
    • Participation Likelihood
    • Best Stories
    • Relevance and/or admiration of target audience
  • Research into appropriate hashtags for the campaign.

Based on these insights a campaign approach was created, including:

  • A messaging/post formula including:
    • Context at the beginning of each post
    • Tagging the contributing influencer
    • Showcasing their story/insights
    • Utilizing hashtags
    • Compelling visuals
  •      Activation of influencers when posts went live.

Influencer Content Campaign Concept

In order to better reach an overloaded audience, we focused on the idea of partnering with influencers to make professional networking more personal vs. more traditional “best practices” content that fills most professionals’ social feeds.

Instead, relevant influencers we asked to share real-life stories based on 3 key questions:

  • Describe a defining moment in your career and how it shaped you as a marketer or sales professional.
  • What is one thing not on your LinkedIn profile that people should know about you?
  • Who is one rising star in your field that you’d like to recognize? What makes them amazing?

By shifting from purely professional content to a combination of professional and personal, LinkedIn was able to better connect with the audience around their own professional opportunities and provide them a platform to engage directly with experts they respect.

B2B Social Influencer Campaign Results

Results for this influencer marketing and social media program exceeded all target goals. Below is a breakdown of the results:

#MyMarketingStory

  • 239% above reaction benchmark
  • 348% above comment benchmark
  • 150% above shares benchmark
  • 100% influencer activation around the campaign

#MySalesStory

  • 247% above reaction averages/goal
  • 215% above comment averages
  • 400% above shares averages
  • 100% influencer activation around the campaign

Influencer Metrics

  • 14 influencers activated (leading to 75+ over time)
  • 228 total social posts (excludes LinkedIn data)
  • 853 engagements (excludes LinkedIn data)
  • 5.84M estimated reach (excludes LinkedIn data)

LinkedIn Social Influencer Campaign Insights

The goal of this campaign was to drive authentic engagement, on platform, between LinkedIn and their customers. With over 706 million registered users including 63 million in decision-making positions, LinkedIn Marketing and LinkedIn Sales created a powerful and successful social-first campaign leveraging LinkedIn Showcase Pages by connecting with content on both a personal and professional level.

LinkedIn Looks at What’s Next in Marketing Content Together

“At LinkedIn, we’ve worked with the TopRank Marketing team for about two to three years now, and what I really like about working with TopRank is they really, truly come to the table as collaborative partners,” Judy Tian, marketing manager at LinkedIn observed.

“I’ve worked with a number of agencies where in marketing, I’m asking for deliverable A and they just give me deliverable A. But what’s great about TopRank is they also think about B, C, and D and really try to push my thinking of what’s next,” Judy added.

“I think in marketing you are only as good as the creativity of your team and your ideas. The more voices that we bring to the table and the more proactiveness and willingness of everyone contributing ideas, the better off your marketing campaigns will be, and for us at LinkedIn, TopRank has truly become an extension of our own marketing team,” Judy explained.

TopRank Marketing & Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Not Afraid To Innovate: The IT Vanguards Awards Program

Alcatel Screen Shot

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE), a 100-year-old business technology company, decided it was time to raise the stakes in sales funnel management. While ALE had hundreds of contacts, the company was not achieving the desired traction with their current methods.

Their big idea was a recognition program for IT network and IT enterprise communications leaders. By celebrating industry leaders, ALE hoped to forge stronger relationships with clients and prospects — and build a more robust contact list.

But how could ALE make sure that this seed of an idea produced the desired fruit — not only in its inaugural year but in years to come? The company looked to TopRank Marketing to help them create an innovative program, unlike anything that had been done before.

TopRank Marketing provided end-to-end support for the initiative, collaborating with ALE on branding the IT Vanguards program, and then executing a strategic marketing plan which included influencer engagement, press releases, LinkedIn Pulse content, emails, and blogs.

The IT Vanguards website doubled as a way to collect nominations and celebrate the winners. Once the winners were announced, the IT Vanguards website was populated with the honorees’ top leadership advice. These insights positioned both the winners and ALE as thought-leaders while also providing meaningful value long after the close of the program.

All milestones — from announcing the program to celebrating the winners — were promoted using a strategic blend of content marketing, influencer marketing, and social media. The content was amplified on social channels through paid ads as well as posts by ALE employees, program judges, honorees of the IT Vanguards program, and relevant third-party organizations and industry associations.

Results of the IT Vanguards Program

By all definitions, the IT Vanguards program was a resounding success. With more than 50 quality, relevant nominations, the IT Vanguards program was an effective means to identify and celebrate the best IT network and IT enterprise communications leaders.

The program also excelled as a way to generate brand awareness and engagement. There were nearly 14,000 combined landing page views during ten weeks of contest promotion. On social channels, the program boasted 100% engagement from program judges and honorees through activities such as direct conversations with the ALE and TopRank Marketing teams, social sharing, and internal sharing.

The program also spurred third-party recognition of the honorees’ prestigious achievement, including press releases and special ceremonies held by the honorees’ local governments, school boards, and companies. These activities further heightened the credibility of the IT Vanguards program and the market leadership position of ALE.

Lastly, the IT Vanguards program delivered in terms of business development. Using the IT Vanguards program to celebrate the IT network and IT enterprise communications leaders, ALE generated opportunities for meaningful conversations with prospects. The company attributes three million in the pipeline to the campaign.

We’re honored…

…to win the ANA B2 Awards silver award for our combined efforts with LinkedIn — an especially strong campaign as we outlined above, and to be named a finalist at the 2020 Content Marketing Awards in the best content marketing program in technology category for our joint efforts with ALE.

Get Your Own Award-Winning Results From TopRank Marketing

TopRank Marketing, the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in Forrester’s “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America” report, delivers award-winning work to clients including LinkedIn, AT&T, Adobe, SAP, Dell, 3M, monday.com and others. Contact us today to discover how we can help create award-winning marketing for you.

For additional new case studies and to learn more about B2B influencer marketing trends, best practices and predictions for the future, be sure to access the all new 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, which features insights from hundreds of marketers surveyed as well as expert analysis by the TopRank Marketing team and contributions from top B2B influencer marketing professionals from SAP, LinkedIn, AT&T Business, Adobe, Traackr, IBM, Dell, Cherwell Software, monday.com and more.

B2B Influencer Marketing Report Preview

5 Ways B2B Marketers Can Boost Productivity and Focus

Focused and Productive B2B Marketer

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

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

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

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

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

Boosting B2B Marketing Productivity

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

1 — Find and Preserve Your Productivity Pockets

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

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

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

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

2— Scrutinize the Purpose Behind Meetings and Video Calls

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

Zoom fatigue is real, y’all.

Riding listed five reasons why meetings exist:

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

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

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

3— Consume New and Unfamiliar Content

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

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

4— Unplug During the Weekend

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

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

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

5— Manage Attention, Not Time

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

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

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

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

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

Find Your Edge and Finish Strong in 2020

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

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

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

5 Ways B2B Marketers Can Boost Productivity and Focus

Focused and Productive B2B Marketer

Focused and Productive B2B Marketer

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

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

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

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

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

Boosting B2B Marketing Productivity

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

1 — Find and Preserve Your Productivity Pockets

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

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

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

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

2— Scrutinize the Purpose Behind Meetings and Video Calls

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

Zoom fatigue is real, y’all.

Riding listed five reasons why meetings exist:

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

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

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

3— Consume New and Unfamiliar Content

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

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

4— Unplug During the Weekend

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

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

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

5— Manage Attention, Not Time

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

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

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

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

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

Find Your Edge and Finish Strong in 2020

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

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

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

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


Source: SEO blog

Get Ready For Video In 2021: Watch 5 Creative Examples of B2B Marketing on YouTube

Smiling man against a creative colorful background image.

What’s new at YouTube, and how are B2B marketers using the world’s largest video platform in creative and engaging campaigns?

Let’s take a look!

Google’s omnipresent YouTube brought in revenue of over $15 billion in 2019, has over two billion monthly active users (MAUs), and by some estimates is considered as the world’s number two search engine, making it nearly inescapable for B2B marketers seeking to host and promote video content. While not necessarily out of this world, YouTube’s orbit casts a wide swath in the B2B marketing universe.

Planets VisualCapitalist Image

During the pandemic, video and webinar content has seen the largest increase in views according to recently-released PathFactory survey data, leading the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to suggest that “Now Is the Time for B2B Content.”

64 percent of B2B buyers have increased their use of online video during the pandemic, according to newly-released report data from Google and Ipsos, which has also showed a whopping 88 percent increase in the usage of digital marketing overall.

Think With Google Chart

Another study by MediaPost and Bombora also saw increased interest in video during the global health crisis — a move that’s not surprising considering the power of video to drive authentic engagement in as little time as possible, as we’ll see in our five examples from B2B firms using YouTube in creative ways. First, however, let’s look into the latest news surrounding YouTube.

What’s New At YouTube?

YouTube just launched a beta trial of its new YouTube Shorts 15-second vertical video creation function — presently only for users in India with a global rollout planned — joining Instagram’s recent test of its similar Instagram Reels capability.

YouTube Shorts Image

These short video features squarely spring from the popularity of TikTok, and have come at a time when the beleaguered company — now sought for acquisition by Oracle* — has faced significant challenges with its U.S. operations. Oracle’s proposed deal with TikTok — owned by ByteDance, its parent company in China — has met with initial approval by some advertisers.

Oracle, which has recently forged partnerships with firms including Zoom, may at first seem like an odd fit for the acquisition of an app dedicated to short-form video creation and sharing, however should it succeed in controlling TikTok’s U.S. operations it would undoubtedly lend a significant infusion of enterprise-level business exposure.

That could pave the way for increased B2B use of the type of short videos that can be created with TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, and with ever-more content being viewed on smartphones, vertical video undoubtedly has a massive audience.

YouTube — which said that its Shorts feature provides a way to “discover, watch and create short, vertical videos on the YouTube app.” — has allowed users worldwide to upload short vertical video using the #Shorts hashtag, which will feature Shorts videos on YouTube’s coveted homepage.

YouTube Shorts video can include music and feature multiple segments and playback speeds, along with timers for recording hands-free video, the firm said.

The rise of vertical video brought on by TikTok and now Instagram and YouTube may end up making the format another standard digital asset for B2B marketing design teams, with its own strengths in areas such as mobile, and weaknesses in others such as display on traditional desktop and non-smartphone devices.

On the advertising front, YouTube is planning to launch engaged-view conversions (EVC) metrics by the end of the year, bringing data on viewers who watch at least 10 seconds of a video ad and subsequently click away, yet nonetheless end up converting within a set number of days, YouTube recently noted.

“By the end of the year, we will make engaged-view conversions a standard way of measuring conversions for TrueView skippable in-stream ads, local campaigns and app campaigns,” Nicky Rettke, YouTube director and product manager of YouTube Ads, explained in a recent post on the Google Ads & Commerce Blog.

On the live-streaming front, YouTube has continued to embrace the multi-billion dollar esports vertical —  which is comprised of more than 400 million players globally — offering a number of advertising opportunities for certain B2B brands.

Whether 2021 will see more B2B brands sponsoring esports players or events remains to be seen, however B2B marketers may be taking a closer look at opportunities in esports, as Rosalyn Page recently examined in “What Brands Need to Know about Esports.”

Live-streaming has also gained momentum in the relatively new area of streaming e-commerce, backed by firms including Amazon, and as Bloomberg News recently reported, the practice is expected to generate more than $100 billion in global sales in 2020.

While more video is being watched than ever due to the pandemic, a significant amount of video seen on social media timelines is viewed with the sound turned off, making it more important than ever to ensure all video content has quality subtitling available along with a #Captioned hashtag.

A good resource for information about video captioning for YouTube and elsewhere is Meryl Evans, an acknowledged “#Captioned pusher” and a fellow former bulletin board system SysOp.

In B2B marketing, YouTube video content doesn’t necessarily always need to be traditional camera footage, as alternative formats such as animation are becoming easier to create than ever before, as Victor Blasco, chief executive of Yum Yum Videos recently explored in “Making Animated Marketing Videos That Engage Customers.”

Now let’s jump-cut to five recent examples of B2B marketers using YouTube to tell creative and engaging video stories.

1 — HP’s Dear Future Me

In more ways than one storytelling is truly at the heart of powerful marketing messages, as witnesses in spades in HP’s new “Dear Future Me” video campaign, which offers a heartwarming spin on the practice of writing a letter to your future self, chronicling the stories of six recent high school graduates who wrote themselves such letters six years ago, when they were in the sixth grade.

As part of the campaign, HP’s landing page for the initiative offers a downloadable PDF form where anyone can write their own letter, and incorporates a “We can’t wait to meet the future you” message to end the first of the two-part series of mini-documentary videos.

The second episode lets current sixth graders write letters to their future 2026 selves, and shows them telling their own stories centered around the challenges of the pandemic. “Just try to remember: if you got through this year, you can get through anything,” one student encourages her future self.

HP’s YouTube video descriptions for the series include handy links to the other video in the series, along with an extra link to subscribe to the firm’s channel — a simple yet often-overlooked practice that allows viewers who may have over years trained themselves to ignore YouTube’s own ubiquitous red “Subscribe” button.

2 — Adobe’s Honor Heroes

Adobe’s* “Honor Heroes” campaign, a collaborative global artistic effort to help support the battle against COVID-19, is centered around a single minute of video that has to date tallied nearly 3.5 million views.

During that one minute the work of artists and other creative people is shown, each piece inspired by the pandemic.

On Adobe’s YouTube channel the video’s description includes the campaign’s hashtag #HonorHeroes, and a link leading to a section of Adobe’s website with an image of each of the 116 people chosen as heroes, and a link to their respective Instagram profiles. The campaign’s video is also playable from the page.

Adobe ties the page into their own Instagram account as well, encouraging page visitors to see more about the heroes campaign using the same hashtag this time to link to their Instagram profile and specifically those posts utilizing the campaign hashtag — a technique that can be effectively used to move customers to content on various brand social media channels.

The campaign was also featured on the company’s blog, offering additional context about the campaign with insight from some of those involved, a donation link to the Direct Relief organization, and an embedded instance of the campaign’s YouTube video.

3 — Constant Contact’s Power Hour

Constant Contact regularly publishes video content to its YouTube channel — sometimes releasing up to 12 videos weekly — making it an important part of the firm’s social media efforts.

Recent videos have included answering frequent customer questions, spotlight videos on businesses using the platform, a “Pro Series Power Hour” featuring ABC’s Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary, customer success stories, and a visual series dedicated to using various elements of the firm’s service.

For Kevin O’Leary’s video, Constant Contact has used a detailed description of the spot, with a link to learn more on their website’s blog along with links to five of the firm’s social media profiles.

4 — Deloitte’s A World Reimagined

In Deloitte’s “A World Reimagined: The 2020 Global Millennial Survey” video, the effects of the pandemic on young people in the millennial and Gen Z demographic are visualized and brought to life, highlighting their energy for building a better world.

In addition to watching the video, a micro-site for the campaign allows visitors to download the related report — which surveyed more than 18,000 millennials and Gen Zs across 43 countries — view a replay of the initial live-stream video event related to the effort, and offers an infographic for download and sharing.

The site also includes a Twitter stream of tweets centered around the campaign’s #MillennialSurvey hashtag.

Deloitte also successfully uses YouTube for its “Life at Deloitte” series of company culture videos, using storytelling to build empathy and trust, a tactic MarketingProfs explored recently in “Five Tips for Making Company-Culture Videos That Captivate Your Customers’ Hearts.”

5 — Ernst & Young’s Megatrends 2020 & Beyond

In its “EY Megatrends 2020 and Beyond” video, Ernst & Young looks ahead to future trends and their overall larger meaning — one of its numerous YouTube channel videos exploring the firm’s service offerings and helpful financial-related insight.

Ernst & Young also uses its YouTube profile to share how it has responded to COVID-19, to announce its world entrepreneur of the year, and to archive its live-streaming video from LinkedIn* Live.

Maliha Aqeel, director of global communications at Fix Network World and former assistant director of brand marketing and communications at Ernst & Young, sat down with our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite to share a look at the role of B2B company culture in driving employee and customer satisfaction, in “Break Free B2B Series: Maliha Aqeel on How to Ace B2B Company Culture.”

Marketers and communicators within organizations have to take the charge. Our job is to take all of those values and say, ‘Here’s how it could look. Here’s how the intangible becomes tangible.’ @MalihaQ on #CorporateCulture #BreakFreeB2B Click To Tweet

Snap A New B2B Take On Creative YouTube Marketing

via GIPHY

YouTube offers much more to marketers than simply being the default spot to host and play back video, with ample social features for B2B brands to highlight other channels to follow, threaded viewer commenting if wanted, the forthcoming YouTube Shorts format, an ever-increasing number of ad formats and placement options, and remains a powerful platform for B2B influencers to engage their audience.

We hope you’ve gained at least a few new ideas from looking at the latest news about YouTube, and that you’ll find inspiration from the five fine examples we’ve explored from HP, Adobe, Constant Contact, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young.

Video is only one facet of a well-rounded B2B marketing strategy, yet one that plays an important role in campaigns that attract, engage, and convert. Find out why firms including Adobe, LinkedIn, SAP, AT&T, Dell, 3M and others have chosen to work with TopRank Marketing — drop us a line.

* Oracle, Adobe, and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.

Get Ready For Video In 2021: Watch 5 Creative Examples of B2B Marketing on YouTube

Smiling man against a creative colorful background image.

Smiling man against a creative colorful background image.

What’s new at YouTube, and how are B2B marketers using the world’s largest video platform in creative and engaging campaigns?

Let’s take a look!

Google’s omnipresent YouTube brought in revenue of over $15 billion in 2019, has over two billion monthly active users (MAUs), and by some estimates is considered as the world’s number two search engine, making it nearly inescapable for B2B marketers seeking to host and promote video content. While not necessarily out of this world, YouTube’s orbit casts a wide swath in the B2B marketing universe.

Planets VisualCapitalist Image

During the pandemic, video and webinar content has seen the largest increase in views according to recently-released PathFactory survey data, leading the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to suggest that “Now Is the Time for B2B Content.”

64 percent of B2B buyers have increased their use of online video during the pandemic, according to newly-released report data from Google and Ipsos, which has also showed a whopping 88 percent increase in the usage of digital marketing overall.

Think With Google Chart

Another study by MediaPost and Bombora also saw increased interest in video during the global health crisis — a move that’s not surprising considering the power of video to drive authentic engagement in as little time as possible, as we’ll see in our five examples from B2B firms using YouTube in creative ways. First, however, let’s look into the latest news surrounding YouTube.

What’s New At YouTube?

YouTube just launched a beta trial of its new YouTube Shorts 15-second vertical video creation function — presently only for users in India with a global rollout planned — joining Instagram’s recent test of its similar Instagram Reels capability.

YouTube Shorts Image

These short video features squarely spring from the popularity of TikTok, and have come at a time when the beleaguered company — now sought for acquisition by Oracle* — has faced significant challenges with its U.S. operations. Oracle’s proposed deal with TikTok — owned by ByteDance, its parent company in China — has met with initial approval by some advertisers.

Oracle, which has recently forged partnerships with firms including Zoom, may at first seem like an odd fit for the acquisition of an app dedicated to short-form video creation and sharing, however should it succeed in controlling TikTok’s U.S. operations it would undoubtedly lend a significant infusion of enterprise-level business exposure.

That could pave the way for increased B2B use of the type of short videos that can be created with TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, and with ever-more content being viewed on smartphones, vertical video undoubtedly has a massive audience.

YouTube — which said that its Shorts feature provides a way to “discover, watch and create short, vertical videos on the YouTube app.” — has allowed users worldwide to upload short vertical video using the #Shorts hashtag, which will feature Shorts videos on YouTube’s coveted homepage.

YouTube Shorts video can include music and feature multiple segments and playback speeds, along with timers for recording hands-free video, the firm said.

The rise of vertical video brought on by TikTok and now Instagram and YouTube may end up making the format another standard digital asset for B2B marketing design teams, with its own strengths in areas such as mobile, and weaknesses in others such as display on traditional desktop and non-smartphone devices.

On the advertising front, YouTube is planning to launch engaged-view conversions (EVC) metrics by the end of the year, bringing data on viewers who watch at least 10 seconds of a video ad and subsequently click away, yet nonetheless end up converting within a set number of days, YouTube recently noted.

“By the end of the year, we will make engaged-view conversions a standard way of measuring conversions for TrueView skippable in-stream ads, local campaigns and app campaigns,” Nicky Rettke, YouTube director and product manager of YouTube Ads, explained in a recent post on the Google Ads & Commerce Blog.

On the live-streaming front, YouTube has continued to embrace the multi-billion dollar esports vertical —  which is comprised of more than 400 million players globally — offering a number of advertising opportunities for certain B2B brands.

Whether 2021 will see more B2B brands sponsoring esports players or events remains to be seen, however B2B marketers may be taking a closer look at opportunities in esports, as Rosalyn Page recently examined in “What Brands Need to Know about Esports.”

Live-streaming has also gained momentum in the relatively new area of streaming e-commerce, backed by firms including Amazon, and as Bloomberg News recently reported, the practice is expected to generate more than $100 billion in global sales in 2020.

While more video is being watched than ever due to the pandemic, a significant amount of video seen on social media timelines is viewed with the sound turned off, making it more important than ever to ensure all video content has quality subtitling available along with a #Captioned hashtag.

A good resource for information about video captioning for YouTube and elsewhere is Meryl Evans, an acknowledged “#Captioned pusher” and a fellow former bulletin board system SysOp.

In B2B marketing, YouTube video content doesn’t necessarily always need to be traditional camera footage, as alternative formats such as animation are becoming easier to create than ever before, as Victor Blasco, chief executive of Yum Yum Videos recently explored in “Making Animated Marketing Videos That Engage Customers.”

Now let’s jump-cut to five recent examples of B2B marketers using YouTube to tell creative and engaging video stories.

1 — HP’s Dear Future Me

In more ways than one storytelling is truly at the heart of powerful marketing messages, as witnesses in spades in HP’s new “Dear Future Me” video campaign, which offers a heartwarming spin on the practice of writing a letter to your future self, chronicling the stories of six recent high school graduates who wrote themselves such letters six years ago, when they were in the sixth grade.

As part of the campaign, HP’s landing page for the initiative offers a downloadable PDF form where anyone can write their own letter, and incorporates a “We can’t wait to meet the future you” message to end the first of the two-part series of mini-documentary videos.

The second episode lets current sixth graders write letters to their future 2026 selves, and shows them telling their own stories centered around the challenges of the pandemic. “Just try to remember: if you got through this year, you can get through anything,” one student encourages her future self.

HP’s YouTube video descriptions for the series include handy links to the other video in the series, along with an extra link to subscribe to the firm’s channel — a simple yet often-overlooked practice that allows viewers who may have over years trained themselves to ignore YouTube’s own ubiquitous red “Subscribe” button.

2 — Adobe’s Honor Heroes

Adobe’s* “Honor Heroes” campaign, a collaborative global artistic effort to help support the battle against COVID-19, is centered around a single minute of video that has to date tallied nearly 3.5 million views.

During that one minute the work of artists and other creative people is shown, each piece inspired by the pandemic.

On Adobe’s YouTube channel the video’s description includes the campaign’s hashtag #HonorHeroes, and a link leading to a section of Adobe’s website with an image of each of the 116 people chosen as heroes, and a link to their respective Instagram profiles. The campaign’s video is also playable from the page.

Adobe ties the page into their own Instagram account as well, encouraging page visitors to see more about the heroes campaign using the same hashtag this time to link to their Instagram profile and specifically those posts utilizing the campaign hashtag — a technique that can be effectively used to move customers to content on various brand social media channels.

The campaign was also featured on the company’s blog, offering additional context about the campaign with insight from some of those involved, a donation link to the Direct Relief organization, and an embedded instance of the campaign’s YouTube video.

3 — Constant Contact’s Power Hour

Constant Contact regularly publishes video content to its YouTube channel — sometimes releasing up to 12 videos weekly — making it an important part of the firm’s social media efforts.

Recent videos have included answering frequent customer questions, spotlight videos on businesses using the platform, a “Pro Series Power Hour” featuring ABC’s Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary, customer success stories, and a visual series dedicated to using various elements of the firm’s service.

For Kevin O’Leary’s video, Constant Contact has used a detailed description of the spot, with a link to learn more on their website’s blog along with links to five of the firm’s social media profiles.

4 — Deloitte’s A World Reimagined

In Deloitte’s “A World Reimagined: The 2020 Global Millennial Survey” video, the effects of the pandemic on young people in the millennial and Gen Z demographic are visualized and brought to life, highlighting their energy for building a better world.

In addition to watching the video, a micro-site for the campaign allows visitors to download the related report — which surveyed more than 18,000 millennials and Gen Zs across 43 countries — view a replay of the initial live-stream video event related to the effort, and offers an infographic for download and sharing.

The site also includes a Twitter stream of tweets centered around the campaign’s #MillennialSurvey hashtag.

Deloitte also successfully uses YouTube for its “Life at Deloitte” series of company culture videos, using storytelling to build empathy and trust, a tactic MarketingProfs explored recently in “Five Tips for Making Company-Culture Videos That Captivate Your Customers’ Hearts.”

5 — Ernst & Young’s Megatrends 2020 & Beyond

In its “EY Megatrends 2020 and Beyond” video, Ernst & Young looks ahead to future trends and their overall larger meaning — one of its numerous YouTube channel videos exploring the firm’s service offerings and helpful financial-related insight.

Ernst & Young also uses its YouTube profile to share how it has responded to COVID-19, to announce its world entrepreneur of the year, and to archive its live-streaming video from LinkedIn* Live.

Maliha Aqeel, director of global communications at Fix Network World and former assistant director of brand marketing and communications at Ernst & Young, sat down with our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite to share a look at the role of B2B company culture in driving employee and customer satisfaction, in “Break Free B2B Series: Maliha Aqeel on How to Ace B2B Company Culture.”

[bctt tweet=”Marketers and communicators within organizations have to take the charge. Our job is to take all of those values and say, ‘Here’s how it could look. Here’s how the intangible becomes tangible.’ @MalihaQ on #CorporateCulture #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

Snap A New B2B Take On Creative YouTube Marketing

via GIPHY

YouTube offers much more to marketers than simply being the default spot to host and play back video, with ample social features for B2B brands to highlight other channels to follow, threaded viewer commenting if wanted, the forthcoming YouTube Shorts format, an ever-increasing number of ad formats and placement options, and remains a powerful platform for B2B influencers to engage their audience.

We hope you’ve gained at least a few new ideas from looking at the latest news about YouTube, and that you’ll find inspiration from the five fine examples we’ve explored from HP, Adobe, Constant Contact, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young.

Video is only one facet of a well-rounded B2B marketing strategy, yet one that plays an important role in campaigns that attract, engage, and convert. Find out why firms including Adobe, LinkedIn, SAP, AT&T, Dell, 3M and others have chosen to work with TopRank Marketing — drop us a line.

* Oracle, Adobe, and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.

 

The post Get Ready For Video In 2021: Watch 5 Creative Examples of B2B Marketing on YouTube appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

B2B Marketing Technology in 2021: 5 Key Focuses

Marketer Using Laptop Keyboard

If the 1982 movie Blade Runner and its dystopian depiction of what the world would look like in 2019 were accurate, this is what we’d have been living through last year:

via GIPHY

Needless to say, our predictions of society’s future state, and technology’s long-term evolution, are not always on the money. While certain aspects of Blade Runner’s vision might’ve been frighteningly accurate, Los Angeles is not yet inhabited by flying cars or giant video advertisements projected onto the entirety of skyscrapers.

With that said, today’s marketers can much more easily look ahead to 2021 — suddenly only a few short months away — and make educated guesses about what the year will hold. Many of the marketing technologies that will transform business and drive strategies are already on the rise, if not gaining mainstream traction.

Martech 2021: 5 Trends to for B2B Marketers to Watch

Businesses and marketing departments might be facing spending restrictions and budget cuts amidst the turmoil of 2020, but marketing technology is not an area that’s widely being affected. On the contrary, in fact: The latest Pulse Survey from ClickZ found that marketing technology budget shares rose from 32% to 42% between May and late July.

Where are organizations investing, and which technologies will rule the roost in the coming year? Here are five evidenced trends I’ll be following:

1 — Content experiences are at the forefront

In ClickZ’s research, this is the category that was leading marketing technology’s growth here in 2020.

“People being indoors and looking for new ways to educate themselves about the current climate and consumer content can safely be considered as one of the reasons businesses are tirelessly looking to enhance their target audiences’ experience,” wrote Kamaljeet Kalsi.

ClickZ Image

(Source)

This isn’t such a novel concept — TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden was among those preaching experiences as the future of content marketing many years ago — but technology is continually improving our ability to deliver content in ways that are more interactive, immersive, and impactful.

I think back to last week’s blog post on storytelling, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s assertion that video games offer the most promise on this front. Technology will continue to bring more capabilities to the table in terms of gamification, interactivity, and innovation.

Making content consumers feel like participants rather than onlookers holds the key to heightened engagement.

2 — Facilitating a socially distant world

Will there be in-person events in 2021? It’s possible but doesn’t feel very likely right now — certainly not at the scale of annual conferences and summits we’ve come to love. As brands keep working to build relationships with prospects and customers from a distance, technology will need to do much of the heavy lifting.

We’ve already seen some great new tools and capabilities arise this year in terms of teleconferencing, live-streaming, and virtual events. What else might emerge, with a litany of tech companies now centering their focuses on what has suddenly become a ubiquitous need?

In a way, this development helps to level the playing field for smaller businesses. While it may not be feasible for a startup sales enablement shop to organize a massive gathering like Dreamforce, bringing people together through interactive virtual events is a different story. In fact, this format can actually make it easier to follow up, convert, and attribute results concretely.

It’s not just about technology that helps engage customers from afar. It’s also about technology that helps marketers collaborate and work together in distributed settings. And adopting these tools will benefit companies and agencies long-term, because the remote work trend was already on the rise long before COVID struck.

In 2021, marketers will truly equip themselves for the future of work. We’re already well on our way; according to a recent survey, “companies reported that responding to the new circumstances of the pandemic accelerated their digital communications strategy by 6 years on average.”

“As brands keep working to build relationships with prospects and customers from a distance, technology will need to do much of the heavy lifting.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

3 — Data privacy and cybersecurity gain urgency

Data exploitation became a huge story after the 2016 election, and I regret to inform you it’s likely to bubble up again this fall. Even outside of that, cybersecurity has been a growing concern for many years and becomes all the more pertinent as customer data is increasingly decentralized and cloud-based.

While these matters have often fallen under the purview of IT in the past, marketing needs to have a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion. Sending a convincing message that it’s safe to do business with your brand — sensitive data won’t be shared, lost, stolen, or misused — and backing it up is essential to building trust in the new world of business.

4 — Simplicity and synchronicity are vital 

In its latest marketing technology landscape visualization, Chief Martech charted some 8,000 different solutions in the wild. Eight thousand!

ChiefMartec Image

The beauty of this vast landscape is that marketing technologies now exist to address almost any need imaginable. The downside, of course, is that the sheer volume and range of options can feel completely overwhelming. The balance between not enough martech and too much martech is a delicate one.

In the near future, streamlining will be the name of the game. How can you carve down your tech stack to the true essentials? Which solutions can cover multiple needs for your team? How can you solicit a continuous feedback loop so users are able to openly communicate when a tool isn’t working for them, and action is taken rapidly?

Finding the answers to these questions will help marketing organizations find greater efficiency and effectiveness with martech in 2021.

“The balance between not enough martech and too much martech is a delicate one.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

5 — Artificial intelligence keeps growing and embedding

The buzz around marketing technology seems to vary from month to month, with a new category or niche entering and then exiting the spotlight. One that never seems to lose its luster, however, is AI. This is because the technology is powerful and endlessly applicable.

We already see AI being widely leveraged in modern marketing strategies — chatbots, predictive analytics, deep learning, etc. — but the potential remains so much greater, and I believe we’ll continue to see it realized in the coming year. One threadline I’ll be keeping a close eye on is formative AI, cited as a trend driving Gartner’s hype cycle of emerging technologies in 2020.

“Formative AI is a type of AI capable of dynamically changing to respond to a situation,” according to Gartner. “There are a variety of types, ranging from AI that can dynamically adapt over time to technologies that can generate novel models to solve specific problems.”

How could formative AI come into play for marketing in order to drive more personalized and memorable B2B marketing experiences? Go ahead and dream on it. That’s what separates us from the machines, after all. (Or at least one of the differences pondered by Blade Runner and its source material.)

Marketing Technology Will Always Have Its Place

This chaotic year of 2020 has served to reinforce the immense value of technology in my day-to-day. Without having easy access to chat apps, video-conferencing platforms, shared documents, and other digital tools, a day in the life of a content marketer during the pandemic would be far more challenging and inefficient. Instead, I’m basically able to do my job seamlessly without much disruption, other than the lack of seeing my coworkers’ faces IRL.

I do miss that very much, and for all the talk about technologies to watch in 2021, I’m most hopeful for a return to semi-normal human interaction and physical proximity. Up until then, and after, martech will help us continue to keep audiences (and ourselves) educated, entertained, engaged and connected through the digital space.

I don’t know about flying cars or skyscraper billboards, but I can say with confidence that the future of marketing and its technologies is going to look a lot more like 2020 than any years preceding.

For more insight into what the next year may hold, click over to our post from Lane Ellis on 8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021.

B2B Marketing Technology in 2021: 5 Key Focuses

2021 MarTech Image

Marketer Using Laptop Keyboard

If the 1982 movie Blade Runner and its dystopian depiction of what the world would look like in 2019 were accurate, this is what we’d have been living through last year:

via GIPHY

Needless to say, our predictions of society’s future state, and technology’s long-term evolution, are not always on the money. While certain aspects of Blade Runner’s vision might’ve been frighteningly accurate, Los Angeles is not yet inhabited by flying cars or giant video advertisements projected onto the entirety of skyscrapers.

With that said, today’s marketers can much more easily look ahead to 2021 — suddenly only a few short months away — and make educated guesses about what the year will hold. Many of the marketing technologies that will transform business and drive strategies are already on the rise, if not gaining mainstream traction.

Martech 2021: 5 Trends to for B2B Marketers to Watch

Businesses and marketing departments might be facing spending restrictions and budget cuts amidst the turmoil of 2020, but marketing technology is not an area that’s widely being affected. On the contrary, in fact: The latest Pulse Survey from ClickZ found that marketing technology budget shares rose from 32% to 42% between May and late July.

Where are organizations investing, and which technologies will rule the roost in the coming year? Here are five evidenced trends I’ll be following:

1 — Content experiences are at the forefront

In ClickZ’s research, this is the category that was leading marketing technology’s growth here in 2020.

“People being indoors and looking for new ways to educate themselves about the current climate and consumer content can safely be considered as one of the reasons businesses are tirelessly looking to enhance their target audiences’ experience,” wrote Kamaljeet Kalsi.

ClickZ Image

(Source)

This isn’t such a novel concept — TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden was among those preaching experiences as the future of content marketing many years ago — but technology is continually improving our ability to deliver content in ways that are more interactive, immersive, and impactful.

I think back to last week’s blog post on storytelling, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s assertion that video games offer the most promise on this front. Technology will continue to bring more capabilities to the table in terms of gamification, interactivity, and innovation.

Making content consumers feel like participants rather than onlookers holds the key to heightened engagement.

2 — Facilitating a socially distant world

Will there be in-person events in 2021? It’s possible but doesn’t feel very likely right now — certainly not at the scale of annual conferences and summits we’ve come to love. As brands keep working to build relationships with prospects and customers from a distance, technology will need to do much of the heavy lifting.

We’ve already seen some great new tools and capabilities arise this year in terms of teleconferencing, live-streaming, and virtual events. What else might emerge, with a litany of tech companies now centering their focuses on what has suddenly become a ubiquitous need?

In a way, this development helps to level the playing field for smaller businesses. While it may not be feasible for a startup sales enablement shop to organize a massive gathering like Dreamforce, bringing people together through interactive virtual events is a different story. In fact, this format can actually make it easier to follow up, convert, and attribute results concretely.

It’s not just about technology that helps engage customers from afar. It’s also about technology that helps marketers collaborate and work together in distributed settings. And adopting these tools will benefit companies and agencies long-term, because the remote work trend was already on the rise long before COVID struck.

In 2021, marketers will truly equip themselves for the future of work. We’re already well on our way; according to a recent survey, “companies reported that responding to the new circumstances of the pandemic accelerated their digital communications strategy by 6 years on average.”

[bctt tweet=”“As brands keep working to build relationships with prospects and customers from a distance, technology will need to do much of the heavy lifting.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

3 — Data privacy and cybersecurity gain urgency

Data exploitation became a huge story after the 2016 election, and I regret to inform you it’s likely to bubble up again this fall. Even outside of that, cybersecurity has been a growing concern for many years and becomes all the more pertinent as customer data is increasingly decentralized and cloud-based.

While these matters have often fallen under the purview of IT in the past, marketing needs to have a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion. Sending a convincing message that it’s safe to do business with your brand — sensitive data won’t be shared, lost, stolen, or misused — and backing it up is essential to building trust in the new world of business.

4 — Simplicity and synchronicity are vital 

In its latest marketing technology landscape visualization, Chief Martech charted some 8,000 different solutions in the wild. Eight thousand!

ChiefMartec Image

The beauty of this vast landscape is that marketing technologies now exist to address almost any need imaginable. The downside, of course, is that the sheer volume and range of options can feel completely overwhelming. The balance between not enough martech and too much martech is a delicate one.

In the near future, streamlining will be the name of the game. How can you carve down your tech stack to the true essentials? Which solutions can cover multiple needs for your team? How can you solicit a continuous feedback loop so users are able to openly communicate when a tool isn’t working for them, and action is taken rapidly?

Finding the answers to these questions will help marketing organizations find greater efficiency and effectiveness with martech in 2021.

[bctt tweet=”“The balance between not enough martech and too much martech is a delicate one.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

5 — Artificial intelligence keeps growing and embedding

The buzz around marketing technology seems to vary from month to month, with a new category or niche entering and then exiting the spotlight. One that never seems to lose its luster, however, is AI. This is because the technology is powerful and endlessly applicable.

We already see AI being widely leveraged in modern marketing strategies — chatbots, predictive analytics, deep learning, etc. — but the potential remains so much greater, and I believe we’ll continue to see it realized in the coming year. One threadline I’ll be keeping a close eye on is formative AI, cited as a trend driving Gartner’s hype cycle of emerging technologies in 2020.

“Formative AI is a type of AI capable of dynamically changing to respond to a situation,” according to Gartner. “There are a variety of types, ranging from AI that can dynamically adapt over time to technologies that can generate novel models to solve specific problems.”

How could formative AI come into play for marketing in order to drive more personalized and memorable B2B marketing experiences? Go ahead and dream on it. That’s what separates us from the machines, after all. (Or at least one of the differences pondered by Blade Runner and its source material.)

Marketing Technology Will Always Have Its Place

This chaotic year of 2020 has served to reinforce the immense value of technology in my day-to-day. Without having easy access to chat apps, video-conferencing platforms, shared documents, and other digital tools, a day in the life of a content marketer during the pandemic would be far more challenging and inefficient. Instead, I’m basically able to do my job seamlessly without much disruption, other than the lack of seeing my coworkers’ faces IRL.

I do miss that very much, and for all the talk about technologies to watch in 2021, I’m most hopeful for a return to semi-normal human interaction and physical proximity. Up until then, and after, martech will help us continue to keep audiences (and ourselves) educated, entertained, engaged and connected through the digital space.

I don’t know about flying cars or skyscraper billboards, but I can say with confidence that the future of marketing and its technologies is going to look a lot more like 2020 than any years preceding.

For more insight into what the next year may hold, click over to our post from Lane Ellis on 8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021.

The post B2B Marketing Technology in 2021: 5 Key Focuses appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021

Professional business-woman smiling image.

What do B2B marketers stand to gain by using Reddit?

Just how effective is Reddit for advertising and organic marketing communication, and what are some of the top tips and advice for B2B marketers new to Reddit or those looking to expand their presence on the social media platform?

Let’s take a look at the answers to these questions and more, including eight things B2B marketers need to know about social news aggregator and discussion platform Reddit, including why more businesses than ever will be using the platform in 2021 and beyond.

While by no means a thorough guide to marketing with Reddit, we’ll explore what it is, who uses it, what it’s doing to help marketers, how some B2B marketers are using it, plus some of the latest news from the social media platform.

1 — What Is Reddit & Who Uses It?

As one of the world’s most used websites and the fifth most-visited in the U.S., Reddit presently counts some 430 million average monthly active users, generating more than 30 billion monthly views of user-generated content in over 130 thousand message board communities.

74 percent of consumers in a joint Reddit and YPulse survey said in a whitepaper that Reddit — founded 15 years ago — is where they learn about the topics they love the most.

Earlier this year our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite advised B2B marketers to proceed, but with some caution, when considering Reddit, in “6 Unconventional Social Channels for B2B Marketing.”

“If your target audience is on Reddit, it’s worth testing the waters with a few sponsored posts. Just keep it transparent, honest and genuine: There’s a whole sub-Reddit devoted to mocking tone-deaf marketing,” Joshua urged.

In my article “B2B Marketing Mythbusters: Dispelling 10 Common Myths with Extraordinary Marketing,” I used Reddit as an example of the myth that B2B marketers don’t use cool social media platforms, and pointed out that Fortune 500 firms now regularly have social media presences on the more fashionable social channels such as Giphy, Snapchat, Facebook Horizons — the social media giant’s foray into the virtual reality (VR) world — and certainly Reddit.

2 — What Is Reddit Doing To Help Marketers?

Reddit Screenshot

Reddit has noted its ability to let advertisers target their audiences, tell their stories, and measure their success, along with the opportunity to reach influential communities where millions of people are engaging with relevant content — all areas that B2B marketers are keen on improving.

Reddit offers a variety of promoted post options that let marketers place ads throughout the platform as well as in the firm’s official app.

To encourage businesses to try advertising on the platform, over the past year Reddit has partnered with three research firms and released report data showing some of the advantages Reddit offers over other social media sites.

In conjunction with Verto Analytics, Reddit has explored how the platform offers a unique path to driving purchases, in “Reddit’s Role in the Path to Purchase.”

The study compared some 1,500 instances of product research on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest, and found that Reddit users evaluate just over twice as many brands in up to four times as many research sessions as on other platforms, with the notable exclusion of LinkedIn*, traditionally the leading social media platform among B2B marketers, which was not included in the survey.

The study noted that Reddit users decide on purchases nine times faster than on other social platforms, spend 15 percent more, and are some 13 percent more likely to share positive messages about a brand both online and offline. For B2B marketers dealing with often lengthy sales cycles, some of the speed advantages seen for Reddit could be a welcome experience.

Reddit users appear to spend more time in the consideration stage of the purchasing journey than those on other platforms — with its 32 percent tally versus 20 percent for other platforms, and they also tend to spend less time in the decision making stage.

Reddit Purchase Journey

The study also found that a whopping 90 percent of consumers trust the research they do using Reddit more than other websites or apps, a situation that will appeal to B2B marketers who have been working hard to rebuild eroded trust in marketing, as our CEO Lee Odden explored recently in “In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience.”

Earlier this year Reddit joined with GlobalWebIndex to conduct a study examining Reddit’s increasing role in the online community space, resulting in the 29-page “The Era of We and the Rise of Online Communities” report.

The report offers marketers looking to begin advertising on Reddit a fair amount of background data including what the platform’s users want brands to be using Reddit for, with the leading desired qualities being content that is:

  • Bold
  • Exclusive
  • Funny
  • Trendy / Cool
  • Reliable

Reddit Brand Qualities

3 — How Are B2B Marketers Using Reddit?

“We’re using data sets like Reddit, where the depth and the quality of conversation are extremely high in the communities,” Brian Wright, social media listening and intelligence leader at Wells Fargo recently told eMarketer.

Jennifer Heyman, vice president of digital and social media at Wells Fargo, also mentioned Reddit in our annual social media marketing trends article, “13 Top B2B Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020.”

“My prediction is that brands will divert spend from large paid awareness campaigns to more targeted authentic conversations found on platforms like Reddit or in Facebook Groups,” Jennifer observed.

“Essentially a shift of paid spend to the channels enabling a more focused and direct conversation with a customer. Personalization will continue to dominate social conversation, as brands emphasize both staying connected and infusing some fun into the message,” she added.

Brands will shift social media focus from paid spend to channels enabling a more focused and direct conversation with a customer. @jheyman Click To Tweet

Wells Fargo also mentions Reddit in some of its educational resources, noting that “Sites like Reddit and Quora are also popular options where potential students can talk about applying to schools,” all joining to highlight the social media platform’s increasing presence among large businesses.

Marketers promoting podcasts can connect with specific audiences on Reddit, or in its podcast-specific /r/podcasting sub-Reddit. Outside of that sub-Reddit, podcast marketers can generally find greater acceptance by first becoming known to an audience on the platform rather than posting links — to podcasts or any manner of outside content — right off the bat.

Podcasts have seen increasing numbers of listeners during the pandemic, and we’ve examined the growing success of podcasting among B2B marketers in several recently article including “What B2B Podcasters Need to Know About SEO” and “B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Marketing Case.”

4 — AMAs Find A Welcome Home On Reddit

Reddit has also been a popular platform for hosting ask-me-anything (AMA) events, which can be a good way for B2B firms to begin utilizing the service if the interviewee is especially relevant to a particular topic.

Even NASA used Reddit’s /askscience sub-Reddit for a recent AMA event with planetary scientists and astrobiologists, which the organization cross-promoted on its LinkedIn and other social media accounts.

Technology giant Accenture also recently used its /accenture sub-Reddit for an AMA with its managing director Tristan Morel L’Horset, and last year the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity conducted its first Reddit-hosted AMA, featuring the noted festival’s managing director Simon Cook.

5 — Finding Relevant Audiences & Low-Hanging Keywords

In “The Guide to Unbundling Reddit,” Greg Isenberg, growth advisor at TikTok, has examined how Reddit has been affected by the pandemic, and looks at tools such as RedditList.com for finding relevant audiences.

The folks at Backlinko recently explored how to use keyword-finding tools such as those from SEMrush or Ahrefs to find relevant Reddit keywords for marketing efforts, in “17 Advanced SEO Techniques for 2020.”

HubSpot also recently took a look at some of the challenges and opportunities marketers face using Reddit, in “Everything Our Paid Team Learned From Attempting a Reddit Advertising Strategy,” finding the platform’s audience engagement a key advantage.

6 — Reddit’s Penchant For Technology Industry Professionals

With an especially avid cadre of technology enthusiasts, Reddit joins developer communities at GitHub, LinkedIn, HackerNews and others as go-to social destinations for engineers and programmers, making it a good choice for B2B firms in those sectors.

The tech-savvy nature of many of the communities on Reddit may seem merciless and intimidating at first glance, however with proper interactions brands can find valuable communication possibilities on the platform, especially when B2B marketers take the time to understand their audience and the questions they’re asking.

7 — Reddit Helps Customers Vent & Connect

Reddit joined Twitter and Facebook as the go-to platforms for venting about poor brand experiences online, with Twitter typically offering the speediest replies from brands — according to survey data from WhoIsHostingThis?

Who Is Hosting This Image

With enough effort, B2B brands that genuinely care about addressing such concerns can find Reddit a good spot for building goodwill, as we explored in “Wow Your Crowd: How Content Marketers Can Create Powerful Audience Connections,” and “B2B Marketers, Are Your Content Marketing Efforts Sparking Joy for Your Audience?

8 — What Else Is Up With Reddit Lately?

Reddit is presently running an “Up the Vote” brand marketing campaign — its first — as Adweek’s Sara Jerde chronicled in “Reddit’s Cheeky Marketing Campaign Encourages Users to Vote.”

In May Reddit tapped a former Pinterest and Google advertising leader in a move aimed at bringing more brand advertising activity to the platform, a shift that also saw the firm restructuring its sales team to adjust to changes brought by the global health crisis.

This year Reddit also rolled out its most visible advertising format to date, with “Trending Takeover” 24-hour campaigns that offer prime exposure advertisers, after having tested the format with partners including Adobe* and Spotify.

Adobe previously partnered with Reddit for a unique collaborative global digital canvas, with “Reddit X Adobe,” featuring thousands of artistic layers of imagery from users around the world.

Make Your Reddit High Noon Move Count

via GIPHY

While Reddit may no longer be the wild west for B2B marketers, incorporating it into your strategy doesn’t have to be a shootout at high noon if you take to heart the information we’ve explored together here.

When coupled with a powerful strategy such as B2B influencer marketing, Reddit can play an important role in driving successful business and customer communications.

* LinkedIn and Adobe are TopRank Marketing clients.

8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021

Professional business-woman smiling image.

Professional business-woman smiling image.

What do B2B marketers stand to gain by using Reddit?

Just how effective is Reddit for advertising and organic marketing communication, and what are some of the top tips and advice for B2B marketers new to Reddit or those looking to expand their presence on the social media platform?

Let’s take a look at the answers to these questions and more, including eight things B2B marketers need to know about social news aggregator and discussion platform Reddit, including why more businesses than ever will be using the platform in 2021 and beyond.

While by no means a thorough guide to marketing with Reddit, we’ll explore what it is, who uses it, what it’s doing to help marketers, how some B2B marketers are using it, plus some of the latest news from the social media platform.

1 — What Is Reddit & Who Uses It?

As one of the world’s most used websites and the fifth most-visited in the U.S., Reddit presently counts some 430 million average monthly active users, generating more than 30 billion monthly views of user-generated content in over 130 thousand message board communities.

74 percent of consumers in a joint Reddit and YPulse survey said in a whitepaper that Reddit — founded 15 years ago — is where they learn about the topics they love the most.

Earlier this year our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite advised B2B marketers to proceed, but with some caution, when considering Reddit, in “6 Unconventional Social Channels for B2B Marketing.”

“If your target audience is on Reddit, it’s worth testing the waters with a few sponsored posts. Just keep it transparent, honest and genuine: There’s a whole sub-Reddit devoted to mocking tone-deaf marketing,” Joshua urged.

In my article “B2B Marketing Mythbusters: Dispelling 10 Common Myths with Extraordinary Marketing,” I used Reddit as an example of the myth that B2B marketers don’t use cool social media platforms, and pointed out that Fortune 500 firms now regularly have social media presences on the more fashionable social channels such as Giphy, Snapchat, Facebook Horizons — the social media giant’s foray into the virtual reality (VR) world — and certainly Reddit.

2 — What Is Reddit Doing To Help Marketers?

Reddit Screenshot

Reddit has noted its ability to let advertisers target their audiences, tell their stories, and measure their success, along with the opportunity to reach influential communities where millions of people are engaging with relevant content — all areas that B2B marketers are keen on improving.

Reddit offers a variety of promoted post options that let marketers place ads throughout the platform as well as in the firm’s official app.

To encourage businesses to try advertising on the platform, over the past year Reddit has partnered with three research firms and released report data showing some of the advantages Reddit offers over other social media sites.

In conjunction with Verto Analytics, Reddit has explored how the platform offers a unique path to driving purchases, in “Reddit’s Role in the Path to Purchase.”

The study compared some 1,500 instances of product research on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest, and found that Reddit users evaluate just over twice as many brands in up to four times as many research sessions as on other platforms, with the notable exclusion of LinkedIn*, traditionally the leading social media platform among B2B marketers, which was not included in the survey.

The study noted that Reddit users decide on purchases nine times faster than on other social platforms, spend 15 percent more, and are some 13 percent more likely to share positive messages about a brand both online and offline. For B2B marketers dealing with often lengthy sales cycles, some of the speed advantages seen for Reddit could be a welcome experience.

Reddit users appear to spend more time in the consideration stage of the purchasing journey than those on other platforms — with its 32 percent tally versus 20 percent for other platforms, and they also tend to spend less time in the decision making stage.

Reddit Purchase Journey

The study also found that a whopping 90 percent of consumers trust the research they do using Reddit more than other websites or apps, a situation that will appeal to B2B marketers who have been working hard to rebuild eroded trust in marketing, as our CEO Lee Odden explored recently in “In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience.”

Earlier this year Reddit joined with GlobalWebIndex to conduct a study examining Reddit’s increasing role in the online community space, resulting in the 29-page “The Era of We and the Rise of Online Communities” report.

The report offers marketers looking to begin advertising on Reddit a fair amount of background data including what the platform’s users want brands to be using Reddit for, with the leading desired qualities being content that is:

  • Bold
  • Exclusive
  • Funny
  • Trendy / Cool
  • Reliable

Reddit Brand Qualities

3 — How Are B2B Marketers Using Reddit?

“We’re using data sets like Reddit, where the depth and the quality of conversation are extremely high in the communities,” Brian Wright, social media listening and intelligence leader at Wells Fargo recently told eMarketer.

Jennifer Heyman, vice president of digital and social media at Wells Fargo, also mentioned Reddit in our annual social media marketing trends article, “13 Top B2B Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020.”

“My prediction is that brands will divert spend from large paid awareness campaigns to more targeted authentic conversations found on platforms like Reddit or in Facebook Groups,” Jennifer observed.

“Essentially a shift of paid spend to the channels enabling a more focused and direct conversation with a customer. Personalization will continue to dominate social conversation, as brands emphasize both staying connected and infusing some fun into the message,” she added.

[bctt tweet=”Brands will shift social media focus from paid spend to channels enabling a more focused and direct conversation with a customer. @jheyman ” username=”toprank”]

Wells Fargo also mentions Reddit in some of its educational resources, noting that “Sites like Reddit and Quora are also popular options where potential students can talk about applying to schools,” all joining to highlight the social media platform’s increasing presence among large businesses.

Marketers promoting podcasts can connect with specific audiences on Reddit, or in its podcast-specific /r/podcasting sub-Reddit. Outside of that sub-Reddit, podcast marketers can generally find greater acceptance by first becoming known to an audience on the platform rather than posting links — to podcasts or any manner of outside content — right off the bat.

Podcasts have seen increasing numbers of listeners during the pandemic, and we’ve examined the growing success of podcasting among B2B marketers in several recently article including “What B2B Podcasters Need to Know About SEO” and “B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Marketing Case.”

4 — AMAs Find A Welcome Home On Reddit

Reddit has also been a popular platform for hosting ask-me-anything (AMA) events, which can be a good way for B2B firms to begin utilizing the service if the interviewee is especially relevant to a particular topic.

Even NASA used Reddit’s /askscience sub-Reddit for a recent AMA event with planetary scientists and astrobiologists, which the organization cross-promoted on its LinkedIn and other social media accounts.

Technology giant Accenture also recently used its /accenture sub-Reddit for an AMA with its managing director Tristan Morel L’Horset, and last year the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity conducted its first Reddit-hosted AMA, featuring the noted festival’s managing director Simon Cook.

5 — Finding Relevant Audiences & Low-Hanging Keywords

In “The Guide to Unbundling Reddit,” Greg Isenberg, growth advisor at TikTok, has examined how Reddit has been affected by the pandemic, and looks at tools such as RedditList.com for finding relevant audiences.

The folks at Backlinko recently explored how to use keyword-finding tools such as those from SEMrush or Ahrefs to find relevant Reddit keywords for marketing efforts, in “17 Advanced SEO Techniques for 2020.”

HubSpot also recently took a look at some of the challenges and opportunities marketers face using Reddit, in “Everything Our Paid Team Learned From Attempting a Reddit Advertising Strategy,” finding the platform’s audience engagement a key advantage.

6 — Reddit’s Penchant For Technology Industry Professionals

With an especially avid cadre of technology enthusiasts, Reddit joins developer communities at GitHub, LinkedIn, HackerNews and others as go-to social destinations for engineers and programmers, making it a good choice for B2B firms in those sectors.

The tech-savvy nature of many of the communities on Reddit may seem merciless and intimidating at first glance, however with proper interactions brands can find valuable communication possibilities on the platform, especially when B2B marketers take the time to understand their audience and the questions they’re asking.

7 — Reddit Helps Customers Vent & Connect

Reddit joined Twitter and Facebook as the go-to platforms for venting about poor brand experiences online, with Twitter typically offering the speediest replies from brands — according to survey data from WhoIsHostingThis?

Who Is Hosting This Image

With enough effort, B2B brands that genuinely care about addressing such concerns can find Reddit a good spot for building goodwill, as we explored in “Wow Your Crowd: How Content Marketers Can Create Powerful Audience Connections,” and “B2B Marketers, Are Your Content Marketing Efforts Sparking Joy for Your Audience?

8 — What Else Is Up With Reddit Lately?

Reddit is presently running an “Up the Vote” brand marketing campaign — its first — as Adweek’s Sara Jerde chronicled in “Reddit’s Cheeky Marketing Campaign Encourages Users to Vote.”

In May Reddit tapped a former Pinterest and Google advertising leader in a move aimed at bringing more brand advertising activity to the platform, a shift that also saw the firm restructuring its sales team to adjust to changes brought by the global health crisis.

This year Reddit also rolled out its most visible advertising format to date, with “Trending Takeover” 24-hour campaigns that offer prime exposure advertisers, after having tested the format with partners including Adobe* and Spotify.

Adobe previously partnered with Reddit for a unique collaborative global digital canvas, with “Reddit X Adobe,” featuring thousands of artistic layers of imagery from users around the world.

Make Your Reddit High Noon Move Count

via GIPHY

While Reddit may no longer be the wild west for B2B marketers, incorporating it into your strategy doesn’t have to be a shootout at high noon if you take to heart the information we’ve explored together here.

When coupled with a powerful strategy such as B2B influencer marketing, Reddit can play an important role in driving successful business and customer communications.

* LinkedIn and Adobe are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post 8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Your Guide to Effective Storytelling in B2B Content Marketing

Book Laying in Front of Tranquil Lake Scenery

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a guy who understands content. He was the featured keynote speaker at Content Marketing World three years ago, and his company HitRecord empowers creators to collaborate and produce awesome stuff together.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt also understands storytelling. He is an actor, director, producer, and writer who has appeared in numerous beloved movies and TV shows. His work as an author includes a series of works called The Book of Tiny Stories.

“The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories,” the tagline asserts.

Given his experience and expertise at the intersection of content and storytelling, it’s worth listening any time Gordon-Levitt speaks on these subjects. So I definitely took notice when the film icon suggested recently that the future of storytelling lies not in movies, but video games.

The gaming medium “feels like kind of the most groundbreaking storytelling,” Gordon-Levitt observed in a new episode of the YouTube show Hot Ones. “Storytelling that’s completely in a whole different realm than anything we’ve seen before.”

Personally, I can’t disagree with him. I love video games, in large part due to the immersion of a well-crafted narrative that draws the player into an interactive virtual world. And while marketing departments aren’t exactly concocting the next Grand Theft Auto, we do have the ability to deliver storytelling experiences that go above and beyond, by embracing many of the same principles that make video games such an appealing format in the eyes of Gordon-Levitt and others.

Of course, the formula for impactful storytelling in B2B content marketing is different from video games, or movies, even though it might share commonalities with both. To help you develop stories that engage and activate your professional audience, I’ve developed a blueprint, which I’ve dubbed the S.T.O.R.Y. model.

The S.T.O.R.Y Model for Great Storytelling in B2B Content Marketing

Sizzle. Tension. Originality. Relevance. Yearning. Every stellar piece of storytelling in B2B content marketing encompasses these five words. Let’s break down each one, and how they come together for a powerful experience. (We’ll lean on JGL to visualize these concepts.)

Sizzle

sizzle (n): a state or quality of great excitement or passion

In Gordon-Levitt’s world of filmmaking, a “sizzle reel” refers to a short, fast-paced video edit featuring the best of someone’s past work. Sizzle reels are often put together by actors who distribute them in hopes of landing gigs. As the name suggests, these reels need to sizzle: The excitement and passion must be on display right away in order to wrangle the attention of a casting director sorting through hundreds of them.

The B2B marketer’s directive is no different. Earning the attention of our audiences in the era of rampant content saturation means we need to bring it. If your story does not imbue a genuine and immediately discernible sense of passion and excitement, it may very well not be worth telling.

via GIPHY

Tension

tension (n): a balance maintained in an artistic work between opposing forces or elements

Sizzle is how you grab the audience’s attention with your story. Tension is how you keep it. Storytellers can build tension by referencing or hinting at something early on, and then gradually working toward the payoff.

This dynamic was explained beautifully by Andrew Davis at CM World – one year after Gordon-Levitt’s appearance – in his opening 2018 keynote exploring the “curiosity gap” and how it counteracts dwindling attention spans. I had the pleasure of watching Davis break it down alongside my colleague Ashley Zeckman, who recapped the session here on our blog. Read her post and you’ll learn everything you need to know about using tension to keep your audience hooked.

“The more tension you raise, the more your audience needs to see the outcome.” @DrewDavisHere #Storytelling #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

via GIPHY

Originality

originality (n): freshness of aspect, design, or style

In order to be memorable, it must be novel.

While it’s valuable to keep someone watching or reading to completion, we’re not telling a great story simply because they absorbed the whole thing. We’re telling a great story if it sticks with them. To this end, freshness and originality are essential qualities.

The human brain can only consciously store so many memories. There isn’t much room for redundancy.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every story you tell, but there should always be at least one inventive or unexpected element that makes it feel unique.

via GIPHY

Relevance

relevance (n): the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate

From one view, the word “relevance” is incredibly broad. From another, it is narrow as can be.

Example: Coronavirus is relevant to every human being on Planet Earth right now. But, what about the mental health impact of a pandemic on first-time telecommuters, and how HR managers can provide meaningful support? Now you’ve zeroed in.

Here is where we begin to diverge from standard forms of entertainment. Great art often speaks to the many. Great B2B content marketing should speak to the few, but in a fiercely resonant way.

“Great art often speaks to the many. Great B2B content marketing should speak to the few, but in a fiercely resonant way.” @NickNelsonMN #Storytelling #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

via GIPHY

Yearning

yearning (n): a feeling of intense longing for something

And here is where we fully settle into the marketing realm. Leaving the viewer with a sense of yearning is a common objective in entertainment – think cliffhangers – but only in content marketing is it requisite for efficacy.

This doesn’t mean someone finishes your story and has a yearning to go buy the product or service. That’s an unlikely (albeit highly impressive) outcome. It means they yearn for more – more installments in the series, more content from the brand, more information on the website, more social media posts from the account.

via GIPHY

Tell Your Brand’s S.T.O.R.Y.

When your story sizzles, builds tension, exudes originality, sparks relevant tones with a defined audience, and leaves the reader or viewer yearning for more … you’ve got yourself a highly effective piece of B2B content marketing. The specifics within this framework are flexible and open to your own creative spin – you’d hardly be able to check the “originality” box if that wasn’t the case – but the overarching principles of impactful marketing narratives are quite consistent in every successful production. They’re most often found in movies and video games too, for that matter.

via GIPHY

To learn how you can apply this formula to establish stronger relationships with your audience, check out my blog post on channeling the skills of Abraham Lincoln to build trust through storytelling.