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®.

5 Striking Insights On Successful B2B Marketing Engagement

Hands forming a heart image.

Hands forming a heart image.

How important is engagement in B2B marketing?

To say that engagement plays a crucial role in creating successful B2B marketing content is an understatement, as it’s how we connect with customers, and a key element in the process of building trust and the desire to continue interaction with a brand.

Engagement is also a fundamental building block of content marketing, offering many innate benefits well worth the effort it often takes B2B marketers to properly achieve.

To get that process started, let’s take a look at five striking insights on successful B2B marketing engagement, from some of the top marketers in the industry today.

1 — Brian Solis

“Meaningful customer engagement starts with discovery,” Brian Solis, global innovation evangelist at Salesforce, observed in our groundbreaking 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report.

The time is right to look at engagement in new ways, and even to reinvent it, Brian has explained.

“B2B marketers now have an opportunity to re-imagine engagement to ignite a new type of connection with customers. Beyond designing for and measuring the potential for engagement, design for humans and their intentions, needs, and desired outcomes. Engagement becomes a function of intent and purpose,” Brian added.

Brian has a lot to say about engagement and how it combines with influence and thought leadership to extend beyond traditional B2B marketing, and you can learn more in the following interviews and articles we’ve authored that feature Brian:

[bctt tweet=”“Meaningful customer engagement starts with discovery.” — Brian Solis @briansolis” username=”toprank”]

2 — Jon Miller

Jon Miller

Engagement is also a key consideration in sales and marketing alignment, and Jon Miller, chief marketing officer at Demandbase, has placed it in his “find, engage, and close” process of achieving B2B marketing and sales alignment.

“You need to engage with buyers in a trusted, relevant way on their own terms. It’s about knowing where they are in their journey and using intelligence and insights to know when and how to engage at each point,” Jon noted.

An important step in utilizing the new realities of B2B marketing and sales alignment is engagement, Jon has noted, where the identified accounts are engaged, aligning your interactions with the buyer’s journey.

Get more insight into Jon’s B2B marketing automation process in our recent article, “Find, Engage and Close: Demandbase’s Jon Miller on Recasting the B2B Marketing Automation Journey.”

[bctt tweet=”“You need to engage with buyers in a trusted, relevant way on their own terms.” — Jon Miller @jonmiller” username=”toprank”]

3 — Amisha Gandhi

Amisha GandhiAmisha Gandhi,  senior vice president of marketing at Tipalti, sees the right kind of engagement as key to producing the best brand outcomes — and the kind of engagement that is often driven by utilizing the power of B2B influencer marketing.

“Working with the right influencers, you build credibility with the audience you are trying to reach,” Amisha has noted.

“Influencers can help you deliver content that solves problems, educates and inspires your intended audience. The biggest benefit is the engagement, how you can work with your influencers to create meaningful engagement that leads to the right outcomes for your brand,” Amisha shared with our CEO Lee Odden in an insightful look at, “How the Most Successful B2B Marketers Approach Influencer Marketing in 2021.”

Engaging online experiences are more important than ever in 2021, and B2B marketers need to provide them in compelling ways, Amisha has noted.

“People are looking at creating more engaging online experiences and virtual experiences now,” Amisha told Lee in an insightful and far-reaching interview in, “Inside Influence 6: Amisha Gandhi from SAP on the Power of Mutual Value in B2B Influencer Marketing.”

[bctt tweet=”“Influencers can help you deliver content that solves problems, educates and inspires your intended audience. The biggest benefit is the engagement.” — Amisha Gandhi @AmishaGandhi” username=”toprank”]

4 — Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee

“Engagement and experiences are critical for company growth,” Ardath Albee, interim vice president of marketing at Modus, observed when looking ahead towards the top trends B2B marketers can expect in 2021, in “Top B2B Marketers Share their Content Marketing Predictions for 2021.”

“Interactive content will become a mainstay in demand gen and sales enablement programs in 2021 and beyond,” Ardath explained.

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

Along with engagement, personalization is now more a part of the equation for success than ever.

“In B2B, we don’t need to know their shoe size and we don’t need to talk about their gender. We don’t need to know they live in the suburbs and have a wife, two kids, and a dog, and they drive a red Corvette,” Ardath noted.

[bctt tweet=”“Engagement and experiences are critical for company growth.” — Ardath Albee @ardath421″ username=”toprank”]

5 — Lee Odden

Lee Odden

Engagement is especially important when in comes to executive thought leadership in today’s B2B marketing landscape, which often leads to a challenge, our CEO and co-founder Lee Odden recently observed.

“Peer engagement can be difficult for busy executives and connecting with others at the top of their game can be mutually valuable and energizing for all involved,” Lee noted in a fascinating look at “Brandfluence – Why Growing Executive Influence is Essential for B2B Marketing.”

Lee has also advocated for creating trusted B2B content that is findable, credible, and experiential, as he recently predicted:

  • Findable — SEO is more important than ever for B2B content marketers as buyers increasingly rely on digital channels like search to find the information they need across the entire sales journey. Fresh topic research to reflect new buyer preferences plus content and link optimization will raise the bar on being the best answer for customers at the very moment of need.
  • Credible — Buyers’ increasing distrust of brand marketing and messaging plus the shift towards digital channels has accelerated the impact that subject matter experts are having with content credibility, quality and distribution. B2B brands will raise the bar on content credibility by partnering with external influencers while building the internal influence of their executives through content collaborations.
  • Experiential — Video has become the price of entry for B2B customer attention but there’s more to creating great marketing experiences and in 2021 successful B2B brands will raise the bar on customer experience with better virtual events, personalization, episodic brand content, more interactive content and increasingly collaborative content.

[bctt tweet=”“The lessons we’ve learned from creating trusted content that reaches and engages B2B customers for some of the top B2B brands in the world will become the new normal in 2021.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

Engage: Your Unexplored Galaxy of B2B Marketing Success Awaits

Engagement is broad in scope yet can take pinpoint precision to master in B2B marketing, and we hope that the five examples we’ve shared from Brian, Jon, Amisha, Ardath, and Lee will help propel your own efforts to engage to newfound levels of success.

Creating engaging and award-winning B2B marketing takes significant effort, which leads many firms to choose working with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Engage with 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 5 Striking Insights On Successful B2B Marketing Engagement appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

5 Insights to Boost Your Brand’s Social Presence in 2021 and Beyond

It’s been a whirlwind of a year and anticipating what lies ahead is no easier to navigate. Our friends at Hootsuite launched their 5th annual Social Trends report illuminating the top trends set to shape brands in 2021 and how to adapt and thrive. You can download the full report here, but here’s a peek at some of the high-level insights backed by the brightest minds in marketing and data.

A shift to short-term ROI

This year saw a rush to deliver a short-term return on investment (ROI) to recoup lost sales from the upheaval of the pandemic. In fact, 73 percent of all marketers ranked “increased acquisition of new customers” as their top outcome for social in 2021, compared to only 46% last year, marking a 58 percent year-over-year increase. This has led to a very transaction-focused year.

But transactions alone don’t create memorable brands or long-term growth.

That’s why you need to innovate to win long-term loyalty and engagement. How? By bringing back the fun to the buying process, making shopping more social and using social as a way to connect with customers, foster loyalty, and prevent disjointed experiences.


Finding your place in social conversations


The uptick in social media use in 2020 translated into numerous opportunities for brands. Unfortunately, many faltered by jumping in too soon instead of taking crucial time to listen to their audiences. The reality is, many people want to engage with each other, not brands. Those that let their audiences guide them were able to find spaces where they could fit into the conversation in a meaningful and authentic way. 



Brands who will find success in 2021 are not necessarily the ones leading the conversation, but rather finding creative avenues to fit into it and break through the walls of indifference.

To join the conversation instead of just interrupting, lean into user-generated content (UGC) in lieu of costly content production, bolster social listening to find where you fit, and pick your time and place for engagement and participation. 



The tipping point for baby boomers

Baby boomers are spending even more time on social platforms now as a result of the pandemic, yet marketers still overlook and under-represent this lucrative group in favor of targeting younger demographics.

Why? For one, we have a tendency to fall prey to the irresistible chase of newness—rather than pursuing effectiveness. To capitalize on boomers’ growing tech enthusiasm, look to smart segmentation and thoughtful representation. That’s how savvy brands like yours will leapfrog over companies still stereotyping. 




Tying engagement data to identity

Social media isn’t simply about racking up likes, those are just a means to an end. You want to make sure your social efforts drive real results for your business. To do it, move beyond reactions and dig deeper to see how social data can help you understand your customers better.

Linking social media engagement to identity is more critical than ever for marketers. After so many traditional approaches fell by the wayside, it’s become the strongest bridge between brands and customers. To achieve this, look to establish a solid UTM framework for both paid and organic ads and integrate your data into your CRMs. This will ensure greater visibility into customer touchpoints and untapped opportunities.

Success will boil down to taking steps — big or small — to gather key insights from quantifiable data. Be sure to map these back to your broader marketing objectives to avoid getting lost in a pit of attribution or stuck measuring social in a silo.

Becoming a purpose-driven brand

While 2020 wasn’t the beginning of the shift towards purpose-driven marketing, it kicked things into high gear.

Now 53 percent of people say they want brands to proactively make the world a better place.

Becoming a purpose-driven brand isn’t something you can fake or simply mimic on social media. You can’t tick a box and be done. Brands must be cognizant of what is going on in the world and take into consideration the conversations already unfolding. If you’re going to take a stance, make sure your actions back it up.

In 2021, the strongest brands will balance the twin demands of building a better business and better world. This strategy must start in your boardroom and should use social listening to learn and gain intelligence.

Get your free copy of Hootsuite’s Social Trends 2021 report!

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