New Features and Sneaky Techniques to Boost B2B Marketing Engagement on LinkedIn

B2B Marketing Engagement LinkedIn

For B2B brands, this is an opportune time to be focusing on LinkedIn for marketing. But doing so in the right way is paramount, because it is very easy to get it wrong. (And so many marketers do.)

The social media platform’s strengths as a B2B marketing channel are undeniable:

  • More than 700 million professionals from around the globe, all with rich profile data including locations, job titles, seniority and more. Not only do members share these details openly, but they are motivated to keep them updated and accurate, for purposes of career development and professional identity.
  • Ability to easily surface mutual connections and opportunities for personal introductions, via 1st-degree, 2nd-degree, and 3rd-degree connections.
  • A variety of messaging, publishing, and advertising tools to reach highly targeted professional audiences in an inviting context and trusted environment.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog recently about the vital importance of driving deeper engagement with your audience at this moment in time, through things like B2B content marketing, influential thought leadership, and empathetic messaging. Engagement should always be a priority, of course, but right now — especially for those companies that might be seeing a reduction in revenue due to the pandemic’s impact — building relationships with long-term upside is an essential marketing prerogative.

LinkedIn can be an ideal place to identify, connect with, and establish rapport with individuals who are or will be valuable to your business. At TopRank Marketing, we’ve had the privilege of calling LinkedIn Marketing Solutions a client for many years now, so naturally we keep a close eye on their new product offerings and their evolving best practices.

LinkedIn can be an ideal place to identify, connect with and establish rapport with individuals who are valuable to your business in the short-term or long-term. @NickNelsonMN #B2Bmarketing Click To Tweet

As such, we thought we’d highlight some new tools you might find useful, along with some tactics and techniques you might not have considered to increase engagement and bolster your brand’s presence on the platform.

What’s New on LinkedIn for B2B Marketers?

These aren’t all brand new, but they are relatively new and offer a lot of promise in the current marketing landscape.

LinkedIn Live and LinkedIn Events

At a time where in-person meetings are being cancelled and postponed, live-streaming and virtual events are quickly emerging as key opportunities to stay connected with audiences in a personal and interactive way. LinkedIn Live offers a way to stream live video through the platform, and you can use it in combination with LinkedIn Events to bring your community together.

Our friend and client from LinkedIn (and past Break Free B2B guest!) Judy Tian recently shined a light on five examples of brands and individuals driving strong engagement with LinkedIn Live.

Conversation Ads

It’s long been possible to reach prospects through InMail and Message Ads on LinkedIn, but Conversation Ads help turn these engagements into automated two-way interactions with more value for the user and more actionable insight for the advertiser. In short, you can create multiple pathways for each experience based on which response a member chooses, to better understand their needs and intent, and to guide them toward the right offer or content.

Carousel Ads

This feature has been available to advertisers for a while, first launching in 2018, but it’s a good option to consider if you haven’t yet. Carousel Ads enable brands to create a swipeable series of cards (images, text, CTA), providing an opportunity for visual storytelling that brings users through a cohesive journey. The team at TopRank Marketing saw this format’s potential first-hand when we helped our clients at Prophix develop and execute a Finance Career Accelerator campaign, which exceeded organic carousel click-through benchmarks by 63x and was recognized by LinkedIn as one of their favorite B2B campaigns of 2019.

New LinkedIn Pages Features

The LinkedIn Page is one of the most underrated marketing assets in a brand’s arsenal. It is your company’s hub on the platform, ranks highly in search results, and can be built out to give visitors a deep and compelling view of what your organization is about. It’s also mostly a free tool. I highly recommend checking out the LinkedIn Pages Best Practices to ensure yours is complete and optimized. Then, take advantage of new capabilities such as “Invite to Follow” and “Post as a Page” to increase your following and visibility.

Tips for Increasing B2B Engagement on LinkedIn

Now that we’ve covered some of the newer features and capabilities available to marketers on LinkedIn, let’s dig into some methods for maximizing your engagement, growing your audience, and driving business results on the platform.

Lower your gaze from the C-suite. 

One of the most appealing aspects of LinkedIn as a marketing platform is that you can easily identify executives and top decision makers, which is of course highly valuable for B2B marketers. Follow these individuals to get a bead on what’s important to them, and engage them when it makes sense.

With that said, C-level execs and high-ranking figures in an organization are inherently very busy, and likely already facing an over saturation of marketing/sales outreach. So I recommend zeroing in with awareness campaigns on those younger up-and-comers in the business. Not only do these individual contributors often have influence on purchase decisions as members of buying committees, but they tend to move up into more pivotal roles over time, meaning the relationships and familiarity you establish now will grow all the more valuable later on.

Emphasize empathy in your messaging.

As a professionally-oriented social network, LinkedIn has more than its share of stuffy business content. Differentiate yourself by striking a human tone and talking to people, not companies. Search for the intersection of your target audience’s personal and professional interests and pursuits. Encourage your company leaders to be active on LinkedIn, sharing authentic stories and advice.

Lean into organic features and tools.

There’s no way around it: LinkedIn is a relatively expensive place to advertise. Many brands find the higher price point to be worthwhile, given the demonstrable quality of the audiences they’re reaching, but organizations facing budget constraints may find themselves limited nonetheless.

That’s okay, because there are a lot of productive ways to promote your brand organically on LinkedIn. The simplest and most effective step you can take is following the aforementioned best practices to optimize your LinkedIn Page. From there…

  • Regularly share content from it that is relevant to the people you wish to engage.
  • Use hashtags to join conversations pertaining to your business and its purpose.
  • Invite feedback and respond to comments on your posts.
  • Include videos and images to stand out on the feed.
  • Join and start topically focused LinkedIn Groups to foster community.

None of these activities cost money, but they can deliver a significant payoff.

Facing budget constraints? That’s OK, because there are a lot of ways to promote your brand organically on LinkedIn. @NickNelsonMN #B2Bmarketing #LinkedIn Click To Tweet

Use LinkedIn data strategically.

Marketers can gain a lot of insight from LinkedIn that they can’t find elsewhere. When you consult your LinkedIn Page Analytics you can obtain an aggregated view of who’s visiting and interacting with your content — industries, locations, job titles, etc. You can also use the Website Demographics tool to gain these same insights around your website visitors. Leverage these learnings to direct and refine your broader content strategy.

For data-driven marketers, LinkedIn holds a world of possibilities to better understand and connect with your audience.

Rethink Your LinkedIn Strategy and Reap the Rewards

If your company’s approach to LinkedIn has been an autopilot — or worse yet, still taxiing on the runway — the time is right to buckle down and take advantage of the many opportunities afforded to B2B marketers by the world’s largest professional social network.

Looking to further explore the platform’s capabilities? Last year we dug into five under-the-radar LinkedIn features that can give you a leg up.

20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands

B2B influencer marketing pros from top brands

Recently we published the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report after surveying hundreds of B2B marketers about their experiences, best practices, tools, budgets and plans for the future.

In an environment where B2B marketing is decidedly digital and marketers are hard pressed to squeeze more productivity out of fewer resources, credible information about marketing best practices, operations and trends for the future are in high demand. Judging by the response we’ve had to The State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report so far, we’re definitely meeting a need.

There is both optimism and an unrealized opportunity with influencer marketing for B2B companies. For evidence, check out these stats from the report:

  • 78% of B2B marketers believe prospects rely on advice from influencers
  • 74% believe that Influencer Marketing improves customer and prospect experiences
  • 63% agree that marketing would have better results if it included an Influencer Marketing program
  • 60% of marketers who use always on Influencer Marketing programs are very successful vs. 5% who do periodic campaigns

And yet:

  • Only 19% of B2B marketers are running ongoing influencer marketing programs
  • Only half include a plan for influencer activation in their influencer marketing strategy
  • Only 35% of marketers use software to identify potential influencers
  • 60% say they don’t have the knowledge to execute or have the right skills in house to implement ongoing Influencer Marketing programs

Influencer Marketing is a significant opportunity for B2B Marketers to connect with trusted and credible experts that have the attention of audiences that are probably overwhelmed with information and ignoring most of the ads that do get to them. At the same time B2B brands that build relationships to co-create content with these industry voices can integrate influence with thought leadership to build the authority and influence of brand employees.

It is very satisfying to have spent the past 8 years focusing on such a niche aspect of B2B marketing to see it now start to grow in acceptance, adoption and maturity amongst some of the top B2B brands in the world.  Where there were previously no positions outside of PR with “influencer” in the title, now it is much more common to find marketers with titles like, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, VP Influencer Marketing and Communications, or B2B Influencer Engagement Strategist.

Many B2B marketing professionals with these titles have earned hard won insights into what makes influencer marketing truly work for B2B, especially during a time when brand marketers are highly motivated to focus on strategies and tactics that will help them survive and thrive during the pandemic.

To help you connect with the collective wisdom of the B2B influencer marketing crowd, here are 20 B2B Influencer Marketing Professionals to follow (in no particular order):

Ursula Ringham
Ursula Ringham
@ursularingham
Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP

Rani Mani
Rani Mani
@ranimani0707
Head of Social Influencer Enablement at Adobe

Jen Holtvluwer
Jen Holtvluwer
@JenHoltvluwer
CMO at Spirion

Garnor Morantes
Garnor Morantes
/in/garnormorantes/
Group Marketing Manager at LinkedIn

Martin Hanna
Martin Hanna
@martyhanna
VP, Analyst and Influencer Relations at Schneider Electric

Amisha Gandhi
Amisha Gandhi
@AmishaGandhi
VP Influencer Marketing and Communications at SAP Ariba

Chris Purcell
Chris Purcell
@chrispman01
Manager, Influencer Marketing at Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Janine Wegner
Janine Wegner
@JanineWegner
Global Thought Leadership Program & Activation Manager at Dell

Marshall Kirkpatrick
Marshall Kirkpatrick
@marshallk
VP, Influencer Relations, Analyst Relations, and Competitive Intelligence at Sprinklr

Angela Lipscomb
Angela Lipscomb
@AngelaLipscomb
Influencer Relations Manager at SAS

Srijana Angdembey
Srijana Angdembey
@srijanaa
Director Social Media Marketing at Oracle

Ann Boyd
Ann Boyd
@annb
VP Corporate Communications at Cherwell Software

Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor
@RtMixMktg
Global Head of Marketing at Arm Treasure Data

Sarah Groves
Sarah Groves
@sstoesser
Director, Communications, AT&T Business Marketing at AT&T Business

Alyssa Samuelson
Alyssa Samuelson
@alyssamuelson
Commercial Influencer Relations at Microsoft

Lucinda Henry
Lucinda Henry
@lucindarhenry1
B2B Influencer Engagement Strategist at Intel

Barbara French
Barbara French
@bfr3nch
Sr Director, Content and Influencer Marketing at Juniper Networks

Paul Dobson
Paul Dobson
@svengelsk
Sr. Director, Social and Influencer Marketing at Citrix

Meg Crawford
Meg Crawford
@Postgrad
Sr. Influencer/Social Media Marketing Manager at Splunk

Brandi Boatner
Brandi Boatner @ThinkBluePR
Social and Influencer Communications Lead Global Markets at IBM

Of course there are many B2B influencer marketing practitioners from the consulting and agency world that could be on a list like this, including some of my team at TopRank Marketing. Maybe we’ll publish such a list in the future, but for now this resource is focused on people working at B2B brands.

If you know of other B2B brand influencer marketing practitioners, who would you add to this list?

To tap into the collective wisdom of these and more B2B influencer marketing experts, be sure to check out the full report here.

B2B Influencer Marketing Report 2020

*SAP, LinkedIn, SAP Ariba, Dell, Cherwell and Treasure Data are TopRank Marketing clients. 

Boosting and Deepening Engagement through Empathy in B2B Marketing

Business Professional Taking Notes Intently

Empathy is more than a buzzword. It’s not a box to be checked, or an added finishing touch for content. If B2B marketers want to successfully engage human audiences and break free from the deluge of irrelevant messages swirling around today’s customers, empathy needs to be at the center of all strategic initiatives from start to finish.

What Does Empathy Mean in B2B Marketing?

Empathy is defined simply as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. But I’m not sure that characterization fully does it justice in the context of modern marketing.

I rather like the way Zen Media CEO Shama Hyder described empathy in the better creative teamwork guide we helped our clients at monday.com put together:

“Empathy is critical. It’s much more than just having an understanding of what someone else’s challenges might be. Part of it is that you have to give up being a control freak. As leaders, we should really look at the big picture and ask ourselves, is this necessary? Or is this just politicking, or someone trying to make it seem like it has to be done this way because it’s the way they prefer?”

Shama was speaking from the perspective of a business leader trying to get on the same page as their team, but it applies just as well to marketing endeavors. The critical first step in developing empathy is disconnecting from our own ingrained perceptions and assumptions. Only then can we truly understand and support the audiences we want to reach.

Too often, empathy in marketing tends to be a bit narrow and self-centered (which is contradictory to the very concept itself). We often seek to understand only the challenges and pain points that drive interest in what we’re selling. Looking beyond this scope is necessary to build strong relationships founded on trust, especially now.

“What you are creating, marketing and ultimately selling is but one piece of your customer’s life as a human on Earth. One very small piece,” said Mary Beech, principal at MRB Brand Consulting and former CMO of Kate Spade, in an AMA article on empathy in marketing. “And if we aren’t keeping in mind their full journey, including their emotional, mental, social and physical needs — as well as the challenges and joys they are facing — we cannot do our jobs well.”

As Brian Solis wrote at Forbes recently, the need for empathetic customer experiences is greater than ever in the age of COVID-19 disruption. People have so much going on in their lives, and are facing so many unprecedented difficulties, that a myopic brand-centric focus is all the more untenable. “Traditional marketing will no longer have the same effect moving forward,” he argues. “If anything, it will negatively affect customer relationships rather than enhance them.”

Agreed. So, let’s find a better way.

Engaging with True Empathy in the New Era of Marketing

Imagine if it was possible to sit down and have an in-depth conversation with each one of your customers and potential customers. You’d gain first-hand insight into their worldviews, their challenges, their hopes and dreams.

Sadly, it’s not possible. You don’t have the time, nor do your customers. (Although I do recommend making a habit of engaging in direct, candid conversations with them when possible.) To make empathy scalable, marketers need to take advantage of all the tools at their disposal. This largely requires using data to connect the dots.

“It’s critical for marketers to have a real-time 360 view and understanding of a customer’s full journey, at every stage, from discovery to engagement to retention and loyalty to advocacy,” Solis wrote at Forbes.

Here are some suggestions for obtaining such a view:

Use empathy-mapping. This practice, explained in a helpful primer from Nielsen Norman Group, involves creating a visualization of attitudes and behaviors to guide decision-making. Empathy-mapping originated in the world of UX design, but given how much user experience and customer experience now overlap, it’s becoming a powerful tool for marketers.

Empathy Map

(Source: Nielsen Norman Group)

Coordinate and integrate your organizational efforts. Every customer-facing function in a company — marketing, sales, customer service — sees the customer from a different perspective. Seek ways to bring all these perspectives together into one centralized, holistic view. Per Solis: “Cross-functional collaboration is a mandate. As such, integration will become the new standard and will quickly become table stakes as every company rushes in this direction.”

Tap into meaningful influencer relationships. Influencers can play a key role in empathetic marketing because they have relationships and perspectives extending beyond our brand ecosystems. If they align with your audience, influencers can bring unique insight and connect at deeper levels. Turning influencer engagements from mechanical to meaningful is essential to accomplishing this.

Incidentally, Mr. Solis recently partnered with TopRank Marketing on the first-ever State of B2B Influencer Marketing report, in which our friend Ann Handley summarizes the impact quite well: “You could call yourself a good parent or a world-class marketer or an empathetic friend … but any of those things would carry more weight coming from your child, customer, or BFF. So it is with integrating influencer content: It’s a direct line to building trust and customer confidence.”

Research and engage with topics that matter to your customers outside of their jobs. Given the connotations of B2B, it’s all too easy to isolate our customer research around what they do professionally. But these are human beings with lives outside of work. To drive powerful engagement, marketers should search for the cross-sections between their brand’s purpose and values, and what matters to their customers.

A good example of this is found in the IBM THINK Blog, which is “dedicated to chronicling the fast-moving world of cognitive computing” and covers many important societal topics. (Recent focuses include a post on gender pronouns and a corporate environmental report.)

Examples of Empathetic B2B Marketing

Who’s getting it right and paving the way for a more empathy-driven approach to engaging B2B audiences? Here are a few examples:

Seeing human faces brings an instantly relatable element to any B2B campaign. That’s why Microsoft’s Story Labs microsite, which frames some of the company’s initiatives and guiding principles around real people and their stories, is so effective.

Microsoft Story Labs

Let Empathy Guide Your B2B Marketing Strategy

In order to walk in someone else’s shoes, you first need to untie and remove your own. Making empathy a core strategic pillar requires marketers to take a step back, disconnect from their ingrained perceptions and assumptions, and get fully in tune with the people they serve.

Only then can we create the type of relevant and personalized experiences that drive deep and long-lasting brand engagement.

For more tips that will help your business-oriented content strike notes of genuine empathy, read Josh Nite’s blog post on 5 Ways to Humanize B2B Marketing.

5 Unheralded SEO Tools for Content Marketers

Smiling businesswoman at computer image.

Are you using the latest search engine optimization (SEO) tools to help with your content marketing efforts?

Don’t worry, as we’ve got you covered with a look at some of the most helpful SEO tools to help you refine and augment your content marketing plans.

Sorting through lists of the seemingly endless number of available SEO tools can be frustrating as well as a hit and miss proposition, however we’ve put this collection together so that you can skip the search and get right into SEO tools you can use today to help you create amazing content marketing stories.

Let’s jump in with our collection of fresh SEO tools to boost your content marketing experiences.

1 — Google Lighthouse

Google Lighthouse

Google’s own Lighthouse tool — an open-source project — offers a simple way to check a number of basic SEO-related issues that every website should consider. Among its auditing functions are tools specifically focusing on performance, SEO, accessibility, and progressive web apps, and it’s also capable of examining webpages requiring authentication.

The tool can be run standalone, from the web, in Google’s Chrome DevTools, or incorporated into continuous integration systems, and its Lighthouse Viewer allows viewing and sharing of analysis data online.

2 — Botify SEO Platform

Botify

There are numerous powerful SEO platforms that each look to be as close to a one-stop-shop as possible for marketers and brands to gain reliable and relevant search insight, and squarely in this category is enterprise SEO suite company Botify.

Botify offers a vast array of SEO analysis, data crawling intelligence and indexing metrics tools, all while working to make this complex information both easy to understand and act on, as Google’s Martin Splitt recently touched on in a live video conversation.

3 — Bing URL Submissions Plugin for WordPress

Bing

B2B marketers in WordPress environments recently got access to an open-source plug-in from Bing Webmaster Tools, automating the submission of new site content to the Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

Bing URL Submissions Plugin in a feature-rich plug-in that can also be customized via Bing’s API for incorporation into other content management systems.

4 — Schema.org

Schema

Google and other search engine firms prefer that businesses use schema markup for structured data in the format set forth and maintained by the Schema.org organization, which is especially important today as features including Google’s Knowledge Graphs rely in part on this simple yet often-overlooked element, as Michal Pecánek recently examined for Ahrefs.

5 — WebPagetest

WebPagetest

Another free tool frequently used by savvy search industry professionals is WebPagetest, allowing webmasters and technically-proficient marketers to run a variety of tests including content type breakdowns, page speed data and others providing helpful information.

The data from WebPagetest can be used to troubleshoot website slowness issues, as Barry Schwartz recently outlined in “Google: How To Diagnose Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) Slowness.”

Smart SEO Tools To Make You A Knowledge Builder

via GIPHY

We hope you’ve found at least a few new-to-you SEO content marketing tools among those we’ve taken a look at here, and that you’ll find them useful as you create new campaigns that are using the soundest practices of SEO, and that they’ll also help build your own team’s knowledge.

We have a multi-year history of highlighting helpful marketing tools, and here are a few of the other most recent articles we’ve published on the subject:

How B2B Marketers Can Get the Most Out of Webinars in 2020

Businesspeople with Screens as Heads Image.

There has to be a word for the creeping dread B2B marketers have been feeling this year, preferably something German with a ton of umlauts.

As we watched events in the spring cancel, postpone, or go virtual, we held out hope that summer would be different. Then July’s events moved out. Now it’s looking like the type of large-scale events B2B marketers depend on will have to wait until 2021… at the earliest.

But we don’t have to despair! We can close the gap with virtual events. The speaking gig at an industry conference can become a webinar, as can a planned panel discussion or product demonstration. 

The good news is plenty of people have more spare time than before to watch your webinar.

The bad news is that everyone who makes webinars has time on their hands, too. So, your webinar has to have a little extra oomph to stand out in the crowd. 

Here’s how you can level up your webinar creation and promotion.

How to Get the Most from Your B2B Webinar

It’s no longer enough to put up a slide deck and talk through bullet points. These tips will help you make a more compelling webinar — and make sure that people attend it.

Start with Content Research

No marketer worth their salt would make a blog post without doing content research. Why should your webinar be different? 

To determine the best subject matter for your webinar, bring all of your research tools to bear:

  • SEO research via SEMRush and Google Analytics
  • Question research via BuzzSumo and AnswerthePublic
  • Prospect feedback from your sales team
  • Competitor content evaluation

All of these resources will help you home in on the topics that your audience most wants to hear about. Your research might even drive what type of webinar you create: If your audience needs how-to advice, you might do a live demonstration. If they’re looking for thought leadership, you might partner with influencers. Speaking of the latter…

Reach Out to Influencers

In case you missed the headline yesterday, B2B Influencer Marketing is kind of a big deal. There’s no greater boost to your credibility (and your potential audience) than adding industry thought leaders to your webinar. 

Look for people who are influential with your audience — those who are regularly producing content and engaging with anyone who posts a comment. They don’t have to have Taylor Swift-level follower counts to make a difference. They just have to be able to get a relevant audience’s attention and hold it.

Also, it’s not enough to just have someone appear with you on camera, though — it’s important to ask meaningful questions that will enable a substantive discussion. Keep your content research in mind as you plan the interview.

Create a Landing Page & Promote

Give your audience plenty of time to prepare for your webinar. We recommend starting outreach at least two weeks beforehand, and up to a month if you can swing it. 

Create a short landing page to collect sign-ups — include a few key points you plan to cover, and introduce yourself and your guests. You can promote the landing page via social media — image-led social works well — and blog content that builds anticipation for your topic.

Don’t forget to include the webinar in your newsletter, and to enlist your influencers to drive pre-registration.

One great way to promote the webinar, and focus your content at the same time, is to poll your audience via social media. Ask for their thoughts on your topic. Ask what they most want to know about it. Ask what they would like to ask your thought leader guest. These posts can help drive registration while also making sure the content will be more relevant to the audience.

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

Change Up the Format

The Q&A, the panel discussion, the lecture — there are a few tried-and-true formats for webinars. But as the market gets flooded with content, we need to be more creative. For example, what about a working session instead of a discussion, where your panel collaboratively creates something? Or what about spicing up an interview with interstitial, pre-produced video content? 

You could even host the webinar on a platform like LinkedIn Live (while recording it for later publication, of course) and interact in real time with the audience. Just make sure to have a moderator to help keep the questions flowing smoothly.

Plan and Practice, But Be Flexible

It’s always a good idea to run through your entire webinar a few times before you go live. If you’re doing a lecture or presentation format, that means practicing all the content you plan to put across. For a panel discussion or interview, you may not be able to do a full run-through with your influencer, but you can still test the technology you will be using.

Don’t let your practicing and planning make your presentation too rigid, though. You should be able to follow an interesting conversational thread in your interview, or incorporate an audience comment in your presentation, without the whole thing going off the rails.

Of course, it’s always going to be tricky to run a live presentation, especially if you or your guests don’t do this type of presenting for a living. It can be challenging to think on your feet, come across as engaging, and keep a conversation focused and interesting to your audience.

Which is why I’m going to court controversy and say…

You Don’t Have to Be Live

As we think about changing up the format and offering a higher-quality experience to the audience, it may be time to let go of the idea that webinars have to be live. 

After all, editing is the gift that you give to your audience. You wouldn’t write a blog post in real time with a hundred people watching. You wouldn’t record a podcast episode and publish the raw audio. So why not pre-record and edit your webinar?

It’s true there is an immediacy to a live presentation that would be lost with a pre-recorded one. But the boost in quality for the audience could cover that loss. And you can still have an interactive experience with the audience through chat. You could even play the pre-recorded portion first, then hop on the video stream live for an audience Q&A.

There’s an enormous gap between the standard slideshow & lecture webinar and the produced, polished video that audiences appreciate most. Pre-recording and editing is one way to start closing that gap. 

Follow Up with Extra Content

What should your audience do next after attending the webinar? That’s a question to answer before you take your first registration. Once you have a next step in mind, create a content bundle to send to each registrant after the webinar airs. This bundle could include a normally gated eBook or two, some recommended reading from your blog, or more content from your influencer guests.

You can also create extra content from the webinar to help fill out your editorial calendar. Use excerpts from your discussion to fuel blog posts. Repurpose the audio as a podcast. Pull the best quotes to use as video posts on social media that drive to a gated version of the recorded webinar. Essentially, it’s about getting the most value possible from your content asset — the same thing you do with eBooks or blogs.

Webinars Killed the Radio Star

The pandemic has made webinars a go-to tactic for marketers who are missing out on face-to-face events. But as more marketers get into the webinar game, your content needs to be extraordinarily valuable and extremely well-promoted. If you plan, produce and promote your webinar with the same strategic care that you use for the rest of your content marketing, you’ll bring your audience more value and earn their attention in return.

Check out our CEO Lee Odden in a recent webinar: Social Media in the Times of Social Distancing.

2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report from TopRank Marketing

B2B Influencer Marketing Report 2020

My team and I at TopRank Marketing are happy to announce the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report!

Influencer Marketing has fast accelerated as a topic over the past few years with B2C influencers and brands getting the majority of attention. While consumer focused influencers have been impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, B2B is a different story.

Whether in times of crisis or in competitive markets, B2B marketers are challenged to reach distracted buyers and create meaningful experiences that inspire trust, confidence and action.

As B2B marketers search for solid insight and leadership around marketing strategies to survive and thrive during this time of uncertainty, Influencer Marketing offers businesses a welcome dose of optimism.

With much of the research and media attention focused on B2C influencer marketing, we believe the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report to be the first ever research report dedicated to B2B.

B2B Marketers are hungry for effective marketing strategies but don’t always have the resources or confidence to implement. To help close the gap of knowledge and skills around working with influencers to impact marketing and business goals, this new report focuses exclusively on how businesses are engaging influencers for marketing to other businesses.

For this research, hundreds of B2B marketers shared their insights including many of the top B2B brands in the world on all things B2B influencer marketing including strategy, tactics, operations, software, integration, measurement, budgeting and the future.

We’ve combined the findings from our research with insights from top B2B marketers from brands, case studies and some of the most respected B2B influencers in the industry to give you direction, confidence and inspiration for the best that influencer marketing has to offer.

Some of the key findings from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report:

B2B Influencer Marketing is Valuable for B2B Brands:

  • 78% believe their prospects rely on advice from industry influencers
  • 74% agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand
  • 63% agree that marketing would have better results if it included a B2B influencer marketing program
  • 90% expect their budget to increase or stay the same

Top Challenges B2B Marketers Have with Influencer Marketing:

  • Only 35% use software to find influencers – most ask for recommendations from personal connections or other influencers (no data validation)
  • Only half include a plan for influencer activation in their strategy
  • 41% are not using any technology for their IM program
  • Only 19% of B2B marketers are running ongoing influencer marketing programs
  • 60% say they don’t have the knowledge to execute or have the right skills in house to implement ongoing IM programs

Characteristics of the Most Successful B2B Brands at Influencer Marketing:

  • Always On: 60% of marketers who use always on IM programs are very successful vs. 5% who do periodic campaigns
  • Use industry experts and analysts
  • Use blogs as platforms
  • Use software to identify and qualify influencers
  • Create interactive content with influencers
  • Have a centralized IM program
  • Integrate with corporate communications department
  • Have a documented strategy for B2B IM

B2B Influencer Marketing Report Preview
This 45+ page report is rich with insights
from the survey of hundreds of B2B marketers, featured case studies from B2B brands of all sizes and insights from 15 of the top B2B marketing experts and influencers about Influencer Marketing. We also included a list of 20 top Influencer Marketing practitioners from B2B brands. To give you an idea of what’s inside, here’s the report Table of Contents:

The Influence Advantage: From thought leadership to customer acquisition, B2B brands are optimistic about the competitive advantages of influencer marketing. Find out why.

The Engine of Influence is Always-On: B2B brands are evolving from short term influencer campaigns to relationship driven, Always-On programs that build trust, engagement and advocacy..

Influencer Marketing Integration: To create a better customer experience, B2B brands are integrating influencer content across marketing channels from content marketing to PR.

Influencer Marketing Operations: To scale influencer marketing while maintaining quality, processes and software are essential for influencer identification, communications and performance reporting. .

10 Predictions on the Future of B2B Influence: What will B2B influencer marketing look like in 2021 and beyond? Get answers from 10 top influencer marketing professionals.

And here are a few insights from some of the respected B2B Marketers and Business Influencers who contributed:

Rani Mani Adobe
“Engaging with influencers provides a myriad of competitive advantages. There’s nothing more comforting than to have trusted voices defend your brand or correct misperceptions.”
Rani Mani @ranimani0707
Head of Social Influencer Enablement at @Adobe

Ursula Ringham SAP
“The operations behind Influencer Marketing is the less glamorous yet essential side of relational business. You need to come up with a strategy, plan of action, and a process.” Ursula Ringham @ursularingham
Head of Global Influencer Marketing at SAP

Garnor Morantes
“Being ‘always-on’ has allowed our team to build meaningful relationships with influencers. B2B brands would be wise to adopt this approach as they look to build true brand advocates.”
Garnor Morantes /in/garnormorantes
Group Marketing Manager at LinkedIn

Sarita Rao AT&T Business
“Customers know authenticity when they see it & naturally trust humans more than brands. Working with credible B2B influencers helps to build brand authority through real, human conversations & interactions.”
Sarita Rao @saritasayso
SVP – Business Marketing, Analytics & Alliances at AT&T Business

Tom Treanor arm Treasure Data
“Ongoing influencer programs are more valuable to B2B companies and allow for deeper engagement with influencers. These connected activities provide a cohesive experience for your audience.”
Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg
VP, Global Head of Marketing at arm Treasure Data

Amisha Gandhi
“Working with the right influencers builds credibility with the audience you are trying to reach. Influencers can help you deliver content that solves problems, educates & inspires your intended audience.”
Amisha Gandhi @AmishaGandhi
VP, Influencer Marketing & Communications at SAP Ariba

Janine Wegner Dell
“Having an end-to-end process is key to be effective & scale. From clear objectives to identification, engagement tactics, management, budgeting, reporting & not to forget feedback to close the loop.”
Janine Wegner @JanineWegner
Global Thought Leadership Program & Activation Manager at Dell Technologies

Ryan Bares IBM Systems
“A shift I see for B2B influencer marketing in 2021 is using employees as influencers. This will allow marketers to have more control of the campaign & build advocacy among internal thought leaders.”
Ryan Barres @RyanBares
Global Social Programs Lead: Social Influencers & Employee Advocacy at IBM Systems

 Pierre-Loic Assayag Traackr
“As influencer marketing matures, brands will expect their influencer marketing software to integrate with the rest of the march stack.”
Pierre-Loic Assayag @pierreloic
Founder and CEO at Traackr

Ann Handley MarketingProfs
“Partnering with well-matched influencers is a handy way to infuse your brand with creative energy and inspiration. It’s a direct line to building trust and customer confidence.” Ann Handley @MarketingProfs
Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs

Jeff Davis
“We will see the rise of the customers as influencers given their ability to share stories that help target buyers navigate the increasingly complex B2B buying journey. ”
Jeff Davis @meetjeffdavis
Founder & Principal at JD2 Consulting

Tamara McCleary
“In 2021, brands will need to identify, test and deploy a new type of tech stack to make the creation and consumption of virtual content as seamless as possible for influencers and audiences alike.”
Tamara McCleary @TamaraMcCleary
CEO at Thulium

Kevin L. Jackson
“In 2021, success in B2B influencer marketing is dependent on the compelling delivery of relevant information via video & audio. Influencers can no longer rely on face-to-face personal charisma.”
Kevin Jackson @Kevin_Jackson
CEO at GC Globalnet

Mark Schaefer
“Traditional marketing channels are drying up and even trade shows are imperiled in 2021. The influence marketing trend will be amplified as businesses seek trusted voices to join industry conversations.”
Mark Schaefer @markwschaefer
Author, Return on Influence
COO at B Squared Media

And many more…

B2B Influencer Marketing Report 2020
Influence plays an essential role in marketing whether B2B brands run influencer programs or not. The question is, will influence be random or will it be nurtured, amplified and targeted to produce brand awareness and lead generation outcomes B2B marketers are after?

The research supports optimism for B2B Influencer Marketing for a few key reasons:

  • Brand trust is in question but buyers trust experts
  • Influence optimizes performance of content and other marketing
  • Influence differentiates B2B brand experiences

The B2B marketing world is at the cusp of change but also opportunity. The influence advantage is available for marketers who can adopt the best practices of the most successful B2B influencer marketers outlined in this report from an Always-On strategy to qualitative influencer engagement to effective operations with process and software.

I encourage you to access the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report and to get the insights that have been missing in B2B about working with influencers.

A BIG THANKS goes to Michele from Mantis Research for all her help with research design and analytics. HUGE APPRECIATION to Ashley from TopRank Marketing for project and content management as well as a MASSIVE PROPS to Jake from TopRank Marketing for a stellar design! Thank you to our other team members from Lane to Alexis for pitching in as well.

10 Fresh Social Media Marketing Tools To Boost Brand Storytelling

Man’s hands working with tools.

Are you using the latest social media marketing tools that help you create a new variety of remarkable campaign experiences?

We’ve got you covered with a look at our 10 latest featured social media marketing tools to help you refine and expand your marketing efforts and boost brand storytelling.

Sifting through tens of thousands of available tools can be a hit and miss proposition, but these 10 fresh marketing tools let you skip a lot of the research queue and get right into useful tools for helping you tell marketing stories in new ways.

Let’s dive right in with our collection of 10 fresh tools to boost your social media marketing experiences, including image and video manipulation tools, headline analysis utilities, and social media monitoring apps.

1 — DxO’s Nik Collection 3 Tools

DxO Screenshot

DxO’s updated Nik Collection 3 offers an array of photo editing features for its popular suite of economical plug-ins for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and DxO’s own Photo Lab.

Coming three years after acquiring the technology from Google, this latest major release offers a new horizon-correcting perspective plug-in — Perspective Efex — and brings Adobe Lightroom Classic users non-destructive editing using a special variety of TIFF files.

Marketers looking to test the new features can try DxO’s new collection using a fully-functional 30-day trial.

2 — CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer Tool

Headline Analyzer Screenshot

Marketers looking for a fresh take on potential new headlines for articles, case studies, eBooks, or other forms of B2B marketing content can try CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer tool.

This tool offers numerous recommendations, visual previews, and ratings for potential headline choices, including sentiment and length analysis, keyword insight, and a word balance feature showing a particular headline’s emotional power and whether it is particularly common or on the rare side.

3 — Prisma Lab’s Photo Editor

Prisma Screenshot

Marketing designers looking to push the boundaries of imagery that stands out for B2B brands can check out Prisma Lab’s Photo Editor app for Apple iOS and Android users, an award-winning photo-editing tool.

Noted for its user-friendly functionality and daily art filters, Prisma’s Photo Editor offers marketers a quick way to try various what-if image manipulations — from merely unusual to otherworldly alterations that might just be the look a B2B brand is looking for.

4 — digiKam RAW Format Processor & Manager

digiKam Screenshot

A rare open source tool offering marketers and designers full functionality in RAW camera format processing and photo management, digiKam’s open nature may appeal to organizations not wanting to get locked in to any one software ecosystem, while still being able to use a slew of powerful features.

Available for Windows, macOS and Linux, digiKam has a slick and easy-to-use user interface, and import and export utilities for smooth social media formatting and sharing.

5 — Biteable Video Tool

Biteable Screenshot

Biteable is an online video maker tied in to a large library of built-in footage and including many helpful templates that combine with the service’s editor functions to create quick and easy marketing assets.

Biteable also allows marketers to create video infographics, explainer videos, animated logos, and dozens of other formats driven by the template-based system, and offers a free trial.

6 — The PhotoGIMP Alternative by Diolinux

Diolinux PhotoGIMP Screenshot

Diolinux’s PhotoGIMP brings a new look and feel to the popular free open-source image editing tool GIMP — short for GNU Image Manipulation Program — coming up on its 25th anniversary in 2021.

This add-on is intended to make the transition to GIMP easier, purposely bringing a look much more like Adobe’s Photoshop, which might be just what some marketers need when trying alternatives to industry-standard software. The tool’s GitHub repository page in English is here — the tool’s main site is in Portuguese.

7 — Unreal’s Live Link Face 3D Live-Motion Tool

Unreal Engine Live Link Screenshot

Epic Games’ Unreal Engine has released Live Link Face for Unreal Engine,  a live motion-capture app that uses an iPhone’s Face ID sensors to create 3D facial animation — cutting-edge technology useful for adding catchy motion to many campaign types, and a glimpse at what is likely coming down the pike for marketers.

The tool uses an iPhone’s TrueDepth sensor array to bring a technology once only available to major motion picture or game designers such as Adam Dunn.

8 — Weave New Digital Stories with Bazaart

Bazaart Screenshot

The fascinating iOS-only app-based tool offered by Bazaart allows marketers to weave together and manipulate photos, text and other elements, and through the use of layers, cut-outs, background-removal and other technology, to create unusual collages and other forms of digital work.

Bazaart also uses numerous templates and example pages to show what the tool is capable of, and has been especially popular for the creation of Instagram Story imagery.

9 — VSCO’s Montage Multimedia Video Editing Tool

VSCO Montage Screenshot

Multimedia video editing software VSCO has been busy adding creative features to its popular mobile app, especially since it released its Montage tool earlier this year.

VSCO’s Montage emphasizes video storytelling, an increasingly important aspect of successful digital marketing, using multi-layered video, images, sound, and other elements to pull viewers into collage-like video content. The tool is available to try for free.

10 — Mentionlytics

Mentionlytics Screenshot

Software as a service (SaaS) platform Mentionlytics monitors global social media references and mentions and presents results in a robust dashboard including sentiment analysis, social engagement and reach, competitor comparisons, web mentions and more.

Competition in this segment of social media monitoring tools is fierce, with established players such as Traackr and others, however.

Craft Experiences With Happy Little Apps & Marketing Tools

via GIPHY

We hope that you’ll find several new-to-you social media marketing tools among those we’ve explored here, and that you’ll continue to keep your campaigns full of engaging and fresh stories, whatever software you may be using at any one time.

This is the latest in our multi-year history of highlighting helpful marketing tools, and here are some of the other most recent articles we’ve published on the subject:

How Can Marketers Be More Inclusive with Content and Influencers Right Now?

Female Executive

After the tragedy of George Floyd and the following protests and demonstrations, the awareness about the need for equality, inclusiveness and diversity has many companies taking action. Some organizations already have D&I initiatives and resources to guide them but many others are figuring out what is most relevant and meaningful for their business, customers, employees and community.

A lot of the negative bias that exists when it comes to equality is fueled by how people are represented or not in media and in marketing content. Marketers like our agency are in a unique position to make decisions about inclusiveness in the content produced and the people engaged as influencers both for the marketing performed for clients as well as for agency marketing.

We’ve discussed the topic of diversity and inclusiveness internally and the values of our team require us to do more and be more. If values are not enough to inspire a company towards action, consider that more people are considering equality as one of their top factors when thinking about purchasing from a brand. Regardless, it’s the right thing to do.

I understand some companies are taking time to “figure out” what makes sense for their diversity efforts because for some people and companies, being intentionally inclusive is new territory and there is some fear of making the wrong decision. But there are some things marketers can do right now that are simple, easy and meaningful.

For our own marketing content, we’ve been active advocates for gender inclusiveness for the past 10+ years. Also, conversations about image selection and influencers has always included what I would call a passive effort to represent the diversity of people that work in a given target audience. But it’s not enough. Not by a long shot.

Our team is skillful with words but we are masters at creating impact with marketing. Taking ongoing actions to educate ourselves about equality, inclusion and the experiences of marginalized people in our world is helping us better empathize and understand what we can do to turn good intentions into outcomes. So what will we do proactively to create impact?

Organizationally, we are engaging outside help for education and guidance around hiring, communications and more meaningful engagement with our community. We stand with and support BLM efforts in multiple ways from financial support for local organizations to team members participating in local events and demonstrations.

From a content and influencer marketing standpoint, we have added steps to our marketing content creation process and influencer identification efforts. We’re committed to being more proactive about diverse representation of people of color in:

  • Agency owned media content: Images in blog posts, website, newsletter, news room, social media
  • In presentations: Conference decks, pitch decks, webinars, training content
  • In marketing campaign materials for the agency and clients: Interactive content, ebooks, videos, microsites, infographics, blog posts, social content and reports
  • Influencers for the agency and clients: Influencer lists, quotes, interviews, citations for earned media content, influencers engaged for events and brand content activations, paid influencers and influencer media buys

Beyond what our agency is doing with content and influencers, I have been able to make small but meaningful changes in my own content and when people ask me to recommend speakers, potential employees and consultants. Of course there is more and I have learned a lot over the past month and will continue to do so.

Being more inclusive about the diversity of people that are represented in marketing content and amongst influencers engaged is probably one of the most basic things a marketing agency can do to start affecting how people of color are perceived in the business world. It’s not the only thing we can do of course, but along with engaging in discussions with specialists and education amongst our team, it’s something we can do right now. I hope our agency peers in the industry are doing the same and more.

Three B2B Marketing Tactics That Will Outlast the COVID19 Pandemic

B2B Marketing Pandemic

Without question, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the B2B world with companies generally reducing marketing budgets. At the same time, many B2B companies are maintaining or increasing marketing spend as we’ve seen with most of our clients at TopRank Marketing.

While there has generally been a shift from explicit sales/push marketing content to brand messaging that is more aligned with the times and empathetic to customers, sales expectations still exist for B2B brands during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The challenge many B2B marketers are facing is to understand how to navigate both the short term changes in what works for customers in the current environment as as well as in the long term, post-crisis.

According to research from McKinsey, one of the biggest changes that has happened is the boost in importance of B2B digital over traditional means of engaging customers – 200% more than before COVID-19. This move to digital means higher expectations by B2B customers of self service as well as B2B ecommerce experiences. With those changes in expectations come changes in marketing, short and long term.

Not only do B2B companies need to mitigate sales losses because of the uncertainty during the pandemic but those who want to continue being the best solution and top of mind for customers when purchasing behavior comes back need to look at what pandemic-era tactics will stick after the crisis has subsided.

For a great overview of how to measure marketing goals in a crisis, be sure to check out Birdie’s post here. 

How buyers feel about B2B brands short and long term will directly contribute to which brands are the most relevant as budgets open up and business solutions investments experience substantial growth. Some of the long term metrics include branding goals measured by share of voice for social, share of search and earned media.

So, can B2B marketers do to optimize and measure their pandemic era marketing?

Content is the kingdom. Providing customers with information and resources for surviving and thriving during the pandemic that are useful from the customer’s perspective is a good starting point. Demonstrating how the B2B brand’s solution provides value in the current environment is also essential for creating relevance and utility with customers. Of course, useful information isn’t all there is. The shift towards digital, B2B brands need to make sure the digital experiences they provide are 100%: Information is easy to find, the inquiry or ordering process is easy and fast, there are zero glitches in using online systems.

Search is even more relevant. As mentioned in the research from McKinsey, self service is an increasing expectations amongst B2B buyers. One way buyers are performing self serve marketing  is through the use of search engines.

An emphasis on search also helps B2B brands reach sales goals without being “salesly”.  This trend has been picked up on by savvy B2B marketers with 63% of marketers saying it will be most important during the pandemic according to a survey by Conductor. This confidence is also exemplified from data reported by G2 Crowd showing B2B tech categories having a 200-600% increase in organic search traffic during the pandemic.

Of course to make search work, B2B brands need content and SEO best practices in place to ensure optimized visibility for what customers are looking for. We’ve seen many B2B brands emphasize SEO during the pandemic which enables buyers who are no longer attending trade shows and engaging in experiential or field marketing activities to use search engines for finding useful information and solutions on their own terms.

Findability works best with credibility.  Customers are as skeptical of brand marketing as ever and are tiring of the “in these uncertain times, we’re here for you” ads and messaging. While bypassing that with search engine optimization and advertising works well for connecting with customers, optimized content that has added 3rd party credibility can work even better.

In our own research in the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 77% of B2B marketers say their prospects rely on influencers for information. Confidence in influencer marketing is on the rise for B2B marketers. 63% of survey respondents believe they would have better marketing results with an influencer marketing program.

So, crisis era marketing that emphasizes SEO to help buyers pull themselves to brand content that also includes credibility inspiring content from industry experts is what can really create trust and the confidence for buyers to make the connection. This is why SEO and influence are essential partners for any B2B marketing effort during and after the pandemic.

Measuring the impact of B2B content marketing that is optimized and influencer activated means understanding the search phrases and topics of influence that are most relevant for customers and then tracking the brand’s relevance, engagement and conversion for those topics.

For  search marketing, key measures include:

  • Topic visibility reporting & share of search for those topics
  • Referred traffic to content optimized for the target topics
  • Conversions from target topic content

Influencer marketing, metrics to track include:

  • Share of voice on topics of include
  • Growth of brand affinity with influencers
  • Reach of topic content amongst influencer networks
  • Engagement and conversion performance of topic content shared by influencers
  • Growth in affinity of topics and brand in social
  • Growth of organic brand advocacy by influencers and their networks

Uncertainty is a dangerous state for businesses and making no decision is often worse than making the wrong decision or failing fast. Understanding the shifts in buyer behavior can help B2B brands gain confidence in the role content marketing will play in the short and long term. Relevant content that is both findable for increasingly self-serve buyers and credible through industry expert contributions can give the competitive advantage needed to perform both short term and post-pandemic.

Don’t Do That: Email Marketing Lessons From My 26 Year Spam Archive

Smiling woman holding laptop image.

What makes for strong long-term email marketing, and what can email marketers learn from a 26 year archive of spam?

In 1994 I started archiving the funniest and most outlandish spam emails I received, and throughout the rest of the ‘90s I sent out an annual holiday compendium of the year’s top unsolicited messages.

Over the years friends and associates began sending me their own wild spam finds, and although I ceased my annual updates long ago, I’ve kept up my spam archive — a trove of email marketing horrors, hi-jinks, and oftentimes hilarity that I still hope to turn into a book someday.

For now, I’ll crack open the archive and share five email marketing lessons taken from analyzing 26 years of spam, to help illustrate how we can adapt, grow, and innovate — and how not to follow in the footsteps of atrocious spammers.

Spam usually serves as a spot-on case study for email marketers on what not to do when it comes to building genuine and meaningful email communications.

Oftentimes spam is chock full of truly bizarre content, whack-a-doodle predicaments, and convoluted stories, yet from this we can still gain surprising email take-away gems for today’s marketers.

1 — Empathize With Your Email Audience

Empathizing with your audience is an important part of successful email marketing, as understanding the concerns and hopes of the people you’re connecting with is vital for providing the information your email audience is seeking.

Some things to ask yourself as you seek to empathize with your email audience include:

  • Why have they signed up for our email messaging?
  • What are the traits common to our readers?
  • If I were the recipient and not the sender, what would I change?

Empathizing with and learning more about your email marketing audience go hand-in-hand, and both open up a wide realm of possibilities to make your campaigns better.

“Get to know your customers,” Val Geisler, CEO of Fix My Churn recently observed. “Do interviews, learn more about them. What keeps them up at night? What matters most to them? Ask them questions with long-form answers and record those answers. Then use that voice-of-customer copy in your emails. Put it in subject lines and body copy and CTA buttons. Fill your emails with a blend of their voice and your brand voice and your customers will instantly feel connected to your brand,” Geisler suggested.

An example from my spam archive on how not to empathize includes this 2004 doozy from one Gaza F. Fussbudgets:

Subject: Hello!
Date: Thu, 06 May 2004 23:31:24 -0700
From: Gaza F. Fussbudgets
To:

Thinking of driving in that condition, sir?
New jobs: Stay-at-home manager
Honest people for hire!
Do you have only a part-time job? Do you have much free time?
Are you a student? Does your class schedule impair working hours?
Your luck has just happened!
Are you outgoing and honest? We need someone just like you!
This is a business that requires a only limited amounts of your time.
All job applicants from Australia welcome.
Vacancies are ending, don’t waste time and use this super offer.
YOUR ONLY CHANCE! CONSIDER THIS GREAT OFFER!
Remaining questions? Check out our website.
Questions? We’ve got answers.

Despite its reassurance that “Your luck has just happened!” and a feeble attempt to empathize by asking a few questions, this spam email fails on all accounts.

Don’t be like Mr. or Ms. Fussbudgets, and instead always take the extra time to learn more about your email marketing audience.

“Empathizing with your audience is an important part of successful email marketing. Understanding the concerns and hopes of the people you’re connecting with are vital for providing the information they are seeking.” @lanerellis Click To Tweet

2 — Fill Each Email With Unique Value

Savvy email marketing brings your audience something they can’t find anywhere else, whether it’s a first glimpse at a new product or service, a behind-the-scenes look at one of your team members, or even a unique report made exclusively for your email audience.

One of the many reasons spam email universally misses the mark — along with tone-deaf legitimate campaigns — is that it doesn’t offer anything unique, instead relying on cookie-cutter copy or only minimally customized content, and the long-shot promise of one response from millions of emails sent out.

Consider the following spam message sent to me in 2014:

Subject: Claims Prize
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2014 03:19:40 -0430 (VET)
From: Fedex Delivery Company
Reply-To:

*We have a Fedex package containing $850,000.00 USD to be delivered to your home address as a Christmas Presentation. Send Fullname, Home address, telephone. Note: Delivery fee is $75 only.*

A scam with a promise to send a box of riches to you “as a Christmas presentation” in exchange for a small fee is the antithesis of how email marketers should go about providing value to their audiences — an effort that today is delivered in the form of digital content providing relevant information.

B2B content marketing and its penchant for creating a variety of relevant re-purposed content lends itself well to email marketing efforts, and we’ve got you covered with the following looks at the types of information that can add unique value to your email marketing:

3 — Respect Your Email Recipients

Treat your email audience with respect and they’ll be more open to your messaging, and more likely to continue as long-term recipients of your email campaigns.

Respect in email marketing is shown — and earned — in several ways, including:

  • Practicing genuine interest by providing only the most relevant information
  • Applying mindfulness when it comes to the frequency of contacting your audience
  • Honoring all inquiries with a thorough and thoughtful response from your appropriate team

Don’t go overboard with insincere respect, however, as the sender of the following 2005 message unfortunately did:

Subject: Palmer Berryhill I hope you like this wrist clock
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2005 18:09:07 +0400
From: Madiha
To:

My Dear Palmer Berryhill,

Honestly, you have earned it. Take the moment and get it. Make sure while you are at the web-site, that you also get the little box to keep it in. You get a little reward today. Last night I saw you looking at these replica watches and I could tell you wanted one. Go ahead and get it. There are just so many things to handle each day, we just don’t often get a little surprise.

This is a good internet-site for you to find it from because they have gift trailing. I am totally aware of how many times you have looked at these quality replica watches at this internet-site. Please go and get one. I know they are duplicates and we can afford it.

My love to you,
Madiha

Although I never did treat myself to Madiha’s replica “wrist clock” surprise or the little box to keep it in, this classic spam message does serve as a fine example of forced and ingenuine caring, despite all the love this writer claims to have sent my way 15 years ago.

It’s also important to respect the fact that whether you have a smallish mailing list or one numbering in the millions, maintaining your email audience’s trust is key for long-term success, as our senior content strategist Nick Nelson explored in “Return to Sender: Email Marketing Is NOT Dead, But It Needs Rejuvenation.”

It’s better to write for 10 people who truly want to receive your messages than 100 who are ambivalent or worse. @NickNelsonMN #EmailMarketing Click To Tweet

4 — Use A Healthy Dose of Character & Passion

Knowing your audience is only one important part of your email marketing efforts, however it allows you to understand the voice and tone that will best suit your brand, and will play a big part of imbibing character and passion into your email marketing campaigns.

Your email marketing communications should incorporate the universal truths of your brand messaging, however that doesn’t mean it can’t use its own email-campaign-specific voice with its own energy and unique flavor.

Not too unique or too full of seasoning, however, or you could end up with something like the following spam message I got in 2002, which ranks up there as one of the nuttiest emails I’ve received since I went online in 1984:

Subject: Chichi
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 13:50:01 -0500 (EST)
From: Ray
To:

Hello,
If you are a Time Traveler I am going to need the following:

1. A modified mind warping Dimensional Warp Generator # 52 4350a series wrist watch with memory adapter.

2. Reliable carbon based, or silicon based time transducing capacitor.

I need a reliable source!! Please only reply if you are reliable. Send a (SEPARATE) email to me at: [redacted]

I never did send in that dimensional warp generator — with or without the wrist-watch memory adapter — however this message did certainly deliver on the unique content front, and was presented with its own wacky sort of memorable messaging.

Some of the top email and newsletter marketers look at the channel as a special way to make a person-to-person rather than simply a B2B connection, such as MarketingProfs chief content officer Ann Handley, who over the years has shared a great deal of valuable email marketing insight.

“Write to one person. Not a segment or customer base or persona. One. Person. At. One. Time,” Handley recently offered up in “2020 Small Business Email Marketing Statistics from AWeber.”

“Write to one person. Not a segment or customer base or persona. One. Person. At. One. Time.” — Ann Handley @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

5 — Seek Further Connection Opportunities, Test & Refine

Email still offers a powerful way to keep in touch with the people who care most about your brand, however another part of good email communications is letting your audience know the other ways they can get your latest updates and other information.

Sharing links to your various social media properties, blog, website, and any virtual events where customers can learn more from your brand is a helpful way to add value to your marketing emails.

Don’t, however, follow in the footsteps of the author of the following spam message I received in 2014, with a hook of “Outsource your pain to us!

Subject: Partnership proposal : Outsource your pain to us!
Date: Tue, 10 Jun 2014 02:16:43 -0400 (EDT)
From: Christina Zalpa
To:

Hi There,

I got your reference from google search.

Through this mail, I would like to seek your opinion of doing some business together.

We are company West Midland, UK based company.We are in business of Web Development, SEO, PPC and Chat support. We have experience of web design and SEO too.

What we can do: We can reduce your expenses and increase your revenue.

To discuss further, I will be available at your suitable time.

Looking forward to do some mutually rewarding business together.

Warm Regards
Christina Zalpa
Skype:

Spam such as this — although purely an unadorned scam — does serve to show us that even the lowest form of email marketing sometimes has a call-to-action (CTA), an aspect also featured in the best email campaigns.

Don’t miss email marketing’s many excellent opportunities for testing, either, as send frequency, subject lines and all aspects of content can be part of A/B testing as your brand looks to find an optimal balance.

“Rather than sending more, test what you already do. Then test frequency. There’s no sense sending more of that doesn’t work, nor less of what does work. Test, test, test!” — Mark Asquith @MrAsquith Click To Tweet

Don’t Do That — Turn Your Spam Lessons Upside Down

via GIPHY

By empathizing, providing unique value, respecting your email audience, using character and passion, and seeking out new connection and test opportunities, your email marketing efforts will have a leg up on much of today’s competition.

Whether you’re looking for professional help with your email marketing or B2B influencer marketing efforts, contact us to learn why brands from Adobe and LinkedIn to Dell and 3M have chosen TopRank Marketing.