How is successful B2B marketing like a master jeweler working with diamonds of the digital marketing variety?
Diamonds are forever, as the 1971 James Bond film and its title song made famous, and with the archival global power of the web, your B2B marketing efforts are also likely to endure — so why not strive to make them truly memorable?
Also like diamonds, B2B marketing is a multifaceted endeavor.
Let’s explore five enduring tactics that can help you achieve B2B content marketing clarity and create your own digital marketing diamonds.
Bring diamond-like clarity to your B2B content marketing by identifying and focusing on the heart of your effort’s primary goal.
While it can be tempting to digress into periphery elements of the topic at hand, honing in on the purpose of your content and delivering a clear answer in providing it will make your marketing creations shine with diamond-like brilliance.
Part of providing content marketing clarity is knowing what your audience is hoping to learn from what you’ve got on tap, and this type of knowledge can come from a number of places.
One of the best sources for finding the root topics that your audience is seeking information about are the tools and services that show the questions people are asking online.
Some of the question research tools that B2B marketers can benefit from include:
Answer the Public
SEMrush’s Topic Research Competitive Research Tool
Google Search Console
BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer
Other often-untapped resources for finding out what your audience is looking for include:
Asking Directly with Polls, Surveys, Focus Groups & Questionnaires
Tapping Into Search Intent From Voice Search & Chatbots
Online Form Queries, Server Log Files, & E-mail Questions
Clarity in B2B content marketing can help deliver a diamond rating to your efforts, so take the time to research and fully understand what you’re trying to achieve with any written, visual, or audio marketing efforts.
Not all that glitters is gold, yet what’s hidden out of sight just below the surface are often gems that can digitally bejewel your B2B marketing content, if you know where and when to look.
Although no handy treasure maps are on offer, B2B marketers can use a number of tactics to unearth the hidden gems that will set your content apart.
Doing your own research and investigation can often be the best way to go beyond what everybody else is doing, allowing you to go far beyond the same few tactics and techniques that are often repeated in perpetuity in all-too-similar how-to guides and lists.
Diamonds are famously and unyieldingly inflexible, but that doesn’t mean that the marketing journey you offer your audience can’t be a pleasant one.
Some B2B industries may have notoriously friction-riddled obstacles, and smart marketers will turn these challenges into opportunities.
By helping audiences smoothly navigate around troublesome hot-spots, the best B2B content marketing offers the kind of smooth sailing that competitors can’t easily match.
Easing the B2B customer journey is key in 2021 and will most likely become even more critical in 2022, as increasing competition and an influx of more B2C-like tactics mean you’ll need to serve up diamonds and not just more disposable digital dust.
These resources offer fresh takes on the B2B audience journey and using storytelling to smooth the way:
If it appears too good to be true, it’s wise to be wary and take extra measures to make sure the information and answers you’re providing are genuinely helpful and contain the latest accurate information.
Authenticity in B2B marketing is a subject close to our heart at TopRank Marketing, and as such we’ve developed several approaches marketers can take to achieving the most genuine and human connections.
A selection of some of our recent efforts highlighting the importance of authenticity in B2B marketing include:
We hope that these five tips for achieving B2B content marketing clarity by getting a cut above with commitment, finding hidden gems, making a softer audience journey, and keeping watch for imposters, will help as you create your own digital marketing diamonds.
Creating award-winning digital experiences and storytelling takes significant time, resources, and effort, which is why many of the world’s top B2B brands choose to partner with a leading B2B marketing agency. Contact us today and learn why for more than 20 years brands from LinkedIn and 3M to Dell and Adobe have chosen to work with TopRank Marketing.
B2B marketers have been pushing for personalized content for a good long while. Now we’re also trying to humanize content — to make the case that B2B buyers are human beings who want to connect with other humans on an emotional level.
Isn’t it remarkable that we still have to make that argument?
But I’m not here to write another 1000 words about humanizing content. I want us to take it a step further, beyond personalization, humanization, personality and empathy.
B2B content marketing needs to come from the heart.
True, genuine heart is the last frontier in content. Every brand has an Instagram with behind-the-scenes content to boost authenticity. Every brand is striving to give at least the appearance of sincerity, personality and transparency.
A lot of it is about as deep as the checkout clerk telling you to “have a nice day.” To stand out now, B2B content needs to hit on a more fundamental level.
Why Write from the Heart?
Even as we talk about “human to human” or “B2Me” marketing, we still tend to think that B2B content needs to be head-driven, mostly logic and reasoning, with a thin gloss of personality and emotion on top to “humanize.”
The truth is, of course, that humans are inherently emotional creatures who seek connection with each other. We most often decide with our hearts first, then apply logic in retrospect.
B2B content with heart seeks to make a connection first, then supply value, then finally ask for a next step. It has to be in that order.
So, what does it mean to write from the heart?
1. Upgrade Personality to Passion
I am not passionate about, say, a software-as-a-service platform that collects customer data for marketers. And I’m not sure I want to meet the person who is.
But I am passionate about less intrusive marketing, about people getting connected with solutions that meet their needs, and about a future where marketing is helpful and productive, not annoying. So I can lead with the passion, the why that drove us to create this solution, and then I can talk about the product’s capabilities.
2. Upgrade Empathy to Compassion
Let’s face it: The marketing term ‘empathy’ sometimes has little to do with what the word actually means. While we may strive for truly feeling someone else’s hopes and fears, it tends to be in the service of persuasion, rather than connection.
Compassion is more than just walking a mile in someone’s shoes. It’s sincerely desiring to help them — to ease suffering, bring joy, and help them be successful. Do you care if the people you’re marketing to get promoted, get to spend more time with their kids, can finally afford to buy a starter home, and so on?
If you can show that you have true compassion for your audience, beyond the solution you’re offering, you’re far more likely to make a connection.
3. Upgrade Authenticity to Vulnerability
Here’s a hard one. Very few brands want to seem vulnerable or fallible. Even with behind-the-scenes content, they tend to present a highly sanitized version of the business. If you admit a fault, or share an obstacle you had to struggle to overcome, will you lose people’s trust and confidence in your brand?
Absolutely not. You’re writing to people who experience hardships and make mistakes. You’ll make a better connection if you show that your brand is made up of fallible human beings, too.
There’s nothing more authentic and transparent than a warts-and-all look at the problems your company faces and the ways in which you try, fail and ultimately succeed.
4. Upgrade Thought Leadership to Humility
What’s the fastest way to make a connection with a stranger? Ask them to do you a favor. Ask for help. Most salespeople are familiar with this phenomenon, sometimes called the “Ben Franklin Effect.” The idea is that if someone does you a favor, they’re demonstrably more likely to do a second one, and to regard you more kindly than if you had done a favor for them.
I think the same is true with content marketing. Thought leadership content tends to lack the notion of humility — it usually focuses on establishing knowledge and authority, of the author as an inerrant source of truth.
The problem is, no one really likes a know-it-all. A hefty dose of humility can make thought leadership content much more engaging, and much more likely to start a conversation.
Imagine a blog post that goes, “I’ve seen success in my business with x, y, and z. But I’m still not sure how to best go about a, b, and c. What are your experiences? What do you do in this situation?”
The thought leader in this case is adding value by sharing their own experience and success, but also allowing others to share their expertise as well. The result can be a conversation that benefits everyone involved – author, audience, and brand.
Your Heart Will Go On
As Maya Angelou famously said, people may forget what you say, but they will never forget the way you made them feel. And the best way to engage someone’s emotions is to share your own. We can’t settle for the shallow marketing equivalents of passion, compassion, vulnerability, and humility.
We need to embrace the difficult but rewarding task of bringing our whole hearts to what we’re creating.
How do you create content with heart? Let me know in the comments.
The past year or more has taught B2B marketer many lessons, especially the importance of creating digital first experiences that are credible, authentic and relevant to specific buyers. As part of the digital transformation of marketing, many B2B companies have adjusted their go-to-market approach to satisfy the changing customer expectations that have evolved during the pandemic.
One of those adjustments in B2B marketing has been the increasing role of influence in delivering credible, authentic and relevant digital experiences. Our initial B2B Influencer Marketing research from 2020 showed that going into the pandemic, confidence in working with B2B influencers was very high as were expectations of outcomes.
Despite the growing confidence in working with B2B influencers over the past year, today there are important questions to be answered as more B2B brands enter the realm of influence and grow more sophisticated with the practice.
Much of B2B influencer marketing has emphasized working with industry experts external to the organization, but what about growing influence from within? How does influencer marketing work across departments? How do employee advocacy, growing executive influence and working with industry influencers intersect to deliver better customer experiences and marketing performance?
At TopRank Marketing we are proud to work on influencer content marketing and executive social programs for some of the biggest B2B brands in the world. We also know that our blog community represent a wealth and depth of B2B marketing experience. We invite you to share that expertise in our 2021 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Survey.
Your insights will help elevate the practice of B2B Influencer Marketing and help the industry see what’s working, what’s not and where the future of influence is in 2021 and beyond.
For the 2021 report, we’ll be collecting data on all aspects of influencer marketing for B2B brands as well as insights from practitioners like you.
In the 45 page 2020 report we featured key findings and statistics about strategy, tactics, budgets and measurement as well as B2B influencer marketing case studies from SAP, LinkedIn, Cherwell Software and Monday.com. We also highlighted influencer marketing insights from B2B executives at Adobe, AT&T Business, IBM, MarketingProfs, Salesforce, SAP, Traackr, Treasure Data and more.
For the 2021 report, we’ll be sharing insights on growing marketing momentum with influence, the next level of Always-On influence, new best practices, budgets, technology and measurement plus all new case studies and insights from B2B marketing professionals. We’ve also been working on a fresh list of the most influential voices in the B2B world on the topic of influence in marketing and their predictions for the future.
If you have worked with influencers in the past year, then you’ll have valuable insights to share. You can also enter our giveaway of five $100 Amazon gift cards and early access to the findings of the report.
The survey takes just a few minutes and that investment in time will go a long way towards helping answer some of the key questions about working with internal and external influencers.
Optimizing marketing experiences with influence represents one of the most important digital growth strategies in 2021 and beyond. Take the 2021 survey today and join us in helping B2B marketers at all levels of influencer marketing experience level up their strategy, best practices and operations to build momentum in 2021 and beyond.
For many, the past few months have opened up giving us a taste of “return to normal” but what does that mean?
When most people say normal, what they often mean is comfortable. In the business world pre-pandemic comfortable is a dangerous place to be.
Any company that did not adjust, adapt or pivot over the past year and a half probably isn’t in business or doing as much business as they should. There have been many changes during the pandemic from digital transformation across all aspects of business to evolving expectations of customers. Companies and their marketers must be in tune with all of these changes in order to survive and thrive in a post-pandemic business environment.
One way customers have changed in B2B is that they expect more from the digital experience. Recent research shows 90% of B2B buyers will turn to a competitor if a suppliers digital channel doesn’t meet their needs. The elevation of expectations extends to service as well. “Expectations for experience have gotten so high that our traditional means of customer service simply aren’t sufficient anymore.” says Vivek Ahuja in a piece on Forbes.
Marketing is no different and the experiences companies create through their marketing are more important than ever.
As the former Salesforce chief marketing officer Kraig Swensrud, who is now co-founder of Qualified.com says, B2B marketers must prioritize “personalized, real-time experiences” to win over decision-makers who are increasingly digital-first.
There are important connections to be made between changes born of the pandemic and the trends that B2B brands need to be aware of as we enter the next phase marketing for 2H 2021 and into 2022.
Experience is Everything
“Research shows a strong correlation and interconnectedness between brand experience, customer experience and employee experience.” Forrester
Digital first B2B buyers expect continuity across channels for the information they seek as they pull themselves from awareness to consideration to decision in the sales journey. B2B brands that have adapted their marketing for digital first buyers must deliver best answer experiences that are both findable and credible.
Being the best answer for your customers with content that is comprehensive, relevant, engaging and actionable is more important than ever as competition for digital attention rises in B2B communication channels.
Optimizing best answer content experiences by making them easy to find and relevant is something many B2B marketers are tackling through renewed focus on SEO. Being found is a great start, but being found and trustworthy is even better. That’s why it is more timely than ever for B2B marketers to integrate efforts to optimize content for findability and credibility by incorporating influencers.
Many successful B2B marketers have already made this connection between SEO and influence when creating content experiences for customers. In our research for the State of B2B Influencer Marketing, we found that 50% of B2B marketers surveyed are integrating influencer marketing with SEO. We also found that there is a connection between the elevated credibility of content from trusted industry experts and the experiences B2B brands are so focused on. 74% of B2B marketers believe that influencer marketing impacts both prospect and customer experiences with the brand.
Content Really is King
“The average number of buying interactions has risen from 17 to 27 and 60% of purchases have 4+ people involved.” Forrester
Those interactions are powered by content. As B2B marketers have shifted much of their marketing efforts to digital, content plays a more important role in delivering information and experiences that satisfy the buyer’s intent. And there’s more buyers involved in the process creating even more reasons to produce highly relevant, engaging and trusted content.
While many marketers are already challenged to create enough content, our research found that by partnering with industry experts, content credibility and reach objectives are both positively affected. In fact, 70% of B2B marketers say influencers improve the credibility of brand content and 75% say influencers help drive more views of brand content.
The transformation of B2B to digital means B2B marketers must approach content intelligently and not alone. Partnering with the voices in the industry that have the trust and attention of the customers helps create a quantity of quality content that has credibility and reach that brands are having a hard time achieving on their own.
Executive Influence Drives Sales
“Salespeople must become recognized thought leaders in their fields and contribute to digital conversations in new and provocative ways.” Harvard Business Review
The value of influence for B2B brands is not limited to salespeople. In fact, there’s value in every public facing executive at a B2B brand to grow their influence in the industry and help drive revenue outcomes. Many B2B key opinion leaders and subject matter experts within companies may not have sales responsibilities, but the trust in their expertise can help create confidence in the brand and those who are tasked with sales.
Some B2B marketers area already seeing lift in lead generation and sales by working with industry influencers. For example, our survey of hundreds of B2B marketers found that 53% of B2B marketers have increased leads by working with influencers. 34% say their work with influencers have increased sales.
So why limit the value of influence to only working with external influencers? Why not develop the influence of appropriate subject matter experts and executives within the brand as well?
In fact, many B2B brands are finding the combination of developing social influence of their executives can be facilitated by partnering those internal opinion leaders with external industry experts. Whether it’s content co-creation, a LinkedIn Live event, webinar Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse chat, podcast interview or recorded video, there are many opportunities for B2B brands the create mutual value and lift for their executives in partnership with industry experts that can result in those internal executives having more influence on prospects and customers.
There are more than enough emerging technology trends happening with the transformation of B2B marketing and business to digital first. But there is a human side to B2B marketing that has too often been overlooked in the past. If there’s one thing that past 18 months has taught us as we’ve come to know our business customers better than ever, is that the human connection – the customer experience, the value of content and the power of your own executives being influential all play important roles in connecting with customers in ways they expect and are necessary.
Buoyant B2B: Firms Stress Marketing As They Enhance Their Brands 59 percent of B2B marketing and sales executives say their businesses are active in social media, while 39 percent of employees say that they don’t understand their companies’ brands, according to newly-released survey data of interest to digital marketers. MediaPost
What Makes A Brand Best-in-Class on Social? 47 percent of U.S. consumers said that strong customer service made for best-in-class brand social media communication, followed audience engagement with 46 percent, transparency at 44 percent, and creating memorable content at 39 percent, according to recently-released social media survey data. MarketingCharts
Facebook is testing drastic changes to Instagram to make it more like TikTok Facebook has begun testing changes including full-screen video and more immersive experiences for its Instagram platform, in a move aimed at bringing more entertaining and mobile-first video experiences that better compete with TikTok, the social media giant recently announced. CNBC
Experience Marketing Returning To Normal: 75% Of Brands Have Resumed Live, In-Person Events Some 75 percent of brand marketers said that they have returned to live and in-personal experiential marketing, with 68 percent of consumers reporting participating in forms of in-person experiential marketing as of May, 2021 — up from just four percent a year earlier, according to newly-released global survey data. MediaPost
Norway Introduces New Law Forcing Disclosure on Retouched Photos Posted Online Norway has introduced regulations requiring advertisers and influencers to clearly note any retouched online photos, a potential harbinger of similar more expansive future global laws that could affect B2B marketers and influencers. Social Media Today
Instagram tests letting anyone share a link in stories Instagram has begun a new trial that brings expanded linking capabilities via sticker taps, which could lead to eventual easier link sharing for marketers on the platform, the Facebook-owned firm recently revealed. The Verge
TikTok to roll out option to create longer videos of up to three minutes Short-form video platform TikTok will expand the maximum length of footage shared on the popular app from 60 seconds to three minutes, creating new content opportunities for marketers, the firm recently announced, with the change expected to take place within the coming weeks. Reuters
Twitter considers letting you limit tweets to ‘trusted friends’ Twitter has tested a variety of new methods for limiting who can view content on the platform, including tweet audience categorization that could help marketers refine their messaging on Twitter for specific audiences, the firm recently revealed. The Verge
Media KPIs That Matter [ANA Study] Efficiency is the most-used key performance indicator (KPI) in media, while outcome is seen as the most important — two of numerous findings of interest to digital marketers contained in newly-released Association of National Advertisers (ANA) survey data examining 39 top KPIs. ANA
LinkedIn Shares Insights Into Gender and Racial Diversity in the Marketing Field 60 percent of the marketing profession is comprised of women, with the top three growing marketing job titles among women being director of growth, account strategist, and creative strategist — several findings from expansive recently-released study data from LinkedIn (client) of interest to online marketers. Social Media Today
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:
A lighthearted look at the “The 7 Deadly Sins of Innovation” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist
Americans Eagerly Check To See If They Got Any Emails Today — The Onion
TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:
TopRank Marketing — 17 Best Examples of B2B Influencer Marketing Campaigns — Audiense
Lee Odden — 60 Best Marketing Quotes to Boost Your Business — Quoteistan
Have you found your own vital B2B marketing news item from the past week of industry news? Please drop us a line in the comments below.
Thank you for joining us for this week’s TopRank Marketing B2B marketing news, and we hope that you’ll come back again next Friday for more of the week’s most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news.
If you’re new to this series, Inside B2B Influence is a podcast and video series that goes behind the scenes of B2B marketing and showcases conversations with industry experts on influencer marketing for B2B companies. We’re doing our best to elevate the practice of growing influence within and outside B2B brands to drive thought leadership, create demand and grow revenue.
In Episode 15 of Inside B2B Influence, Justin Levy, (@justinlevy) Director of Social and Influencer Marketing at Demandbase (client) and I connected to help answer some key questions about working with influencers at a technology company. I’ve known Justin for many years and we’re both members of the esteemed Marketing Fitness Group on Facebook. His work with influencers goes all the way back to when he and Chris Brogan ran a marketing agency back in 2008.
Justin has also been in leadership positions at Citrix (interview 2014) and ServiceNow and is a recognized pro when it comes to social media marketing.
Highlights of this episode of Inside B2B Influence with Justin include:
How influencers fit in the marketing mix at Demandbase
Opportunities for B2B brands to work with influencers post-pandemic
What makes a good B2B tech influencer
The importance of growing influence for brand executives
Advice for B2B marketers new to influencer marketing
What should B2B marketers expect from an influencer marketing agency
B2B technology and marketing influencers to follow
Check out the full video of our interview with Justin here:
Tell us about Demandbase and your work there as Director of Social Media and Influencer Marketing
Justin: The simplified version and what our customers purchase is account-based marketing software. That helps bigger customers identify the right accounts to go to at the right time with marketing that’s personalized for them. It’s not a spray and pray with a piece of content, it’s a focused piece of content that hits you at a right time in your buying cycle and that’s catered to your role.
I own social media for the company as well as influencer marketing. I’m part of a broader content team and our content team is responsible for everything including social, influencers, our blog, our webinars, eBooks, video strategy, everything of that nature. Kind of end to end content cycle, even if there’s other people within the marketing team that are technically executing. Our demand gen team might execute the webinar, but we might help with the content angle or partner with them on the strategy or how to communicate that out through social.
Where does influence fit in the marketing mix for Demandbase?
Justin: It comes in different forms depending on what we’re doing at any given time. We engage influencers whether it’s at a point in time or through the development of a number of relationships. We like to put together and run long tail, long-term relationships and develop those. We are able to utilize those for a variety of different things, not just kind of transactional in the sense of what we need from them, but also help promote them and showcase them.
We engage influencers whether it’s at a point in time or through the development of a number of relationships. @justinlevy
Also when we have certain things happen like when we announced an evolution from account-based marketing to account-based experience. We recently launched our CMO, Jon Miller’s book, The Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Experience. There are moments in time like that where we reach out to our influencers and also to a broader set of influencers. Not just those people that we’ve worked with in the past, but to a broader set where we think it will be of interest to them.
Jon’s book is a 250- 260 page book, but it’s packed with data, insights, worksheets and information from various firms, analysts and other companies. That’s appropriate, not just for our technical term of an influencer per se, but that’s applicable to CMOs that other companies that maybe wouldn’t fall under what we would consider a social influencer, but they’re an influencer because they influence other people within their company and within their market. That book in this instance is really key for them to have.
What opportunities have emerged for B2B brands to work with influencers out of this chaos and change that’s happened over the last year and a half?
Justin: I think that you have to be creative with how you engage with influencers. Like, how you build those relationships and then the way that you bring them together almost to thank them or to do things to celebrate them. We’re starting to emerge from the pandemic and might start to see some of this again, but you might be at an event like Dreamforce and host an in-person get together dinner with a small group of people with access to certain executives in the company that they can speak to. That helps build that deeper relationship with the influencers.
As a way to thank [influencers] you might do something like a mixologist happy hour with them or send them some type of a gift that’s not just a fruit basket, but it’s an experience. @justinlevy
Now, I think over the past year you have opportunities to do virtual events with them, right? You might do whatever your engagement is, but as a way to thank them you might do something like a mixologist happy hour with them or send them some type of a gift that’s not just a fruit basket or something, but it’s an experience.
We haven’t done some of these before, but I do know some people that will do a beer happy hour with a craft beer company or wine tasting. These companies will send them everything. Or if it’s mixology happy hour, they might have to go pick out a couple of their favorite things. Or cooking. I’ve seen some do different kinds of cooking classes. It’s a nice way for the brands to thank the influencer so it’s not all transactional.
Another thing that I’ve seen and we’re working on is, creating customized pages for the folks we’re identifying that we want to work with. These pages that we’ll launch soon, will help to promote not only the influencer, but other content that we have. We want to showcase them, but there’s also content that’s relevant not only to them, but it’s stuff that we’ve produced. So it’s a shared relationship.
How would you describe a good B2B influencer? What is it that you look for?
Justin: It’s not always just by the follower numbers. You want to look at what their engagement is with what audience, Even so, you can have a lot of engagement, but that could be with a B to C audience. They have this large audience, it just so happens to be a B to C audience.
So, are they in B2B? Are they engaged with say, Director plus roles? What type of other companies that can see and have analyzed, have they worked with in the past? Are they in that like playing field? Almost that sandbox of other companies that you use or you want to play with or be associated with. Then it takes some creative ideas and campaigns, because like you said, it’s not as easy as B to C. Brands work really hard on that side, but it’s also a little easier just as far as the types of products that they can provide or things of that nature.
In B2B, there’s usually nothing usually tangible, right? It’s about coming up with ideas to engage their audience with content that’s relevant. So it can’t just be transactional where it’s like, “Hey, go tweet this for me”. Is the content I’m providing to you helpful to your audience to help you with your thought leadership or help promote you more with your audience?
What’s your take on the value of growing influence within your brand, especially with key opinion leaders, executives, or certain subject matter experts?
Justin: I think that it’s critical. You do yourself a disservice if you don’t foster your employees.
While this pertains to identifying or helping to grow influence, within there that can even be looked at more broadly like with employee advocacy – you have this group of people.
At Demandbase, we have across the board about 550 employees. Within there you have a lot of people that specialize in various topics. Not everyone can be an influencer. You do have to pick and choose based on audiences and what have you.
I think [growing influence internally] is critical. You do yourself a disservice if you don’t foster your employees. @justinlevy
When I stepped into the company, Jon Miller our CMO was already an identified thought leader and expert in the space. He was one of the people that helped create account-based marketing, or really kind of grab with it and run. He’s one of the co-founders of Marketo, he was the CEO and founder of Engagio, and now he’s here. He is a thought leader. It’s not hard.
We have another woman on our team who’s an RVP, her name is Catie Ivey. She speaks and has the built a really strong platform around sales and around women in sales and thought leadership. This whole platform where she’s invited to speak on podcasts and at events and things of that nature.
And then we almost have micro influencers throughout the company. There are these people that have this very specialized audience. They’ll create a video and launch it on their social channels like LinkedIn. And because they know how to engage that audience they’ll have 5,000, 10,000 plus views on their video. That’s pretty good when it comes to engagement on a personal profile.
So, we look for those people. When my VP and I stepped into the company, some of those people were already identified. We already knew about them, but there’s other people that you can look at and start to foster their expertise. You kind of provide the technology or the information and education on how to do this. And then you make them look good and you can take their expertise and turn it into something great.
What advice would you give to someone at a B2B company who’s just thinking about starting an influencer program?
Justin: I think that you want to obviously develop relationships with some of the people that are influencers in the space. I mean, they’re known influencers in the B2B marketing space. There are people that you might’ve seen keynote at several conferences, or maybe you read their blog everyday and it’s helped teach you what you know about B2B marketing.
But you also have to understand that they’re receiving an onslaught of requests, whether it’s to speak or to be part of influencer campaigns at a number of brands. They don’t want to oversaturate their personal brand, right? So if they attach themselves to all of this, there’s going to be a kind of bend and break for them.
You have to look at those other influencers that you might start to work with? A lot of times they’re very niche to your space. So you want to have these couple of circles. You want people that are almost in this broader B2B marketing circle, but in our case we also look at who is within ABM specifically and how we can engage with them.
We’re engaged with a lot of them already, so we’re fortunate that way. Jon obviously has a lot of deep relationships that we’ve been able to leverage, but there are those two separate groups that you want to tap.
Every engagement looks different and what comes out of it for that person, for the influencer on the other side, is going to be different. @justinlevy
You might be in a different industry that you need to look at that have industry experts within that field that you also want to go after. You also have this broader group that might be director plus, it might be C suite, it might be director and below. It just depends on where your buying group is.
Those are people that may be your customers, or they may be your prospects. It’s just going to depend on the company. That’s a whole other set of influencers because you may want to influence them for a number of other reasons. If they are customers it helps or retention, if it’s prospects it helps with sales. But they are also hungry for the content and to help share out through their social channels. Every engagement looks different and what comes out of it for that person, for the influencer on the other side, is going to be different.
What should a B2B marketer expect if they go to an outside resource like an agency to help them with an influencer marketing program?
Justin: I think that there needs to be clear expectations on what’s going to come from it, because the agency may have a different view. You can go to agencies across the board and that can be influencer or social or probably any other agency and they have different metrics. They have different ways that they work. They have different ways to create content. You want that to be very aligned for both the brand and for the agency. Then have clear metrics in place. Both for the brand and the agency relationship, whereas that’s transactional a bit, this is what we expect. Yep. That’s what we want. So on and so forth.
We also need to measure the influencers. We had X agree. We had X share. Now, what was that reach and engagement? Did it drive traffic? I see that across the board and in companies I’ve been part of and when I talk to friends or other people in the industry, that it seems almost like people don’t measure traffic back to the website.
Driving traffic back to the website, to that landing page is the conversion metric. You should always have that. @justinlevy
For social and influencer programs you can have reach, impressions, engagements or whatever kind of social numbers there are, but if you’re not driving traffic back to the website, if you don’t have any benchmarks for that, that’s one of the ultimate goals. Of course engagement and reach are the awareness metrics that are really important. But driving traffic back to the website, to that landing page is the conversion metric. You should always have that.
I’ve experienced in other companies where that’s not a metric or I’ve talked to people, this is more on the social side, but I’ve talked to people and asked the web team or the analytics team, Hey, what’s the percentage of traffic that social has driven? And they’re like, it’s so low, it doesn’t matter. I said, no, no, no I want to know that number because even if I bring that from one percent to four percent, that’s an increase. Because the next quarter, I want to take it from here to there. So, I think you have to have agreement on content expectations, but also on metrics.
Are there any B2B marketing or B2B technology influencers that you think people should follow?
Justin: Yes, she was just on your previous episodeAnn Handley, one of the nicest and most knowledgeable people, you know. I have been friends with her for, I don’t even know how long at this point.
On the kind of tech side of the world, if you want to become very confused, very fast, Christopher S Penn is one of them. Even when I ask him to dumb stuff down for me, I still don’t understand it, but he understands. He explores data and spends hours upon hours a day outside of his client work, trying to figure out how to help marketers and help himself exploit data.
I think we all have a number of other people, Jay Baer or Mark Schaefer. I think they’re all people that if, you know, you’re looking for influence and looking for best practices, several of those people are great follows.
Be sure to stay tuned to TopRank Marketing’s B2B Marketing Blog for our next episode of Inside B2B Influence where we’ll be answering the B2B marketing industry’s most pressing questions about the role of influence in business marketing.
You can also download The State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report featuring insights from a survey of hundreds of B2B marketers plus case studies and contributions from marketing executives at brands including Adobe, LinkedIn, IBM, Dell, SAP and many more.
“The future of advertising is the Internet” – Bill Gates
Considered amongst the smartest men alive, Bill Gates couldn’t have put things more distinctly. Digital Marketing has taken the field of marketing itself in a direction many didn’t see coming some time ago. The ubiquity of internet devices and social media connectivity has made this field an indispensable today’s advertising business.
On the outset, this does seem an easy enough concept. The promotion of products and services online through peer-to-peer sharing and other strategies seems simple enough to understand, but notoriously tough to implement.
Before delving into techniques and strategies, the question is- What is digital marketing?
The Essentials of Digital Marketing
The marketing of any product or service on a digital medium is called digital marketing. The medium can be computers, mobile phones, tablets or even iPods.
There is a reason why such marketing overpowered traditional advertising. On televisions and billboards, advertising is a one-way street. Customers don’t have a platform to communicate with manufacturers and companies themselves. This gap in communication is eliminated by the internet.
Online platforms selling products like Amazon and Flipkart rank products based on consumer ratings and allow customers to give in-depth reviews about the product in question. This creates a direct line of communication between consumers and manufacturers as the latter is able to grasp what the former truly needs.
Strategies and Techniques
As mentioned above, digital marketing might seem straightforward but involves a large amount of planning. Some techniques used by the individuals to increase the online visibility of a website are mentioned below:
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): It is a set of guidelines set by search engines which if followed, results in a higher position of a website on Search Engine Page Rankings (SERP). These guidelines include factors like keyword density, back-linking, domain authority etc.
2. Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Though SEO is a subset of SEM, many experts use SEM while talking about paid advertising online. To get higher rankings on search engines, companies often purchase certain keywords on search engines. SEM deals only with paid results while SEO is about unpaid and organic results.
3. Social Media Marketing: Seeing a chunk of the online audience on social media websites, forming a solid social media marketing plan has become essential for digital marketing strategies of companies. Using trending posts and targeting specific groups of people online who might feel interested in a product offered by a company are only some ways of promoting products on social media.
The Legacy of Digital marketing
While there is no denying the importance of digital media, there will come a time when companies will have to change their approach yet again. Marketing is a very dynamic field. Considering the organic nature of audience online, it is safe to assume the tide will turn soon. Whether digital marketing chooses to swim or drown remains to be seen.
Almost all types of business involves production of different types of consumer goods and services, selling which the company earn profits. But the sale of a good or service is a complex activity that involves various factors most important of which is the marketing of the good or the service among customers. A wise businessperson knows the importance of marketing and therefore adopts the latest tools and techniques for the successful marketing of the goods he produces. There are several ways following which you can market and promote your goods using mass communication mediums like television, radio, newspaper, etc. One of such medium using which you can promote your product is the internet. Millions of people use the internet on a daily basis and hence if you represent and promote your product effectively online, millions of potential customers becomes aware of your product.
In the contemporary era where thousands of companies are bringing new products and services every now and then, online marketing has indeed proved to be an efficient and fast way for promoting goods and services to a large number of customers. Although online marketing makes marketing and product promotion easy, performing online marketing is a complex procedure that involves the proper use of internet logistics and following of online protocols. Hence many companies that use online marketing as a marketing strategy do not perform online marketing operations on their own and hire companies that are primarily engaged in providing online marketing services. An online internet marketing company uses various strategies and plans for the successful promotion of their client’s products. Some of the strategies adopted are on-page and off page strategy, link building strategy, article and blog submission strategy, video submission strategy, etc. These companies also provides SEO services which involves effective promotion of the product and increment of the online traffic of the company website.
Search Engine Optimization is an important element of a successful internet marketing operation where a Search Engine Optimizer uses various online tools and techniques for the better promotion of the product without compromising with the latest search engine protocols and criteria. Search engines such as Google updates their protocols and rules for submission and link building policies periodically and one must be totally aware of the latest search engine updates and changes before making a submission and bringing the product online. Link building is also one of the effective ways for the successful marketing of products and services in the internet. Links are important as through links search engines not only determines the popularity of the website but also judges the website on other factors such as authority, spam, trustworthiness, etc. Hence through effective link building one can improve the ranking of their website on the internet and hence promote their product.
Promoting or marketing your product or services on the digital platforms, including the internet, mobile phones and display advertisements is collectively known as digital marketing. With the internet becoming an integral part of everyone’s life, the way of marketing products and services too has evolved and every brand and business is using technology to reach out to the maximum number of people. It is being used to entice potential buyers and inform the existing customer base of new arrivals.
Why choose digital marketing over traditional marketing?
Following are the reasons that show digital marketing is a wise investment and effective channel that can help in the growth of business:
Cost-effective in comparison to Traditional marketing: New and small businesses having a tight budget and should opt for digital marketing for quick and effective results. They can analyze the fruitfulness of different strategies being applied and accordingly choose which to go further with.
More power to small companies: Small companies can interact with multiple numbers of customers even without having call centers across the world where they don’t even have physical branches.
Higher conversion rate: Success of business enterprises is measured in terms of percentage of conversion of incoming traffic into leads, sales or subscribers. Digital marketing programs help you to opt out from a number of options that can help you get a higher conversion rate. Some of these tools are Search Engine Optimization, email marketing and social media marketing.
Get better revenues: With higher conversion rate comes higher number of sales and ultimately better revenue that can be invested in expanding business and workforce.
Helps in building brand Reputation: It helps in interacting with people who might be interested in your product and services. If you provide your customer what you promised, they will also help you by word of mouth.
Make use of the next generation technology: The world is welcoming “internet of Things” which is a global ecosystem comprising of interconnected smart gadgets like tablets, computers, smartphones and smart-watches etc. It is going to play a crucial role in the future and a course in digital marketing in advance is going to give you an edge over others.
A course in marketing from a reputed institute not just helps you understand different facets of marketing and makes you techno-friendly, but it also helps you in understanding the minutes of business strategies.
What a marketing course has to offer you?
During the course, you would come across the benefits of online marketing over traditional marketing. Valuable sessions about web hosting server, domain registration, TLD and SLD servers, Windows and Linux servers are an integral part of digital marketing course. A well-planned curriculum comprises of syllabus segregated in different modules dealing with topics like social media optimization and marketing, SEO basics, Google ads, email marketing and lots more. By the time you complete the course, you will have a clear vision and mission to implement digital marketing and make the best out of it to impart new heights to your business.
Internet has made the whole world get transformed into a one big global family. Acting as the common connecting platform, World Wide Web has emerged as a god sent boon for many. Especially giving buyers and sellers ample opportunities to connect directly, internet has surely offered all involved a win-win situation.
Currently Online marketing offered by a plethora of marketing firms out there is evolving into an extensive blend of components and tools that any firm can use in enhancing sales. The decision to entail Internet marketing services in your marketing strategy is something that depends entirely on the company’s individual verdict. But, as a rule of thumb internet marketing has emerged as inevitable, that must be included in the marketing mix of every firm in order to enjoy recognition and profound online presence on web.
Internet marketing services:- the role they play in your firm’s success Whether your business is online, partially online or even offline, online marketing can redefine many vital aspects for your business. There are various objectives that internet marketing service providers can help your firm in accomplishing. Some of the most vital objectives such service providers help in fulfilling entail:
Apt communication of the firm’s message about their products and services among prospective customers situated all over.
This assists in conducting a better research and thus helping in implementing strategies that can actually appear result generating in the long run.
Advertising and marketing now seem simpler to achieve even when the same are being conducted in the global market.
Selling goods and services over the web turns simpler and easier for vendors.
Locating firms that can offer you ideal products and services just the way you anticipate with internet marketing seems a task too easy to accomplish.
Components internet marketing involves:- Internet marketing is a very vast term. Appearing easy in the first look, but when it comes to practical application internet marketing entails a number of components. Online marketing companies equipped with pros can offer these major components which include:
Website development: Describes an online identity which is most visible for any business on the web.
Social media marketing: Social media platforms have surfaced as the most vital platform to conduct business and play an indispensable role in the same. These include platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and also the social bookmarking ones.
Banner advertising: Free placement of ads on websites that appear imperative for conducting online marketing business in current scenario.
Blog Marketing: This depicts an ideal platform to express opinions and collect views from prospect customers and thus improvise on the marketing strategies used.
Search Engine Optimization: Offering ideally by SEO service providers this is like a lifeline for any firm to not just succeed but survive on the World Wide Web.
Internet has given businesses of every size and almost every field the power to prosper in a profound manner. Offering reasonably cost solutions and strategies now get ready to enjoy better web presence that can help you trade without causing hindrances even those that emerge due to geographical differences.
Thus, online marketing appears to be a lifeline for the sustenance and not just success of any business that must not be overlooked in any occurrence.