YouTube Dominates Google Video in 2020

In a study of 2.1M searches and 766K videos, YouTube accounted for 94% of all video carousel results on page one of Google, leaving little room for competition.

Even the most casual video aficionado knows YouTube (acquired by Google in 2006). As a Google search user, you may even feel like you encounter more YouTube videos than videos from other sources, but does the data back this up? 

A Wall Street Journal article in June 2020 measured a strong advantage of YouTube in Google search results, but that article focused on 98 hand-selected videos to compare YouTube to other platforms. 

Using a set of over two million Google.com (US) desktop searches captured in early October 2020, we were able to extract more than 250,000 results with video carousels on page one. Most organic video results in 2020 appear in a carousel, like this one:

This carousel appeared on a search for “How to be an investor” (Step 1: Find a bag of money). Notice the arrow on the far-right — currently, searchers can scroll through up to ten videos. While our research tracked all ten positions, most of this report will focus on the three visible positions.

How dominant is YouTube?

Anecdotally, we see YouTube pop up a lot in Google results, but how dominant are they in the visible three video carousel results across our data set? Here’s a breakdown:

YouTube’s presence across the first three video slots was remarkably consistent, at (1) 94.1%, (2) 94.2% and (3) 94.2%. Khan Academy and Facebook took the #2 and #3 rankings for each carousel slot, with Facebook gaining share in later slots.

Obviously, this is a massive drop from the first to second largest share, and YouTube’s presence only varied from 94.1% to 95.1% across all ten slots. Across all visible videos in the carousel, here are the top ten sites in our data set:

  1. YouTube (94.2%)
  2. Khan Academy (1.5%)
  3. Facebook (1.4%)
  4. Microsoft (0.4%)
  5. Vimeo (0.1%)
  6. Twitter (0.1%)
  7. Dailymotion (<0.1%)
  8. CNBC (<0.1%)
  9. CNN (<0.1%)
  10. ESPN (<0.1%)

Note that, due to technical limitations with how search spiders work, many Facebook and Twitter videos require a login and are unavailable to Google. That said, the #2 to #10 biggest players in the video carousel — including some massive brands with deep pockets for video content — add up to only 3.7% of visible videos.

How about how-to?

Pardon my grammar, but “How to…?” questions have become a hot spot for video results, and naturally lend themselves to niche players like HGTV. Here’s a video carousel from a search for “how to organize a pantry”:

It looks promising on the surface, but does this niche show more diversity of websites at scale? Our data set included just over 45,000 “How to …” searches with video carousels. Here’s the breakdown of the top three sites for each slot:

In our data set, YouTube is even more dominant in the how-to niche, taking up from 97-98% of each of the three visible slots. Khan Academy came in second, and Microsoft (specifically, the Microsoft support site) rounded out the third position (but at <1% in all three slots).

Is this just a fluke?

Most of this analysis was based on a snapshot of data in early October. Given that Google frequently makes changes and runs thousands of tests per year, could we have just picked a particularly unusual day? To answer that, we pulled YouTube’s prevalence across all videos in the carousel on the first day of each month of 2020:

YouTube’s dominance was fairly steady across 2020, ranging from 92.0% to 95.3% in our data set (and actually increasing a bit since January). Clearly, this is not a temporary nor particularly recent condition.

Another challenge in studying Google results, even with large data sets, is the possibility of sampling bias. There is no truly “random” sample of search results (more on that in Appendix A), but we’re lucky enough to have a second data set with a long history. While this data set is only 10,000 keywords, it was specifically designed to evenly represent the industry categories in Google Ads. On October 9, we were able to capture 2,390 video carousels from this data set. Here’s how they measured up:

The top three sites in each of the carousel slots were identical to the 2M-keyword data set, and YouTube’s dominance was even higher (up from 94% to 96%). We have every confidence that the prevalence of YouTube results measured in this study is not a fluke of a single day or a single data set.

How level is the field?

Does YouTube have an unfair advantage? “Fair” is a difficult concept to quantify, so let’s explore Google’s perspective. 

Google’s first argument would probably be that YouTube has the lion’s share of video results because they host the lion’s share of videos. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get reliable numbers across the entire world of video hosting, and especially for social platforms. YouTube is undoubtedly a massive player and likely hosts the majority of non-social, public videos in the United States, but 94% seems like a big share even for the lion. 

The larger problem is that this dominance becomes self-perpetuating. Over the past few years, more major companies have hosted videos on YouTube and created YouTube channels because it’s easier to get results in Google search than hosting on smaller platforms or their own site.

Google’s more technical argument is that the video search algorithm has no inherent preference for YouTube. As a search marketer, I’ve learned to view this argument narrowly. There’s probably not a line of code in the algorithm that says something like:

IF site = ‘YouTube’ THEN ranking = 1

Defined narrowly, I believe that Google is telling the truth. However, there’s no escaping the fact that Google and YouTube share a common backbone and many of the same internal organs, which provides advantages that may be insurmountable.

For example, Google’s video algorithm might reward speed. This makes sense — a slow-loading video is a bad customer experience and makes Google look bad. Naturally, Google’s direct ownership over YouTube means that their access to YouTube data is lightning fast. Realistically, how can a competitor, even with billions in investment, produce an experience that’s faster than a direct pipeline to Google? Likewise, YouTube’s data structure is naturally going to be optimized for Google to easily process and digest, relying on inside knowledge that might not be equally available to all players.

For now, from a marketing perspective, we’re left with little choice but to cover our bases and take the advantage YouTube seems to offer. There’s no reason we should expect YouTube’s numbers to decrease, and every reason to expect YouTube’s dominance to grow, at least without a paradigm-shifting disruption to the industry.

Many thanks to Eric H. and Michael G. on our Vancouver team for sharing their knowledge about the data set and how to interpret it, and to Eric and Rob L. for trusting me with Athena access to a treasure trove of data.


Appendix A: Data and methodology

The bulk of the data for this study was collected in early October 2020 from a set of just over two million Google.com, US-based, desktop search results. After minor de-duplication and clean-up, this data set yielded 258K searches with video carousels on page one. These carousels accounted for 2.1 million total video results/URLs and 767K visible results (Google displays up to three per carousel, without scrolling).

The how-to analysis was based on a smaller data set of 45K keywords that explicitly began with the words “how to”. Neither data set is a randomly selected sample and may be biased toward certain industries or verticals.

The follow-up 10K data set was constructed specifically as a research data set and is evenly distributed across 20 major industry categories in Google Ads. This data set was specifically designed to represent a wide range of competitive terms.

Why don’t we use true random sampling? Outside of the textbook, a truly random sample is rarely achieved, but theoretically possible. Selecting a random sample of adults in The United States, for example, is incredibly difficult (as soon as you pick up the phone or send out an email, you’ve introduced bias), but at least we know that, at any particular moment, the population of adults in the United States is a finite set of individual people.

The same isn’t true of Google searches. Searches are not a finite set, but a cloud of words being conjured out of the void by searchers every millisecond. According to Google themselves: “There are trillions of searches on Google every year. In fact, 15 percent of searches we see every day are new.” The population of searches is not only in the trillions, but changing every minute.

Ultimately, we rely on large data sets, where possible, try to understand the flaws in any given data set, and replicate our work across multiple data sets. This study was replicated against two very different data sets, as well as a third set created by a thematic slice of the first set, and validated against multiple dates in 2020.

Five Can’t-Miss Sessions from Virtual Pubcon 2020

Lee Odden Speaking at Pubcon

Lee Odden Speaking at Pubcon

The one silver lining in our current reality is the “virtual event.” Sure, we’re all stuck at home, but at least we can have several entire marketing conferences beamed directly to our laptops. 

Granted, there’s a distinct lack of cocktails and networking opportunities. You have to supply your own drinks and try to convince your own pets to follow you on LinkedIn (currently mine are still mulling it over). 

Two dogs, one white, one ginger colored
“Sorry, we only have Facebark.”

The latest conference to go virtual is industry stalwart Pubcon, celebrating its 20th year. This search-centered event never fails to round up fascinating speakers with a ton of experience in search and content marketing.

Here are my top five can’t miss sessions for Pubcon’s Virtual 2020 Conference.

Keynote: How to Optimize Marketing Experiences with Influencer Content

Speaker: Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Marketing
Salon A
Time: Thursday, October 15th, 1:00-1:40p (All times Central.)

Our team at TopRank Marketing, under Lee’s leadership, has been perfecting the art and discipline of B2B influencer marketing for at least a decade. Now, fresh off of our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing, Lee’s ready to take strategic, sophisticated influence to the next level. It’s all about CSI — no, not David Caruso in sunglasses, but Content, Search and Influence working together to drive ROI.

Human-Centered Keyword and Content Strategy

Speaker: Elmer Boutin, SEO Director, GTB
Salon B
Time: Wednesday October 14th, 11:10-11:40a

SEO isn’t about writing for robots anymore; it’s writing for the way humans search and trusting the robots to keep up. This session promises to teach how to create a content strategy for human-centered CEO, including metrics and measurement.

Google Keynote 

Speaker: John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google
Salon A
Time: Wednesday October 14th, 9:00-9:40a

When Google talks, marketers listen. The tech giant never gives away too much of how their algorithm works, of course. But we’ll take whatever we can get. John has over a decade of experience at Google, so his perspective on search trends is sure to be well worth your time.

Developing Eye-Catching Content: Five Timeless Lessons from a Pandemic

Speaker: Phillip Thune, CFO, Textbroker International
Salon B
Time:Wednesday October 14th, 2:30-3:00p

The pandemic didn’t create the need for high-quality content. But like so many other changes, COVID-19 highlighted and magnified that need, and it’s causing marketers to re-evaluate their content strategy. In-person sales conversations and trade shows are off the table. Marketers are cranking up their content production — which means it takes something extra to make your content stand out from the rest. Phillip brings a consultant’s eye to the problem with his session.

Conversational UX, AI and Chatbots

Speaker: John Lawson, CEO, ColderICE
Salon A
Time: Wednesday October 14th, 1:50-2:20p

What does SEO look like when there’s no longer a SERP? Voice search and chat are the next frontiers for intrepid marketers. This session promises to address the shift from visual to voice, including what the big movers and shakers are doing and how marketers can keep up.

Stunning Insights Are Virtually Assured

Tune into Pubcon 2020 for all of the above and more, and keep an eye on the TopRank Marketing blog for highlights and takeaways. 

What sessions are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments.

The post Five Can’t-Miss Sessions from Virtual Pubcon 2020 appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Five Can’t-Miss Sessions from Virtual Pubcon 2020

Lee Odden Speaking at Pubcon

The one silver lining in our current reality is the “virtual event.” Sure, we’re all stuck at home, but at least we can have several entire marketing conferences beamed directly to our laptops. 

Granted, there’s a distinct lack of cocktails and networking opportunities. You have to supply your own drinks and try to convince your own pets to follow you on LinkedIn (currently mine are still mulling it over). 

Two dogs, one white, one ginger colored

“Sorry, we only have Facebark.”

The latest conference to go virtual is industry stalwart Pubcon, celebrating its 20th year. This search-centered event never fails to round up fascinating speakers with a ton of experience in search and content marketing.

Here are my top five can’t miss sessions for Pubcon’s Virtual 2020 Conference.

Keynote: How to Optimize Marketing Experiences with Influencer Content

Speaker: Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Marketing
Salon A
Time: Thursday, October 15th, 1:00-1:40p (All times Central.)

Our team at TopRank Marketing, under Lee’s leadership, has been perfecting the art and discipline of B2B influencer marketing for at least a decade. Now, fresh off of our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing, Lee’s ready to take strategic, sophisticated influence to the next level. It’s all about CSI — no, not David Caruso in sunglasses, but Content, Search and Influence working together to drive ROI.

Human-Centered Keyword and Content Strategy

Speaker: Elmer Boutin, SEO Director, GTB
Salon B
Time: Wednesday October 14th, 11:10-11:40a

SEO isn’t about writing for robots anymore; it’s writing for the way humans search and trusting the robots to keep up. This session promises to teach how to create a content strategy for human-centered CEO, including metrics and measurement.

Google Keynote 

Speaker: John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google
Salon A
Time: Wednesday October 14th, 9:00-9:40a

When Google talks, marketers listen. The tech giant never gives away too much of how their algorithm works, of course. But we’ll take whatever we can get. John has over a decade of experience at Google, so his perspective on search trends is sure to be well worth your time.

Developing Eye-Catching Content: Five Timeless Lessons from a Pandemic

Speaker: Phillip Thune, CFO, Textbroker International
Salon B
Time:Wednesday October 14th, 2:30-3:00p

The pandemic didn’t create the need for high-quality content. But like so many other changes, COVID-19 highlighted and magnified that need, and it’s causing marketers to re-evaluate their content strategy. In-person sales conversations and trade shows are off the table. Marketers are cranking up their content production — which means it takes something extra to make your content stand out from the rest. Phillip brings a consultant’s eye to the problem with his session.

Conversational UX, AI and Chatbots

Speaker: John Lawson, CEO, ColderICE
Salon A
Time: Wednesday October 14th, 1:50-2:20p

What does SEO look like when there’s no longer a SERP? Voice search and chat are the next frontiers for intrepid marketers. This session promises to address the shift from visual to voice, including what the big movers and shakers are doing and how marketers can keep up.

Stunning Insights Are Virtually Assured

Tune into Pubcon 2020 for all of the above and more, and keep an eye on the TopRank Marketing blog for highlights and takeaways. 

What sessions are you looking forward to? Let me know in the comments.

Competitive Advantage in a Commoditized Industry

In a world where search companies are a dime a dozen and brands tout bland “unique selling propositions” that aren’t unique at all, how can you avoid drowning in the sea of sameness? What are you doing that’s any different from every other SEO firm?

In this article, you’ll learn how to find, activate, and articulate your competitive advantage. You’ll discover how to identify unique strengths and innovative offerings that equate to competitive advantage through real, working examples so you can bring them to life in search. And finally, you’ll get actionable tips and homework to help your business stand out.

The state of our industry

“SEO is dead.” Have you ever heard this eye-roller before? This is a common refrain in the search industry every time Google takes more precious real estate into its clutches and away from website owners, when our tactics become less impactful, when Google increasingly automates answers and paid search efforts, or as we watch the internet become inundated with “content for SEO” that’s drowning the best content out. It’s enough to make any search expert feel like it’s impossible to win.

But I argue that search and content marketing aren’t dead. Far from it. Google is still the main place people turn to for information and answers, and humans will continue to search. However, the industry is becoming increasingly commoditized, and it provides challenges and lessons that can change the landscape for our industry and many others.

I conducted an informal survey of more than 100 digital marketers around the globe, asking whether they believe our field is becoming commoditized. Of those, more than two-thirds said content marketing is moderately or highly commoditized, nearly 73% said the SEO industry is commoditized, and nearly three-quarters said the paid search space is becoming moderately or highly commoditized.

Barriers to competitive advantage

The trouble with the commoditization of an industry is that it makes it difficult for any business to stand out. It gets harder to stay competitive, which makes it harder for a business to grow. This isn’t entirely surprising, because achieving real, sustainable competitive advantage is no easy task.

The reasons people say it’s hard to stay competitive in their industry range from knowing what opportunity is available to own, to challenges being able to innovate rapidly enough, to internal barriers like buy-in or fear of risk-taking. According to my survey, some of the most common barriers to competitive advantage are:

  • Knowing what opportunity makes sense to try to own
  • Prioritizing billable client work over non-billable brand-building work
  • Time, bandwidth, and budget
  • An internal fear of or aversion to taking risks
  • Cultural challenges like buy-in
  • Overcoming customer perception of the brand’s position
  • Lack of focus and slowness in innovation
  • Competitive advantage is a changing, moving target

While the survey I conducted was limited to digital marketers, nearly every business vertical experiences commoditization and competition. Our client brands are fighting it, too. But without truly understanding competitive advantage — much less how to find, prove and defend it — we risk drowning in that sea of sameness. I’ll continue to use digital marketing professions like search and content as working examples, but know that the principles here can benefit you, your clients, and your business, regardless of industry. It could even help you assess your individual competitive advantage to help you land a dream job or get that big promotion.

What is competitive advantage?

There are a few traits professionals agree on, but the open-ended survey answered revealed a lot of disparity and confusion. Let’s try to clear that up.

Often when we talk about a brand’s competitive edge, we talk about mission and vision statements. But the sad truth is that many, many businesses are claiming competitive advantages in meaningless mission statements that aren’t competitive advantages at all. Let’s look at an example: “Profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality and commitment.”

This is a commonly used example of a bad mission statement for many reasons – it’s vague with no specificity whatsoever, it has a long list of intangible advantages with no focus, and these things every business should probably be doing. These are table stakes. You could copy and paste any brand name in front of this. In fact, I found a dozen companies in just the first two pages of search results that did exactly this, even though this is heralded as a prime example of a meaningless mission statement.

And if the meaningless mission statement wasn’t persuasive enough, let’s also examine what many brands consider their “unique selling propositions.” I actually object to the “unique selling proposition” or “USP,” because it’s all about the brand. I much prefer “UCB,” or unique customer benefit, which puts the customer at the center, but I digress.

Let’s take a look at a few examples in the invoicing software space. In fairness, the brands below do list other benefits on their sites, and many are good, but this is often what they lead with. FreshBooks says they have invoice software that saves you time, Invoice2Go says they have time-saving features that keep you in control, and Sliq Tools can help you organize and speed up invoicing.

Saving customers time is important, but the problem is that none of these offerings aren’t unique. Nearly every invoicing software I looked at highlighted some version of speed, saving time, and getting paid faster. These are all valuable features, but what’s the benefit that’s going to make the customer choose you?

Let’s take a look at three more. Invoice Simple says you can invoice customers in seconds. Xero gives you a real-time view of your cash flow. Scoro says they can help you stop using and paying for six or more different tools.

These benefits are a lot more clear. Invoice Simple says they don’t just save you time, but they help you get invoices done in seconds. That specificity puts it over the edge. Xero’s real-time view of cash flow is incredibly important to businesses; the ability to see and make decisions from that information immediately is very valuable. And Scoro’s benefit of cutting back your tool stack really hit home. It’s very common for SMBs to add one tool at a time over time and then find that they’re drowning in accounting software, and maybe they’re making more mistakes or just losing time to keeping up with it all.

5 components of competitive advantage

Start with your “est.” Best. Fastest. Smartest. Cheapest. Most innovative. Most horizontally integrated. What is something that better delivers more value to customers, or comparable value for a better price? This is a great brainstorming exercise to ask yourself initially what you are or want to be best at. Keep in mind, maybe it’s not the “est” over all – maybe it’s the “est” for a specific segment of your audience or need state of your customer or even just a geographic region. But then you have to check those “ests” against a few criteria to ensure it’s really a competitive advantage.

Unique

Is your advantage unique? If anyone can claim the same thing, it’s not unique. Your advantage should serve a unique need, a distinct audience, or deliver your product or service in a unique way. Dig deep to find something specific and tangible that sets you apart from your competition.

Defensible

A defensible advantage is a distinct, specific claim that is not generic or vague, and avoids superlatives. If you can copy and paste any brand name in place of yours, it’s not defensible. Make sure your unique benefit or advantage is clear and specific. Avoid superlatives and hyperbolic language that can’t be quantified in any way. The typical mistake I see is generic language that doesn’t paint a picture for customers as to what makes you special.

Sustainable

Meaningful competitive advantage should be lasting and endure over a long period of time. I frequently heard in the survey that people believe they have competitive advantage for being first to market with their type of service. That does confer some benefits initially, but once the market figures out there’s money to be made and little competition, that’s when they swoop in to encroach. First mover advantage is a competitive advantage for a while, but it is not a sustainable competitive advantage. If you can’t hold onto that competitive advantage for a while, it’s too short-term.

Valuable

Something the customer feels is a greater value than competitors. If your customer doesn’t care about it, it’s not valuable, and thus it’s not a competitive advantage. What your business does isn’t solely defined by what you sell, but rather by what your customer actually wants. (And in the search business, that’s especially true – if people aren’t searching for it, it’s not valuable to the business.) Your customer has to feel that what you offer is a greater value than your competitors. That can be a product, service or feature at a comparable price that excels, or it can be a comparable product, service or feature at a better price.

Consistent

Competitive advantage must be something you can bring to life in every aspect of your business. This is why typical CSR (corporate social responsibility) fails to be an adequate competitive advantage for many brands. They put a page on their website and maybe make a few donations, but they’re not really living that purpose from top to bottom in their organization, and customers see right through it. It can’t be a competitive advantage on the website that isn’t also reflected at the C-level, with your sales reps who work with customers, in your factories, and so on.

For all their flaws and my moral beef with Jeff Bezos, Amazon was unwavering in their commitment to fast, affordable shipping. That’s what turned them into the monolith they are today. People know that Ben & Jerry’s is vocal and activist in all aspects of what they do, and they live up to the promises they make.

A competitive advantage framework

One of the most important attributes to understand about competitive advantage is that it’s temporary. It’s a moving target, so you can never get too comfortable. The moment you identify your competitive advantage and you’re enjoying nice profit margins or share of voice in a space, competitors will start racing to take advantage of new learnings themselves. This leads to eventual parity among competitors, and the cycle starts again.

So you need to figure out where to evolve or re-invent to stay competitive. This is a handy little framework for finding, establishing, articulating and maintaining your competitive advantage. But note that this isn’t purely linear — once competitors encroach on your previous advantage you’re at risk of losing it, so be sure to look ahead to what your next competitive advantage can be OR how you can elevate and defend the one you already have.

Discover: tools to find your competitive advantage

Discovering what makes you different is half the battle. In an increasingly crowded and commoditized competitive landscape, how do you figure out where you can win?

Ask

The number one recommendation from my survey is to ask. Tools from formal surveys to in-depth interviews, to casual feedback forms and ad hoc conversations can reveal some very insightful advantages. The objective is to figure out why you over someone else. A few things you might ask them:

  • Why did you hire us over another firm?
  • Why did you hire another firm over us?
  • Why did you choose to leave us and switch to another firm?
  • Why do you continue to work with us after all these years?

Look for patterns. Your competitive advantage might be hiding in there — or insight into your competitor’s advantage.

Listen

Try listening quietly, too. Check conversations on Reddit, Nextdoor or relevant forums where people have frank dialogue about problems they need solutions to, people recommending for or against brands, people are likely to be honest when helping their neighbors.

You can also read ratings and reviews on popular sites like Amazon or Yelp. Granted, it’s easy to fake some of these, but look for patterns in what people say about your brand, your products and services, or your competitors. What are their common complaints? What do other brands do poorly or not at all, gaps that you can fill?

Workshop

Getting experts with multiple perspectives in a room to workshop and brainstorm can also help uncover your competitive advantage. Evaluate your brand, your customers, your competition, the industry, new developments, and more. Also look beyond your own industry – often great ideas can come from entirely different verticals outside your own. Ask yourself hard questions about who you are, what you can commit to, and what you can follow through on to offer customers. I’ll share just two of many possible competitive advantage workshop tools below.

SWOT analysis

Conduct a SWOT analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – do the same for competitors. This is best conducted with people across multiple disciplines to consider different angles. It’s also key to do your research – look as closely at competitors as you do your own brand.

Strengths are the powerful capabilities and value you bring to the table. Weaknesses are the gaps in your resources or offerings that might hold you back from being best in class. Opportunities are untapped or unexplored areas of potential growth. Threats are outside forces or external factors that put your business at risk – like economic downturn and susceptibility global pandemic, for example, or the entry of a disruptive new competitor.

Porter’s 5 Forces Model

The second tool I want to introduce is Porter’s Five Forces model. Most folks who attend business school will learn about this, but you can also read about it in Michael Porter’s book Competitive Advantage. It’s a method to analyze the competitive pressures on your business. His model asserts that these five forces determine how intense the competition is, and thus, how attractive it is to enter an industry based on profitability. But it’s also a very valuable critical thinking tool even if you’re already in the industry to figure out where you can compete and edge out the opposition.

The first force at the center of the model is competitive rivalry. What is the quantity, quality, and diversity of your competitors in the space? How fast or slow is the industry currently growing? What’s the growth potential in the future? Are customers typically loyal to a brand, or are they brand-agnostic, switching a round frequently in your industry?

Then we have to think about the toggle between new entrants into the market, or the threat of substitute products or services. For new entrants, is it an easy industry to enter, or are there high barriers to entry? A brand with high threat of new entrants (low barriers to entry) might be food trucks. With some good recipes, enough capital to set up a high cost to start up, and some elbow grease, you’re in business. But industries with low threat of new entrants (high barriers to entry) might be things like airlines. It’s very expensive to buy planes and hire qualified pilots, and it’s an industry loaded with government regulations.

For the threat of substitutes, is there a high quantity of other products or services on the market your customer can choose from? Is it easy or hard to switch brands? Also, could there be an entirely alternative solution or abstention? For example, perhaps an alternative to highly commoditized toilet paper would be an alternative solution like a bidet like Tushy. Or perhaps a makeup brand like Sephora faces “substitution” from people who choose to abstain from wearing makeup at all.

And finally, we have to think about how well suppliers can bargain and how well buyers can bargain with your company. Every company has a supply chain, even service businesses like digital marketing.For manufacturing companies, suppliers might be the raw materials or transportation providers. For digital marketing companies, suppliers might be technology companies or the talent you hire to do the work.

If demand is greater than supply – either due to quantity of suppliers, the unique needs you have for securing that talent (like GMO-free, organic, locally sourced ingredients from companies that donate money to offset their carbon impact), this force has high-pressure. But if the resources you need are a dime a dozen (PC laptops come to mind), bargaining power of suppliers is low.

End users and buyers are part of your supply chain too. If they can easily “bargain” by choosing other competitors or driving down costs through competition, you have high pressure here. If you’re truly the only player in the market, or one of few, who do what you do, then bargaining power of buyers is lower. Also consider the cost of someone switching to another company or a substitute.

Define: choose your competitive strategy

Once you have found the gap you want to fill, you need to choose your area of focus. Often we make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people all the time. Brands can’t pull this off in a sustainable way forever. If you are trying to be adequate at everything, it’s difficult to be great at anything.

While not impossible, it’s very difficult to maintain deep focus on things when you are spread too thin. My MBA professors told me that smart strategy isn’t just choosing what you will do, it’s also choosing what you won’t do. That has stuck with me ever since. We need to make hard choices about where to spend time, budget, energy and attention. To get truly great at something, and achieve competitive advantage, you need to set your sights on something specific.

One problematic example I heard from a big client was challenging our Paid and Organic Search teams to win at efficiency and return on ad spend, while also winning on volume and share-of-voice concurrently. Efficiency and ROAS focus on a selective approach to advertising on certain terms or topics to optimize for the most efficient acquisitions and cost savings, and it often results in a narrower reach but highly efficient use of advertising dollars. On the flip-side, focusing on volume or achieving the largest share-of-voice in a space typically requires casting a wider net, and that traffic may convert at a lower rate and profit margins and ROAS may be tighter.

Another common challenge is trying to be a company or person who is both broad and versatile, while also being deeply specialized. This isn’t absolutely impossible, but maintenance and upkeep becomes challenging over time. If your brand wants to be perceived as the most versatile brand that can adapt to anything or meet everyone’s needs, it’s difficult to also be the brand that is perceived as deeply specialized in a certain field.

Let’s use grocers as a working example. WalMart may be the generalist for being able to get just about anything you could possibly want in one place, while Natural Grocers might be the deeply specialized whole, organic, local foods shop. Far less variety and versatility, but you can be assured they hit on certain quality and sourcing criteria within their more curated selection.

Consider what that means for you as a business or an individual professional.

Examine your brand and narrow your focus.

Let’s walk through a few of the questions you can ask yourself to closely examine your brand and narrow your strategic focus on a clear competitive advantage.

  • What are the core activities that make up your business? Think about your core products or services, core audiences you serve, and core problems you solve.
  • Who are the people the brand was created to serve? Consider the individuals, decision-makers, customers or firms you serve. Are they in certain industries or job titles? Where do they get their information? How can you best reach them where they are?
  • What do your potential customers, or a specific segment of them, want or need? How does your brand, product or service solve that need? What do you enable them to do? What keeps them up at night? What problems do they have to solve or decisions do they have to make that you can help with? What are points of friction or frustration that you or your business are uniquely equipped to alleviate?
  • What do your customers value? According to a book called The Purpose Advantage by Jeff Fromm and his team, the business you’re in is defined by what the customer wants, not by what you’re selling. Reflecting on this question can help you identify a higher purpose for the company through the eyes of the customer.
  • When customers have a huge range of choices, why should they choose you? What would they do if you didn’t exist? You have to be able to answer the “why you” question with a unique and persuasive reason. If that doesn’t immediately jump out at you, try the “Five Whys” exercise. This is an iterative technique that helps you dig deeper on cause-and-effect relationships. You work your way backwards, asking “why” time and again until you get to the core.

Five Whys exercise

Let’s try a quick example of the Five Whys exercise. The Ordinary is a makeup company that sells affordable, back-to-basics skin care products is growing incredibly fast. In the three years since parent company Deciem launched the brand, they grew to nearly $300M in sales last year. Brand name recognition and sales volume have spiked.

  • Why? The brand is taking off with budget-conscious Millennials over 30 who take interest in skincare.
  • Why? None of their products cost more than $15.
  • Why? Their products have only the most essential active ingredients – avoiding parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, formaldehyde, mercury, oxybenzone and a bunch of other ingredients I can’t pronounce.
  • Why? This creates an affordable skin care regimen without scary unknown ingredients, all without animal testing, and without excess wasteful packaging.
  • Why? This hits on several core morals and values of the Millennial skin care audience who want to minimize their impact/footprint, but without paying a premium to do it.

Competitive advantage takes many forms

Once you have done the due diligence of truly reflecting on these questions, examine your answers. Look for clues and patterns and start to formulate a plan for which areas have the most unique value to your customers.

There are typically several avenues a brand can take to own a certain customer benefit, audience segment, industry, or price point. Here are a few clues to watch for in the patterns. Are you the most personalized brand in your space? Do you have an incredible community with loyal advocates and rich conversation that people want to be a part of? Brands like Moz and Tableau seem to have this advantage in their spaces. Do you have a reputation for constant innovation, rapid evolution, and generally outsmarting the competition or disrupting an industry? Tesla is iconic for its innovation. Also consider things like supply chain efficiencies, breadth or depth in certain markets, the ratio of cost to value, your ethics or commitment to certain causes, and more.

Write a brand statement

Now that you’ve done your due diligence, it’s time to boil it down to a simple brand statement to make it crystal clear what your competitive advantage will be. Please note that this should not be a simple exercise. If it’s too easy, be skeptical of whether you have truly found your competitive advantage. Put in the work. Writing these statements is hard and takes time. And you should expect to revisit and revise over time as your competitive environment and customer preferences evolve.

Using the brand The Ordinary, I drafted an example competitive advantage statement: We, The Ordinary, create high-performing, minimalist skincare products so that cost- and cause-conscious skincare enthusiasts can have an ethical, effective skincare regimen without paying a premium price.

Then, check your work. Pressure test your brand statement. Does it meet the five criteria for competitive advantage? If not, keep digging. And once you have a clear competitive advantage statement, be sure to connect and reconnect with that intention, time and again.

Demonstrate: living your competitive advantage

Now that you’ve discovered your potential competitive advantage and chosen where to focus, it’s time to bring it to life. The difference between the average brand which merely puts a mission statement on their website and a brand with true, sustainable competitive advantage, is whether they walk the talk in every single thing they do. It has to be consistent with your products and services. It has to happen at all levels of a company. It has to be true in every moment you communicate with customers.

Once again, we find ourselves pressure-testing the competitive advantage. Can you realistically live this across departments, offices, teams, roles, initiatives, processes, marketing efforts and everything in between? You can’t be casual about competitive advantage. You have to be obsessed. Let’s talk about some questions you should ask yourself to activate your competitive advantage in every respect:

  • How does this affect existing ways of working? What changes do you need to make to how you operate to live it fully? If you’re just now identifying your competitive advantage, which is totally ok!, you may have work to do in order to make sure it’s consistent across the organization.
  • What are some things you won’t do in support of your advantage? These could be things you choose not to focus on, or things you will actively avoid.
  • What team members can you bring together from across functions to activate this competitive advantage? Be sure to provide common language and targets for the team so you can all be united in action to drive better outcomes
  • How will you prove your commitment to the competitive advantage outside the organization? Your team from top to bottom needs to fully believe and commit to this mission. But your customers also need to believe in your mission. Ask yourself what proof looks like. How will everyone know you are in fact achieving the competitive advantage you claim?
  • What indicators can measure how you’re putting your competitive advantage to work in action? Make sure to define what “winning” looks like and establish a baseline for how you and the competition are doing. Create metrics and rewards that support the new purpose. Is it a high win:loss ratio of winning new business? A company size or revenue growth rate? Is it share-of-voice in an industry or among a certain audience segment? Is it perhaps retention of ideal clients and high referral rates? Know what you want to achieve, know how the competition currently measures up, and revisit these measurements regularly.

Defend: evolving your competitive advantage

Remember: competitive advantage is temporary. It’s a moving target, and that’s why it’s so difficult for brands to achieve and maintain. It’s important to understand the natural lifecycle of every business and industry.

The business lifecycle

I’ll reference the typical product lifecycle here — another MBA classic — and stretch it a bit to fit my point about defending competitive advantage.

When a new brand emerges with a new product, service, audience, or competitive advantage, much of the effort and investment is spent raising awareness and amassing your first customers. Then you start to build up preference for your brand and increase your market share. Competition may be lower at this stage, and you’re getting some scale, growing your audience. Then your steep growth trajectory starts to level off. The competition sees that you’re onto a good thing and they start cutting into your piece of the pie. You may fight it by adding more features, or perhaps you lower your price.

In a typical business, this is the point where sales may even start to decline. You have a choice here. You can maintain your existing service and try to rejuvenate it. You can cut costs to stay competitive, though that cuts into your profit margin and makes it less worthwhile. Or perhaps you decide to get out of the game entirely because it’s not financially attractive anymore.

Or, you can find new ways to achieve competitive advantage. You could explore new areas of expansion, or even completely reinvent yourself to renew your competitiveness. The cycle starts again, and once again you become the one that others want to catch up to.

Fight or flight or evolve?

You can only fight off the competition for so long doing the same things. Fighting isn’t always the answer. At some point you may need to evolve, and there are a few ways you might do that.

  • You can explore new markets – are there under-served or untapped audiences you can reach?
  • You can expand new, closely related product lines or services
  • You can add new features or innovations to your existing service or product.
  • Similarly can also and enhance and elevate existing benefits
  • You can cut costs to produce or ship and find economies of scale, which drives price down, and makes your parity product more valuable relative to price.
  • Or you can go through mergers and acquisitions (join forces) or even divest certain pieces of the business (stop offering) to be able to focus on a new competitive advantage.

This is hardly an exhaustive list, just a few thought starters on what evolution might look like if you are at this stage of your career, or if your business is at this point in its natural lifecycle.

In order to create, keep and defend sustainable competitive advantage long-term, evolution is necessary. Keep rooting out the opportunity for renewed competitive advantage and master the art of reinvention. If you can adapt and transform, you can compete and survive.

Inside Influence: Ursula Ringham from SAP on Influencer Marketing Operations

Ursula Ringham SAP Interview

Ursula Ringham SAP Interview

Welcome to the 3rd episode of Inside Influence: What’s working and what’s not inside the world of B2B Influencer Marketing. Each week we feature an interview with a B2B marketing insider on all things influence and a deeper dive into the insights found in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

In this 3rd episode of Inside Influence you are in for a treat: A discussion with the force of nature and client of TopRank Marketing that is Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP.

Ursula leads the Global Influencer Marketing team at SAP in collaboration with the entire SAP product portfolio to create innovative content with trusted external voices to build brand awareness and create pipeline. She is also an accomplished storyteller, author, creator, influencer marketer, digital innovator, social media maven, champion of girls education, and self described “outdoor sports freak”.

Our Inside Influence conversation covered a variety of influencer marketing topics including:

  • The key components of influencer marketing operations
  • The importance and application of influencer marketing software
  • An influencer marketing case study featuring an SAP podcast
  • Advice for marketers that want the benefits of influencer engagement but are hesitant to commit
  • What B2B brands can expect if they hire an outside agency to help with influencer marketing
  • What B2B marketers should watch out for when working with influencers and influencer programs
  • Rising influencer stars in the B2B tech space

Here are a few highlights of our discussion with a video of our full interview below.

77% of all the world’s revenue transactions go through an SAP ERP system, so we’re probably the biggest company in the world that you use every day, but you don’t know anything about it.

Of course most people in the marketing world know you, but for those that don’t, can you share a bit about the work you do at SAP?

Ursula: Sure. I work at SAP and if people don’t know what that is, SAP is one of the largest enterprise software companies in the world. 77% of all the world’s revenue transactions go through an SAP ERP system, so we’re probably the biggest company in the world that you use every day, but you don’t know anything about it. What I do is I manage our global influencer marketing program where we collaborate with trusted voices that influence customer decisions. What we like to do is collaborate with them to tell the story of how SAP makes the world run better and improve people’s lives.

Your contribution to the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report on influencer marketing operations was really important because I think a lot of people don’t think about all the behind the scenes work that goes into an effective program. What are the key components of influencer marketing operations that marketers should know about? 

Ursula:The operations part of influencer marketing is so important. I think when you’re just starting with an influencer program, you’re just like, okay, where do I begin? You know there are people you need to research with a large social following, but that’s the wrong approach. You’d have to start with your strategy.

You also need some tools to help you. There are different influencer relationship management tools that you can use such as like Onalytica or Traackr which are more for the enterprise. These are also tools that are going to help you with tasks. For example, when we work with other teams at SAP, the very first thing we do is we have them fill out a form about the audience demographics, what success looks like, and the buyer persona.

The key thing is (Influencer Relationship Management) tools save you time and help you manage all your projects in one place.

We collect this information so we can find out who’s that person that you want to help tell the story with you? And that’s really, really important. When you use influencer relationship management tools, you can go in and plug all that data in. The tool will surf the whole web, bring everything back and populate a report for you showing matching influencers. Then you can look at who are these influencers? The key thing is the tools save you time and help you manage all your projects in one place.

Great. I suppose along with software, process comes into play and the whole operations thing too, right? As far as like best practices?

Ursula: Oh my gosh, there’s so many different best practices. But the one thing that I always tell my team is even if the tool brings up all these people, you need to read, watch and listen to every single asset that these influencers has come up with. That’s a best practice.

You really have to go and see what the influencer’s personality is like and how they present themselves.

You can’t just look and go, wow, this person meets the criteria on paper of what this team wanted. Maybe they wanted them to be located in North America and have a podcast. Or maybe they had 50,000 followers. But you really have to go and see what the influencer’s personality is like and how they present themselves.

Of course, now our world is all digital and about video. For that you have to see how they perform if you want them to be a host. The biggest practice is the process that I have: you have to watch, read and listen to everything out there.

The 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report includes a case study featuring your work with SAP in the form of a podcast. Creating a single resource to serve as a platform for different internal customers and different external audiences is impressive. What role did influencers play in the Tech Unknown podcast?

Ursula: Absolutely. We created this podcast called Tech Unknown. We actually just finished our second season. For the first season, it was basically an influencer talking to other influencers, live.

When you look at influencer marketing, you have to think, what is the story you’re going to tell?

For the second season, we wanted to create something different. And so we took inspiration from This American Life, a great podcast. We have a host that tells a story, which is the most important thing. When you look at influencer marketing, you have to think, what is the story you’re going to tell? It’s not just like, let’s do this campaign. You have to think about what is the overall story?

The podcast is a series and what we did was to identify an influencer who would be our host. So decided that would be Tamra McClary. She’s a great thought leader and influencer. The reason we chose her is she’s energetic, her voice, and how she introduces things is great. The audience can relate to her.

For the second season she was the host and our focus was on the topic of data. We looked at all different lines of business and how data affects different businesses out there. Then we would bring in other influencers to give their perspective as like thought leaders on that topic. So if it’s talking about HR data, we bring in an HR expert. And then we might have a customer involved in it or an SAP executive who could talk about the customer.

The whole thing was around thought leadership and the influencers played a critical role because they validated the story. They are that third party validation about what SAP is talking about as a challenge in the industry. The hope is that people realize, “Oh, SAP has a solution to my challenges. Let me go check that out.” That’s why it was so important that the podcast included influencers.

And I’ll have to tell you one thing that is absolutely incredible. We would create a summary blog post about the podcast that we publish on one of our website properties. The gal who manages this thought leadership area of sap.com knows SEO really well. If you typed into Google, “future of data”, out of 1.5 billion search results, our blog post came up number one. It’s a combination of working with the influencer who has the social media presence on the topic. Also, Tamera the host is out there and she’s promoting this blog summary that she wrote. She’s promoting the series and we’re getting the word out there using the right keywords and it all comes into play. It’s all full circle, right?

It’s a podcast, it’s a blog, it’s the influencers. It’s all working together to create this awareness that people are going to pay attention to and realize that SAP has a solution to their business needs.

So who are some B2B tech influencers that really stand out today? And are there any re rising stars you would like to mention also?

Ursula: Oh my gosh, there are several. One of the first people that comes to mind is Sally Eaves.

She’s someone that she’s been on the scene for quite some time, but the thing is, Sally is first of all, Sally. I don’t know where she gets that energy. She is 24/7 go, go, go. She’s doing so many things. She has a background being a CTO, but then she has a side of her that is about education, children and the environment and how technology is influencing society. She’s kind of like the whole package and she’s really good and knowledgeable and very charismatic. We’d love to do some work with her because she’s fantastic. She also has a British accent, which makes that fun for us Americans. She’s one of the top ones that I would recommend. I love following her stories, so definitely check her out.

To see the full Inside Influence interview with Ursula, check out the video below:

To connect with Ursula on all things marketing and influence, you can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

B2B Influencer Marketing Unleashed
Don’t miss Ursula and I as we present at the virtual Content Marketing World conference this week: Influencer Marketing Unleashed: Top Tactics for Success from Global B2B Brands. This is my 10th year in a row speaking at CMWorld and this presentation highlights the best of the best when it comes to information about B2B influencer marketing including:

  • Key trends based on the latest B2B influencer marketing research study
  • Use cases and case studies from Monday.com, Cherwell Software, LinkedIn, Adobe, Alcatel Lucent Enterprise and of course, SAP.
  • A framework for enterprise B2B influencer content campaigns

While the CMWorld conference is happening virtually this week, you can get access to presentations on demand as well. Check out the website.

Next up on Inside Influence is a conversation with Janine Wegner, Global Thought Leadership Program and Activation Manager at Dell Technologies.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence interviews:

Rani Mani, AdobeThe Value of B2B Influencer Marketing

Garnor Morantes, LinkedInThe Power of Always-On Influence

The post Inside Influence: Ursula Ringham from SAP on Influencer Marketing Operations appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

Inside Influence: Ursula Ringham from SAP on Influencer Marketing Operations

Ursula Ringham SAP Interview

Welcome to the 3rd episode of Inside Influence: What’s working and what’s not inside the world of B2B Influencer Marketing. Each week we feature an interview with a B2B marketing insider on all things influence and a deeper dive into the insights found in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report.

In this 3rd episode of Inside Influence you are in for a treat: A discussion with the force of nature and client of TopRank Marketing that is Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP.

Ursula leads the Global Influencer Marketing team at SAP in collaboration with the entire SAP product portfolio to create innovative content with trusted external voices to build brand awareness and create pipeline. She is also an accomplished storyteller, author, creator, influencer marketer, digital innovator, social media maven, champion of girls education, and self described “outdoor sports freak”.

Our Inside Influence conversation covered a variety of influencer marketing topics including:

  • The key components of influencer marketing operations
  • The importance and application of influencer marketing software
  • An influencer marketing case study featuring an SAP podcast
  • Advice for marketers that want the benefits of influencer engagement but are hesitant to commit
  • What B2B brands can expect if they hire an outside agency to help with influencer marketing
  • What B2B marketers should watch out for when working with influencers and influencer programs
  • Rising influencer stars in the B2B tech space

Here are a few highlights of our discussion with a video of our full interview below.

77% of all the world’s revenue transactions go through an SAP ERP system, so we’re probably the biggest company in the world that you use every day, but you don’t know anything about it.

Of course most people in the marketing world know you, but for those that don’t, can you share a bit about the work you do at SAP?

Ursula: Sure. I work at SAP and if people don’t know what that is, SAP is one of the largest enterprise software companies in the world. 77% of all the world’s revenue transactions go through an SAP ERP system, so we’re probably the biggest company in the world that you use every day, but you don’t know anything about it. What I do is I manage our global influencer marketing program where we collaborate with trusted voices that influence customer decisions. What we like to do is collaborate with them to tell the story of how SAP makes the world run better and improve people’s lives.

Your contribution to the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report on influencer marketing operations was really important because I think a lot of people don’t think about all the behind the scenes work that goes into an effective program. What are the key components of influencer marketing operations that marketers should know about? 

Ursula:The operations part of influencer marketing is so important. I think when you’re just starting with an influencer program, you’re just like, okay, where do I begin? You know there are people you need to research with a large social following, but that’s the wrong approach. You’d have to start with your strategy.

You also need some tools to help you. There are different influencer relationship management tools that you can use such as like Onalytica or Traackr which are more for the enterprise. These are also tools that are going to help you with tasks. For example, when we work with other teams at SAP, the very first thing we do is we have them fill out a form about the audience demographics, what success looks like, and the buyer persona.

The key thing is (Influencer Relationship Management) tools save you time and help you manage all your projects in one place.

We collect this information so we can find out who’s that person that you want to help tell the story with you? And that’s really, really important. When you use influencer relationship management tools, you can go in and plug all that data in. The tool will surf the whole web, bring everything back and populate a report for you showing matching influencers. Then you can look at who are these influencers? The key thing is the tools save you time and help you manage all your projects in one place.

Great. I suppose along with software, process comes into play and the whole operations thing too, right? As far as like best practices?

Ursula: Oh my gosh, there’s so many different best practices. But the one thing that I always tell my team is even if the tool brings up all these people, you need to read, watch and listen to every single asset that these influencers has come up with. That’s a best practice.

You really have to go and see what the influencer’s personality is like and how they present themselves.

You can’t just look and go, wow, this person meets the criteria on paper of what this team wanted. Maybe they wanted them to be located in North America and have a podcast. Or maybe they had 50,000 followers. But you really have to go and see what the influencer’s personality is like and how they present themselves.

Of course, now our world is all digital and about video. For that you have to see how they perform if you want them to be a host. The biggest practice is the process that I have: you have to watch, read and listen to everything out there.

The 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report includes a case study featuring your work with SAP in the form of a podcast. Creating a single resource to serve as a platform for different internal customers and different external audiences is impressive. What role did influencers play in the Tech Unknown podcast?

Ursula: Absolutely. We created this podcast called Tech Unknown. We actually just finished our second season. For the first season, it was basically an influencer talking to other influencers, live.

When you look at influencer marketing, you have to think, what is the story you’re going to tell?

For the second season, we wanted to create something different. And so we took inspiration from This American Life, a great podcast. We have a host that tells a story, which is the most important thing. When you look at influencer marketing, you have to think, what is the story you’re going to tell? It’s not just like, let’s do this campaign. You have to think about what is the overall story?

The podcast is a series and what we did was to identify an influencer who would be our host. So decided that would be Tamra McClary. She’s a great thought leader and influencer. The reason we chose her is she’s energetic, her voice, and how she introduces things is great. The audience can relate to her.

For the second season she was the host and our focus was on the topic of data. We looked at all different lines of business and how data affects different businesses out there. Then we would bring in other influencers to give their perspective as like thought leaders on that topic. So if it’s talking about HR data, we bring in an HR expert. And then we might have a customer involved in it or an SAP executive who could talk about the customer.

The whole thing was around thought leadership and the influencers played a critical role because they validated the story. They are that third party validation about what SAP is talking about as a challenge in the industry. The hope is that people realize, “Oh, SAP has a solution to my challenges. Let me go check that out.” That’s why it was so important that the podcast included influencers.

And I’ll have to tell you one thing that is absolutely incredible. We would create a summary blog post about the podcast that we publish on one of our website properties. The gal who manages this thought leadership area of sap.com knows SEO really well. If you typed into Google, “future of data”, out of 1.5 billion search results, our blog post came up number one. It’s a combination of working with the influencer who has the social media presence on the topic. Also, Tamera the host is out there and she’s promoting this blog summary that she wrote. She’s promoting the series and we’re getting the word out there using the right keywords and it all comes into play. It’s all full circle, right?

It’s a podcast, it’s a blog, it’s the influencers. It’s all working together to create this awareness that people are going to pay attention to and realize that SAP has a solution to their business needs.

So who are some B2B tech influencers that really stand out today? And are there any re rising stars you would like to mention also?

Ursula: Oh my gosh, there are several. One of the first people that comes to mind is Sally Eaves.

She’s someone that she’s been on the scene for quite some time, but the thing is, Sally is first of all, Sally. I don’t know where she gets that energy. She is 24/7 go, go, go. She’s doing so many things. She has a background being a CTO, but then she has a side of her that is about education, children and the environment and how technology is influencing society. She’s kind of like the whole package and she’s really good and knowledgeable and very charismatic. We’d love to do some work with her because she’s fantastic. She also has a British accent, which makes that fun for us Americans. She’s one of the top ones that I would recommend. I love following her stories, so definitely check her out.

To see the full Inside Influence interview with Ursula, check out the video below:

To connect with Ursula on all things marketing and influence, you can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

B2B Influencer Marketing Unleashed
Don’t miss Ursula and I as we present at the virtual Content Marketing World conference this week: Influencer Marketing Unleashed: Top Tactics for Success from Global B2B Brands. This is my 10th year in a row speaking at CMWorld and this presentation highlights the best of the best when it comes to information about B2B influencer marketing including:

  • Key trends based on the latest B2B influencer marketing research study
  • Use cases and case studies from Monday.com, Cherwell Software, LinkedIn, Adobe, Alcatel Lucent Enterprise and of course, SAP.
  • A framework for enterprise B2B influencer content campaigns

While the CMWorld conference is happening virtually this week, you can get access to presentations on demand as well. Check out the website.

Next up on Inside Influence is a conversation with Janine Wegner, Global Thought Leadership Program and Activation Manager at Dell Technologies.

Be sure to check out our previous Inside Influence interviews:

Rani Mani, AdobeThe Value of B2B Influencer Marketing

Garnor Morantes, LinkedInThe Power of Always-On Influence

How to Create a Useful and Well-Optimized FAQ Page

The golden rule of marketing has always been: Don’t leave your customer wondering, or you’ll lose them. This rule also applies very well to SEO: Unless Google can find an answer — and quickly — they’ll pick and feature your competitor.

One way to make sure that doesn’t happen is having a well set-up, well-optimized FAQ page. Your FAQ is the key to providing your customers and search engines with all the answers they might need about your brand.

Why create an FAQ page?

  • Decrease your customer support team’s workload. If you do it right, your FAQ page will be the first point of contact for your potential customers — before they need to contact you directly.
  • Shorten your customers’ buying journeys. If your site users can find all the answers without having to hear back from your team, they’ll buy right away.
  • Build trust signals. Covering your return policies, shipping processes, and being transparent with your site users will encourage them to put more trust into your brand. As always, if your site users trust your brand, so will Google.
  • Create a more effective sales funnel by including your business’s competitive advantages: What makes you better than your competitors?
  • Improve your site internal linking (meaningfully).
  • Capture more search visibility opportunities.

Feeling convinced? Then let’s move on from whys to hows.

Where to find questions to answer

I did a very detailed article on question research for Moz. It lists all kinds of tools — including SEO-driven (based on which question people type in Google’s search box) and People-Also-Ask-based (questions showing up in Google’s People Also Ask boxes) — that collect questions from online discussion boards, as well as tools that monitor Twitter and Reddit questions.

In addition, your customer support team is your most important resource. You need to know exactly what your customers are asking when they contact your company, and then use all the other sources to optimize those questions for organic rankings and expand your list where necessary.

Answers should be CCF (clear, concise, and factual)

(I have just made up this abbreviation, but it does a good job getting my point across.)

A good rule of thumb is to write short answers to each question — two to three paragraphs would make a good answer. If you go longer, the page will be too long and cluttered.

If you have more to say:

  • Write a standalone article explaining the process
  • Add a video

Creating a video to answer most of those questions is almost always a good idea. Videos make good promotional assets allowing your brand to be discovered on Youtube, as well as through Google’s video carousels.

And if video marketing seems too intimidating to you, there are quite a few tools that allow you to create videos on a budget without investing in expensive software (and training) or external services. I list some of those tools here.

Another video creation tool I discovered recently is called Renderforest. It offers some powerful explainer video templates that are perfect for answering questions.

Other ways to make answers shorter are:

  • Add intructural GIFs (I listed a few GIF creation tools here).
  • Create downloadable flowcharts and checklists (there are lots of online tools to put those together).

Overall, visuals have long been proven to improve engagement and make things easier to understand and remember, so why not use them on your FAQ page?

FAQ schema — use it!

Google loves featuring clear answers (which is also why creating a solid FAQ page is such a good idea). In fact, Google loves answers so much that there’s a separate schema type specifically for this content format: FAQPage schema.

By all means, use it. For WordPress users, there’s a WordPress plugin that helps markup content with FAQ schema.

It makes your FAQ page easier to understand for Google, and it helps your page stand out in search:

Quick tip: If you include an internal link inside your answer, it will populate in search results, too. More links in organic SERPs!

Internal linking: Use your FAQ as a sitemap

More links from your organic listing in search isn’t the only reason to link from your FAQ page. Your FAQ page is part of the customer journey, where each answer is an important step down the sales funnel. This is why adding internal links is key to ensuring that customer journey is continued.

But don’t think about these links from an SEO standpoint only. It’s not as important to create keyword-optimized link text here (although it’s still not a terrible idea — when it makes sense). The more important factor to think about here is user intent.

What is your site user likely to do next when they’re searching for a particular question?

If they have a question about your shipping costs, they’re probably close to buying, but need to know more about the final price. This is where you can brag about your awesome shipping partners and link straight to the product page (or list), as well as to the cart for them to complete the payment.

If they are asking how long shipping usually takes, they’re likely to be your current customer, so linking to your shipping info page would be more helpful.

Monitoring your FAQ page and user paths through it will give you more ideas on how to set up each answer better. More on this below.

If you need some inspiration on proper in-FAQ linking, check out Shopify, which does a pretty awesome job on matching various user intents via internal linking:

Structure is everything

There are web users who search and then there are those who browse.

Your FAQ page should accommodate both.

This means:

  • There should be search field suggestions to guide the user through the site effectively.
  • There should be clear categories (as subheads) for the page visitors to browse through and get a good idea of what your site does at a glance. This will help people who are still at the research phase make a buying decision faster.

PayPal accomplishes both of these in a very nice way:

To determine the best structure for the FAQ page, try Text Optimizer, which uses semantic analysis to come up with related questions. It makes catching some common keyword and question patterns easier:

When you have your FAQ content structure set up, create anchor links to allow users to quickly jump to the section they feel like browsing more. To see this on-page navigation in action, head to the Adobe FAQ page:

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to set up this kind of navigation.

Making your FAQ page work: integrate, analyze, monitor

A well set-up FAQ page addresses multiple types of user intent and helps at various steps in a sales funnel. This makes monitoring the page closely a very essential task.

Here are a few ways to accomplish it:

1. Monitor in-FAQ search

If your site runs on WordPress, there’s a variety of FAQ plugins (including this one) that come with advanced search functionality. The feature reports on:

  • Most popular searches, showing which product features or site sections cause the most confusion (these may signal some usability issues).
  • Empty searches, showing which users’ questions triggered no answers in your FAQ (these should go straight to your content team).

If you’re going with a no-plugin, custom solution, make sure to use Google Analytics to set up your in-FAQ search, which will allow you to monitor your site users’ searching patterns.

2. Track user paths through your FAQ page

Which pages (or off-site channels) tend to bring people to your FAQ page, and where do they usually go from there? These paths are important in understanding the role of the FAQ page in your sales funnel.

To track any page effectiveness in sending conversions, I tend to use Finteza, which allows you to create an unlimited number (unless I haven’t hit the limit yet) of sales funnels to monitor and compare different user paths through your site:

3. Monitor “People Also Ask” rankings

You’re most likely going to monitor this page traffic and its rankings anyway, but there’s one more thing to add here: “People Also Ask” positions.

As this page focuses on covering customers’ questions, Google’s “People Also Ask” positions are pretty indicative as to whether or not you’re doing a good job. SE Ranking is the only tool I’m aware of that can help you with that. It keeps track of most of Google’s search elements and reports your progress:

If you do things right, you’re likely to see your PPA positions growing.

4. Monitor customer feedback

Finally, collecting user feedback on every answer in your FAQ will help you create more helpful answers. Again, most pre-build FAQ solutions come with this option, but there are standalone plugins for it as well (like this one).

FAQ FAQs

There are a few common questions about building an FAQ page that keep floating the web (as well as Moz’s community forums). Let’s quickly address them here:

Is an FAQ section still a good idea?

Yes, by all means, but only if you take it seriously.

Should I employ “collapsible” answers to save space?

I don’t have any issues with this set-up (many brands choose to go this way), but SEOs believe that content hidden behind tabs or clicks holds less value than immediately-visible content.

Can I re-use select answers on other pages where these questions-and-answers make sense? Is this duplicate content?

It isn’t a “problematic” duplicate content issue (meaning Google will not penalize for that), but the best way to avoid duplicate content is to write new (original) answers for each page.

Should it be one page, or is it better to set up a multi-page knowledge base?

Depending on how much you have to say, either way is good.

Takeaways

  • Your FAQ page is an important step in the buying journey and a good organic search asset that can both bring and convert traffic.
  • To find answers to cover on your FAQ page, read our niche question research guide.
  • Create concise, factual answers that will provide immediate help or guidelines. Videos and animated GIFs always make the FAQ section more helpful.
  • Link from your FAQ page to accommodate different user intents and help your site users continue their journey through the site.
  • Structure your FAQ page in a meaningful way to give site users some clues as to what is covered.
  • Monitor your site user journeys through your FAQ page closely to improve and expand it.

Have more tips for optimizing your FAQ? Let me know in the comments section.

B2B Marketing News: Demand Gen Adapts, B2B Buyers Taking Longer, Microsoft Digital Marketing Center Beta

Gartner Hype Cycle AI

Gartner Hype Cycle AI

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Artificial Intelligence, 2020 – Chatbots are projected to see over a 100% increase in their adoption rates in the next two to five years and are the leading AI use cases in enterprises today. Forbes

Bing is now Microsoft Bing as the search engine gets a rebrand – Microsoft doesn’t go into detail about why it added the company’s name to the Bing brand, other than it reflecting “the continued integration of our search experiences across the Microsoft family. The Verge

68% of B2B buyers say the length of their purchase cycles has increased over last year – The COVID-19 pandemic has led many B2B firms to lengthen their purchase cycles and to expect more personalized attention from vendors, according to recent research from Demand Gen Report. MarketingProfs

How B2B Demand Generation Has Adapted. Despite the impact of COVID-19, budgets for demand generation are holding up more than B2B marketing as a whole. Fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) B2B marketers say that they expect their budgets for demand generation to decrease, whereas 3 in 10 (31%) say their overall marketing budgets will fall. MarketingCharts

2021 B2B Content Marketing: What Now? [New Research] – Find out what content marketers are thinking, doing, and not doing when it comes to content creation and distribution, metrics and goals, team structure and outsourcing, budgets and spending. Content Marketing Institute

Study: Comparing the data from 8 SEO tools – The numbers you’ll find don’t match up. SEO metric tools are for general trend analysis and competitor benchmarking, not on specific numbers. Search Engine Land

Snapchat is pitching high-frequency, high-reach ‘Platform Burst’ ad campaigns – The new offer is a media buy advertisers can use to ensure their campaigns reach a certain amount of people in the app frequently over three or five days, according to three agency execs who are considering it. Digiday

Always On Influencer Marketing Statistic

Nearly half of consumers will try new brands if the ad is relevant – Consumers are spending more time at home with online content, especially connected TV (CTV) and social media. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the average time interacting with online content has doubled globally. Marketing Dive

Video ads drive a 48% higher sales rate than static ads, study says – WARC forecasting an 18.3% global increase for e-commerce ads this year even as overall ad spending drops 8.1% Mobile Marketer

Facebook Announces Integration of Messenger and Instagram Direct, Adds New Messaging Features. When complete, WhatsApp will also join Facebook’s messaging integration upgrade. Social Media Today

Google, The Trade Desk, MediaMath, Amobee, Adobe and Adform Lead The Pack In Gartner’s 2020 Ad Tech Magic Quadrant – New entrants include Beeswax, Centro, Mediaocean and Zeta Global.  Ad Exchanger

Microsoft Digital Marketing Center is now available in open beta in the U.S Microsoft’s Digital Marketing Center for search and social management adds features, opens beta. The free platform is now open to U.S. small businesses. Search Engine Land

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Psychographics
“In trying to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time, it’s important for marketers to draw a line between cool and creepy.” by Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Home Depot’s Sold-Out Giant Halloween Skeletons Creep Into Brand’ Social Feeds – Budweiser, Slim Jim, Natty Light and others are getting into the Halloween spirit—but might just turn people green with envy. AdAge

TOPRANK MARKETING IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — What’s Trending: Getting Better All the Time — LinkedIn (client)
  • Lee Odden – The Norse God, Lee Odden on Fitness and B2B Influencer Marketing – CoronaRadio 8.18
  • Lee Odden – 365 Marketing Quotes to Keep You Fired Up All Year – Skyword

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

Thanks for taking the time to join us for the weekly B2B marketing news, and we hope you’ll return again next Friday for another look at the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news.

The post B2B Marketing News: Demand Gen Adapts, B2B Buyers Taking Longer, Microsoft Digital Marketing Center Beta appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

B2B Marketing News: Demand Gen Adapts, B2B Buyers Taking Longer, Microsoft Digital Marketing Center Beta

Gartner Hype Cycle AI

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Artificial Intelligence, 2020 – Chatbots are projected to see over a 100% increase in their adoption rates in the next two to five years and are the leading AI use cases in enterprises today. Forbes

Bing is now Microsoft Bing as the search engine gets a rebrand – Microsoft doesn’t go into detail about why it added the company’s name to the Bing brand, other than it reflecting “the continued integration of our search experiences across the Microsoft family. The Verge

68% of B2B buyers say the length of their purchase cycles has increased over last year – The COVID-19 pandemic has led many B2B firms to lengthen their purchase cycles and to expect more personalized attention from vendors, according to recent research from Demand Gen Report. MarketingProfs

How B2B Demand Generation Has Adapted. Despite the impact of COVID-19, budgets for demand generation are holding up more than B2B marketing as a whole. Fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) B2B marketers say that they expect their budgets for demand generation to decrease, whereas 3 in 10 (31%) say their overall marketing budgets will fall. MarketingCharts

2021 B2B Content Marketing: What Now? [New Research] – Find out what content marketers are thinking, doing, and not doing when it comes to content creation and distribution, metrics and goals, team structure and outsourcing, budgets and spending. Content Marketing Institute

Study: Comparing the data from 8 SEO tools – The numbers you’ll find don’t match up. SEO metric tools are for general trend analysis and competitor benchmarking, not on specific numbers. Search Engine Land

Snapchat is pitching high-frequency, high-reach ‘Platform Burst’ ad campaigns – The new offer is a media buy advertisers can use to ensure their campaigns reach a certain amount of people in the app frequently over three or five days, according to three agency execs who are considering it. Digiday

Always On Influencer Marketing Statistic

Nearly half of consumers will try new brands if the ad is relevant – Consumers are spending more time at home with online content, especially connected TV (CTV) and social media. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the average time interacting with online content has doubled globally. Marketing Dive

Video ads drive a 48% higher sales rate than static ads, study says – WARC forecasting an 18.3% global increase for e-commerce ads this year even as overall ad spending drops 8.1% Mobile Marketer

Facebook Announces Integration of Messenger and Instagram Direct, Adds New Messaging Features. When complete, WhatsApp will also join Facebook’s messaging integration upgrade. Social Media Today

Google, The Trade Desk, MediaMath, Amobee, Adobe and Adform Lead The Pack In Gartner’s 2020 Ad Tech Magic Quadrant – New entrants include Beeswax, Centro, Mediaocean and Zeta Global.  Ad Exchanger

Microsoft Digital Marketing Center is now available in open beta in the U.S Microsoft’s Digital Marketing Center for search and social management adds features, opens beta. The free platform is now open to U.S. small businesses. Search Engine Land

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Psychographics
“In trying to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time, it’s important for marketers to draw a line between cool and creepy.” by Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Home Depot’s Sold-Out Giant Halloween Skeletons Creep Into Brand’ Social Feeds – Budweiser, Slim Jim, Natty Light and others are getting into the Halloween spirit—but might just turn people green with envy. AdAge

TOPRANK MARKETING IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — What’s Trending: Getting Better All the Time — LinkedIn (client)
  • Lee Odden – The Norse God, Lee Odden on Fitness and B2B Influencer Marketing – CoronaRadio 8.18
  • Lee Odden – 365 Marketing Quotes to Keep You Fired Up All Year – Skyword

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

Thanks for taking the time to join us for the weekly B2B marketing news, and we hope you’ll return again next Friday for another look at the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news.

SEO Is Not an On/Off Switch — Whiteboard Friday

When business is struggling, budgets are tight, and resources limited, your company might be tempted to cut back or cut off SEO efforts to save time and money until things stabilize. But halting SEO altogether — even for a short time — is actually a bad idea, as it means more work for you and your business in the long run. 

Dr. Pete is here with a brand new Whiteboard Friday to tell you why SEO should not be treated like an on/off switch, and provide some suggestions on what to do instead. 

SEO is not an on/off switch

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

Video Transcription

Hey, everybody, Dr. Pete from Moz here. I want to welcome you to my first recording from Whiteboard Friday Studio Chicago, aka my basement. I want to thank the content team, first of all, for getting me set up with the equipment, but especially for their patience. I am not an AV guy, so this has taken a little while longer than I had hoped. You’ve already seen some remote Whiteboard Fridays from Russ and Britney and Cyrus, and they’re doing a great job. So hopefully we can have some fun, and now I know the ropes and can get this going a little easier. 

So I want to talk about a serious topic today. Obviously, we’re going through some tough times. Budgets can be tight, and when that happens, you’re tempted to scale back marketing. Obviously, we’re in the business of selling SEO tools, and we don’t want you to do that because that’s where our food comes from and the roofs over our heads. I’ll be transparent about that. But I do think there are some real dangers to treating SEO like it’s an on/off switch. So I want to talk about the reality of that, and what can happen, and some of what to do to mitigate that. 

You can’t do more with less

A friend reached out to me and she said, “My boss is worried about budgets, and he wants to cut back paid search, and he wants to cut back content, and cut back social, but get the same results. What do we do?” Before the pandemic, I might have laughed at that. But it’s a serious question and a serious situation, and the reality is there’s no magic to this. We can’t expect to do more with less.

It’s a nice thing to say. But especially when people are struggling, and when our workers are having problems, and they’re stressed, and their time is being taken up doing mundane things — like grocery shopping — that are three times harder now, we can’t expect them to do more with less, and we can’t expect to do nothing and get results. So what do we do, and how do we deal with this problem?

You can’t treat organic like paid



So first of all, I just want to say that I think sometimes we look at the situation like this. If we scale back marketing, we can just wait until times are better, and then we can push it back up. So we turn on our search marketing. We get the traffic and things are great. We shut it off. Okay, that sucks. We don’t get the traffic, but we’re not paying. Turn it back on and boom the traffic is back. 

That’s not how it works, not even close. 

This is more like how paid search works. I don’t want to oversimplify. I used to work in paid search. Obviously, you’re optimizing and improving and adding negative keywords and doing A/B testing and all these things to hopefully get better and better performance. But, generally speaking, one of the advantages of paid search is that when you turn it on, the leads come. You get traffic right away that day. When you turn it off, you get nothing. The money is not there. You don’t get the leads. Okay, that’s rough, but you expect that, right? But you turn it back on, the leads come back that day. So this is the double-edged sword in a sense. It’s not that one is better than the other, but this is how paid search works. It’s a machine that you can flip off and on. 

That’s not how organic works. Organic does take time. So what happens is you turn it on, and you see this gradual ramp-up. Finally, it starts to peak and level off, and then you turn it off. Let’s say budgets are tight.

Okay, I understand that you’re not producing new content and you’re not optimizing. It’s not a thing you can just turn off frankly. But you still see positive results. You still see that traffic until this starts to trail off over time. Now that’s a good thing about SEO. It doesn’t immediately turn off. You still continue to get that traffic.

But the problem with SEO is when you turn it back on and when the money comes back, you’re going to have to go through this ramp-up again. The curve may be different shapes, and it may not go all the way down and it may not go back to where it was. But it’s going to take time. There’s going to be a lag, and it could be weeks or it could be months. So I think we make two mistakes. One we’ve already discussed.

One is number two ironically, that this is going to take time to come back. So if you count on just turning the switch back on and things recovering, you’re going to be disappointed, right? That’s going to take time. So it’s not just a situation of a pandemic. Let’s say you close down for remodeling or let’s say you had some kind of flooding or some kind of damage or something you needed to do to shut down for a month or two.

You can’t expect that, when you turn things back on, it will immediately come back. So you may have to get ahead of that. You may have to start spending again before things pick up. I know that’s a difficult thing, but you have to anticipate this lag. You have to be realistic about that. The other problem, though, is I think sometimes we hit this point, and we shut off our efforts.

We cut down content production. We don’t optimize. We switch agencies, whatever we do. We don’t see an immediate drop, and so we start to say maybe this isn’t really working. I think it’s a bit like exercise. I have this habit certainly over the years. You get motivated.

You do really well for a few weeks or a couple of months. You’re feeling good, and you start to plateau. You get a little frustrated, and then you stop. For a while, you still feel good, right? You have these dividends. That’s how it works, and that’s how organic search works. So you think, well, maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Maybe it wasn’t really helping me. Until two or three or six months later, when you realize how much worse you feel. Then by then, to start back up again takes effort, right? You don’t feel good when you start exercising again after that six weeks of sitting around. So it takes a couple of months to get back to where you were. So I don’t want you to go through that, and I want you to be a bit careful about that.

What you can do

So what can we do? By the way, I have no artistic skills. This is from my 10-year-old daughter. Any drawings you see on my Whiteboard Fridays will be probably from her. So thank you, Jordan. So a couple suggestions I have that are general.

1. Have a pulse

First of all, and I mean this quite literally, you need to continue to have a pulse.

If you shut down your business or your marketing, you may just think, “Well, okay, we’re going to get less leads. We’re going to get less of a good thing, but nothing bad is going to happen”. 

But the problem is this may be the only place people see you, and this may be where they come looking for you. So if you disappear, and especially in an environment like the pandemic where businesses are going under, people may look at that and say, “Oh, I guess they’re not around anymore. I guess they’re gone.”

They might not come back. They might not come looking for you again. I think there’s a very real danger of that, especially for small local businesses. So you want to make sure that your presence at least continues to exist. You have that pulse. 

It doesn’t have to be as frequent — you don’t have to do as much work, you don’t have to put out as much content, you don’t have to be as active on social — but I think you have to at least show people that you’re still alive and kicking so that they know to come back when things improve. Otherwise, they might just forget and go somewhere else. 

2. Tell your story

I think it’s okay, especially during times like this — and really any time that something is kind of going wrong — if you’re remodeling, you’re going to be closed for a couple months. That’s a real negative thing that’s hard. It’s okay to be personal. It’s okay to tell some of that story. 

My kids’ orthodontist, they’re a family-owned business locally here. They were really great when they were closed. They were closed for a couple of months, about two or three months. They were as responsible as I think they could be about it. They communicated their plans, but they talked to us. They sent emails. They told us about their story. They told us about being a family-owned business and why this was hard and why they thought it was the right thing to do. So when they reopened, there was a real trust there, and I was willing to send my oldest back and get her checked out and get the normal stuff done, that I might not have been if I wasn’t sure what was going on.

But I knew their procedures. I knew their story. I empathized with them, and I think that was a big deal. That’s something you should do. It’s okay to tell that, “Hey, this is hard. This is what’s going on. Here’s what’s going on with us. We hope you come back. We’re still here.”

3. Try new things

Then I think this is an interesting time to try new things. And maybe that sounds counterintuitive because when you have less money, trying something new seems like a bad idea.

But it’s okay to try new things. Maybe not as well as you normally would have. Ironically, this is a problem we’ve had with Whiteboard Friday. I’ve been remote my whole time at Moz, and so I’ve had to fly to Seattle to do recordings. So you see very few Whiteboard Fridays from me. There’s a handful over the years and one that gets repeated a bit. Because we have a studio there, we were afraid that the quality might not be as good.

It might not be up to par. It might hurt our brand, honestly. But when the pandemic came, we said, “Hey, you know what? Now we have no choice. The studio is closed. We can’t go into the office for a while.” Actually, currently we’re moving the office, so again we’re delayed. So it opened up this opportunity to try something new, try something different. Even with equipment, it costs less than one of us flying out there and staying for a few days one time.

So it made sense, and we realized that during this time people were going to naturally be forgiving. If we could get to 70% or 80% quality and improve back up over time, it was going to be okay. So I encourage you to do that. Try some formats you might not have tried before. Try some video. Use some basic equipment. We did home recordings for MozCon this year.

It was great. We had some basic equipment, Logitech web cam, a clip-on USB mic, much less sophisticated than what I’m using right now, a couple of ring lights. Maybe 200 bucks’ worth of equipment and a backdrop that really I thought looked great. It was really professional once we got used to it. Try podcasting.

Try something you haven’t tried before. Don’t worry about it being perfect, because I think this is a time that people will be okay with that. You can try some new things and hopefully come out stronger and come out with a new thing and resume what you were doing and maybe be ahead of where you were. So again, I just don’t want you to think that if you turn this thing off, you can flip it back on.

Be realistic. Don’t disappear. Try something new. Tell people what you’re going through. Be human. I hope you all get through this okay and that things are going all right. It’s great to see you. Thank you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com