Five Can’t-Miss Sessions from Virtual Pubcon 2020

Lee Odden Speaking at Pubcon

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

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

Two dogs, one white, one ginger colored

“Sorry, we only have Facebark.”

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

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

Keynote: How to Optimize Marketing Experiences with Influencer Content

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

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

Human-Centered Keyword and Content Strategy

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

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

Google Keynote 

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

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

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

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

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

Conversational UX, AI and Chatbots

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

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

Stunning Insights Are Virtually Assured

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

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

12 Must-See Sessions at MarketingProfs B2B Forum #MPB2B

MarketingProfs operates on the belief that learning changes lives. And from that perspective, it might be fair to suggest next week’s B2B Forum will be a life-changing experience for those in attendance, because there is a whole lot of learning in store.

Dubbed by MarketingProfs as the “most let’s get down to business but not take ourselves too seriously while doing it marketing conference on the planet,” B2B Forum brings together many of the brightest minds in the industry around a singular focus: improving. The well-rounded agenda on tap will run the gamut of vital topics in the modern B2B marketing environment, offering opportunities to improve by learning from foremost experts and leaders in the field.

These 12 sessions, in particular, stand out to us as must-see attractions amidst a schedule brimming with brilliant business minds. 

12 Must-See Sessions at This Year’s B2B Forum

#1 – Through the Looking-Glass: Enter a New World of Always-On Influencer Programs

Speaker: Ashley Zeckman, Senior Director of Digital Strategy, TopRank Marketing

Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from noon-12:45 p.m.

Don’t be late for this very important date. Our Senior Director of Digital Strategy will guide you through a Wonderland-themed exploration of ongoing influencer engagements, and the mutual value they can provide. You’ll learn how to develop an always-on influencer program and avoid falling down the rabbit hole.

#2 – Dessert & Development: The Truth About Personalization

Tom Treanor, Arm Treasure DataSpeaker: Tom Treanor, Global Head of Marketing, Arm Treasure Data

Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 1:35-2:15 p.m.

The larger a company and its audience, the greater the challenges involved with scaling personalization. As Arm Treasure Data’s* Global Head of Marketing, Tom has seen many of the struggles and successes on this front experienced by enterprise organizations around the world. The benchmarks and insights he’ll share promise to be useful for businesses of any size.   

#3 – Dessert & Development: ABM Nirvana — Reaching the Buying Committee at Your Target Accounts

Peter IssacsonSpeaker: Peter Isaacson, Chief Marketing Officer, Demandbase

Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 1:35-2:15 p.m.

Understanding the nuances of buying committees is critical for B2B marketers everywhere, and is being increasingly emphasized in the age of account-based marketing. Being able to reach these committees with relevant and timely messaging is of the essence, and new waves of technology are breaking down the barriers. Demandbase’s CMO will enlighten us on what’s happening and what’s coming. 

#4 – How to Create a Messaging Framework That Resonates

Pam DidnerSpeaker: Pam Didner, B2B Tech Marketing Consultant & Author, Relentless Pursuit

Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 2:30-3:15 p.m.

We often have only a small amount of time and/or space to communicate the value of our product or service to those who can benefit from it. It’s crucial that we make the most out of these opportunities with a message that makes an impact. As one of the top B2B tech marketing consultants in the biz, Pam knows how to align value propositions with customer pain points, and will share some of her best tips. She’ll even provide templates you can put to use right away. 

#5 – The Secret to a Truly Measurable Content Strategy

Speaker: Robert Rose, Chief Troublemaker, The Content Advisory
Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 3:30-4:15 p.m.

Content can feel like an ambiguous frontier, and as a result, it tends to be managed haphazardly. Even the most seasoned marketers and sophisticated organizations fall into this trap. Through his work with the Content Advisory, Robert has witnessed this phenomenon in many different settings, and he’s helped plenty of companies work through it. He’ll show you how to treat content as a scalable and measurable business model.

#6 – How to Combine Account Based Marketing and Social Selling on LinkedIn

Speaker: Ty Heath, Global Lead of The B2B Institute, LinkedIn

Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 4:45-5:30 p.m.

LinkedIn* is a key fixture in the evolution of modern B2B sales, enabling reps to become more personalized, insightful, and relationship-driven in their outreach. When converging this approach with ABM fundamentals, you create a powerful engine for business development. Ty will break down the research and lay out a six-step framework in her session, and you can prime yourself for it by checking out her recent B2B Spotlight interview with Lee Odden.

#7 – Tale of Two Tech Companies: Scaling a Data-Driven Influencer Marketing Program

Speakers: Konstanze Alex, Director Global Enterprise (B2B) Influencer Relations and Digital Storytelling, Dell Technologies; Janine Wegner, Global Though Leadership Program Manager, Dell Technologies; Amisha Gandhi, Vice President of Influencer Marketing & Communications, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 8:45-9:30 a.m.

Both Dell* and SAP Ariba* are on the cutting edge of enterprise influencer marketing, so any time their leaders talk about the subject, we tune in. Alex, Janine, and Amisha will dish on what it takes to create cross-functional partnerships and scalable influencer content, while coloring their insights with real-world examples. 

#8 – Content Marketing Fitness — 10 Exercises to Build Your Marketing Beach Body

Lee OddenSpeaker: Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Marketing

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 11:00-11:45 a.m.

It’s just as true in the world of marketing as it is in the world of fitness: shortcuts don’t work. The keys to both sustained weight loss and marketing results lie in cutting out bad habits and committing to an effective regimen. TopRank Marketing’s CEO will guide you through 10 marketing fitness exercises that can whip your strategy into shape.

#9 – The Importance of an Audio Strategy for B2B Marketers

Speaker: Tom Webster, Senior Vice President, Edison Research

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 1:30-2:15 p.m.

Anyone who’s paying attention to content consumption trends can see the shift from text to audio. Podcasts are rapidly gaining popularity while smart speakers and voice assistants become increasingly prevalent. Edison Research’s SVP will draw from his experience working with clients like Audible, Spotify, and Pandora to sound off with best practices for a B2B audio strategy that delivers.

#10 – Account-Based Marketing: New Insights and Best Practices for 2020 

Jon MillerSpeaker: Jon Miller, CEO and Co-Founder, Engagio

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 1:30-2:15 p.m.

When it comes to ABM, most of us have a good grasp by now of the “why.” Jon’s session promises to explain the “how.” The former Marketo co-founder and current Engagio CEO knows this changing landscape as well as anyone, and will provide a look at where account-based strategies are heading in the year to come.  

#11 – Getting Personal: Improve Lead Generation With Customer Insights

Speaker: Brian Hood, Digital Director, Intuit ProConnect

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 3:45-4:35 p.m.

Are you talking to your customers, or at them? Too many marketers are stuck in the latter mode, due to a lack of personalization, and lead generation suffers as a result. Intuit ProConnect’s Digital Director will illustrate the ways in which today’s B2B companies can drive business growth by leveraging customer insights and analytics to the fullest.  

#12 – Follow the Fear: Creativity in B2B for Better, Stronger, More Fulfilling Results

Speaker: Tim Washer, Keynote Speaker, Event Emcee, and PowerPoint Comedian, Ridiculous Media

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 3:45-4:30 p.m.

As Ann Handley told Lee in their B2B Spotlight conversation, “I think it’s important to approach our jobs not just as robots but as whole people.” This is very true, and it’s also important for us to approach our prospects and customers as people and not robots. That means speaking to emotion as well as logic. Tim is a master of infusing humor into marketing, and in this session he’ll cover the most powerful emotion of them all. 

We’ll See You at MarketingProfs B2B Forum!

Will attending this conference change your life? We can’t guarantee that. But it will very likely change your marketing strategy for the better, because there will be so very much to learn. That’s an opportunity we’ll be taking seriously (but maybe not too seriously). 

If you can’t make it to B2B Forum in person, be sure to follow our blog for live coverage of the event, including detailed recaps of many of the sessions listed above! And make sure to prep yourself for all the mind-expanding knowledge to come with these 16 B2B marketing fitness tips from the experts.

B2B Marketing Spotlight: Ann Handley on Being a “Badaxe” Marketer #mpb2b

Interview Ann Handley
Twelve years ago I had the good fortune to connect with Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs and she’s been a positive influence to me on what’s possible in content and B2B marketing ever since.

I’m not alone.

During that time, we’ve both grown as marketers. Well, maybe I’ve grown, but Ann has exploded. She regularly fills keynote rooms at conferences, draws long, long lines of people to get one of her best selling books signed and her company MarketingProfs has attracted over 600,000 subscribers.

Ann Handley is a marketing influencers’s influencer or more creatively, she’s an Annfluencer.

Since Ann is the very first Chief Content Officer ever, a multi-book best selling author, international keynote speaker and who I like to call, The Khaleesi of Content, we’re pretty fortunate to share the following interview. And after recent events in Toronto, you call also call her a “badaxe” marketer.

In the video below Ann and I connected through Zoom to talk about a range of topics including a game of “hot or not” with content marketing tactics, examples of B2B brands doing it right, how she’s achieved meteoric success with her newsletter growth and of course, the upcoming B2B Forum conference happening near Washington D.C. on October 16-18.

Enjoy!

On Axe Throwing and Marketing Metaphors:

“In Toronto for an event I went ax throwing with a bunch of other speakers and attendees at the event. I mean the obvious analogy would be that in marketing it’s all about hitting the target, but I actually think it’s a much richer analogy than that. The analogy that I drew, or where I see marketing and writing reflected in ax throwing, is that sometimes it’s just enough to hit the target, you know? It takes a lot of practice. It takes a lot of courage to stand up there and actually try something. And I think that’s probably why in B2B marketing, it’s so much safer to not throw the ax, to instead just sort of sit behind and do what you’ve always done.”

“And so the analogy is that some days it’s just enough to hit the target, and that it is scary and it’s dangerous, and it can feel uncomfortable to try new things. But I think it’s incumbent on all of us in B2B marketing, whether you are a writer, or a marketer, or whatever role you play in an organization to take some risks, and just get out of the box and throw an ax at that target.”

On B2B Marketing Trends for 2020:

“I’ve been all in on this for a while, and it’s so old school, but email newsletters have made a such a comeback. So many brands are really missing the opportunity with email. They’re so focused on trying to get really great ads, at voice activated applications. You know, what should I … what’s our Alexa strategy? It’s like, why do you have an Alexa strategy? Why are you even thinking about that, when your email newsletter really needs help over here? The email newsletter I think is it’s, it’s vastly undervalued.”

On the Most Common Marketing Questions Ann Gets Asked:

“People ask me a lot about writing, and here’s kind of the funny thing about when people ask me questions about writing. It’s usually preceded by an apology like, ‘I’m sorry, I’m really nervous writing to you, because I’m worried about grammar’. And that’s sort of the problem right there. It’s like, I don’t care about grammar, necessarily. I mean yeah, you want to sort of know the grammar rules more generally, but you can always get some help. You can always fix that later, fix it in post, right? And so I don’t think about great writing the same as great grammar. They’re very different things.”

“When someone expresses some anxiety right off that, ‘I feel so awkward writing to you, because I’m so worried that it’s going to have a mistake.’ I mean, number one, just let go of that judgment, you know? It’s like the ax throwing analogy again. Just stand in the pit and throw the ax. Don’t worry about it.”

Thank you Ann!

B2B Forum
Bound for B2B Forum: For more information about imagining what’s possible in B2B, check out the MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference including agenda, list of speakers (including Ashley Zeckman and myself) and many other fun facts on the website here.

If you’re in marketing, I can’t recommend Ann’s Newsletter, Total Annarchy enough. You can subscribe and see back issues here.

Follow Ann on the Twitters here: @marketingprofs & @annhandley

Lee Odden Shares His Secret to Content Marketing Fitness #CMWorld

Let’s face it: Too many of us are yo-yo marketers.

We deploy a campaign the way someone might approach a fad diet: With nothing but our initial enthusiasm to keep it going.

And like a fad dieter, we get results… for a little while. Then the campaign runs out of steam and we’re back at square one.

Wouldn’t it be nice if those initial successes could last? If we could go from “fad diet” marketing to lean, mean marketing machines?

At his Content Marketing World 2019 session, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden laid out a blueprint for how to do just that.

Not only is Lee a champion of always-on marketing that gets sustainable results over time, he’s also achieved a dramatic physical transformation in the past year. He’s lost 65 pounds and just finished his first half-marathon.

Turns out, the same discipline and strategy that makes for great content marketing is fantastic for fitness, too. It’s all about consistency and persistency.

Here are Lee’s 10 Exercises for Content Marketing Fitness.

10 Steps to Content Marketing Fitness

#1: Warm Up with Customer Insights

“Know your customer” is a pretty standard motto for marketers. But most of us don’t get deep enough into what those three words really mean. Truly knowing your customer means having insight into:

  • Activities: What does their workday look like?
  • Pain: What are they suffering from/worried about?
  • Goals: What do they wish they could accomplish?
  • Influences: Who or what is providing guidance?

To warm up your customer insights, you need to answer all of these questions for each stage of the customer journey, preferably with first hand data.

#2: Strengthen Your Core with Strategy

Before you start creating content, you need to know what that content is meant to accomplish. Most content plans won’t involve jumping straight into driving leads and closing sales.

The first part of your strategy should involve meeting the customer where they are (based on your footwork in step 1), challenging their status quo and inviting a change in perception. Then you can begin the process of capturing leads and driving revenue.

#3: Optimize Your Strategy with KPIs

As you developed your strategy, you had goals in mind: Our content should change people’s mind about X, help them see the benefits of Y, etc. Now you need to put those goals into measurable KPIs with matching metrics, like so:

The most important part? Set benchmarks before you start. Without benchmarks, you have nothing to compare your new campaign to.

#4: Create a Powerful Story

This is my favorite part: Take your content strategy and turn it into the story you will tell throughout your campaign.

That means building a bridge of narrative that connects your audience from their current state – their wants, needs, pain points – to your solution. It means helping them solve multiple problems along the way, even problems that have little to do with your offering.

For example, this campaign from our client Prophix ultimately leads their audience to a solution: Using real-time data with their plug-in for PowerPoint. But along the way, it helps finance leaders level up their presentation skills in many other ways, along with advice from influential experts (more on that later).

#5: Optimize Your Content Mix

With your story outline in place, the next step is to create the framework for your content. Lee recommends a hub and spoke model. Anchor content is supported by crosslinked content about secondary topics.

Get creative as you plan your mix: You can include the standard blog posts, of course, but also look at quizzes, infographics, audio and video. Also think about content with built-in amplification, like guest blogs from influencers (more on that in the next point) and posting your own blogs on third-party sites.

6: Boost Quality & Reach with Influencers

For B2B marketing, “influencer” doesn’t mean someone holding up your product in Instagram photos. It’s more about developing relationships with people who are genuinely influential to your target audience, co-creating content with them, and making it easy for them to help promote the content.

Or, as Lee puts it: “People who invest their time to help you make a thing, are generally motivated to help share the thing, to make it successful.”

The planning you’ve done so far will help make sure that your content is aligned both with SEO and with your influencers’ areas of expertise.

#7: Create Powerful Content

As you’re creating content, Lee recommends a hub-and-spoke model. You have a central, substantial asset that addresses search demand and includes influencer contributions. Then you augment that hub with secondary content that further explores side topics (and meets demands expressed in longtail keywords.

For TopRank Marketing, our go-to hub is the “Power Page.” It’s a definitive guide, optimized for search and for humans to read. It’s specific, lengthy, and goes into deep detail. Here’s a wireframe Lee shared:

#8: Create Your Content Promotion Timeline

When you’re creating content this great, you can’t just graft on promotion after it’s done. Lee says, “The best time to plan your promotion is when you’re planning the content.” Let’s say it again in bold: The best time to plan your promotion is when you’re planning the content.

When you plan in advance, you can build in repurposing like influencer round-up posts, infographics, even capturing audio interviews instead of written so you can turn them into podcast episodes.

Here’s what a well-rounded promotion timeline might look like:

#9: Measure & Optimize

Now we’ve reached the stage that turns all of your effort so far into an ongoing marketing commitment – the kind that breaks free from yo-yo marketing and gets sustainable results.

Instead of publishing, having your initial promotion push, and moving on to the next campaign, keep watching your metrics, make changes based on your observations, and repeat.

Lee points out that we often optimize when content isn’t performing well, but we should also be looking at content that’s performing better than expected. What made that content and promotion mix special? How can we duplicate it? How can we make it even better?

Here are a few metrics to measure:

#10: Repurpose with Purpose

Part of the optimization process is getting every bit of juice out of the content you worked so hard creating. If you included repurposing in your strategy at the planning stage, you’re good to go: Turn your interviews into round-up posts, your blog posts into infographics, infographics into motion graphics, etc.

But don’t just do it to make more stuff, Lee says. Rather, repurpose to suit your content to different audiences. For example, audio content as a podcast might appeal to a younger set of decision makers who wouldn’t read a 2,000 word blog post.

Or think about different verticals: Imagine your audience is both IT decision influencers and executive decision makers. With a few cosmetic changes, the same content can be optimized to target each audience individually. As Lee put it, “Personalization is the best kind of repurposing.”

Content Marketing Fitness for the Long Haul

The hardest part of losing weight is keeping from gaining it back. It’s easy to fall into old habits and lose the progress you’ve made. The same is true of marketing. Your biggest challenge isn’t a disinterested audience or a boss who won’t expand your budget – it’s simple human inertia. And the only way to fight it is to commit to a sustained effort, make sure your whole team is on board, and embark on your content fitness journey together.

Need more Content Marketing World in your life? Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog for more tips, tricks, and live coverage. And follow our team: @leeodden@NiteWrites@azeckman, and @toprank on Twitter for real-time insights.

Wow Your Crowd: The Recipe for Creating Exceptional Content Experiences

Expert Tips for Creating Memorable Experiences Through Content Marketing

Have you been to a stadium concert lately? The big ones touring the country tend to pull out all the stops. It’s not just a singer on stage — they are usually supported by a giant jumbotron as backdrop providing flashy visuals, along with fog machines, laser lights, platforms rising out of the ground, special guest cameos… the works. 

Why is this? Because the bar has been raised. When fans plunk down the big bucks for tickets to see Drake or Carrie Underwood or The Rolling Stones, they expect more than seeing their favorite artists performing on stage. They expect an unforgettable experience that stirs all the senses.

via GIPHY

In content marketing, we see a continuing shift toward delivering full-on experiences. This emerging focus is evident in the steady growth of the term “content experience” in Google Trends over the past 10 years, and is now reaching a fever pitch as technology enables unprecedented sparkle and scintillation, while the shortening attention spans of our audience demand it. 

The theme for this year’s Content Marketing World extravaganza, as well as our interactive preview and the series of blog posts wrapping up today, all lead back to this crucial edict: elevating experiences and wowing the crowd. The good news is that there are endless ways to creatively approach this initiative, and today we’ll draw inspiration from CMWorld speakers who will be taking the stage next week in Cleveland to offer up some memorable experiences of their own.

The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth

3 Expert Tips on Stepping Up the Content Experience

#1 – Create Serial Content

It’s tempting to think about high-caliber content experiences in terms of pageantry and spectacle, but there are many simpler elements at play. Your audience wants content that it can contextualize, compartmentalize, and reliably look forward to. There’s a reason that almost every big Hollywood release these days is a spin-off, sequel, or reboot — viewers thrive on familiarity. For this reason, Jay Baer of Convince and Convert says serial content, steeped in quality and consistency, is a must.

“This aids in recognition and findability and taps into the truism that multiple exposures are often needed to drive behavior,” Jay explains. And he says another key is making this serial content as easy as possible for your audience to get to.

Ask yourself how your information and insights can be accessed with a minimum amount of effort or hassle for the consumer. – @jaybaer on minimizing content friction #CMWorld Click To Tweet

There are any number of ways to serialize your content. Maybe it’s breaking a big idea up into a series of blog posts, dissecting various components. Maybe it’s a run of videos mirroring the format of a TV season. And of course, podcasts are gaining fast popularity as an inherently serial form of content. 

At TopRank Marketing, we’re all about serial content. You can reliably find our Digital Marketing News roundups (both blog and video) every Friday. Recently we’ve been running a Trust Factors series, examining the vital topic of trust in marketing from various angles. And in fact, you’re reading the final installment of a four-part series right now! Check out the previous “Wow Your Crowd” entries below: 

#2 – Use Tools and Technology Thoughtfully

There are so many eye-catching technologies out there offering new ways to package and deliver content. But don’t be blinded by bells and whistles. Add-ons like interactivity only make sense if they actually serve a meaningful purpose. 

“The key for brands is to not just pursue these programs for the sake of doing it, or to ‘be cool,’ but to have a clear purpose and value-add,” says SAP’s Amisha Gandhi

For example, when scrolling through the Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth experience created by TopRank Marketing and Content Marketing Institute, you’ll be able to play games like shoot-the-duck and bop-the-clown. But these interactive gamification elements weren’t just thrown in for the heck of it; they’re meant to play up the midway/carnival vibes of the asset (and this year’s CMWorld conference).

A memorable experience goes a long way. – @AmishaGandhi on raising the bar for content experiences #CMWorld Click To Tweet

#3 – Measure and Optimize

The trouble with all this talk about content experiences is that they can feel difficult to quantify and report on. I mean, how do you measure audience delight? What is the ROI of someone grinning with glee while bopping clowns on their browser?

To some degree, the benefits of a great experience are intangible, at least in the short-term. But we can still measure the impact by connecting consumption metrics with bottom-line results. 

“I think of content marketing metrics in two dimensions: Business outcomes (how content is contributing to the business) and engagement metrics (a proxy for how much the target audience likes the content),” says Chris White of Capital One. 

He breaks them down like this: 

Engagement Metrics: 

  • Views
  • Total view time
  • View-through-rate
  • Percent of target audience (in relation to total viewers)
  • Comments
  • Likes/Reactions
  • Scroll depth
  • Pages-per-session
  • Bounce rate 
  • Time-on-site

Business Outcomes

  • Brand awareness/consideration
  • Remarketing audience size
  • Web traffic
  • Conversions
  • Customer behavior (e.g., retention, adoption rate, referrals, etc.)  

If you’re getting it right with customer experiences, you’ll see growth across all of these metrics over time. From our view at TopRank Marketing, engagement metrics and business outcomes (or proof of ROI) are among the seven essential elements for content marketing performance dashboard. Also included: benchmarks, goals, real-time KPI monitoring, traffic trends, and breakdowns by topic/persona.

Every initiative is paired with a specific business outcome to evaluate performance. Although we keep tabs on engagement metrics, they do not dictate success by themselves. – Chris White of @CapitalOne on measuring content performance Click To Tweet

Experience Is Your Content Differentiator

Turn content experience into your competitive advantage. Create things that amaze your audience and leave them yearning for more. Utilize new trends and tech when appropriate to elevate your content. And, at all times, validate your efforts by measuring the right things and letting your customers dictate your direction.

Is it silly to think about content marketing on the same terms as stadium concerts? I’d say it’s silly not to. 

We’re counting down the days until the grand experience unfolds at Content Marketing World 2019 on Sept. 3, 2019 in Cleveland. Before then, you can find plenty more guidance on taking your programs to the next level in our interactive experience, The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth.

The Future of Marketing As Seen By Randi Zuckerberg #DSMPLS

Randi Zuckerberg Speaks at DSMPLS

“Technology is changing the way we do business.” 

Said everyone, ever. 

Marketers know technology is changing how we interact with our audience. But knowing it’s happening and doing something about it are two very different things. 

Randi Zuckerberg is no stranger to technology and its effects on business, daily life, and social structures. As the founder and CEO of her own media company, Zuckerberg Media, and a former marketing leader at Facebook, Randi has a unique vision for the future of marketing and how today’s marketers can adapt. 

Explore that future with her insights below from the floor of Digital Summit Minneapolis

We’re Afraid to Fail

We’ve been talking about the evolving state of marketing for years. But maybe we as marketers haven’t changed all that much. Why?

Well, as Randi pointed out in her keynote, we’re afraid to fail. It’s only human to be fearful of putting your whacky, ground-breaking, oddball ideas out there for everyone to see—and critique. 

To overcome this fear and encourage unbridled creativity, Facebook sponsored a “hackathon” event where every employee was empowered to stay up all night and come up with crazy inventions and ideas. One of Randi’s out-of-the-box ideas was that at some point in the future, each person was going to have their own television network. So, she started a show and streamed it in real-time. It’s that idea and premise that became Facebook Live, which recently rolled out to 2 billion users. 

“I believe every person in here is sitting on that 2-billion-person idea. You just have to get over your fear of failure,” Randi told the audience.

The trick will be to give yourself and your employees the freedom to come up with and present them. Don’t kill projects and ideas that are different from yours, push them to the next step.

Everything Is Media

There’s been a dramatic shift in how audiences consume content. An example Randi used was Red Bull and Felix Baumgartner’s stratosphere jump. That jump was streamed on Facebook and broke records. 

“It begged the question: are they an energy drink? Or an extreme sports network?” 

Randi also shared that Coca-Cola has 100 million fans and followers across social media, which is more than every broadcast television network combined. 

This could have wild implications. As Randi put it: “Will there be a day when brands go to Coca-Cola to advertise their products?”

For brands to be successful in the future of marketing, they need to think like a media company. Treat your marketing like television programming. How are you going to entertain your audience today? How are you going to teach them important lessons? What makes your channel unique? 

A Collection of Personal Brands

TLC. Lifetime. Bravo. CNN. These channels have a brand. A personality. A niche in the marketplace. But so does their cast of talent, news anchors, and late-night hosts.

Every person, every employee in your company is an expert—including yourself. So, why not create your own personal brand? And encourage others at your company to do the same. 

“The advice I give to entrepreneurs hoping to start a brand is to be nice to yourself. Be authentic. And remember that this is hard.”

The advice I give to entrepreneurs hoping to start a brand is to be nice to yourself. Be authentic. And remember that this is hard. @randizuckerberg Click To Tweet

With a collection of personal brands behind your company, you’re expanding the audiences you can reach. You’re also going to see better engagement. Would you rather talk to a person or a company?  And finally, strong, personal branding helps you get noticed and stand out in the crowd.

It’s Showtime

Randi Zuckerberg had a lot of great advice to share (and one killer song).

Randi Zuckerberg Presenting at Digital Summit Minneapolis

But the lesson that stood out to me the most was that the future of marketing is really the future of media. They’re intertwined and becoming increasingly more connected as technology changes how we interact with the world. We might be marketers, but we’re also producers. Network executives. Actors. Showrunners. So, let’s give our audience a great show. 

For the latest and greatest digital marketing knowledge, keep your eyes peeled here for updates from Digital Summit Minneapolis (#DSMPLS). For real-time insights, follow @annieleuman, @azeckman, @dfriez, and @ElizabethW1057 on Twitter.

CMO Maria Pergolino Charts the Path to Creating an Industry Category with Strategic Marketing #B2BSMX

Maria Pergolino at B2BSMX

What is the ultimate goal for any business or marketing unit? 

There are many valid answers to this question. But I think the subject of Maria Pergolino’s REVTalk on Tuesday morning at B2B Sales and Marketing Exchange (B2BSMX) in Boston offers a worthy aspiration for just about any organization: creating a category. 

Brands that are universally held in high esteem and pointed to as shining examples of marketing mastery – such as Uber, Salesforce, and Starbucks – often share this distinction. Their names ring synonymous with what they do. 

As a seasoned marketing executive who’s overseen this outcome at a number of different companies over the years, Maria has developed acute expertise on category creation, and offered us a glimpse of her process.

“I have lived in very fast-growth organizations,” she said, “and I want to talk about the marketing that has to be done for that to happen.”

Distinct, Comprehensive, Transformative

These three descriptors represent the standard for creating a category. Here’s how she frames each of them in practical terms.

Distinct: You’ve got to be different. Any company that wants to own a category must necessarily be unique from all others within it. It’s not enough to be better; you have to be distinct.

Comprehensive: Your company doesn’t need to do everything. It just needs to do everything that people want from a solution in your specific category. If you have gaps in addressing the needs and wants of your customers, you can bet your competitors will fill them.

Transformative: There’s a misperception that every category-creator needs to reinvent the wheel. As Bandwidth’s Noreen Allen explained in her own “Built to Scale” REVTalk session later on Tuesday, it’s actually smart to join an established fast-growth market, so you can validate your vision with investors and gain resonance with customers. But as Maria implores, you need to transform that market or vertical in a meaningful way. 

Pillars of Category Creation

What makes category creation so exhilarating for marketers, in Maria’s mind? We have the opportunity to educate people. You’re not just regurgitating someone else’s talking points or reinforcing an existing paradigm. You’re charting a new course. Or, as she puts it, “You have a better way of doing something, and you’re trying to tell the world about it.”

How do we break through with this original message, though? Maria provides a series of fundamental requirements, adding examples to illustrate.

Establish the Brand

  • Clear, Distinct & Stated
  • Connects Audience
  • Aligned to Product
  • Repetition/Drumbeat

Accomplishing each of the above bullets will help generate that mental correlation between your category and brand. As one example, Maria references Sangram Vajre, who delivered Monday’s opening keynote on account-based marketing and its permeation of B2B, noting that he and his company Terminus have staked a claim on the ABM category through alignment and repetition. He’s written multiple books on the topic, runs a podcast about it, and even had ABM imprinted on his shoes at the conference.

Build Demand

  • Revenue, Not MQLs
  • Scale
  • A Shared Approach
  • Metrics Based

When you’re forging a new niche, you need to create demand that may not yet exist. People are likely familiar with your broader market category, but the key is driving excitement around your particular area of focus, as opposed to just your product. This means pinpointing pertinent bottom-line metrics, and thinking about scalability early on. Maria remarked upon Sandra Freeman’s Stranger Things-themed ABM presentation from the day before, noting that she appreciated Sandra’s first pointer for avoiding the Upside Down: add “data-driven” in front of every team member’s superpower. 

Become the Leader

  • Proven
  • Innovative
  • Network
  • Trust

You don’t become a leader simply because you declare yourself one. You do it through your actions. You need to prove you can deliver, exhibit innovation, grow your network organically, and – above all – build trust (something we regularly evangelize at TopRank Marketing).

Align for Success

  • Sales
  • Product
  • Human Resources
  • Customer Success

If you don’t have everyone on board, rowing the same direction, the ship’s never going to reach its destination. This means aligning on messaging and your approach in the marketplace. These efforts must be consistent and concerted. She notes that one trend she’s witnessing in accordance with this objective is the presence of HR leaders alongside the CFO in board meetings. This helps provide a voice and conduit for employees at the highest level.

Are your customers, your partners highlighting your brand and bringing you more customers? @InboundMarketer #B2BSMX Click To Tweet

Step by Step, Piece by Piece

One important thing to keep in mind is that creating a category isn’t an instantaneous process. It can be easy to look at a company like Uber and feel like their emergence took place overnight, but there was considerably more work and strategy behind this success.

“Things that we see as trends, things that go viral, it takes a long time for that to happen,” Maria asserts.

Luckily, thanks to her, we now have a blueprint in hand. 

Stay tuned for more live coverage of #B2BSMX Boston here on the TopRank Marketing Blog. In addition, follow along in real-time on Twitter at @NickNelsonMN and @leeodden.

That’s A Wrap: Top Takeaways From 2019’s B2B Marketing Exchange

Last week the TopRank Marketing team had the opportunity to attend the annual B2B Marketing Exchange conference in Scottsdale, AZ. This event featured insights from speakers on everything from marketing for the greater good to encouraging true alignment between sales and marketing teams.

For those of you who weren’t able to attend (or who attended but didn’t have a chance to see everything), here are our top insights from this great event.

B2B Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden helped attendees break free of boring B2B marketing when he took the stage and shared examples of brands that are winning with content that excites their audience. Here are some of the key takeaways:

Ahead of B2BMX, the TopRank Marketing collaborated with B2BMX speakers to create this fun new asset that features advice on how exactly brands can break free of boring marketing:

Click Here to see the Break Free from Boring B2B Guide in Full-Screen Mode

Top Takeaways From B2BMX

Bye-Bye Boring B2B

Interactive Influencer Content Marketing

TopRank Marketing’s Lee Odden shares insights into ways that brands can create interactive, influencer-driven experiences to delight their audiences.

Can Marketing Save the World?

3M’s Carlos Abler gave a fantastic keynote that covered a variety of ways B2B marketers can approach marketing to increase their impact on customers, prospects and the world.

Oracle’s Account-Based (Marketing) Initiative

Oracle's Kelvin Gee at B2BMX

ABM is a topic on the mind of every marketer these days. But many of us are still unsure exactly how to approach it. If you’re looking to get started, be sure to check out these key learnings from Oracle’s account-based strategy.

Sales & Marketing Alignment

We all know we need sales and marketing alignment, but the road to alignment is often an uphill battle. If you’re looking for a way to gain immediate traction, this post offers insights into ways you can foster the collaboration, love, and alignment needed to drive results.

The Future (& Present of Marketing)

Technologies and customer expectations are constantly evolving. And great marketers, not only embrace these changes but aim to stay ahead of them. In this post, you’ll find 3 ways to future-proof your marketing strategy.

The Value of Martech & Automation

Liz Cope at B2BMX

At a time where marketers are being challenged to deliver more personalized, customer-centric experiences to create connections and drive results, there is an opportunity to find ways to automate marketing efforts in a way that humanizes the experience. Find out how.

Thank You B2BMX!

Thank you to all the amazing speakers and attendees that made B2BMX an amazing event! If you had the opportunity to attend, please share your favorite moments in the comments below.