B2B Content Not Making an Impact? Try These 7 Underutilized Promotion Channels
Creating great content requires considerable investment, in terms of time, effort, and money. Knowing this, it’s crazy how often I see marketers and brands fail to follow through by promoting their content to the fullest and maximizing its targeted exposure.
It literally makes me sad. I’m tearing up as I write this. One moment… Talk amongst yourselves.
Ahem. So the scourge of unseen quality content is one we must conquer. The path to doing so, I’m afraid, isn’t as simple as scheduling a bunch of links across the same old social feeds. This isn’t to say social media isn’t important, but this formulaic, reflexive approach is fast losing its luster.
The latest Content Trends Report from BuzzSumo found that social shares have dropped by 50% since 2015, owing to several different factors: increased competition for eyeballs, changes to Facebook’s algorithm, shifts in discovery habits for users. All of this means fewer referrals, less engagement, and less impact for content promoted solely through these channels.
How can we counteract this troubling decline? The first step in treating Invisible Content Syndrome is acknowledging it’s a problem, and developing a concrete plan to address it. To this end, our CEO Lee Odden created a list of 50 content promotion tactics that can be implemented during the planning stages of your next initiative. His suggestions will provide plenty of guidance for a broader and more robust promotion mix. Once you’ve committed to giving your content the continuing attention it deserves post-publication, it’s time to start differentiating.
[bctt tweet= »Once you’ve committed to giving your content the continuing attention it deserves post-publication, it’s time to start differentiating. @NickNelsonMN #B2BContentMarketing #ContentPromotion » username= »toprank »]
This will be our focus for today: zeroing in on some of the underutilized channels capable of providing a competitive advantage. Instead of exclusively trying to compete with ephemeral Twitter feeds or mercurial Facebook algos, diversify with these seven B2B content promotion techniques that can help your best stuff stand out and get noticed by the people who truly matter to your brand.
7 Underutilized B2B Content Promotion Channels
Volume is about vanity. It really is that simple, I’m afraid. Unless your company profits directly from pageviews (via ads), there is no practical value in piling up impressions. It might feel nice to see a higher number of visitors, but if you aren’t driving action with the right people, you’re bound to end up feeling verklempt.
With an eye on quality and resonance, here are seven channels worth considering for your B2B content promotion mix. Because they are generally underutilized, there’s a good chance your competitors aren’t tapping them (yet) or using them to their full potential.
#1 – Influencers
Of course we’re going to start here. While influencer marketing in the B2B realm is on the rise, research shows that an incredibly small percentage (11%) of B2B brands are engaging in ongoing influencer programs.
Strategic influencers are vital conduits for connecting your content with key audiences. If you’ve done your due dilligence to identify individuals who align with your brand from a topical and cultural perspective, then their networks are likely highly qualified, and most importantly, your association with them can infuse near-instant credibility in the eyes of their followers.
[bctt tweet= »#Influencers connect with a much more targeted audience than banner ads have in quite some time. @martinjonesaz #B2BInfluencerMarketing » username= »toprank »]
Influencers themselves aren’t a channel, but rather a powerful entry point to several different channels. Once you’ve developed strong relationships with influential partners, you can work with them to co-create and share content that your mutual audiences will find value in. Depending on the type of relationship you cultivate, you could also encourage them to share prioritized content from their social accounts, on their blogs, in their newsletters, etc. Cross-mentions on platforms such as LinkedIn can also help your articles gain more visibility in feeds.
Remember: when you incorporate these influencers into co-creation campaigns, they’ll be more motivated to share, and their audiences will be more likely to take notice.
#2 – Employees
As Michael Brenner wrote recently at Marketing Insiders Group, engaged employees can be some of your brand’s most authentic and influential advocates. “Who better to sing the praises of your organization than an employee who truly believes in the value of what you’re trying to achieve?” he asks.
[bctt tweet= »Who better to sing the praises of your organization than an employee who truly believes in the value of what you’re trying to achieve? @BrennerMichael #ContentPromotion » username= »toprank »]
The operative word here is “engaged.” When employees are dutifully copy-pasting article links into their social accounts, the results will reflect the effort and enthusiasm. However, when they feel truly invested in the content and its success, this also tends to manifest.
Find ways to make internal content sharing more aspiration than obligation. We can do this by involving employees in the creation of content itself, gamifying the promotion process (“Free pizza if we hit XX% referrals from this platform!”), or conveying the benefits of personal brand-building on social.
Employee advocacy programs can provide structure and ease for implementing such initiatives. The Marketing Advisory Network’s 2017 Employee Advocacy Impact Study can shed some light here, highlighting barriers that keep employees from sharing company-related posts on social and so much more.
#3 – Customers
Much like employees and industry influencers, your customers provide an extra element of credibility when amplifying your brand’s content — both offline and online. Their networks likely include professionals within the same niche, so the audiences are inherently more qualified.
Obviously it’s great when a satisfied buyer is willing to participate in and promote persuasive lower-funnel pieces like success stories and testimonials, but that’s a relatively heavy ask. Conversely, providing them with practical content that’s useful to their followers will carry more appeal, especially if you tailor your message (i.e., “I think your customers will really like this article because…”).
#4 – Topical Forums
Message boards, subreddits, social media groups, and other focused online communities can be highly valuable for brands. Forums contain tribes of engaged, knowledgeable, connected people with an intrinsic desire to learn and grow. However, these established communities tend to be skeptical of unfamiliar outsiders — especially those who enter with a blatantly self-promotional motive.
In order to leverage these channels properly, you should build a long-term strategy around them. Create a functional presence in groups and forums long before you start sharing your own content there. Encourage your employees to participate in boards that interest them specifically. Ensure there is a clear match between the respective audiences and what you’re trying to accomplish.
One reason forums make our list of underutilized tactics is because they can often be used in the wrong way. As a general rule, it’s best to repurpose your content within these forums, rather than just linking out in the traditional sense. The primary goals should be establishing thought leadership, and generating meaningful conversations, rather than simply driving people to your website.
#5 – Industry Associations/Publications
Much like online forums, industry outlets have the advantage of pre-existing audiences organized around specific subjects or verticals. Whether it’s an online resource or still in print, people still trust the information from their favorite niche publications. Magazine readership remains high. Trade associations are filled with pros who are adamant about their crafts.
Once again, the key here is relationship-building. It can be really tough to pitch stories or earn coverage out of the blue. Consider connecting with publication editors or association leaders long before you start working the content promotion angle.
#6 – Email Segments
I’m not talking about blasting out content digests to your entire email list, or indiscriminately sending automated RSS links devoid of context. These methods are already widely in use, and the results are only worsening as people grow tired of inbox irrelevance. But email remains an effective channel for direct engagement, when used as such.
Rather than falling back on the spray-and-pray approach, try divvying your email list into segments based on interest, specialty, or function. The more granular you can get, the better. Then, share content via email with the segments for which it is most acutely suited. Customize your messaging accordingly. You could even consider composing individual emails and sending them along with a personal note to people you really feel would benefit from (and maybe share) a particular piece.
Remember: one pertinent reader/viewer who can take action is far more valuable than 10 who can’t.
[bctt tweet= »Rather than falling back on the spray-and-pray approach, try divvying your email list into segments based on interest, specialty, or function. The more granular you can get, the better. @NickNelsonMN #ContentPromotion » username= »toprank »]
#7 – Direct Mail
It’s one of those classic mainstays that has largely gone out of style. How often do you receive a piece of mail at work that is actually tailored to you personally, and worth your time? Would such an item stand out to you?
Physical mail doesn’t have a place in most digitally-based strategies, which is exactly why it may offer a unique opportunity to reach important contacts. Tracking down someone’s office mailing address is often easier than tracking down their email address. This method isn’t necessarily cheap or scalable, but in cases where you really want to get your content in front of a particular account, sending a printed version (or just a note encouraging them to check it out online) can be a sneaky winner.
One B2B-centric example is *LinkedIn’s Sophisticated Marketer Quarterly, which stands out as a glossy, colorful product you can hold in your hands. It’s a great place for B2B practitioners to be featured.
Find New Audiences for Your Best B2B Content
One of the most valuable objectives for B2B brands is also one of the most challenging: generating awareness and influence with new audiences and prospects. Continuing to push the same cookie-cutter social promotion tactics won’t do the trick. In the era of content saturation, we must remain vigilant in finding new ways to reach and engage the right people.
[bctt tweet= »Content promotion can’t be effective if it’s an afterthought. @leeodden #B2BContentMarketing #ContentPromotion » username= »toprank »]
Whether embracing the channels above or identifying others that make sense for your brand, I encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to promotion. And whatever you do, don’t make this essential marketing an afterthought. Because that leads to lonely content and general sadness. Ahhh here I go again, I’d better log off…
Want more guidance to B2B content marketing success that’ll turn your frown upside-down? Check out Annie Leuman’s recent write-up on powering through the summer slump.
*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.
The post B2B Content Not Making an Impact? Try These 7 Underutilized Promotion Channels appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
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Here’s Why Your Business Should Use Translation Services
If you’re planning on using Google Translate as your primary method of translating important documents, then you’re going to be quite disappointed. I only say this because a surprising number of small business owners do this in order to save money on a professional translator. But in the long-term, this shortcut is costing them far more than they’re saving.
Built to a T: The Foundation of the Modern Marketing Agency
In the world of digital marketing, there is a growing demand for people who can do it all. Or, at least understand it all.
More and more businesses, from start-ups to well-established brands, are clamoring for marketers who can effectively run or guide an entire marketing program from beginning to end.
In response to this demand, many marketing professionals are striving to become full-stack marketers, believing it’s the leanest way to create value as a professional in our field.
While broad experience is necessary in today’s space, marketers must have a substantial depth of knowledge in at least one marketing channel or element as well.
As we develop our marketing team at Portent, we focus on building T-shaped marketers. Although not a new concept to employee development or marketing, the foundation of it remains tried and true.
The T-Shaped Marketer
Successful marketers need a strong understanding of the different elements and channels of digital marketing. But to generate exceptional marketing results, great marketers need to have in-depth expertise in at least one area or skill set as well.
We approach this concept with an agency model in mind because well, we’re a digital marketing agency. Regardless of the space you find yourself in, whether that be a marketing leader in the agency world, in-house for a brand, or as an independent freelancer, this concept scales across the digital marketing landscape.
Originally coined in the early 1990s by David Guest and later popularized by Tim Brown, T-shaped marketing means mastering the basics and then diving deep to become an expert in a specific area. The horizontal bar of the T represents the width or breadth of knowledge and the vertical bar indicates the depth.
There are many different versions of what this could look like, but for an example, here’s what an SEO practitioner’s skill set looks like at Portent:
An idealized representation of a T shape can be a bit intimidating.
“Marketing” covers a wide swath of focus areas, and these Ts seem to imply that a marketer must possess a nearly superhuman command of an incredible set of skills.
Becoming a T-shaped marketer does not mean you are expected to know it all. The depth of knowledge you possess in a few areas will supplement the breadth of knowledge rounded out by an individual’s skill set.
What’s important when developing T-shaped marketers is that they understand the foundations of digital marketing and, just as importantly, understand how they leverage each other.
Just as there’s no magical formula for a perfect digital marketing strategy, there is no one-size-fits-all model of a “perfect T.” Instead, envision a flexible model where the shape of the T is unique to each individual. What’s unwavering in that flexibility, however, is a deep technical understanding in at least one marketing channel or element.
Building T-Shaped Marketing Teams
When building a marketing team for your brand or the next client you engage with, think about the entire spectrum of marketing you need to support. A successful T-shaped team should include people who are really good at a few key areas, have a solid understanding of the digital marketing landscape, and have a thirst for learning and sharing what they know.
At Portent, we achieve this by prioritizing the hiring of T-shaped marketers around the services we offer to our clients—each with their own passions and specializations.
When we do this, we get a collaborative, cross-functional team that can see the whole picture and support each other’s strengths and weaknesses. These cross function teams understand how their work leverages each other.
Hiring for the Soft Skills
Approaching the T shape is a great way to identify tangible industry experience, but there is more to becoming a great marketer than mastering the technical skills—especially when you’re putting together a full-stack marketing team.
In 2015, Irving Wladawsky-Berger wrote an article that discussed what he called The Rise of the T-Shaped Organization. He argued that today’s businesses must place a higher value on soft skills and look for people with adaptability, cultural competence, 360-degree thinking, intellectual curiosity, and empathy.
In the agency space we live in, hiring for soft skills is just as—if not more—important than finding people with great technical skills. At Portent, we look for six attributes when hiring, that are at the core of our philosophy. SHIFTS is everything to us—it’s how we approach our work every day and it’s how we test ourselves against everything we do.
We don’t expect people to know everything from the start, but we don’t compromise on our core values. We do look for people with personality traits that align with our goal of developing T-shaped marketers. Doing that allows us to find the right people to build our team around.
We look for marketers who are strong communicators.
We look for marketers with high emotional intelligence.
We look for marketers who are genuinely curious about their craft.
We look for marketers who are fearlessly accountable for their work.
We look for marketers who love to teach what they do.
And we look for marketers who want to give back—to our agency, the digital industry, and the communities around them.
Yes, the digital marketing world is always changing. But being on the cutting edge of the latest trend or technology doesn’t mean forgetting “old school” principles of open dialogue, teamwork, and problem-based learning.
Building successful marketers and marketing team starts with bringing together people who are passionate about what they do, show compassion and empathy for others, and possess a desire to share and learn. Industry knowledge is essential, but so are the soft skills to bring it all together.
The post Built to a T: The Foundation of the Modern Marketing Agency appeared first on Portent.
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Side-Stepping the Summer Slump: 5 Tips for B2B Content Marketers
Summer is coming.
For months we’ve been dreaming about barbecues, sun-filled vacations, long weekends at the lake, and the glorious start of summer office hours. It’s so close.
But for B2B marketers, summertime often means distracted or out-of-office target audiences, prospects, and customers. We marketers may even sneak out of the office for a few days. And from dips in organic website traffic and social engagement to being short on internal resources while the sales team begs for more leads, the “summer slump” sets in.
The good news is that summer opportunities do exist for entertaining, nurturing, and strengthening connections with your audiences throughout the funnel, as well as help you test and refine your approach to finish out the year strong. Here are some tips worthy of consideration.
Tip #1 – Revisit and fine-tune your B2B content marketing strategy.
Keeping a pulse on results and taking steps to optimize performance are par for the B2B marketer’s course. And with summer marking the mid-year point, it’s the perfect time to take a deep dive into year-to-date performance—not just the last 30, 60, or 90 days—and compare to years past. This gives you a more holistic look at how your content marketing strategy is moving the needle, if you’re making consistent progress, and if you’re on track to hit this year’s goals.
If you don’t have a documented content marketing strategy, stop here and make that your summer priority. Your strategy is your roadmap; your single source of truth that everyone has access to.
If your strategy is documented and your results review has indicated that you’re losing some ground, put additional efforts behind what is working. In addition, consider testing something new such as interactive content or piloting an influencer marketing project—or try to break out of your stuffy B2B mold to make a summer splash.
Here’s a little something that combines all three—an asset that has been affectionately named “Laser Bear.”
Click Here to see the Break Free from Boring B2B Guide in Full Screen Mode
If you don’t have the internal resources or expertise to test something new, partner with an experienced B2B content marketing agency. If you’re looking to partake in some summer relaxation, an agency partner can take the pressure off and reduce your stress level.
Tip #2 – Reconnect with your sales team to gain new insight and provide extra support.
Generating leads is one of your primary objectives. But as the volume of incoming leads slow down or the trajectory of some prospective deal closures comes to a crawl in the summer months, there’s no better time for you to check in with your sales team.
It’s not only worth diving into challenges, opportunities, or key insights for the year thus far, but also working to identify specific summer buyer behavior trends and the types of conversations sales reps are having with prospects. This may help you identify opportunities to refine and optimize your larger strategy for the year or personalize content to target specific summer buyer needs.
Also, if sales team members have upcoming events or conferences they’ll be attending, this is a great time to realign on objectives and refine any existing marketing strategy. From organic and paid social campaigns surrounding the event to constructing personalized nurturing campaigns for leads captured at the event, there’s likely an opportunity to help their presence at an event generate more ROI.
Tip #3 – Experiment with social engagement and content promotion.
Content promotion on social platforms is an integral part of your marketing strategy—and it could be ripe for a summer shake up. Depending on how your current tactics are performing, now may be the perfect time to experiment with new methods of promotion and engagement to nurture your audience through the summer months.
For example, consider repurposing some of your existing blog or website content into longer-form content on your social media channels to serve as inspiration and foster conversation. This could be customer profiles, tales from the trenches, company culture snapshots, and the list goes on.
You could also create original content around trends, providing some thoughtful commentary and encouraging discussion. Or, if you haven’t tried them yet, consider conducting polls or experimenting with 3D photos that can help you increase your engagement over social media.
Tip #4 – Create convenient content experiences.
In the summer, your target buyers are pressed for time. So, make it easy for them to consume and engage. Investing more in content curation can help.
For example, you could start a weekly news post in which you curate information from the top news articles in your industry. Then, you can break those articles down for your audience providing key takeaways and learnings. This saves your audience the time of having to read and analyze each article— instead, you’re doing the work for them.
Tip #5 – Double-down on showcasing who your company is.
Your target buyers desire human connection. And you’ve likely taken some steps to humanize your brand to become less stuffy and more credible in your target buyers’ eyes. Summer can be a great time to take that human element to new heights.
One option is to create a blog series focused on company culture and how that fosters the service you provide. Or consider a weekly #TBT post featuring photos and mini stories from team members. Better yet, sit down with select members of your team for an in-depth Q&A video. This not only helps you put faces with your company name and mission, but you’re also highlighting subject matter experts who can provide insight and thought leadership your audience will connect with.
Injecting some thoughtful humor is another testing consideration if you feel it makes sense for your brand and audience.
“Comedy is the most powerful way to humanize a brand because it demonstrates empathy,” seasoned B2B marketer and comedian Tim Washer told us not long ago. “Let’s face it, a lot of true comedy comes from pain. So, when we can come out and touch on a customer pain point, we show them that we understand their point of view. When we do something that is self-deprecating, when we look vulnerable, and when we let our guard down a little bit that’s when we make a connection.”
Read our full interview with Tim for more tips on how to create unique, memorable experiences for your audience.
Hot Fun in the Summertime
Summer is a busy time for everyone—and your marketing results can take a hit as a result. But you can still stay engaged with your target buyers if you tweak your content strategy to include new content types and tactics to entertain, engage, and nurture your audience.
*Cue the music*[embed]https://youtu.be/32inwlWSRpY[/embed]
Looking for a little summer reading to help improve your approach to B2B content writing? Check out this post on cutting content bloat to create better audience connections.
*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.
The post Side-Stepping the Summer Slump: 5 Tips for B2B Content Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
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8 Rules For Lead Gen Forms: A Rant
TL;DR: Don’t use lead gen forms to abuse potential customers. Don’t sacrifice reach for low-quality leads. And a few other tidbits.
An intriguing ebook title zipped by in my Twitter feed today. The landing page described the wondrous information in this piece of content. All I had to do was provide a little info:
This is madness.
All that information to get an ebook. Not a Gartner Magic Quadrant. Not even a free Kit Kat.
Brands don’t get it. They build lead gen forms that demand an absurd amount of information for scraps of content. Then they wonder why those forms don’t work. And so, my rant, in eight parts:
1: Lead Gen Forms Are Not Surveys
Surveys collect data. Lead forms collect potential customers. Don’t get cute and try to combine them.
The nutjob form above, for example, asked me “What is my biggest challenge?”
My biggest challenge is getting used to progressive lenses and answering inane questions when I’m trying to download your ebook.
MY POINT being that the rules below do not apply to surveys.
2: Most Leads Don’t Like You (Yet)
They didn’t want to fill out that form. They had to. They don’t want to hear from you. They’ve set up separate spam collection email accounts to trap and ignore your follow-ups. Most site visitors just want whatever’s on the other side of that form.
Best case, you can change them from detractors to fans. To do it, the content you provide had better induce a state of trembling euphoria.
Or, you can make it easier for a visitor to get your content.
Require less. Deliver more.
3. More Fields Mean Fewer Leads
Every field you add to a form cuts the number of leads by 25%.
That’s my pseudo-datapoint for this post. It’s based purely on instinct and anecdotal evidence. Please don’t start throwing it around in meetings.
Marketing and sales teams will say, “Yeah, but those leads are better qualified.”
Nope. Incorrect. False. Faulty. Untrue. Erroneous.
On to #4.
4. Extraction Does Not Equal Qualification
“Qualified” means “likely to buy.” It does not mean “survived excruciating data extraction.”
That tedious form just set my teeth on edge. I’m not more qualified; I’m uncomfortable. I feel like a sucker.
How many qualified leads did you lose because they wouldn’t fill out that ridiculous form? Lots.
Also, see #2. See #5.
5. Don’t Sacrifice Reach For Lousy Leads
Detailed lead gen forms sound great, but you’re trading reach for leads. Be mindful of that. Every person who sees your content and likes it is a potential customer, but they’re more than that—they’re a prospective salesperson. They may pass your ebook or whatever along.
They might talk about it. Or tweet it.
They’re more likely to do that than reply to your inevitable follow-up email.
Note: I am not frolicking in the happy fields of brand building. Lead gen forms are a great way to capture leads, but they’re not the only way. Every reader is a potential lead. Want leads? Get more readers.
6. Open-Ended Questions Suck
The “contact us” form on Portent’s site has an optional, qualitative question: “How can we help?”
I just checked the data. In the last thirty-six hours, thirty-five people have completed the form.
- Five of them used the “How can we help?” field.
- Four of them asked if they could write a guest post on our blog.
- One talked about biological acts using language I wouldn’t repeat on the subway.
Open-ended questions are lousy lead gen tools. If you must have one, make it optional.
7. Enrich, Don’t Demand
Be patient. Instead of demanding a ton of information up front, enrich it over time.
Start by giving me something useful in exchange for my name and email address. Now I like and trust you.
Next time, ask me for a little more: My company and my title, for example. In exchange, give me something even better.
Then offer me personal contact for even more information. Provide a free consultation in exchange for my phone number, the size of my team and my budget. Provide access to a private Slack channel, or a subscription to an exclusive newsletter.
Please make me a fan, not a lead. I’ll love you for it.
8. Other Rules
Keep these in mind:
- If you check the “Please send me information” box by default, you deserve a special place in Hell. Belay that. You deserve a whole separate hell. Just for you.
- For every breathlessly, ridiculously obvious statement you make in your content, remove one field from your form. If you say “Today, in [industry][thing] matters more than ever,” ungate your content and back away slowly. Please don’t take this personally. I’m as guilty as you are.
- If I hit [TAB], I’d better advance to the next field.
I tried to come up with a pithy conclusion. I finally developed one using ten years’ data across 3,000 customers. If you want to hear more, please fill out this form…
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