5 Standout Traits of the Best B2B Content Marketers

Traits of the Best B2B Content Marketers

My favorite part of playing a sports video game is the “Create a Player” function. It gives me the opportunity to set realism aside and dream up the most legendary, dominant athletic specimen imaginable. On the basketball court, no real-life point guard would be able to match up against “Dimes McGee,” my customized 7-foot-10 wunderkind with 99 ratings for shooting, passing, ball-handling, speed, and defense. Talk about optimization!

What if you could “create a player” in B2B content marketing? Which attributes would you want to max out in order to fabricate the most successful practitioner possible? It’s a fun and interesting question to contemplate, in large part because the answers now are different than even a few years ago.

Which traits and characteristics define the most effective B2B content marketers in 2021?

Optimized: 5 Traits of the Best B2B Content Marketers

Certain requisite skills, such as being creative and a good communicator, are so obvious as to go without stating. But a new set of traits are emerging that differentiate the best B2B content marketers in this reshaped business environment.

If you’re looking to hire a content marketer (or agency), or you’re looking to grow your own skills, these are the traits worth emphasizing.

Curious

The game is changing. New innovations are disrupting the profession and many fundamentals are in flux. In charting the top B2B marketing trends for 2021, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden envisions a massive shift toward digital-first tactics and practices, citing AI and chatbots as technologies that will help lead the way as organizations zero in on digital customer engagement.

Adapting to this revolution requires a curious and open mind. Those who are rigidly set in their ways, or committed to conventional thinking, will be in trouble. We must be willing — eager, even — to challenge our own assumptions about our audiences’ needs, and how best to meet them.

A great B2B content marketer is not someone who insists they know everything. Instead, it’s someone who readily admits what they don’t know, questions what they think they do know, and shows a fervent curiosity to learn more.

“A great B2B content marketer is not someone who insists they know everything, but someone who readily admits what they don’t.” @NickNelsonMN #B2B #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Analytical

This can be a sticking point. Given that content marketers tend to be writers by trade, many of us (myself included) are averse to math. So the idea of crunching numbers and calculating metrics can feel a bit daunting. The good news is that marketing analytics tools can handle most of the math for us; it is incumbent upon B2B content marketers to take these insights and draw meaningful, actionable conclusions from them.

Put another way, being analytical means being scientific in our curiosity. Intuition and instincts are important, but they should never overshadow solid evidence in our thinking. The widespread availability of data today brings a world of opportunities to verify, validate, or revise any theory we might have.

For practical guidance on the subject, I encourage you to check out Annie Leuman’s post on how data insights can lead your B2B content marketing strategy, from benchmarking and goals to audience and personas to content mapping and more.

Bold

A critical caveat: being analytical doesn’t mean content marketers should get bogged down in a chronic state of decision paralysis. While remaining flexible, and vigilantly mindful of analytics, we should be ready to pursue our convictions decisively and take the lead.

The newly released Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 lays out a mandate for businesses and CEOs: “Act first, talk later.” With businesses currently being rated as more trustworthy than NGOs, government, or media, content marketers have a unique opportunity to speak up and solidify the credibility of their brands. Those who boldly capitalize and deliver for their audiences will separate themselves this year.

“Act first, talk later.” – @EdelmanPR on the path to boldly building trust in 2021. #B2B #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Empathetic

Another key directive from Edelman’s latest report: “have the courage to provide straight talk, but also empathize and address people’s fears.” This is not necessarily an easy balance to strike.

In a recent survey by Singular, CMOs identified empathy as the biggest supertrend in marketing this year after digital transformation. Nothing else came remotely close.

CMO Supertrends - Singular

Content marketers are the primary conduits between a business and its potential customers. They help internal stakeholders understand the audience’s needs and values, and they shape external perceptions of how the brand is serving those needs and values. Empathy is instrumental in ensuring these two sides align.

To an extent, empathy comes naturally, but it can be honed and strengthened through a curious and analytical mentality.

“Experienced marketers are being more strategic about ways to invest in customer experiences to showcase customer satisfaction and retention in addition to complementing customer acquisition strategies,” wrote Brian Solis in a post from Forbes last year that remains highly relevant today. “By measuring the customer’s real-time and aggregated experience, marketers can learn exactly how and where to improve them, in times with-COVID and post-COVID markets.”

Patient

It was almost exactly one year ago that I laid out this top priority for B2B marketers in 2020: slow your roll. From customer experiences to strategy-setting to social media management and SEO tactics, I saw opportunities to take a beat and become more methodical.

As it turns out, we didn’t have much choice. The arrival of a global pandemic soon after forced the business world at large to slow down as budgets were reduced, employees were confined to their homes, and buying decisions were delayed. Distractions and disruptions ran rampant. LinkedIn’s State of Sales 2020 report found 44% of respondents saying their customers’ sales cycles had grown longer in the face of COVID-19.

Now, we just need to adjust. Patience will be a virtue for those B2B content marketers who thrive in the year to come: patience with coworkers, customers, business partners, and measuring results. Keeping a positive and productive mindset through a year of transition and uncertainty projects confidence and stability.

As the old saying goes: “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”

Bring Your Marketing ‘A Game’ in 2021

Through curiosity, analysis, boldness, empathy, and patience, B2B content marketers can be prepared for everything that comes their way in 2021. Let these traits shine and your output will do the same.

Ready for more advice on overcoming the challenges ahead? Learn which attributes will drive the most successful influencer marketing efforts this year by clicking over to Lee’s post for tips and examples.

5 Standout Traits of the Best B2B Content Marketers

Traits of the Best B2B Content Marketers

My favorite part of playing a sports video game is the “Create a Player” function. It gives me the opportunity to set realism aside and dream up the most legendary, dominant athletic specimen imaginable. On the basketball court, no real-life point guard would be able to match up against “Dimes McGee,” my customized 7-foot-10 wunderkind with 99 ratings for shooting, passing, ball-handling, speed, and defense. Talk about optimization!

What if you could “create a player” in B2B content marketing? Which attributes would you want to max out in order to fabricate the most successful practitioner possible? It’s a fun and interesting question to contemplate, in large part because the answers now are different than even a few years ago.

Which traits and characteristics define the most effective B2B content marketers in 2021?

Optimized: 5 Traits of the Best B2B Content Marketers

Certain requisite skills, such as being creative and a good communicator, are so obvious as to go without stating. But a new set of traits are emerging that differentiate the best B2B content marketers in this reshaped business environment.

If you’re looking to hire a content marketer (or agency), or you’re looking to grow your own skills, these are the traits worth emphasizing.

Curious

The game is changing. New innovations are disrupting the profession and many fundamentals are in flux. In charting the top B2B marketing trends for 2021, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden envisions a massive shift toward digital-first tactics and practices, citing AI and chatbots as technologies that will help lead the way as organizations zero in on digital customer engagement.

Adapting to this revolution requires a curious and open mind. Those who are rigidly set in their ways, or committed to conventional thinking, will be in trouble. We must be willing — eager, even — to challenge our own assumptions about our audiences’ needs, and how best to meet them.

A great B2B content marketer is not someone who insists they know everything. Instead, it’s someone who readily admits what they don’t know, questions what they think they do know, and shows a fervent curiosity to learn more.

“A great B2B content marketer is not someone who insists they know everything, but someone who readily admits what they don’t.” @NickNelsonMN #B2B #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Analytical

This can be a sticking point. Given that content marketers tend to be writers by trade, many of us (myself included) are averse to math. So the idea of crunching numbers and calculating metrics can feel a bit daunting. The good news is that marketing analytics tools can handle most of the math for us; it is incumbent upon B2B content marketers to take these insights and draw meaningful, actionable conclusions from them.

Put another way, being analytical means being scientific in our curiosity. Intuition and instincts are important, but they should never overshadow solid evidence in our thinking. The widespread availability of data today brings a world of opportunities to verify, validate, or revise any theory we might have.

For practical guidance on the subject, I encourage you to check out Annie Leuman’s post on how data insights can lead your B2B content marketing strategy, from benchmarking and goals to audience and personas to content mapping and more.

Bold

A critical caveat: being analytical doesn’t mean content marketers should get bogged down in a chronic state of decision paralysis. While remaining flexible, and vigilantly mindful of analytics, we should be ready to pursue our convictions decisively and take the lead.

The newly released Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 lays out a mandate for businesses and CEOs: “Act first, talk later.” With businesses currently being rated as more trustworthy than NGOs, government, or media, content marketers have a unique opportunity to speak up and solidify the credibility of their brands. Those who boldly capitalize and deliver for their audiences will separate themselves this year.

“Act first, talk later.” – @EdelmanPR on the path to boldly building trust in 2021. #B2B #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

Empathetic

Another key directive from Edelman’s latest report: “have the courage to provide straight talk, but also empathize and address people’s fears.” This is not necessarily an easy balance to strike.

In a recent survey by Singular, CMOs identified empathy as the biggest supertrend in marketing this year after digital transformation. Nothing else came remotely close.

CMO Supertrends - Singular

Content marketers are the primary conduits between a business and its potential customers. They help internal stakeholders understand the audience’s needs and values, and they shape external perceptions of how the brand is serving those needs and values. Empathy is instrumental in ensuring these two sides align.

To an extent, empathy comes naturally, but it can be honed and strengthened through a curious and analytical mentality.

“Experienced marketers are being more strategic about ways to invest in customer experiences to showcase customer satisfaction and retention in addition to complementing customer acquisition strategies,” wrote Brian Solis in a post from Forbes last year that remains highly relevant today. “By measuring the customer’s real-time and aggregated experience, marketers can learn exactly how and where to improve them, in times with-COVID and post-COVID markets.”

Patient

It was almost exactly one year ago that I laid out this top priority for B2B marketers in 2020: slow your roll. From customer experiences to strategy-setting to social media management and SEO tactics, I saw opportunities to take a beat and become more methodical.

As it turns out, we didn’t have much choice. The arrival of a global pandemic soon after forced the business world at large to slow down as budgets were reduced, employees were confined to their homes, and buying decisions were delayed. Distractions and disruptions ran rampant. LinkedIn’s State of Sales 2020 report found 44% of respondents saying their customers’ sales cycles had grown longer in the face of COVID-19.

Now, we just need to adjust. Patience will be a virtue for those B2B content marketers who thrive in the year to come: patience with coworkers, customers, business partners, and measuring results. Keeping a positive and productive mindset through a year of transition and uncertainty projects confidence and stability.

As the old saying goes: “Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”

Bring Your Marketing ‘A Game’ in 2021

Through curiosity, analysis, boldness, empathy, and patience, B2B content marketers can be prepared for everything that comes their way in 2021. Let these traits shine and your output will do the same.

Ready for more advice on overcoming the challenges ahead? Learn which attributes will drive the most successful influencer marketing efforts this year by clicking over to Lee’s post for tips and examples.

How B2B Marketers Can Get Closer to Their Customers

Professional with cellphone and laptops image.

Last year I finished up my fifth full year as a B2B marketer. A lot has changed in that half decade.

When I started, there was a growing movement: “B2B marketing doesn’t have to be boring.” 

Now we’ve finally moved on to, “B2B marketing can’t afford to be boring.” We’ve finally acknowledged that B2B buyers are people — they want useful information, they want to be entertained, and they’re just as bored by corporate-speak-laden white papers as everyone else.

To our credit, I think marketers already knew this. We just had to convince the rest of the organization. 

For the most part,  we marketers have more leeway to choose the best way to reach our audience. And, of course, with that freedom comes responsibility. 

How do we hit the sweet spot of what our audience wants to hear, and what our brand is trying to get across? How do we give them that value that inspires reciprocity?

Here’s how B2B marketers can get closer to their audience in 2021.

#1: Ask the Sales Team

Let’s make 2021 the year we finally ditch the sales v. marketing mentality for good. Tighter alignment between the members of the Revenue Squad can only benefit everyone. 

The sales team has a wealth of insights about your target audience. They’re the ones taking meetings, answering questions, talking one-on-one with members of the buying committee.

In short, sales can tell you where the sticking points are, where more persuasion is needed, and what type of content ultimately sways people toward a purchase. Tight alignment with sales will make your content more relevant to your audience and more useful for your sales team.

#2: Flip the Script on SEO 

Are you still thinking of SEO as, “The way to get search engines to recommend our content?” If so, it’s time to update that mentality. 

The most valuable function of keyword research right now is to determine what humans are searching for and how those queries are worded. It’s all about guiding content creation to match your audience’s demand, from the planning stages through execution.

The best SEO strategy is to create content that genuinely meets — and exceeds — your audience’s needs. If your content doesn’t meet a proven need, no amount of keyword stuffing or H1 tagging will grant it visibility.

Make your keyword research a tool for understanding your audience. What do they want? How are they trying to find it? How can you be the best answer?

“The most valuable function of keyword research right now is to determine what humans are searching for and how those queries are worded.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

#3: Broaden Your Horizons

B2B buyers don’t spend their entire waking lives thinking about work. If we want to know our audiences better, we need to think about the broader context of their lives, too. 

When we see our potential buyers more holistically, we have a much broader canvas for relevant content. We can talk about maintaining work-life balance, the challenges of remote work, even the challenges that working parents face in relating to their children.  

Any topic for content is relevant, provided that 1) Your employees or brand has expertise on it, and 2) It serves to make your audience’s life better in some meaningful way. 

If you’ve been stuck writing “X more reasons you should try our solution” style content, let this broader context inspire you to write more useful, helpful content that takes the whole person into consideration.

#4: Explore Influence

At the heart of it, marketers are trying to earn people’s attention. It makes perfect sense to take lessons from the folks who have already captured that interest — people who are already engaging and serving your target audience.

Tools like Traackr and Buzzsumo can help you determine which voices your audience is listening to. From there, you can see what type of content they’re creating, how they’re capturing interest, and let that inform your own content creation.

And, of course, you can take it to the next level: Co-creating content with these influencers and reaching their audience directly (see our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing report for more).

#5: Above All, Be Useful

When we see our target audience as people, rather than B2B buyers (or a target audience, for that matter), we can begin to practice truly radical empathy. Not just the empathy that lets us walk in someone’s shoes long enough to sell them something, either. 

I mean the type of empathy that leads us to find out how to improve their personal and professional lives, to be genuinely useful, to lift people up because we care about them. Content that sets out with this aim in mind is guaranteed to pull you and your customers closer together.

And, of course, helping people and caring about their success is a great way to earn attention, build relationships, and develop long-standing loyalty to your brand.

“Helping people and caring about their success is a great way to earn attention, build relationships, and develop long-standing loyalty to your brand.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites Click To Tweet 

In fact, it may be the only way we have left to do all of the above.

Need help creating content that gets you closer to your customers? We’ve got you covered.

Pitfall! Steering Clear of 5 Common B2B Content Marketing Missteps

Woman Jumping Over Pitfalls Image

It’s been almost 40 years since Pitfall!, the classic side-scrolling platformer for the original Atari, was first released. David Crane’s creation went on to become one of the first console video game hits, selling more than 4 million copies, and is now remembered as an influential breakthrough for the medium.

Why did Pitfall! gain such rampant popularity? Because it was realistic and relatable!

I’m not talking about the pixelated 2D graphics or exotic jungle setting. I’m talking about the basic premise of problem-solving. The game is full of traps, hazards, and challenges, but there’s always a way around them. “Oh hey, a giant pit full of alligators. How will I get to the other side? Perhaps by grabbing hold of that swinging vine…”

via Gfycat

Today’s B2B content marketers may feel like they’re navigating a landscape filled with pitfalls — dangers or difficulties that are easily encountered but not immediately obvious. To help you on your journey, we’ve identified five of the most pervasive pitfalls so you can spot them and avoid them.

5 Pitfalls in B2B Content Marketing & How to Steer Clear

From messaging to strategy to execution, these are five of the most counterproductive missteps that are commonly made by modern content marketing practitioners.

1 — Speaking to the Many Instead of the Few

If you’re talking to everybody, you’re talking to nobody. This is a critical guiding philosophy, which may run counter to the way many marketers and writers were trained. (Especially those with backgrounds in journalism or media.)

There’s a natural compulsion to make B2B content as accessible and broadly applicable possible, in order to maximize the potential reach. But with so much information and so many resources at the fingertips of today’s decision makers, marketers need to get more specific and direct. Joel Goobich of Vestorly called out “vague, generalized content” at the top of his recent list of B2B content marketing mistakes shared at Forbes.

“Why would your B2B audience want to consume content that doesn’t speak directly to them and their interests?” he wonders. “Often B2B content is overly generalized and lacks a target audience and specific industry focus.”

What To Do: Narrow your scope. Get a clear handle on the audience(s) you want to reach, and the unique qualities, characteristics, or challenges that differentiate them from other segments. Don’t be afraid to turn away those readers or viewers who won’t find the content useful. Then, make sure your measurement strategy aligns with this selective approach. In other words, de-prioritize vanity metrics like impressions in favor of those measuring business impact.

2 — Strategizing SEO Around Keywords Instead of Intent

Keywords have been the driving force in search engine optimization for many years, serving as a cornerstone in the strategic framework for many content strategies. And keywords still have a valuable purpose. But more and more, achieving success with SEO initiatives is about understanding search intent and aligning with the motivations of searchers. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Unless you operate in a novel industry or vertical, it’s likely that the most valuable keywords you’re targeting are highly competitive. Focusing on search intent lends itself to longer-tail keywords and semantic searches, opening up more topical areas to pursue with your content.
  2. Accounting for intent rather than solely looking at keywords makes the content better. Traditionally, businesses have had a tendency to say, “This keyword has high volume and is relevant to our industry, let’s write blog posts that tie it to our product.” But if it’s not a keyword with transactional or commercial intent, then such an angle will likely miss the mark with searchers.
  3. For this reason, intent-based SEO content is more successful. It moves creators away from outdated tricks like keyword-stacking, and toward methods that actually help content rank today. A recent post from Backlinko notes that “satisfying Search Intent is ultimately Google’s #1 goal,” while pointing out that Google’s latest Quality Rater Guidelines (released in October of 2020) are “OBSESSED with Search Intent.”

What To Do: Make search intent the foundation of your SEO strategy, giving keywords and search phrases the context they need to be meaningful. The informative post from Backlinko above, as well as Google’s report on how intent is redefining the marketing funnel, are enlightening reads on the subject.

“Make search intent the foundation of your SEO strategy, giving keywords and search phrases the context they need to be meaningful.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

3 — Failing to Connect with Relevance

One reason Pitfall! was such a hit back in the early 1980s is that it struck a resonant chord with audiences, who were transfixed by its treasure-hunting adventure theme following the 1981 theatrical release of Raiders of the Lost Ark. This same dynamic was at play with early arcade breakthroughs like Space Invaders and Asteroids, which channeled the sci-fi enthusiasm fueled by movies like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

What do the people in your audience care about? Don’t limit your thinking to their professional interests. One of my favorite case studies from our clients at LinkedIn highlighted a company called SolarWinds, which recognized that its IT customer base tended to share a special affinity for sci-fi and Star Wars especially. So they did a promotion on LinkedIn that involved giving away a multitool in the shape of the Millenium Falcon.

SolarWinds’ manager of demand and marketing later said the campaign’s engagement was “probably the highest I’ve ever seen for any campaign that I’ve run across any platform.”

What To Do: Scrutinize your content hooks — the introductory sentences of articles or the early seconds of a video — to confirm you’re drawing an immediate thread of relevance with your audience. Never put yourself or your solutions first. And, in accordance with item No. 1 on this list, aim to be narrow instead of broad.

4 — Speaking to the Mind and Not the Heart

Business decisions are made on the basis of rational and logical drivers, out of necessity. But they are not made solely through those lenses. Humans are complex and emotional beings, not robots. In our recent round-up of B2B content marketing predictions for 2021, Ty Heath suggested that 2020’s pandemic “will accelerate the shift to a ‘right-brain’ movement,” with greater emphasis on humor, storytelling, and emotion.

Engaging your audience at a deeper level will help you build genuine trust, which is the single most essential ingredient for long-term business success.

What To Do: Challenge yourself and your team to create content that goes beyond dry informational details, specs, features, and product benefits. Cultivate a brand voice that is professional but not overly formal and stuffy. Build trust through storytelling.

5— Failing to Learn from Failure

Although Pitfall! was a bit before my time, I learned much about trial-and-error from my early experiences with 8-bit video games. Back then, it was all about learning from your mistakes — “Oops, I just fell into the lava and died … I’ll remember that was there next time through.”

Content marketing isn’t quite the same, because we’re not just playing through the same level over and over again, but there are always constructive lessons to be taken away from a dead end or disappointing outcome. Learning and growing often requires a willingness to fail. The alternative is constantly playing it safe, which in the end isn’t really all that safe.

In her own prediction for 2021, Carla Johnson cautions against this urge, which may be heightened in a precarious economic environment. She argues that responding to the demands of 2020 left marketers with “no room for trial and error,” and that in the coming year, “B2B content marketing will be about taking smart risks that lead to more innovative work.”

What To Do: Experiment! Make small bets and take measured risks as you seek out fresh ways to engage and connect with your audience. Ironically, one of the biggest mistakes we can make as B2B content marketers is being too afraid to make mistakes.

“Ironically, one of the biggest mistakes we can make as B2B content marketers is being too afraid to make mistakes.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

Here’s to Smooth Sailing in 2021

Every marketer is bound to hit their share of snags and setbacks this year. But if we stay vigilant in avoiding the pitfalls we can anticipate —like the five cited above — and embrace the unpredictable hardships as opportunities to learn and adapt, we’ll make it through and come out stronger on the other end.

For more guidance and inspiration to carry you through the new year, check out our top 10 content marketing posts from 2020.

Best of B2B Marketing: Get Inspired for 2021 with These Top 10 Content Marketing Posts

Happy business professionals jumping up in celebration image.

Content encompasses nearly everything we read, view, or listen to this pandemic year, and as our CEO Lee Odden said long ago, it’s also part of the reason the need for search began in the first place.

We’re especially proud of the content marketing successes our team at TopRank Marketing have achieved during this topsy-turvy 2020, for a wide-range of major B2B clients. As 2021 draws close, we wanted to share our top content marketing articles of the year — each filled with best practices, research, examples, and the latest trends.

We’re fortunate to have a wealth of talented B2B marketing professionals contributing to the TopRank B2B Marketing blog — which celebrates its 17th year this month — including Lee Odden, Joshua Nite, Elizabeth Williams, Anne Leuman, Nick Nelson, Debbie Friez, Birdie Zepeda, myself, and Alexis Hall, among others.

Collectively this compendium of our top 10 content marketing posts of the year serves as a valuable resource, filled with practical examples and relevant topics for digital marketing professionals from CMOs to copywriters. We hope that you’ll find these articles helpful well into 2021 and far beyond.

Now, join us as we move on to the top 10! These most popular content marketing posts of the year are ordered by a combination of search visibility and social engagement:

Our Most Popular Content Marketing Posts of 2020:

1. 50 Top B2B Content Marketing Influencers To Follow in 2021 #CMWorld — Lane R. Ellis

2020 CMWorld 50 Content Marketing Influencers

In our top content marketing post of the year I share our annual list of the top 50 content marketing influencers to follow and learn from, released during this year’s all-virtual Content Marketing World conference. You’ll learn new lessons from these 50 content marketing influencers throughout 2021 and into a post-pandemic industry landscape.

You can check out all of my posts here, and follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“@TopRank has a long history with #CMWorld starting at the beginning, with 10 years of speaking and attending along with 7 years of partnering with @CMIContent to develop speaker and influencer content marketing campaigns.” @lanerellis Click To Tweet

2. Where’s the Marketing in Content Marketing? 10 Essential Promotion Tactics That Drive Results — Lee Odden

content promotion tactics

Where’s the marketing in content marketing? In our second most popular content marketing post of the year, Lee shares how to overcome content creation imbalances with 10 proven content promotion tactics that have stood the test of time, to make your content promotion a priority.

Check out all of Lee’s 2,600+ posts here, and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“An imbalance of content creation and promotion is not only frustrating potential marketing performance, but it’s wasting the investment made in creating great content. What good is that great content if no one sees it?” @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

3. 5 Ways to Humanize B2B Content Marketing — Joshua Nite

Humanizing B2B Content Father and Son Cooking Together Image

What does it mean to “humanize” your B2B content marketing? In our third most popular content marketing article of the year, our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite shares five ways to help your content make a more human connection with a professional audience by:

  • Finding the Emotional Core
  • Earning Trust
  • Personalizing Efforts
  • Embracing Humility
  • Designing a Content Experience

You can check out all of Josh’s posts here, and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“Find the emotional stories that your solution makes possible, and make them the star of your content.” — Joshua Nite @nitewrites Click To Tweet

4. New Research: How B2B Content Marketers Are Impacted and Pivoting During the Pandemic — Nick Nelson

Professionals Wearing Masks and Bumping Elbows

It’s undoubtedly been a year of much change and upheaval, and in our fourth most read article of the year, our content marketing manager Nick Nelson shows how B2B  content marketing practitioners are responding, and breaks down insightful research from Content Marketing Institute.

You can check out all of Nick’s posts here, and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“It’s a bit ironic that at a time where more B2B marketers than ever have gotten their strategy down on paper, we’re being forced to crumple it up and rewrite it.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

5. 5 Examples of Effective B2B Content Marketing in Times of Crisis — Anne Leuman

Woman wearing facemark image.

What is a key factor to successful marketing during a pandemic? “Being helpful,” as our senior operations strategist Anne Leuman explores in our fifth most popular content marketing post of the year. In this insightful piece, Anne shows how B2B marketers can infuse more helpfulness in their efforts, including five examples of B2B brands doing content marketing right during the global heath crisis.

You can check out all of Anne’s posts here, and follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“The true key to success in B2B content marketing is to always come from a place of empathy. The more you’re able to understand and empathize with your target audience, the more likely you are to surface content opportunities.” @annieleuman Click To Tweet

6. 5 Steps for a More Powerful B2B Content Marketing Strategy — Lee Odden

Powerful B2B Content Marketing Strategy

How can marketers overcome content attention deficit and stand out? In our sixth most popular content marketing article of the year, Lee shares five helpful steps for building a more powerful B2B content marketing strategy, using:

  • Ideal Customer Profiles
  • Topics of Influence, Search and Social
  • Editorial Plan & Content Mapping
  • Content Promotion
  • Mining Search, Social & Influencer Analytics

This piece is filled with inspiration to begin intentionally and consistently incorporating influencers, social media and SEO in your B2B content marketing efforts, to reach more customers where they’re looking, with the kind of experiences that will inspire more effective engagement, revenue, and retention outcomes.

“Creating useful content by itself is not an effective strategy in a world of brand distrust, content attention deficit and the distractions brought by a global pandemic.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

7. 7 B2B Content Marketing Tactics For Long Term Success — Anne Leuman

Man running down an infinite road into the sunset image.

What types of content can B2B marketers utilize for driving long-term success? In the seventh most read content marketing piece of the year, Anne shares seven enduring and powerful B2B content marketing tactics for long-term success, featuring the use of content including:

  • Blogs
  • Social Media
  • Influencers
  • Podcasts
  • Sponsored & Guest Works
  • Digital Advertising
  • eBooks, Infographics, and Larger Campaigns

“For content marketing to be successful, you need those flashy, attention-grabbing campaigns to meet immediate goals. But you also need reliable, consistent, thought-provoking content to compound results over time.” @annieleuman Click To Tweet

8. Why Content Marketing is More Important Than Ever for B2B Brands — Nick Nelson

B2B Marketing Content

In our number eight top content content marketing post of the year, Nick explores why content marketing is more important than ever now for B2B brands, and shares three fine examples of B2B brands going beyond mere talk.

By providing ongoing value and propping up your brand values, you’ll see plenty of value in return, as Nick examines in detail here.

“The challenges our world now faces with the coronavirus pandemic and social justice movement create a unique opportunity for B2B content marketing to make an impact.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

9. How Authentic Content Builds Brand Trust in Uncertain Times — Nick Nelson

Man Interacting via Virtual Meeting

Being there for your audience, and being real with them, presents a key opportunity to strengthen relationships during difficult times. In our ninth most popular content marketing post of the year, Nick shares how authentic content builds brand trust in uncertain times.

“Content marketing is inherently a long game, focused on building relationships first and foremost. Right now, the best way to pursue this goal is through authenticity and altruism, in the context of your business and its audience,” Nick observed.

“There’s never been a better time to open up and share real, relatable stories. Everyone is going through something, and it can be comforting to learn how others are dealing with these unique circumstances.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

10. In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience — Lee Odden

Authentic Content Customer Experience

In today’s uncertain digital world, how can B2B marketers double down on building trust with their customers? Rounding our our list of the top content marketing article of the years is Lee’s insightful look at how authentic content drives customer experience.

To help marketers better understand how brands are winning customer hearts, minds, and trust with authentic content experiences, Lee shares 5 important steps including:

  • Accelerating Internal Credibility
  • Doubling Down on Customer Activation
  • Working with External Influencers to Grow Brand Credibility
  • Creating a Content Collaboration Ecosystem
  • Optimizing Measurement to Customer ROI

“If you want your content to be great, ask your customers to participate.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

Thanks TopRank Marketing Writers & Readers

Thanks to all of our top content marketing authors for contributing these top 10 content marketing posts of 2020 — congratulations on making the list!

Additionally, we publish several marketing influencer lists every year, and we wanted to share them here as a helpful way to find and follow some of the leading digital marketing influencers:

Another helpful resource for B2B marketers to learn about crafting a successful B2B influencer marketing program is our recently-launched Inside Influence series, featuring interviews with top industry experts such as the latest episode with Tim Williams of Onalytica.

We published dozens of posts this year specifically about content marketing, and plan to bring you even more in 2021, so stay tuned for a new year of the latest helpful search industry research and insight.

Please let us know which content marketing topics and ideas you’d like to see us focus on for 2021 — we’d love to hear your suggestions. Feel free to leave those thoughts in the comments section below.

Many thanks to each of you who read our blog regularly, and to all of you who comment on and share our posts on the TopRank Marketing social media channels at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Top B2B Marketers Share their Content Marketing Predictions for 2021

B2B Content Marketing Predictions 2021

Even in the steadiest of times, content marketing can be a difficult field to project forward. The craft is fluid and fast-changing by nature. When customer preferences and behaviors are evolving, which is always, so too must the ways we reach and engage them.

Needless to say, predicting what lies ahead for content marketing is especially tough right now, as we wrap up a chaotic year of 2020 and stare into the uncertainty of 2021.

That doesn’t mean we won’t try!

As organizations lay out plans and strategies for the coming year, it’s vital to get a bead on trends and threadlines that will shape the terrain. Where should content marketers and strategists be setting their sights? Which challenges and opportunities stand out? What will be the keys to success?

Content Marketing in 2021: What Top B2B Marketing Influencers Foresee

To help you gain some well-rounded insight, we reached out to several leading B2B content marketing experts and influencers with a firm grasp on the discipline and its ongoing evolution. Here are their predictions for 2021:

1 — Ardath Albee: “Interactive Content will Become a Mainstay”

Ardath Albee
@ardath421

I wrote recently here that digital experiences will be a top priority for content marketers in 2021. Veteran marketer Ardath Albee, who currently serves as interim VP of Marketing at Modus, also sees this as a pivotal frontier for content marketers:

B2B has gone digital and it’s not going back. Buyers are relying on self-education more than ever. Engagement and experiences are critical for company growth. Interactive content will become a mainstay in Demand Gen and Sales Enablement programs in 2021 and beyond.

From virtual product tours to 3D virtual experiences, to value assessments and Digital Sales Rooms – marketers who want to facilitate the end-to-end buying experience with outcomes that prove contribution to revenue will increase focus on interactive content. They’ll up their game, moving beyond quizzes and surveys to content that resonates by getting buyers to actively pursue conversations with the companies that get them involved in what it takes to buy with confidence.

“Marketers who want to facilitate the end-to-end buying experience with outcomes that prove contribution to revenue will increase focus on interactive content.” — Ardath Albee @ardath421 Click To Tweet

2 — Ty Heath: Accelerating the ‘Right-Brain’ Movement

Tyrona Ty Heath
@tyrona

Business decisions are made on the basis of both rational and emotional factors. Too often, B2B marketers have over-indexed on the former. Ty Heath, Director of Market Engagement for LinkedIn*’s B2B Institute, anticipates a collective push toward creativity and humanization:

For a long time, marketing’s view of the world has been very left brain rational. The pandemic will accelerate the shift to a ‘right-brain’ movement.

We will see more humor, more storytelling and emotion in B2B marketing in the coming year. We expect to see more brand mascots like Salesforce’s feral raccoon-child mascot, Astro. We can look forward to more memorable B2B marketing messages that connect brand to demand. If you are a creative B2B marketer, that’s something you can get excited about!

“We can look forward to more memorable B2B marketing messages that connect brand to demand. If you are a creative B2B marketer, that’s something you can get excited about.” — Ty Heath @tyrona Click To Tweet

3 — Robert Rose: Content-as-a-Strategy on the Rise

Robert Rose
@Robert_Rose

Robert Rose has always been a vocal content evangelist, so it comes as no surprise that the founder of CMI’s Content Advisory foresees a continued push to make content marketing a strategic centerpiece for businesses:

The trend of in-housing content-as-a-strategy continues and expands greatly in 2021. We’ll see big growth of content studios within brands to handle all manner of content marketing and content strategy functions.

Agencies and Media companies will still be relied on, but to fill more niche-oriented “skill positions” and initial “strategy”. As such, companies will start to demand more cross-functional skills from their content marketing teams.

“Companies will start to demand more cross-functional skills from their content marketing teams.” — Robert Rose @Robert_Rose Click To Tweet

4 — Christopher Penn: “The Top Challenge? Screen Fatigue.”

Chris Penn
@cspenn

People consumed more digital content out of necessity in 2020, with little else to do amid pandemic-driven shutdowns. While this created new opportunities for brand visibility and engagement, it also contributed to a sense of burnout from living life through our computers and devices. Christopher Penn, Co-founder and Chief Data Strategist for Trust Insights, believes that overcoming screen fatigue will be an imperative for content marketers in 2021:

I have no idea what to predict for 2021 — and neither does anyone else, if we’re honest. But I can tell you what’s happening now and what we’re doing about it. We did a survey to our audience a couple of weeks ago and asked what the top challenges they’re facing heading into 2021 are.

The top challenge? Screen fatigue. No one wants more podcasts, more videos, more livestreams, more time on their devices. Literally no one. So all the marketers who pivoted in 2020 to making podcasts, videos, livestreams, etc. are facing substantially diminished audience interest.

What do people want? Content they can consume faster. Want to know what the top converting channel was for us in 2020? Our email newsletters — and not by a small margin. Email was responsible for 56% of all our conversions in 2020 — and we’re not alone.

The perennial meme is “this meeting could have been an email.” Apply that thinking to your livestreams, podcasts, vlogs, videos, interactive events, etc. Are you doing anything that REQUIRES that medium, or just doing it because it’s what all the cool kids seem to be doing?

“The perennial meme is ‘this meeting could have been an email.’ Apply that thinking to your livestreams, podcasts, vlogs, videos, interactive events, etc.” — Christopher Penn @cspenn Click To Tweet

5 — Michael Brenner: “Committed Brands Are Going to Win Big”

Michael Brenner
@BrennerMichael

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, according to Marketing Insider Group CEO Michael Brenner. He suggests that content marketers who simply lock down the fundamentals and invest in success will be poised to take the lead:

Go big or go home! In 2021, committed brands are going to win big in content marketing. There’s so much noise out there. And yet, there are amazing B2B content marketing examples who have grown massive audiences and delivered marketing ROI.

What do they do differently? Just the basics:

1.) They publish keyword-focused blog posts consistently.

2.) They mix in long form and short form content.

3.) They co-create stories with customers, executives, influencers, and partners.

4.) They focus on building subscribers.

5.) They measure ROI

“In 2021, committed brands are going to win big in content marketing. There’s so much noise out there. And yet, there are amazing B2B content marketing examples who have grown massive audiences and delivered marketing ROI.” @BrennerMichael Click To Tweet

6 — Melanie Deziel: “Doubling Down on Video and Live Video”

Melanie Deziel
@mdeziel

Many content marketers who were holding off on video marketing tactics, including live-streaming, took the plunge in 2020 out of necessity. Melanie Deziel, Chief Content Officer for StoryFuel, is heartened by this development and expects to see it carry over into next year:

If I had to find a silver lining of 2020 for marketers, it would be the fact that we increased our agility and adopted new ways of communicating with our audiences. I’ve been particularly impressed by how many brands have fully embraced video and live video.

I hope marketers retain this mentality in 2021, doubling down on video and live video, and exploring still more formats for communicating with our audiences: quizzes, maps, timelines and more.

“I hope marketers retain this mentality in 2021, doubling down on video and live video, and exploring still more formats for communicating with our audiences: quizzes, maps, timelines and more.” — Melanie Deziel @mdeziel Click To Tweet

7 — Carla Johnson: Innovation Through Smart Risks

Carla Johnson
@CarlaJohnson

Experimentation and a willingness to learn through failure are instrumental to breaking new ground. Marketing & Innovation Strategist Carla Johnson feels that the disruption and demands of 2020 forced many content marketers to back away from taking risks, understandably, but hopes to see a big rebound next year:

Every content marketer has greater pressure to evaluate, measure and report on how, how much, when, where and why customers connected with their brands in 2020. The year was about being nimble, responsive and methodical with execution. There was no room for trial and error.

For 2021, B2B content marketing will be about taking smart risks that lead to more innovative work. They’ll take inspiration from brands that have pushed the envelope with candor, openness, empathy and even humor. With so much that didn’t work, they’ll be able to get rid of projects that don’t deliver and free up at least portions of budgets to begin to experiment. These tiny experiments will lead to more creative ways that solve problems for customers that shake the stereotype that B2B means ‘boring to boring.’

“For 2021, B2B content marketing will be about taking smart risks that lead to more innovative work.” — Carla Johnson @CarlaJohnson Click To Tweet

8 — Amy Higgins: Co-Creating More Content with Customers

Amy Higgins
@amywhiggins

Amy Higgins, Director of Content Strategy at Salesforce (and TopRank Marketing alumni) sees more co-creation of content with customers as key to building brand loyalty:

Many things have changed this year — including how marketers have embraced digital channels and tapped into the emotions of our audience. Our job as B2B content marketers has always been to help fill the pipe by bringing in new audiences, keeping them engaged, and moving them toward the next step of their buyer’s journey. However, in 2021, I predict that will change.

We will focus not only on educating new audiences. But, we will expand our focus to further help our existing ones. Customer acquisition will still have a place at the table, but the guest of our honor will be our customer. This year we will co-create more content with our customers and for our customers to help strengthen loyalty and build evangelism.

“We will co-create more content with our customers and for our customers to help strengthen loyalty and build evangelism.” — Amy Higgins @amywhiggins Click To Tweet

9 — Lee Odden: Optimize for Findability, Credibility and Experience

Lee Odden
@leeodden

Our CEO and co-founder Lee Odden sees an opportunity in 2021 for B2B marketers to raise the bar on their content marketing by optimizing customer experiences with more findable, credible and experiential content:

History will remember 2020 as a year many want to forget with many B2B marketers struggling to manage uncertainty and brand distrust, overloaded communication channels and a buyers’ accelerated expectations of digital experiences. And yet, some B2B marketers have not only survived 2020, but thrived – including our own agency TopRank Marketing. I predict that many of the lessons we’ve learned from creating trusted content that reaches and engages B2B customers for some of the top B2B brands in the world will become the new normal in 2021.

Findable – SEO is more important than ever for B2B content marketers as buyers increasingly rely on digital channels like search to find the information they need across the entire sales journey. Fresh topic research to reflect new buyer preferences plus content and link optimization will raise the bar on being the best answer for customers at the very moment of need.

Credible – Buyers’ increasing distrust of brand marketing and messaging plus the shift towards digital channels has accelerated the impact that subject matter experts are having with content credibility, quality and distribution. B2B brands will raise the bar on content credibility by partnering with external influencers while building the internal influence of their executives through content collaborations.

Experiential – Video has become the price of entry for B2B customer attention but there’s more to creating great marketing experiences and in 2021 successful B2B brands will raise the bar on customer experience with better virtual events, personalization, episodic brand content, more interactive content and increasingly collaborative content.

“The lessons we’ve learned from creating trusted content that reaches and engages B2B customers for some of the top B2B brands in the world will become the new normal in 2021.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

Cheers to a New Year in 2021

This is an exciting time to be in content marketing. We have an opportunity to shape the “new normal” and further solidify the function as a business strategy cornerstone.

Carve your own path in 2021, but heed the words and advice of these bright business minds who’ve seen many twists and turns in the journey of content marketing, and will help guide us through those to come.

For more 2021 B2B marketing predictions, be sure to check out 12 Top B2B SEO Trends & Predictions for 2021 and 14 Expert B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021.

*LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

10 Expert Pointers To Create Better B2B Content With Authentic Influence

Smiling woman at computer.

How does authentic content help drive better customer experience?

And how does influence help optimize B2B content marketing performance?

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

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

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

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

Women's rowing team image.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 — Savvy Brands Differentiate with Powerful Customer Experience

Rocketship and booster rockets image.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 — Learn From Brands Putting Authenticity into Action

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

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

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

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

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

4 — Accelerate Internal Credibility

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

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

This approach resulted in some impressive outcomes, including:

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

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

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

5 — Double Down on Activating Customers

Mirrored floor reflections of giant puzzle piece image.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 — Work with External Influencers to Build Credibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 — Create a Content Collaboration Ecosystem

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

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

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

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

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

8 — Optimize Measurement to Customer ROI

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 — Harness Technology to Help with Influencer Marketing

Hands holding gears and cogs image.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does that narrative translate into your marketing?

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

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

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

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

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

10 Expert Pointers To Create Better B2B Content With Authentic Influence

Smiling woman at computer.

How does authentic content help drive better customer experience?

And how does influence help optimize B2B content marketing performance?

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

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

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

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

Women's rowing team image.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 — Savvy Brands Differentiate with Powerful Customer Experience

Rocketship and booster rockets image.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 — Learn From Brands Putting Authenticity into Action

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

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

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

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

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

4 — Accelerate Internal Credibility

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

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

This approach resulted in some impressive outcomes, including:

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

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

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

5 — Double Down on Activating Customers

Mirrored floor reflections of giant puzzle piece image.

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 — Work with External Influencers to Build Credibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 — Create a Content Collaboration Ecosystem

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

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

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

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

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

8 — Optimize Measurement to Customer ROI

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 — Harness Technology to Help with Influencer Marketing

Hands holding gears and cogs image.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does that narrative translate into your marketing?

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

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

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

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

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

Incredible Content Marketing: 6 Tips for Infusing Credibility into B2B Content

Business-woman at Computer Image

One of my favorite moments from The Simpsons is when the hilariously incompetent physician Dr. Nick burns down a building by mishandling a clearly marked chemical tank, and then exclaims, “Inflammable means flammable?! What a country!”

via GIPHY

“Incredible” is a word that can spark similar cognitive dissonance for marketers. Sure, it might technically be defined as “impossible to believe,” but if your content isn’t credible, would anyone describe it as incredible?

Quite the opposite. In this business, incredible means credible. So let’s explore the cornerstones of creating credible, and thus truly incredible, content marketing.

6 Tips for Making Your B2B Content (Incredibly) Credible

Just as you can’t fake authenticity, you can’t fake credibility. This label is earned by brands over time by developing a trusted voice, showing up for your audience, and — above all — knowing what you’re talking about. With these being table stakes, today’s post examines how you can make sure this foundational credibility is showing up in the content marketing you create and distribute.

Speaking of table stakes:

1 — Don’t lie to your audience

We’re living in an age where misinformation runs rampant. Frankly, it can make the entire experience of being online very draining and exhausting. And while folks might have no choice but to put up with the zany Facebook post by their uncle, or the click-baity headline on Google News, they are less likely to tolerate it from companies they do business with.

To be clear, I’m not under the impression that many B2B brands are out here attempting to flat-out fib to people. On this subject, I’ll make two points:

  1. It’s all too easy to be untruthful with your audience unintentionally. If careless, marketers can fall into the same disinformation traps that plague many users of the web. Always fact-check and verify information before sharing it with your audience, and don’t make a habit of running with assumptions.
  2. Shying away from the truth isn’t much different from lying. It might not feel dishonest to downplay your solution’s weaknesses, or hide negative reviews, but will your customers feel the same?

2 — Gain credibility through association

One of the primary advantages of influencer marketing is that it allows brands to co-opt the credibility of respected experts and business leaders they partner with. When audiences see these individuals collaborating with a company, producing useful and enjoyable content together, it infuses an instant element of trust.

It is not enough to simply activate influencer marketing, though — be strategic about it. Identify influencers who truly fit with your brand values, and aim for transparent authenticity in your engagements. In other words, beware of pay-to-play.

As Lee Odden put it in an interview with Brand24: “Without clear alignment between the brand, influencer and audience, the program won’t resonate and everyone loses credibility.”

3 — Be thoughtful about where your content is showing up

Your brand’s associations aren’t limited to “who”; there is also the matter of “where.” Credibility can be affected by the reputations of platforms where content is distributed, and by the other content that appears around it.

In the social media sphere, Business Insider’s Digital Trust Report has found LinkedIn* to be the platform most trusted by users three years straight, and what’s especially interest to note is the dramatic drop-off Facebook has seen over this span:

Business Insider Chart

Nearly half of the respondents (47%) in Business Insider’s 2019 report said they think Facebook is “extremely likely” to show them deceptive content. I wrote on this blog recently about the B2B implications of the Facebook advertising boycott. This isn’t to say marketing on Facebook is a universal cred-killer, but it’s something that should increasingly be weighed in your decision-making.

Any podcast your brand representatives appear on, or blogs they guest-post on, should also be vetted deeply. Just as you can gain credibility through association, you can also lose it.

4 — Put your brand’s purpose forward

I like to frame a company’s relationship with its purpose as that between the Earth and the Sun: Not so close that it’s constantly in your face, but always within view, and all of your marketing activities orbit around it.

There are many benefits to being a purpose-driven brand, but the credibility factor is a big one. Credibility is built, in part, through consistency. Staying true to a clearly articulated guiding mission is one of the simplest ways to demonstrate consistency, even amidst rapidly changing conditions.

Kim Davis of MarTech Today recently highlighted Deloitte’s seven marketing trends for 2021, which are geared toward “breaking out of our often defensive mindsets to more holistically — and authentically — meet human needs.”

The first item on the list is purpose. And I might argue that the following six confidence-building touchstones – agility, human connections, trust, participation, fusion, talent transformation – all feed off it.

Like planets orbiting the Sun.

 5 — Elevate the voices of your community

Companies aren’t credible. We can say they are, as a shorthand, but nobody actually finds a business entity trustworthy or dependable on its own. Credibility is driven by the people behind the brand, and by its advocates. Do all you can to showcase those individuals and continually reinforce their loyalty.

Customers and employees come together to form your brand’s community. People see themselves in the reflection of the community, not the company logo or product features. So if you want to build credibility, lift those voices up. In the past, we’ve preached the value of user-generated content and employee advocacy. More recently, Cara Sloman wrote at Entrepreneur about the power of customer champions for trust and credibility.

6 —Make the commitment and investment to do marketing well

At the end of the day, actions — and results — speak louder than words. Nothing is more credible than a piece of content that is downright GOOD – where it is clear that serious effort and expertise were channeled into creating something that would connect and make an impact.

You can’t manufacture the credibility of ranking first in Google for a keyword you want to own, or building a large and engaged following on social media, or boasting heartfelt customer testimonials on your website.

These things don’t come easily or automatically. And they’re never earned by taking the easy route.

Jeff Bezos once said, “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Say what you will about the Amazon overlord, but no one can deny he’s got credibility on the subject of growing a modern business.

Want help making your content marketing more credible AND incredible? Reach out to our team at TopRank Marketing.

* LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is a TopRank Marketing client

50 Top B2B Content Marketing Influencers To Follow in 2021 #CMWorld

2020 CMWorld 50 Content Marketing Influencers

The all-virtual Content Marketing World 2020 is upon us. As the largest content marketing conference in the world, CMWorld brings together a stellar array of talented professionals who are loaded with curiosity for future trends, marketing knowledge, and aspirations for new successes in the post-pandemic world. For the past 12 years leading marketers from all over the world have gathered in Cleveland, Ohio for one of the world’s strongest content marketing events, and for this unusual year Content Marketing World is entirely virtual.

Readers of our blog know we have a long history with the conference starting at the beginning, with 10 years of speaking and attending along with seven years of partnering with the Content Marketing Institute to develop speaker and influencer content marketing campaigns.

A TopRank Marketing tradition that has been imitated in recent years but never truly duplicated is our annual list of content marketing experts ranked according to their social influence, a helpful compilation derived from the hundreds of excellent #CMWorld 2020 speakers.

List Methodology: For this list we utilize the Traackr influencer marketing platform to filter the content marketing experts who are speaking at the current year’s Content Marketing World conference using a large number of criteria including the relevance of the individuals to the topic, the degree to which their networks engage, the size of their networks, and other factors. Online data is pulled from blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and other platforms.

The focus topic in question is most definitely “content marketing,” and everyone included on this list is:

  • A speaker at #CMWorld 2020
  • Ranked in the top-50 for “content marketing” according to relevance, resonance, reach and audience metrics

CMWorld 2019 Influencer network

People always thank me for including them in these lists and there’s no thanks to be given other than to the people who worked hard sharing useful knowledge about content marketing to their social channels, in blogs, videos, podcasts, and online in general.

Many thanks go to all the people who are actively sharing knowledge about content marketing by engaging and helping others with helpful opinions, insights and expertise on the social web. This list is only a starting point to help expand your content marketing universe.

In this year’s list there are familiar faces and quite a few new entries. We plan to learn new lessons from these 50 content marketing influencers and hope you’ll do the same throughout the rest of the year and into 2021 and beyond.

50 Content Marketing Influencers Speaking at CMWorld 2020

JuliaMcCoy

Julia McCoy @JuliaEMcCoy
CEO, Express Writers
Presenting: How to Build an Online Audience Through Powerful, Consistent Search Optimized Content Creation

ChrisPenn

Christopher Penn @cspenn
Co-Founder & Chief Data Scientist, Trust Insights
Presenting: Practical Applications of AI in Content Marketing

LeeOdden

Lee Odden @leeodden
CEO, TopRank Marketing
Presenting: Influencer Marketing Unleashed: Top Tactics for Success from Global B2B Brands

MichaelBrenner

Michael Brenner @BrennerMichael
Content Marketing Agency CEO & CMO Influencer, Marketing Insider Group
Presenting: Content Optimization & Distribution Strategies – Mapping Content to the Buyer Journey (and ROI)

Pam Didner

Pam Didner @PamDidner
Author, Founder & VP of Marketing, Effective Sales Enablement
Presenting: 3 Trends You Can’t Ignore As a Content Marketer
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With Pam Dinner

ChristophTrappe

Christoph Trappe @CTrappe
Chief Content & Marketing Officer, The Authentic Storytelling Project
Presenting: How to Make Sure Your Company Ranks in Voice Search

Ann-Handley

Ann Handley @MarketingProfs
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With Ann Handley
Presenting: Precedented: 5 Principles of the Last Chaotic 10 Months That Are the Very Key to Content Marketing Success in the Next 10 Years

Viveka-Von-Rosen

Viveka Von Rosen @LinkedInExpert
Co-Founder & Chief Visibility Officer, Vengreso
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With Viveka von Rosen
Presenting: Why Your B2B Sales Force Should Be Your Greatest Content Distribution Channel

Bernie Borges

Bernie Borges @bernieborges
Chief Customer Officer, Vengreso
Presenting: How to Develop an Account Based Podcasting Content Plan that Drives Revenue

RobertRose

Robert Rose @Robert_Rose
Chief Strategy Advisor, Content Marketing Institute
Presenting: Architecting Desire: A New Strategy for Content Marketing for the Next Ten Years
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With Robert Rose
Presenting: Content Marketing 101 – Let’s Begin
Presenting: Content Marketing Strategy For Agencies – How To Create, As Well as Deliver, Content Marketing Strategy To Clients
Presenting: Welcome to Content Marketing World 2020

Dennis Shiao

Dennis Shiao @dshiao
Marketing Consultant, Attention Retention
Presenting: The Magic of Meetups: How to Use Meetups to Build Community, Drive Brand Engagement and Inform a Content Marketing Strategy

Erika Heald

Erika Heald @SFerika
Marketing Consultant, Erika Heald Consulting
Presenting: Content Marketing for Marketing Agencies: Make Your Services Sing

Melanie-Deziel

Melanie Deziel @mdeziel
Chief Content Officer, StoryFuel
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With Melanie Deziel
Presenting: More Brain, Less Storm: The Power Of The Creative Process

Andrea-Fryrear

Andrea Fryrear @AndreaFryrear
Agile Marketing Coach & Trainer, Co-Founder, AgileSherpas
Presenting: Persistently Agile: Why the Key to High Performance Marketing Lies with People Not Projects

Jay-Baer

Jay Baer @jaybaer
Founder, Convince & Convert
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With Jay Baer
Presenting: Courageous Content: 6 Ways to Get Noticed Amidst the Noise

Jay Acunzo

Jay Acunzo @jayacunzo
Founder, Marketing Showrunners
Presenting: Start Here: How to Make Things that Make a Difference by Changing How You Begin

Andy-Crestodina

Andy Crestodina @crestodina
Co-Founder & CMO, Orbit Media Studios
Presenting: Google Analytics for Content Marketers: How to Optimize Content for Traffic and Conversions
Presenting: SEO Workshop

A. Lee Judge

A. Lee Judge @ALeeJudge
Co-Founder & CMO, Content Monsta
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With A. Lee Judge
Presenting: Be Content

JonathanCrossfield

Jonathan Crossfield @Kimota
Content Writer & Storyteller, Freelance
Presenting: Show Your Work: How to Become a Fact-Checking Pedant (and Why You Should)
Presenting: The Content Marketing Diamond Model for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Kathy-Klotz-Guest

Kathy Klotz-Guest @kathyklotzguest
Founder, Keeping It Human
Presenting: Fearless Content Teams: Creating a Safe Place for Unsafe Ideas

Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi @JoePulizzi
Founder, Content Marketing Institute
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With Joe Pulizzi
Presenting: Keynote – Where Do We Go from Here? Disney, Diversification & The New Marketing Business Model

Brian-Fanzo

Brian Fanzo @iSocialFanz
Virtual Keynote Speaker, iSocialFanz
Presenting: What Podcasting & TikTok Can Teach Us About Creating Empathetic Content!

Amy Balliett

Amy Balliett @AmyBalliett
Founder & CEO, Killer Visual Strategies
Presenting: Marketing to Gen V: Engaging the Visual Generation

RichSchwerin

Rich Schwerin @Greencognito
Senior Content Strategist, Autodesk
Presenting: The Magic of Meetups: How to Use Meetups to Build Community, Drive Brand Engagement and Inform a Content Marketing Strategy

AmandaTodorovich

Amanda Todorovich @amandatodo
Senior Director of Digital Marketing & Health Content, Cleveland Clinic
Presenting: #CMWorld Cleveland Clinic Health Summit
Presenting: The Test of Time: Long-Term Success at the Cleveland Clinic

Zari-Venhaus

Zari Venhaus @zvenhaus
Director of Corporate Marketing Communications, Eaton
Presenting: Developing Global Content for Local Audiences

Amber-Naslund

Amber Naslund @AmberCadabra
Principal Consultant, Content Solutions, LinkedIn
Presenting: Digital Doubt: Fighting Imposter Syndrome in a Hyperconnected, Content-Saturated World

Luvvie-Ajayi-Jones

Luvvie Ajayi Jones @iLuvvit
New York Times Bestselling Author & CEO, AweLuv Inc.
Presenting: Keynote

Nancy-Harhut

Nancy Harhut @nharhut
Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, HBT Marketing
Presenting: 10 Human Behavior Hacks that Make Your Email Crazy Effective

Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis @DrewDavisHere
Keynote Speaker & Best-Selling Author, Monumental Shift
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With Andrew Davis
Presenting: Limit Less: How Successful Brands Increase Their Revenue, Generate More Leads, and Spread Their Message in a Crowded Marketplace

Cathy-McKnight

Cathy McKnight @cathymcknight
VP of Strategy & Consulting, The Content Advisory
Presenting: Learn How to Move from Mayhem to Momentum by Building a Content Strategy
Presenting: Technology Forum: From Figuring Out Your Audience to Gaining Market Share – A Tech Company’s Guide to Effective Content Marketing

Tamsen-Webster

Tamsen Webster @tamadear
Founder & Chief Message Strategist, Find The Red Thread
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With Tamsen Webster
Presenting: Pressure Test Your Message

Val-Swisher

Val Swisher @valswisher
Founder & CEO, Content Rules, Inc.
Presenting: The Personalization Paradox

Giselle-Abramovich

Giselle Abramovich @GAbramovich
Executive Editor of Enterprise Thought Leadershhip, Adobe
Presenting: Trade Secrets: How the World’s Most Successful Content Marketers Deliver Results

Tim-Riesterer

Tim Riesterer @TRiesterer
Chief Strategy Officer, Corporate Visions
Presenting: Account Expansion: The Conversations, Content & Collaboration that Grow Customers

Sydni-Craig-Hart

Sydni Craig Hart @SydniCraigHart
CEO, Smart Simple Marketing
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With Sydni Craig-Hart
Presenting: Compelling Multicultural Marketing: What You’re Missing, What’s Working Now and How to Get Results

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee @ardath421
Interim VP of Marketing, Modus
Presenting: Account Expansion: The Conversations, Content & Collaboration that Grow Customers
Presenting: Take a Sales Enablement Approach to RevOps
Presenting: Use Serial Storytelling to Drive Demand for Complex Solutions

Liz-Willits

Liz Willits @lizwillits
Founder, Liz Willits
Presenting: Email Automation Crash Course: How to Create Emails People Want to Read

Zontee-Hou

Zontee Hou @ZonteeHou
Head of Strategy, Convince & Convert
Presenting: Financial Services Forum

Maureen-Jann

Maureen Jann @NeoLuxeMo
Chief Marketing Strategist, NeoLuxe Marketing
Presenting: Content Marketing for Marketing Agencies: Make Your Services Sing
Presenting: The Content Marketing Diamond Model for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

Doug-Kessler

Doug Kessler @dougkessler
Creative Director & Co-Founder, Velocity Partners Ltd
Presenting: Let’s Steal from The World’s Most Awesome Content

Jared-Johnson

Jared Johnson @jaredpiano
Founder & Content Producer, Shift.Health Network
Presenting: #CMWorld Cleveland Clinic Health Summit

Ashley-Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman @azeckman
Senior Director, Inprela Communications
Presenting: Staying Power: How Authentic Storytelling can Transform Your Marketing from One-Hit Wonder to Lasting-Legend

Ahava-Leibtag

Ahava Leibtag @ahaval
President, Aha Media Group
Presenting: Writing with No Respect: Find Out What it Means to Me

Christine-Michel-Carter

Christine Michel Carter @cmichelcarter
Strategy Consultant, Minority Woman Marketing LLC
Presenting: Ask Me Anything With Christine Carter
Presenting: Creating Authentic Content for a $1.5 Trillion Audience

Carmen-Hill

Carmen Hill @carmenhill
Principal Content Strategist & Writer, Chill Content
Presenting: Combining Story + Structure to Create a Sustainable Content Marketing Strategy

Laura-Ramos

Laura Ramos @lauraramos
VP & Principal Analyst, Forrester Research
Presenting: Drive Your Content Transformation From The Bottom Up

Shafqat-Islam

Shafqat Islam @shafqatislam
Co-Founder & CEO, NewsCred
Presenting: Ask Me Anything with Shafqat Islam & Alex Cheeseman
Presenting: Beyond Breaking the Rules: Why Connections in Marketing Matter More Than Ever

Jennifer-Jordan-Robustell

Jennifer Jordan Robustelli @jenastelli
VP & Head of Content, USA, Babbel
Presenting: Flood The Zone! A New System For Creating Compelling Social Video

Jacquie-Chakirelis

Jacquie Chakirelis @JacquieChak
Director of Digital Strategy, Quest Digital
Presenting:

Even the best statistical analysis, no matter how deep and well-researched, can only take you so far in finding the people who you’ll consider the most helpful and influential in your daily professional marketing lives, which is why we’d love it if you’d please share the name of content marketers that influence you most in the comments section below.

To further your own content marketing expertise, here’s a bonus list of some of our best recent posts about content marketing:

If you’d like to learn more about creating a successful B2B influencer marketing campaign, you’re in luck! Our CEO Lee Odden will be presenting at Content Marketing World on the topic. Here are the details:

Tuesday, October 13th – 4:00pm – 4:30pm Eastern
Workshop with Lee Odden & Ursula Ringham, Global Head of Influencer Marketing at SAP
Influencer Marketing Unleashed: Top Tactics for Success from Global B2B Brands

We hope to see you virtually at the Content Marketing World conference, and be sure to follow us on Twitter at @toprank for real time updates during the conference.