5 Examples of B2B Brands Rocking With Influence in 2021

African American Businessman multitasking and influencing on cellphone image.

African American Businessman multitasking and influencing on cellphone image.

How does influence help B2B brands achieve success?

Influence may be multifaceted almost to a fault, however a key essence is its role in providing smart answers to the questions your audiences have.

Reaching target audiences through digital channels was recently found to be a top-three critical challenge for B2B marketers.

A new LinkedIn* report of the most in-demand marketing skills has shown that digital marketing represented the biggest mismatch of skills in supply and demand. Influence is a vital element of successful digital marketing, and presents B2B marketers with a powerful tool to overcome this challenge, and the five brands we’ll examine here have each used influence in a variety of ways to achieve digital marketing success.

These five brands are rocking with the power of influence, engaging audiences and telling captivating brand stories.

Let’s jump right in and take a look at their success.

1 — Dotgo

DotGo

For Dotgo, a provider of rich communication services (RCS) and other business messaging solutions, enlisting subject matter experts from firms including Orange, Vodafone, Synchronoss, and IMI Mobile was an important part of explaining its mission.

Providing whitepaper content to influence potential industry customers involved a close look at the power today’s latest chatbot technology offers, including person-to-application (P2A) messaging, the benefit of chatbot directories for enterprise businesses, and the first customizable object recognition application for the visually impaired.

DotGo Chart

Another forum for utilizing influence is through industry award events, a route Dotgo has pursued with recognition from the Cannes Lions Awards, being shortlisted for innovation in early state technology. Find @DOTGO on Twitter.

2 — True Name by Mastercard

True Name By Mastercard

With its True Name initiative, Mastercard achieved global adoption and more than two billion impressions by tapping into the power of influence to promote its program that lets those in the transgender and non-binary communities display their chosen name on certain credit cards.

The campaign brought success in the form of positive brand sentiment, with a 3,000 percent increase, and achieved additional exposure through winning multiple industry awards, including the Black Pencil award at the 2021 D&AD Awards and shortlisting at Cannes.

Using videos that shared the powerful individual stories of people in the LGBTQIA+ community, Mastercard’s True Name campaign expanded to global availability, and used another form of influence in partnering with organizations including GLAAD and others.

Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar recently expanded on the firm’s embrace of radical changes in marketing and advertising, sharing how the human elements that incorporate influence provide the differentiation that is needed more than ever.

“Since digital marketing began, the dependency on technology and data has become so intense that people started regarding anything creative as unnecessary or fluffy,” Rajamannar shared in a recent interview with The Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

“But the reality is that technology and data will level the playing field, so a company can no longer compete on just its product features or benefits or pricing or distribution network. You are going to have to differentiate yourself through creativity that is relevant to human beings,” Rajamannar explained.

True Name By Mastercard LinkedIn Screenshot

[bctt tweet=”“Since digital marketing began, the dependency on technology and data has become so intense that people started regarding anything creative as unnecessary or fluffy.” — Raja Rajamannar @RajaRajamannar” username=”toprank”]

Mastercard also utilized its LinkedIn and other social media platform accounts to promote the True Name initiative, including a variety of video and static image content. Find @MastercardNews on Twitter.

3 — Google Search Black-Owned

Google Search Black Owned

Google embraced Black History Month for the launch of its Black-owned business discovery features, and enlisted Black voices of influence to inform the public about the program.

Offering easy ways to help businesses get support or to give support to Black-owned businesses, Google featured an array of people from small business owners to National Basketball Association superstar Stephen Curry.

“Good things happen when you search Black-owned businesses on Google — take it from Stephen Curry,” the campaign urged.

Google implemented a visual black heart over a three-striped orange background in its badge to denote Black-owned businesses, and worked in conjunction with the #BlackOwnedFriday initiative and the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. to provide business support resources.

Influence also played a role in Google’s Digital Coaches, dedicated to helping business owners thrive online, and Google made it easy for people to write and share reviews of the program — another area where influence thrives.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) most recently report on diversity in advertising revealed that black-owned suppliers were the minority, with a 10 percent figure that came in slightly less than the 11 percent Hispanic-owned figure, while 62 percent were women-owned, according to the association’s ad budget survey data. Find @GoogleSmallBiz on Twitter.

4 — Oracle People Over Profits

Oracle

With its innovation showcase highlighting success stories during the pandemic, Oracle* has featured strategy from clients including The Vermont Country Store and its “People over profits” focus, highlighting how the power of influence can run the gamut from small to B2B enterprise firms.

Oracle has successfully shared customer stories in its innovation showcase, putting a human touch on what can often be cold software offerings, such as its Oracle Commerce e-commerce product — and going beyond the realm of traditional B2B product data sheets and often dry whitepapers.

Kelvin Gee, senior director of modern marketing business transformation at Oracle, sees the importance of a more customer-centric approach in personalizing content.

“Companies do need to be more customer-centric, deliver a better customer experience, personalize the content, align with sales, and measure themselves differently,” Gee told our own Joshua Nite in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Oracle’s Kelvin Gee on Winning with Enterprise ABM,” which offers not only a fascinating look at enterprise account based marketing (ABM), but also an exploration of the power of empathy in marketing.

[bctt tweet=”“Companies do need to be more customer-centric, deliver a better customer experience, personalize the content, align with sales, and measure themselves differently.” — Kelvin Gee of @Oracle” username=”toprank”]

Find @Oracle on Twitter.

5 — Northwestern Mutual Celebrating American Resilience

Northwestern MutualNorthwestern Mutual creatively uses influence in the form of storytelling, and even pushes it into a new form of what CMO Lee Hurley calls “storydoing.”

Telling the stories of business owners hurt by the economic impact of the coronavirus, and how they overcame numerous obstacles, Northwestern Mutual’s American Resilience campaign utilized digital, social media, and traditional advertising.

“Influencers will help break down barriers surrounding financial planning by sharing authentic stories about how, with the help of a Northwestern Mutual advisor, they are financially and emotionally navigating important life stages in a COVID-19 world,” the campaign explained.

A video featuring business owner Melvin Gonzalez told a story of both individual business dreams and overcoming fear and pandemic difficulties utilizing financial advisor services, expanded on in additional campaign content.

CMO Lee Hurley sat down with LinkedIn News’ Callie Schweitzer during an episode of Marketer Must Read, and explored the campaign and the power of influencers, family, and friends when it comes to brands vying for attention.

“You’re not just competing with brands; you’re competing with everyone who is creating and sharing content — friends, family, influencers, media companies, and so on,” Hurley noted.

“People want to align with brands who stand for the causes they care about, who are making an impact, who are standing up,” Hurley added.

[bctt tweet=”“You’re not just competing with brands; you’re competing with everyone who is creating and sharing content — friends, family, influencers, media companies, and so on.” — Lee Hurley of @NM_Financial” username=”toprank”]

Find @NM_Financial on Twitter.

Influence is the Art of Providing Smart & Colorful Answers

via GIPHY

Influence may be multifaceted almost to a fault, however a key essence is its role in providing smart answers to the questions your audiences have.

We hope the examples of influence at work we’ve shared here from Dotgo, Mastercard, Google, Oracle, and Northwestern Mutual will help as you drive your brand initiatives ahead into post-pandemic marketing efforts.

Creating award-winning B2B marketing with an artful mixture of influence takes considerable time and effort, which is why many firms choose to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Contact us today and let us know how we can help, as we’ve done for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and others.

* LinkedIn and Oracle are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post 5 Examples of B2B Brands Rocking With Influence in 2021 appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Optimize for B2B Customers with Digital First Content Marketing

Digital First B2B Content

Digital First B2B Content

The evolution of B2B marketing has required companies to extend the transformations and pivots made during the pandemic to more permanent changes in marketing driven by evolving consumer preferences for information discovery, consumption and interaction. B2B marketing is evolved as a digital first practice and there’s no going back.

While most marketers understand it is simply not enough to rely on push marketing tactics and advertising, they still rely on these familiar and comfortable tactics.

Today’s business customers have more content choices in text, images, audio, video and interactive formats on more devices than ever. They expect more than just useful information from the brands they buy from.

In reaction to many of these changes in technology and an increased demand for information, many businesses have resolved to creating more content; more information to feed the insatiable appetite of the search and social web.

B2B marketers are responding to this need. Yearly research from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs on Content Marketing consistently shows marketers are dedicated to using content in their marketing.

Unfortunately, simply creating more digital first content isn’t the answer. Competition is fierce for customer time and attention, raising the bar on content from simply providing information to delivering meaningful experiences. To stand out, engage and inspire action, todays businesses must engage in smarter, customer focused content marketing.

The shift from traditional digital marketing to a focus on integrated content experiences is requiring companies to rethink their approach. Making that transition requires an understanding some essential shifts:

Information Overload
According to a study from IBM, we’re creating 2.5 quintillion bytes daily— so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.

Competition for attention has increased exponentially as brands evolve their publishing efforts and consumers are increasingly empowered to publish themselves. Blogs, social media sharing sites and networks are powered by brand and user generated content, all competing for time and attention.

Since most consumers are confronted by thousands of marketing messages every day, it’s essential that companies understand their customers and those who influence them. Using the right tools for everything from influencer discovery to topic optimization, brands can embark on a continuous effort to improve the performance of their content investment.

Data analysis and optimization tools will surface knowledge of specific customer segments and their pain points, goals and those who influence them. Armed with such insight, marketers will be better prepared to craft meaningful content marketing experiences to exceed customer expectations and pass the competition. Businesses must think beyond the mechanical and transition to a more meaningful approach to PR, search, social media and content marketing.

Disruption or Evolution?
Traditional publishing models have been significantly affected by these changes in technology and consumer information preferences. Print based publications are on the decline, newsroom resources and staff are shrinking and the roles of brand publishers and traditional media publishers are exchanging.

Driven by the Customer Journey
The diversity of information options and access through myriad devices empowers consumers with more decision making power before they ever act on an intent to purchase. The customer journey from awareness to consideration to purchase weaves it’s way through channels like search, news and social media in a dynamic path that is rarely linear and increasingly numb to push messaging.

Those companies that can attract and engage consumers earlier in the journey can establish a stronger brand connection and influence sales, despite a greater diversity of content and rising competition.

Architecting a content marketing plan across the customer buying cycle will enable marketers to plan content topics meaningful to each stage: awareness, interest, consideration, purchase, retention and advocacy. Content discovery, consumption and action at each stage can then be planned to optimize the customer experience.

Great content isn’t great until it’s discovered, consumed and acted on.

Re-thinking a content marketing strategy and it’s integration with search, social media and PR requires a solid definition of content marketing:

Content marketing is the planned creation, promotion and optimization of brand stories designed to create useful and meaningful experiences that attract, engage and inspire a target group of customers from awareness to purchase to advocacy.

With that definition, marketers can build a content marketing strategy that draws from both consumer insights and brand goals to create great content that is optimized for discovery, engagement and conversion towards business goals

Next steps and key questions:

  • What business goals could be solved by more useful and meaningful content?
  • Who are the target audiences your business needs to connect with? What do they care about? What are their goals?
  • Develop an editorial calendar that takes into account how each target customer segment discovers, consumes and acts on information needed during their buying cycle
  • Build search, social media and media optimization best practices into your content planning and promotion efforts.
  • Continuously analyze key performance indicators and business outcomes to optimize the performance of your content marketing investment

The post Optimize for B2B Customers with Digital First Content Marketing appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

On-Target: What’s New With Twitter For B2B Marketers In 2021

Twitter dartboard image.

Twitter dartboard image.

What’s new with Twitter for B2B marketers in 2021?

With more than 199 million active daily users and available in over 40 languages, Twitter has continued its growth as a platform for both B2B and direct-to-consumer brands looking to creatively showcase products and services.

It’s also increasingly used to tell brand stories and as a customer communication tool.

When it comes to new feature launches, Twitter has ramped up its pace, helping it make significant gains as a social media platform not just for consumers, but also for a greater number of professional business users than ever.

Let’s take a look at seven of Twitter’s most recent feature roll-outs, changes, and announcements of forthcoming offerings, with an eye towards how B2B marketers can use Twitter in new ways .

1 — Super Followers For B2B Brands

Twitter recently began testing more visible integration of its forthcoming “super followers” feature — which will allow brands and creators to offer subscription-only bonus content on the platform — with a new super follower count that is likely to appear alongside the traditional standard account follower numbers.

Brands will likely be able to provide subscriber super followers with exclusive content in the form of:

  • Tweets that only super followers can view
  • Fleets — 24-hour tweets that then disappear — exclusively for subscribers
  • Spaces — Clubhouse-like voice conversations — offered to premium subscribers

Subject matter experts (SMEs) and B2B influencers alike could also look to super followers as a way to provide exclusive perks to their followers.

SMEs could also become super followers of the brands they co-create content with or otherwise support, which would likely bring with it a visual super follower support profile badge, helping to lend an additional degree of authority to brand and influencer collaborations and how they use Twitter to tell stories together.

2 — Brand Profile Verification Process Reopens & Is Paused

For the first time since November, 2017 Twitter recently began allowing users to apply for verified profile status and get a blue check-mark — a status mark that only less than one percent of its user accounts presently possess.

The response, however, proved to be overwhelming, causing Twitter to temporarily pause profile verification requests after just over a week.

As the new option began rolling out recently, a verification application option had appeared within Twitter user’s account settings — an option that is now on hold as Twitter re-groups and considers new plans to re-open the process.

Twitter has noted that the verification pause is temporary, and has stated that it plans to soon re-open requests from brands and the public.

A blue check-mark is only one element to consider when seeking to build brand trust, and Twitter will need to tread lightly as it resumes its verification process, so as to avoid over-approving the mark, or making it too difficult to qualify for.

3 — Will Greater Reaction Choices Help B2B Marketers?

Twitter doesn’t currently have the wide range of single-click reactions to content published on the platform in the way that Facebook, Instagram, or even LinkedIn now offer.

That may be changing, however, as certain Twitter feature researchers and observers have noted recent tests which could see a range of new reaction options arrive for users, such as expressions of cheers, joy, and sadness.

Such reactions could help brands more effectively learn how their audiences are interacting with the content they tweet on the platform, beyond the currently available simple metric of “likes.”

How Twitter rolls new reaction options into its mix remains to be seen, and one option would be to include additional reactions in a subscription version of Twitter, code-named Twitter Blue among some industry observers.

4 — Can Twitter’s Blue Subscription Service Entice B2B Customers

A Twitter Blue subscription offering has been viewed by some Twitter observers as likely to contain an array of potentially enticing new features, possibly including:

  • The ability to undo a tweet for a period of time after it’s been posted
  • An improved TweetDeck Twitter interface for power users seeking to keep tabs on multiple brands or topics in real-time
  • Custom subscriber-only color theme options

Twitter may have its work cut out for itself should it follow through with a premium subscription offering, and B2B brands will be especially keen on finding out which exclusive features a Twitter Blue can offer them.

5 — Twitter’s Brand Strategy: From Chaotic To Stoic

Twitter has traditionally taken a slower-moving route to making large changes to a smooth system that many see as working well due to its simplicity, however as we noted earlier, the number of new features and future change tests have increased, especially over the past several years.

It’s upped its acquisition game lately as well, with additions such as Scroll and its media subscription options, and newsletter-centric Revue, among others.

Diversifying Twitter stems from the firm looking to offer variety when it comes to communication on the platform, and an expanded version of Spaces may be key in those forthcoming efforts.

These and other efforts are aimed at attracting more brands to Twitter, and allowing them to offer more interactive and complete campaigns.

Top reasons brands that haven’t already taken to Twitter should do so, according to David Wilding, head of planning at Twitter UK, include better connection and launch opportunities.

“It’s simple, there are two reasons; one is to launch something new, and the other is to connect with what’s happening,” Wilding recently noted.

Advertising opportunities on Twitter — especially video ads — include several that take over the first promoted ad spot displayed on a user’s timeline, along with others targeting Twitter trends feature.

6 — Twitter Content May Shift Towards More Group-Like Communities

Twitter has tested a communities feature that would allow brands to share content to specific groups of their followers — a shift away from Twitter’s traditional publishing method that is usually sent to all followers.

Twitter Communities would allow brands to target sub-groups of their Twitter followers, a particularly attractive proposition for large B2B brands with hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers.

We profiled several top B2B brands using Twitter to its fullest, in “5 Top B2B Brands Delivering Exemplary Twitter Engagement.”

Twitter’s recently-launched tip jar feature — which allows users to monetarily support the Twitter accounts they follow, is another change the firm has implemented in efforts to increase the amount of time users spend on the platform, by providing a service that previously was often conducted outside of the Twitter environment.

7 — Twitter Business Profiles Could Help B2B Brands

Twitter has also made efforts to offer dedicated business profiles on its platform, testing additional B2B-friendly features such as more business details and service information.

When finalized, brands will likely have a slew of new business profile options to take advantage of, such as:

  • Lengthier brand biography and about information
  • Location and map data
  • Location hours
  • Larger, uncropped photos
  • Additional product or service links

In the meantime, successful B2B brands keep their Twitter profiles current and utilize those features already in place, such as Twitter lists, which we’ve explored in, “Why Twitter Lists Are Still a Great Tool for B2B Marketers.”

B2B Brands Find Success Targeting Twitter

via GIPHY

All of these changes and possible future additions represent Twitter’s continuing efforts to increase brand engagement possibilities on the platform, and to keep users coming back for more. These changes also represent Twitter’s push to offer more choices for both brands and users to communicate on the platform.

These are only several of the numerous changes Twitter has been testing, however we hope that looking at these seven has provided you new ideas for your own B2B marketing efforts on Twitter.

Looking for award-winning help with brand Twitter strategy and much more? Contact us today and find out why top brands from LinkedIn and Dell to SAP and Oracle have chosen TopRank Marketing to create award-winning B2B marketing.

The post On-Target: What’s New With Twitter For B2B Marketers In 2021 appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

6 B2B Content Marketing Summertime Sizzlers To Increase Audience Engagement

Dog surfing in the summer of B2B marketing image.

Dog surfing in the summer of B2B marketing image.I’m going to knock on wood as I type this, but: It looks like we might have a (mostly) normal summer this year in the U.S. After the lockdowns, isolation, anxiety and fear of 2020, it finally feels like things are opening up.

This is all great for everything except getting people to read your marketing content. In 2020 we had a captive audience starved for entertainment. Now we’ll be competing with everything from music festivals to movies to walking in the park.

The way to break through and have a “hot brand summer?” First, don’t use phrases like “hot brand summer,” because you’ll just make people hate you. Second, it’s all about customer engagement. That means connecting with people on a personal level, offering something novel and fascinating, and using that contact to build a meaningful relationship.

No sweat, right? According to a recent survey, though, 54% of brands have trouble connecting with customers on an emotional level. And only 22% say they excel when it comes to customer experience! 

How can B2B marketers make their content more engaging? Here are a few tips.

1 — Go Live

Uncensored. Interactive. Up close and personal. There’s nothing quite like a live stream to break free from safe and boring content. There’s a reason every social media site, from Instagram to LinkedIn, is doing live streams.

Granted, going live is not without its risks. If you’re concerned about potential slip-ups or off-message chatter, you can always practice ahead of time. Live doesn’t have to mean “completely improvised and unscripted.” 

A few more tips for going live:

  • Consider hiring a host to help keep the conversation flowing
  • Have someone behind the scenes to watch the comment thread and engage the audience
  • Use a tool like restream for multi-platform streaming
  • Prime the pump for audience questions by having employees in the audience with pre-written questions. 
  • Make sure to record the stream for repurposing later  

 2 — Take People Behind the Scenes

“Authenticity” is one of those marketing buzzwords that makes an easy thing seem difficult. People like brands that are “authentic?” No, people like to know there are actual people of good will at work behind the brand’s messaging. That’s all authenticity means: Real people saying true things.

Let your employees be brand ambassadors on social media. Go behind the scenes to meet the folks who make your brand’s magic happen. Highlight employee stories, even if they aren’t directly related to the brand. For example, if an employee is an Eagle Scout who now runs their own scouting troop, that’s a heartwarming and engaging story that subtly shows off your brand values.

In short, when you’re going behind the scenes, look to celebrate your people and even your customers.

3Try Interactive Content

None of us would use a cellphone from the late 90s today. So why are we still so enamored of a content format that hasn’t changed in the past 30 years? That old standby, the static PDF, has lost a lot of its power to persuade. 

Our agency has been seeing better results with interactive, animated assets. For example, this one from client Mitel brings our stats and influencer contributions to life. Tools like Ceros make developing an interactive asset almost as easy as a static one.

You don’t have to create an entire immersive VR experience to snag people’s attention, either — just a few touches of animation, interactivity and sound can go a long way.

4 Explore Social-First Content

We all know how the blog to social media pipeline works: You publish a blog, link to it on your social media, and hope people click that link. If they don’t click through, it’s a lose-lose situation. Neither your brand nor your audience is getting any utility out of the content.

One way to change the equation is through social-first content: That is, content designed to be consumed right there in the social media feed. For B2B marketers, LinkedIn is the right destination for social-first content. 

For example, consider slicing a blog post into 150-200 word segments and posting it on LinkedIn, with a hashtag to make it easy to find all the installments. Ask a question at the end of each segment that’s designed to elicit discussion, then participate in that conversation as long as it goes.

Ultimately, social-first content can help grow your brand’s social media presence and deepen relationships with your audience. And you can still collect the content and publish it as a blog later, too!

5 Collaborate with Influencers

As you may have noticed, TopRank Marketing is pretty sold on influencer marketing. There’s one simple reason: When you do it right, it gets results. Every time. Everything from a social media post to a blog post to a 5,000 word interactive asset is better with influencer contributions. 

We co-create content with influencers for many reasons, including:

  • Increased organic amplification of the content
  • More diverse and informative content
  • Reaching new audiences
  • Developing relationships with influential experts

Over time, you can build up a community of influencers to co-create content that benefits them, your brand, and your audience.

6 Measure Engagement Metrics

One key element for increasing engagement is to … well … measure it. If you’re still looking at overall blog traffic or bounce rates to define your content success, you need to recalibrate your metrics to include engagement signifiers like:

  • Comments on social media posts
  • Reshares on social posts
  • New social media followers
  • Scroll depth on interactive assets
  • Time on page for long-form blog posts

Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

Ready to have a hot brand summer (sorry)? It’s as simple and as complex as doing things that you haven’t done before. It’s pushing your brand away from the staid and static old-school B2B mindset and putting out content that people want to interact with, comment on, and share. 

Need more proof? Here’s how interactive content for our client Prophix led to a 642% increase in engagement.

The post 6 B2B Content Marketing Summertime Sizzlers To Increase Audience Engagement appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Top 5 Benefits of Influencer Marketing for B2B Brands

Benefits B2B influencer marketing

Benefits B2B influencer marketing

Despite that 96% of marketers engaging influencers for marketing deem their programs successful, there are still a very large number of B2B companies evaluating where influencer engagement fits in their marketing mix.

After spending the last 8 plus years working on developing influencer marketing strategies, creating pilot projects, implementing campaigns and running ongoing influencer programs for brands that range from 3M to Dell to LinkedIn, here are some of the top benefits B2B companies of all sizes are realizing through their influencer marketing efforts.

Before I get to the list, I think it’s important to mention that benefits realized are directly connected to goals imagined. That may seem obvious but the application of influence to marketing is viewed in many different ways and therefore, the outcomes can be just as different.

For example, a pilot is often meant to be a proof of concept and sparks connections with influencers.

An integrated influencer content marketing campaign that runs over several months and across channels produces a lot of useful content and helps identify which influencers are effective.

An Always-On approach over time develops a rich source of content and relationships with influencers which can accelerate the quality and promotion of the content by influencers as well as organic advocacy.

So the benefits B2B brands can realize from incorporating influence into their marketing mix really depends on the approach. Here’s a list of 5 of the most common and impactful benefits of working with external and internal influencers at B2B companies:

1. Influencers add credibility and authenticity to brand content

Properly identifying the topics that matter to customers that the brand needs to be more influential about leads to finding people who already have the desired influence. Collaborating with experts that are respected authorities on the topics of influence produces content, communications and often advocacy that is believable, is empathetic to the concerns and goals of real customers and is trusted by the audience the brand is trying to reach.

2. Influencers partnered with executives build brand thought leadership

Connecting external influencers with internal executives to collaborate on content, video conversations, virtual events and similar exchanges of ideas can validate key leadership messages of the brand. Whether it’s running a webinar discussing the findings of the brand’s most recent research or whitepaper to conducting a series of livestream video or podcast interviews between key executives and external influencers, connecting trusted industry voices with brand messaging can drive credibility, differentiation and leadership.

3. Influencers can co-create better content experiences for customers

According to research in the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 74% of B2B marketers believe that collaborating on content with influencers helps improve the experience for prospects and customers.

An increasing number of professional influencers in the B2B world bring both expertise as well as media creation savvy. That means the ability to produce video content, podcast content or graphical and text content that is in tune with customer expectations for more experiential content that the brand might not have the resources to produce.

Alternatively, even if the B2B brand has the resources to create great video, audio, graphical and text content, adding influencer contributions “optimizes” for credibility and authenticity, which is a better experience than brand content simply pontificating its importance.

4. Influencers accelerate content production, promotion and impact

When effectively designed and planned, an influencer engagement effort can create a community of influence that the brand can tap for a variety of content creation efforts. Imagine having a group of 10, 25 or as in the case of LinkedIn or Adobe, 60-75 industry experts on-tap to engage on content projects?

Developing a community of influencers means creating genuine relationships between the brand and influencers based on mutual benefit and shared values. Not only does an engaged community of influencers help create content, but they are invested in the success of content distribution and impact because it benefits their own interests and that of their audience.

The reputation influencers develop on the topics of influence means trust when it matters most – making decisions about which B2B solutions to consider, evaluate and purchase.

5. Influencer collaborations can help optimize brand content for search

There is a compelling connection between the topics and keywords that people search on when looking for solutions and the topics around which industry experts are influential.

Optimizing content with keywords is at the core of improving the findability of brand content on search engines. Including influencers on those same topics in the content is a way of optimizing for credibility. What good is being found in search if people don’t trust what they find?

Going a bit deeper into the influence and SEO connection, marketers could consider whether the influencers they are working with are recognized as entities within Google search results. When those same influencers contribute to content published by the brand, their identity imparts credibility and relevance for search.

Another consideration is to evaluate the SEO effectiveness of where influencers publish – their own blog, contributed articles or columns with industry publications and elsewhere online. What is the Domain Authority of where the influencer publishes and do the links they include in their content carry weight? Does the influencer’s content “rank” on search engines for the topics the brand wants to be more influential about? Is the influencer creating the kind of content that ranks? Video, audio, images, text, scholarly articles, books, etc.

The SEO value of working with an influencer is not universally true across topics, but with some due diligence and research, some very valuable opportunities could be uncovered and relationships built to help brand content become findable and credible at the very moment customers are looking.

Of course this is not a comprehensive list of benefits for B2B brand to work with influencers, but it is a compelling list. While many B2B marketers may skim the surface of what’s possible from working with influencers, those who can look a little deeper can find tremendous upside and value that not only accelerates the impact and effectiveness of marketing for short term campaigns, but for longer term brand and thought leadership perception in the industry.

The post Top 5 Benefits of Influencer Marketing for B2B Brands appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

From Finesse To Zest: 25 Powerful Qualities That Elevate Your B2B Marketing

Campers by tent under the stars pondering better B2B marketing

Campers by tent under the stars pondering better B2B marketing

Which qualities encompass the best that B2B marketing has to offer?

Are there overlapping elements that bring success to both our professional and personal lives?

How can you bring more of these qualities into your own marketing efforts?

From a seemingly endless compilation of possible traits held by successful marketers, some naturally work their way to the forefront over time, yet aren’t often explored.

To help answer these questions, let’s take a look at five powerful qualities that we can combine to drive not only the best B2B marketing experiences, but that we can also harness and learn from to make us better associates, business partners, and people.

For each, we’ll also offer five ways you can add more of them to your own marketing — a total of 25 ways to add more determination, poise, kindness, zest, and finesse to your B2B marketing experiences.

1 — Marketing with Determination

Woman rock climber scaling vertical wall.Marketing with determination springs from a passionate will power — a sometimes fierce or all-encompassing resolve that may be personified by sisu, the Finnish art of inner strength.

When it comes to this kind of determination, some say you either have it or you don’t, yet even the most driven B2B marketers can make a mindful effort to bring more of this passion to our work.

Here are five ways to do so.

To Add More Determination to Your Marketing:

  • Visualize the efforts necessary to break through barriers
  • Market as a marathon and not as a sprint
  • Bring your passions into your marketing
  • Focus on each of the short-term goals that will combine to long-term success
  • Embrace multiple angles for showing your marketing vision

[bctt tweet=”“Marketing with determination springs from a passionate will power — a sometimes fierce or all-encompassing resolve that may be personified by sisu, the Finnish art of inner strength.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

2 — Marketing with Poise

Orchestra conductor image.Marketing with poise stems from a certain variety of level-headedness, bringing a calm and graceful presence for whatever work is at hand.

Whether it’s managing teams of hundreds or thousands, or crafting any form of digital deliverables, marketing with poise raises the overall level of quality on any project.

We can cultivate some of the aspects that comprise poise. Here are five ways to start the journey.

To Add More Poise to Your Marketing:

  • The calming elements of your personal life can also work wonders to steady your professional presence
  • Practice the art of being humble and level-headed in the face of adversity
  • Focus on enhancing the essence of a marketing effort that sets it apart from the competition
  • Take comfort in the preparation you’ve done and the unique experience you bring to the marketing table
  • Accept and learn from setbacks and move on with grace and dignity

[bctt tweet=”“Marketing with poise stems from a certain variety of level-headedness, bringing a calm and graceful presence for whatever work is at hand.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

3 — Marketing with Kindness

Smiling girl on lawn holding a heart-shaped earth image.Marketing with kindness offers us the chance to empathize with differing viewpoints and methods, and to bring genuine compassion and concern to any situation we encounter in our busy daily lives as marketers.

Whether through seemingly small gestures or mighty acts of warm sentiment and respect, marketing with kindness has a powerful effect on our lives.

Through slight adjustments we can increase the amount of kindness we broadcast out into the world — here are just a few ways to start.

To Add More Kindness to Your Marketing:

  • Make a conscious effort to empathize in all your communication
  • Ask yourself whether your actions would have the ring of truth to your own mother, grandmother, or even Mr. Rogers
  • Remember that an initial meeting with a new client or colleague will often lead to partnerships or friendships that can last decades
  • Recognize and address your weaknesses and shortcomings
  • Find and follow the goodness in your marketing efforts

[bctt tweet=”“Marketing with kindness offers us the chance to empathize with differing viewpoints and methods, and to bring genuine compassion and concern to any situation we encounter in our busy daily lives as marketers.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

4 — Marketing with Zest

Smiling woman with a zest for B2B marketing image.Marketing with zest adds that “wow” factor — the type that brings unbounded zeal and enthusiasm to all our daily interactions.

Zest brings delight to all our journeys, and a certain joyful eagerness in whatever marketing adventure we may currently be working on.

It can also be one of the most difficult qualities to find, however it can be nurtured.

Here are five ways to bring some Z2Z — zest to zeal — into your B2B marketing.

To Add More Zest to Your Marketing:

  • Change up a marketing environment that’s grown stale by adding new sights, sounds, scents, and tactile surroundings that rejuvenate and restore joy in your professional adventures
  • Bring more of your unique qualities and strong points to your marketing efforts
  • If you now find yourself with hybrid or remote work options, embrace them to the fullest by trying new work environments
  • Seek out potential collaborations with people you deeply admire
  • Identify the areas of your marketing life present the biggest challenges, and map out ways to infuse each with a sense of delight

[bctt tweet=”“Marketing with zest adds that ‘wow’ factor — the type that brings unbounded zeal and enthusiasm to all our daily interactions.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

5 — Marketing with Finesse

Colorful diverse finger prints image.Marketing with finesse enters the realm of the skillfully gentle touch. It’s also a quality possessed by people who seem to have a subtle knack for understated polish in all of their communications, management, and creative endeavors.

Marketing finesse shows a sophisticated understanding of the audience and an ability to smoothly pivot, when necessary.

Encourage your own marketing finesse by considering the following five ideas.

To Add More Finesse to Your Marketing:

  • Don’t bring a brute-force tree shredder to trim delicate orchids ; use your experience to choose the right tool for the marketing job at hand
  • Practice marketing diplomacy in your teamwork, whether internal or client-facing
  • Be generous in sharing your skills and time
  • Go the extra mile to show your gratitude
  • Strive to mentor and teach the next generations of marketing professionals, and continue your own lifelong learning

[bctt tweet=”“Marketing with finesse enters the realm of the skillfully gentle touch, held by people who seem to have a subtle knack for understated polish in all of their communications, management, and creative endeavors.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

Beautiful & Bold B2B Marketing Go Hand In Hand

via GIPHY

When we allow the powerful qualities of determination, poise, kindness, zest, and finesse to join hands and unite, truly beautiful B2B marketing experiences spring to life.

Thanks for coming along on this introductory journey to better B2B marketing through heartfelt qualities we can all work to experience more of in our lives.

Contact us today and find out why top brands from LinkedIn and Dell to SAP and Oracle have chosen TopRank Marketing to create award-winning B2B marketing.

The post From Finesse To Zest: 25 Powerful Qualities That Elevate Your B2B Marketing appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

What B2B Marketers Can Learn from Stand-Up Comedy

Stand-up comedians need to make a connection with their audience. It starts with getting attention, then stoking interest, developing a rapport, and ultimately provoking a reaction. 

To do it right, you need empathy, knowledge of your audience, creativity…oh, and a spark that makes you unique.

B2B marketers: Does any of the above sound familiar? I’ve been a professional marketer and an amateur comedian for over a decade, and it’s surprising how much the two inform each other. 

Here are just a few lessons that B2B marketers can learn from standup.

Keep It Real

In the early 19th century, standup comedy depended on wordplay and absurdism. For example: “Take my wife…please!” or “The other night I shot an elephant in my pajamas… how he got into my pajamas, I’ll never know.” 

As the art form of standup has evolved, however, personal observations with a unique point of view (more on that later) have become more popular. Here’s a classic bit from Ellen Degeneres as she dissects the minutiae of her life:

For marketers, keeping it real means being honest and sincere with your audience. It could even mean not being afraid to show flaws or own up to mistakes. Look for ways to bring the audience behind the scenes to meet the people behind the brand. 

I like the way Stacey Marx from AT&T Business brings her personal life into her content, as in this post, “Gold Medal Advice: SMB Lessons from a World-Class Coach.” The personal touch elevates the content and makes it unique. 

Adjust to Your Audience

Telling a marketer to know their audience is like telling a comedian to… well… know their audience. It’s not a radical new technique; it’s part of the toolkit. At the same time, it’s easy to think of your own culture, background and thought processes as universal. That’s one of the reasons comedy can be so hard to translate. 

One famous example is when Jimmy Carter told a joke to break the ice at a college in Japan. He was gratified when, after a brief translation from his interpreter, the crowd erupted in laughter! It wasn’t until later that the interpreter confessed that what he said was, “The president has told a funny story. Please laugh.”

For marketers and comedians alike, the only way to truly get in your audience’s head is to do the research. Putting out the same message for audiences with different cultural backgrounds is a path fraught with peril. 

This Jerry Seinfeld bit — a superbly clever American Express commercial — illustrates the point precisely: 

Alternate Storytelling with Quick Jabs

John Mulaney and Mitch Hedberg are two of my favorite comedians, and for wildly different reasons. John is the master at telling longer stories, taking a few minutes to set the scene, not rushing to a punchline. Here’s an example (with some strong language, be warned):

On the other side of the spectrum, Mitch Hedberg is the undisputed master of the one-liner. “I don’t have a girlfriend. But I do know a woman who’d be mad at me for saying that.” Or, slightly longer, “One time, this guy handed me a picture, he said ‘Here’s a picture of me when I was younger.’ Every picture is of you when you were younger! ‘Here’s a picture of me when I’m older.’ Woah, lemme see that camera.”

Just as there’s room in comedy for the Mulaneys and Hedbergs, there’s room in marketing for both long-form narratives and short, punchy taglines. Invest the same energy into each one, and you’ll resonate with a wider audience.

Develop a Unique Voice

In the ’80s, there was a brief stand-up fad of weird, extreme voices. For example…

Thankfully, it was a short-lived trend, but it does illustrate how memorable a unique voice can be. Anyone who has heard Bobcat Goldthwait, Gilbert Gottfried, Judy Tenuta or Sam Kinison will never mistake them for someone else. On the flip side, the junkyard of comedy is strewn with the careers of bland comedians who were indistinguishable from each other.

In marketing, it’s easy to slide into a kind of homogeneous, safe, “professional-sounding” corporate speak. Don’t make waves, use — I mean, utilize — the right jargon, and you can avoid offending anyone. The problem is, you’re also unlikely to avoid affecting anyone, too. Make your brand voice personable, lively and unique, and you will have something no competitor can copy.

Serious Business Can Be Funny

All of the above can help you as a marketer address, connect with, and affect your audience. But there’s one other thing that comedians do that marketers should do more often: Be funny. There’s plenty of room in B2B marketing for actual comedy, and those who do it well tend to be rewarded. And hey, if Intel can do it, so can you.

Want more B2B marketing tips? Check out our report on the State of B2B Influencer Marketing.

The post What B2B Marketers Can Learn from Stand-Up Comedy appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

How B2B Marketers Can Build a Community of Influence with Content

B2B Community of Influence with Content

B2B Community of Influence with Content
One of the most compelling scenarios for B2B marketers to build content and community is through a combination user generated content (UGC) and strategic content collaborations. To do this, many B2B brands will initiate ongoing social media content and engagement programs to stimulate dialog with customers, community and influencers to build essential relationships.

With B2B marketing shifting to digital first, there is more demand for content than ever, but there are also resource challenges with the need to continuously create new content. At the same time traditional social media and content marketing can have trust issues if the brand isn’t engaging with the community or the right influencers on a regular basis. A content marketing focused solution that solves for both of those challenges that also helps build community and influence for B2B brands can be found through participation marketing – aka, user generated content in the form of content collaborations with external influencers, brand community and customers.

As brands participate in social communities, asking and answering questions, engaging customers and sharing content, numerous opportunities exist to involve the community with content creation.

Crowdsourcing content with the different audiences of a brand helps create new, meaningful content as well as providing an opportunity to use the act of content collaboration as a way to build relationships, community and influence. When you make a relevant ask to contribute content and then use the resulting content to create mutual credibility and exposure for the contributors, the experience can drive deeper engagement and organic advocacy amongst the influential voices your customers trust.

Like all B2B marketing tactics, there are pros and cons for a crowdsourced approach to content. Some of the pros include:

  • User generated content is trusted
  • Contributors have an interest in helping promote the content
  • UGC provides more content for search engines
  • UGC provides more information sources for prospects & customers
  • UGC publishing allows for critical feedback about products and services
  • UGC publishing provides tools for brand evangelists
  • UGC facilitates brand conversations within the marketplace

Of course there are a few cons too:

  • Resources are needed for oversight and moderation
  • Who owns the content?
  • Where is the content published?
  • What is the value exchange for contributors? If paid, it could hurt content credibility

The good news is that most of the cons can be mitigated with good communications, oversight and process.

From a practical application standpoint, here are a few examples how content can be crowdsourced and repurposed

1. Interviews. Asking other people questions is one of the most basic ways to crowdsource content. There are a number of ways to implement such an approach according to the desired outcome. Asking the community for suggestions of who to interview and what questions to ask is a great way to involve people in the process. Interviewing industry thought leaders provides the brand’s audience with unique content and creates a positive association between the “brandividual” and the company.

Be sure to empathize with thought leaders and their busy schedules. It will often be far more effective to ask one question of ten famous people than ten questions of one person. When you do that, you’ve made it easy for each person to answer and have also multiplied the number of potential influencers that will help promote the finished product.

2. Social Q & A – Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks can provide very useful platforms to present B2B focused questions and attract answers from a variety of people for use in your content project. Of course, your intent needs to be clear and permission for reuse should be obtained before republishing. Those familiar with the Q & A communities can word questions to attract replies from specific influentials who might not otherwise respond to a content participation pitch via email.

3. Contests Resulting in Content – Examples of contests where consumers produce their own videos or share images abound on the social web. Community members or influencers could be invited to create videos, blog posts or other media as a way to “enter” the contest run by a B2B brand. Entries hosted on the respective participant publishing channels would link back to the contest home and then the top 10 entries could be compiled into a highlight video or ebook according to the format used.

4. Comment Feedback Loop – One of the most meaningful ways for a community to engage with a brand is through comments made on social networks about a brand, in reaction to brand content or topics of mutual interest. Soliciting the community of readers to participate in a dialog by commenting can result in content that is more engaging and specific to what the audience is interested in.

Brands can then recognize commenters by drawing attention to the “best of” comments in separate blog or social media post, or as we do it at our agency, on our TopRank Marketing Newsletter.

5. Print or eBook Authoring by Community – Reaching out to industry experts to share their insights as part of a larger project can be a very effective method for crowdsourcing content. Author Michael Miller did this with “Online Marketing Heroes” of which I was a part many years ago. He interviewed 25 successful marketers and the result of those interviews became a print book.

Another commonly used format of crowdsourcing ebook content involves creating an outline for an ebook with portions like the premise, key points and conclusion reserved for the brand point of view and allocating specific sections for contributions for subject matter experts – industry influencers, customers, and key opinion leaders.

Through progressive content collaboration experiences that result in content that is simultaneously useful to customers and great visibility for contributors, B2B brands can develop a community of influence that helps

  • Relieve some of the pressure of ongoing content creation
  • Creates content that is trusted and hyper relevant to audiences
  • Builds credibility for the brand by association with the influencers who contributed
  • Develops mutually valuable relationships with trusted voices in the industry
  • Inspire organic brand advocacy on the topics engaged

While there are many upsides when done well, it’s important to know that it’s possible to over rely on a community for content creation too, so don’t overdo it. Also, genuine recognition inspires better work and can motivate participants to share future crowdsourced content more enthusiastically than something that is more transactional.

As you look at the social networks, communities, prospects, customers and influencers that make up the ecosystem of information sources that are important to your brand, think about the gaps of information that exist in your industry that could be filled with user and influencer generated content. Looking beyond the fundamental benefit of content creation for marketing, even greater opportunities exist when the content collaboration experience helps build genuine relationships with community and industry voices that your customers trust.

The post How B2B Marketers Can Build a Community of Influence with Content appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Steady As She Goes: Why Consistency Builds Better Long-Term B2B Marketing

Woman ship captain piloting stormy B2B marketing waters image.

Woman ship captain piloting stormy B2B marketing waters image.

How can B2B marketers build better and more sustainable long-term marketing efforts?

88 percent of global marketers said that achieving brand consistency was crucial, in dentsu international’s recent whitepaper survey, “2021: The year of Brand Consistency, Efficiency and Agility.”

Consistency is an element that’s sometimes overlooked in B2B marketing, however, so we wanted to explore some of the ways that top marketers are incorporating consistency into their efforts.

Let’s get started and dig in with five ways that consistency creates better long-term B2B marketing.

Consistency Case #1 — Content Creation Persistence

Brian Fanzo

For digital futurist and keynote speaker Brian Fanzo, consistency is everything when it comes to successful content creation.

“Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. When it comes to content creation and growing within the #CreatorEconomy, consistency is everything,” Fanzo recently noted.

Beyond content, Fanzo sees consistency as key in many important areas of our professional lives, and one that can also be a personal challenge.

“Consistency is the key to almost every aspect of marketing and entrepreneurship. Consistency is also a massive struggle for those of us with #ADHD,” he shared.

“Surround yourself [with people] who are good at being consistent and empower them by being transparent with your need to be nudged,” Fanzo also suggested.

[bctt tweet=”“Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. When it comes to content creation and growing within the #CreatorEconomy, consistency is everything.” — Brian Fanzo @iSocialFanz” username=”toprank”]

Consistency Case #2 — Get Data Strategies on Track

Louis Columbus

As with content, marketers must also ensure that the ever-growing amount of data we collect is both relevant and consistent.

“The most common reason AI and ML fail in the marketing sector is that there’s little consistency to the data across all campaigns and strategies,” Louis Columbus, principal at Dassault Systèmes, recently observed in “Is poor data quality undermining your marketing AI?

Indeed, numerous surveys published over the past year indicate that a leading pain point for marketers is data inconsistency. 36 percent of B2B marketers say that having messy data is a top marketing performance measurement challenge, as we shared in the TopRank Marketing weekly B2B marketing news.

[bctt tweet=”“The most common reason AI and ML fail in the marketing sector is that there’s little consistency to the data across all campaigns and strategies.” — Louis Columbus @LouisColumbus” username=”toprank”]

Consistency Case #3 — Messaging That’s on the Same Page

Sean CrowleySean Crowley, vice president of portfolio marketing at Dun & Bradstreet, recognizes the importance of delivering consistency in messaging no matter which digital channel is being used.

“When you look at being able to bring people together, it’s about creating a common message, a common purpose, and a common effort with everything that you do and how you go to market,” Crowley told us.

“Ensure that you have consistency of messaging to a target persona and target audience, regardless of what channel they’re choosing to interact with you on,” Crowley added.

Explore more with Sean in our full video interview,  “Break Free B2B Marketing: Sean Crowley of Dun & Bradstreet on Cracking the Alignment Code.”

[bctt tweet=”“Ensure that you have consistency of messaging to a target persona and target audience, regardless of what channel they’re choosing to interact with you on.” — Sean Crowley @seantcrowley” username=”toprank”]

Consistency Case #4 — Solid Conversion Methodology

Sky Cassidy

For Sky Cassidy, CEO of MountainTop Data, creating repeatable efforts is a key element over time — and one that certain marketers struggle to maintain.

“Some marketers have these flashes of brilliance but they’re not consistent with it, they don’t have a patented, repeatable methodology,” Cassidy noted. “Consistency wins,” he explained recently for MarTech Series.

[bctt tweet=”“Some marketers have these flashes of brilliance but they’re not consistent with it, they don’t have a patented, repeatable methodology. Consistency wins.” — Sky Cassidy @mountaintopdata” username=”toprank”]

Consistency Case #5 — Well-Aligned SEO Signals

Aleyda SolisAleyda Solis, international SEO consultant and the founder of Orainti, sees consistency as a strength that even smaller brands can use to drive search strategy.

“Despite how competitive some sectors are, there’s still a place for new players that execute fast and consistently a well-aligned SEO strategy,” Solis noted. “The small fast and consistent player will end up eating the big slow and inconsistent one in the long run. The big brand advantage has limits,” Solis explained.

When it comes to building a successful SEO strategy, consistency also plays an important part.

“Identify potential cannibalization issues we might have with many different pages of the same type that could be mapped with the same queries, allowing us to consolidate/clean and better align our Web structure for a more consistent experience and better chances to rank, and give a better experience with our pages,” Solis recently urged, in her “The Keywords Mapping Cheatsheet For Different Types of Sites.”

[bctt tweet=”“The small fast and consistent player will end up eating the big slow and inconsistent one in the long run.” — Aleyda Solis @aleyda” username=”toprank”]

Keep Steady On The High Seas of B2B Marketing

via GIPHY

Keeping steady even in the high seas frequently encountered in B2B marketing is possible for marketers who implement the ideas and insights outlined here by Brian, Louis, Sean, Sky, and Aleyda.

To learn more about how consistent and always-on efforts can help build successful B2B marketing campaigns, check out these additional resources we’ve published on the subject:

Consistent B2B marketing can take considerable time and effort, which is why many top brands choose to work with an award-winning digital marketing agency like TopRank Marketing. Contact us today and let us know how we can help, as we’ve done for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and others.

The post Steady As She Goes: Why Consistency Builds Better Long-Term B2B Marketing appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.