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DISCOVER
Earl Rizvi 2021-07-21
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Are old formats worth clinging to? Is your B2B content marketing primed to go the way of Blockbuster or Netflix? We take on the whole view of B2B marketing in the modern era. Continue reading

The post Beyond the PDF: Why B2B Content Marketing Demands an Evolution appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

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tobbyparsons 2021-04-05

A individualized advertising technique can help a business to understand what customers hope for.When applied in the right fashion, a marketing technique can show obvious results in the context of ROI, traffic and on the web visibility.

In order to get probably the most from it, the marketers should go up to speed on a range of electronic marketing solutions to change the way they promote their businesses.A successful electronic advertising campaign contains qualified strategies, structures, and top-notch technologies, along side qualified experience.

The professionals set the goals maintaining in your head your objectives and utilize most readily useful practices to accomplish them for you skyandzen.

The marketers begin the work by outlining the company goals.

Planning, delivery and administration, etc.

Social media marketing advertising is one of many advanced and helpful digital marketing techniques that allow a company to learn the customers.

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Madeleine Vogel 2016-12-22
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But now you can overcome these, and other B2B content marketing obstacles, with the help of influencers.

Influencer content marketing involves integrating the power of influencers into your content marketing strategy.

Here are a few ways influencer content marketing can benefit your business:

Your B2B content marketing strategy may not be yielding desired results because your content isn t relevant enough.

Co-created content is highly effective for winning over the loyal band of followers these influencers already have.

This can help increase the quality and quantity of your leads.

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Thomas Gibson 2019-06-25
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“Oh, like the Wendy’s Twitter account?”

I’ve had variations on the above conversation more times than I can count.

No one has the patience for, “I write business-to-business content designed to help people do their jobs better, which also builds affinity for a client brand, with the end goal of influencing purchase decisions.”

So most people think I just write fun stuff all day, that it’s a purely creative job.

Here’s my list of must-have B2B content marketing skills.

12 Must-Have B2B Content Marketing Skills

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Ronald Gibson 2018-05-07
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A BIG THANKS goes to the team at B2B Marketing Exchange for sharing raw case study data and both Anne Leuman and Lane Ellis from my team at TopRank Marketing for their collaboration on word-smithing the content and capturing the images of this post.

Check out the case studies below covering a range of categories including:

32 B2B Marketing Case Studies Featuring Killer Content and Performance Results

Project: Ciox Health partnered with Content4Demand to uncover new growth opportunities with target audiences (e.g.

The final campaign featured an infographic, interactive quizzes, interactive listicles, checklists, Q sessions, and mixed media video.

Project: Equifax developed a multi-touch campaign consisting of more than seven touch points, including emails, social posts, blogs, webinars, and promotional emails.

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Nicholas Patton 2017-09-27
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Over the past few years, content marketing has been steadily getting an increased share of the B2B marketing budget pie.

Because consumers have an appetite for it and marketers have tasted success with content marketing.

There’s no mistaking that content marketing delivers more exposure, leads and revenue.

A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute reveals that 75 percent to 99 percent of businesses use up to 5 percent of their marketing budget for content marketing.

Between 10 percent and 24 percent of B2B players that participated in the research dedicate 24 percent of their marketing funds to content marketing.

The amount you may choose to allocate will depend on factors such as your past experience, present content marketing targets, current staff and business intelligence.

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Eric Whitefield 2019-01-22
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Oh, and read at your own risk.

While outside forces are pushing her to reconcile with her husband, Midge is firm in putting her own happiness first for once in her life.

It’s this decision that leads her to a career (gasp!)

This sets Midge on a mission to find her voice and achieve success on her own terms, something that all B2B content marketers can certainly identify with.

In today’s competitive landscape, B2B content marketers are experiencing more pressure than ever to establish an authoritative, authentic, and trustworthy voice that resonates with audiences, compels them to act, and ultimately drives results.

But the reality is that Midge goes on to bomb quite a few of her sets.

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Michael Ambriz 2018-10-19
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2019 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: A First Look at New Research

For the ninth year MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute have released a detailed B2B content marketing report, with plenty of relevant insight for digital marketers.

The 6th Annual B2B Marketing Data Report

A newly-released Dun and Bradstreet survey looks at the state of B2B marketing, as the firm has done each of the past six years, offering a slew of insights for digital marketers.

Facebook rolls out 3D photos that use AI to simulate depth

Facebook recently began launching the ability of create 3D photos using artificial intelligence to create the illusion of depth, a new tool in the digital marketer’s belt.

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Dwayne Alcorn 2020-09-03
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Book Laying in Front of Tranquil Lake Scenery

Book Laying in Front of Tranquil Lake Scenery

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a guy who understands content. He was the featured keynote speaker at Content Marketing World three years ago, and his company HitRecord empowers creators to collaborate and produce awesome stuff together.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt also understands storytelling. He is an actor, director, producer, and writer who has appeared in numerous beloved movies and TV shows. His work as an author includes a series of works called The Book of Tiny Stories.

“The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories,” the tagline asserts.

Given his experience and expertise at the intersection of content and storytelling, it’s worth listening any time Gordon-Levitt speaks on these subjects. So I definitely took notice when the film icon suggested recently that the future of storytelling lies not in movies, but video games.

The gaming medium “feels like kind of the most groundbreaking storytelling,” Gordon-Levitt observed in a new episode of the YouTube show Hot Ones. “Storytelling that's completely in a whole different realm than anything we've seen before.”

Personally, I can’t disagree with him. I love video games, in large part due to the immersion of a well-crafted narrative that draws the player into an interactive virtual world. And while marketing departments aren’t exactly concocting the next Grand Theft Auto, we do have the ability to deliver storytelling experiences that go above and beyond, by embracing many of the same principles that make video games such an appealing format in the eyes of Gordon-Levitt and others.

Of course, the formula for impactful storytelling in B2B content marketing is different from video games, or movies, even though it might share commonalities with both. To help you develop stories that engage and activate your professional audience, I've developed a blueprint, which I’ve dubbed the S.T.O.R.Y. model.

The S.T.O.R.Y Model for Great Storytelling in B2B Content Marketing

Sizzle. Tension. Originality. Relevance. Yearning. Every stellar piece of storytelling in B2B content marketing encompasses these five words. Let's break down each one, and how they come together for a powerful experience. (We'll lean on JGL to visualize these concepts.)

Sizzle

sizzle (n): a state or quality of great excitement or passion

In Gordon-Levitt's world of filmmaking, a "sizzle reel" refers to a short, fast-paced video edit featuring the best of someone's past work. Sizzle reels are often put together by actors who distribute them in hopes of landing gigs. As the name suggests, these reels need to sizzle: The excitement and passion must be on display right away in order to wrangle the attention of a casting director sorting through hundreds of them.

The B2B marketer's directive is no different. Earning the attention of our audiences in the era of rampant content saturation means we need to bring it. If your story does not imbue a genuine and immediately discernible sense of passion and excitement, it may very well not be worth telling.

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Tension

tension (n): a balance maintained in an artistic work between opposing forces or elements

Sizzle is how you grab the audience's attention with your story. Tension is how you keep it. Storytellers can build tension by referencing or hinting at something early on, and then gradually working toward the payoff.

This dynamic was explained beautifully by Andrew Davis at CM World – one year after Gordon-Levitt’s appearance – in his opening 2018 keynote exploring the “curiosity gap” and how it counteracts dwindling attention spans. I had the pleasure of watching Davis break it down alongside my colleague Ashley Zeckman, who recapped the session here on our blog. Read her post and you’ll learn everything you need to know about using tension to keep your audience hooked.

[bctt tweet="“The more tension you raise, the more your audience needs to see the outcome.” @DrewDavisHere #Storytelling #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

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Originality

originality (n): freshness of aspect, design, or style

In order to be memorable, it must be novel.

While it's valuable to keep someone watching or reading to completion, we're not telling a great story simply because they absorbed the whole thing. We're telling a great story if it sticks with them. To this end, freshness and originality are essential qualities.

The human brain can only consciously store so many memories. There isn't much room for redundancy.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every story you tell, but there should always be at least one inventive or unexpected element that makes it feel unique.

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Relevance

relevance (n): the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate

From one view, the word "relevance" is incredibly broad. From another, it is narrow as can be.

Example: Coronavirus is relevant to every human being on Planet Earth right now. But, what about the mental health impact of a pandemic on first-time telecommuters, and how HR managers can provide meaningful support? Now you’ve zeroed in.

Here is where we begin to diverge from standard forms of entertainment. Great art often speaks to the many. Great B2B content marketing should speak to the few, but in a fiercely resonant way.

[bctt tweet="“Great art often speaks to the many. Great B2B content marketing should speak to the few, but in a fiercely resonant way.” @NickNelsonMN #Storytelling #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

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Yearning

yearning (n): a feeling of intense longing for something

And here is where we fully settle into the marketing realm. Leaving the viewer with a sense of yearning is a common objective in entertainment – think cliffhangers – but only in content marketing is it requisite for efficacy.

This doesn’t mean someone finishes your story and has a yearning to go buy the product or service. That's an unlikely (albeit highly impressive) outcome. It means they yearn for more – more installments in the series, more content from the brand, more information on the website, more social media posts from the account.

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Tell Your Brand’s S.T.O.R.Y.

When your story sizzles, builds tension, exudes originality, sparks relevant tones with a defined audience, and leaves the reader or viewer yearning for more … you’ve got yourself a highly effective piece of B2B content marketing. The specifics within this framework are flexible and open to your own creative spin – you’d hardly be able to check the “originality” box if that wasn’t the case – but the overarching principles of impactful marketing narratives are quite consistent in every successful production. They’re most often found in movies and video games too, for that matter.

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To learn how you can apply this formula to establish stronger relationships with your audience, check out my blog post on channeling the skills of Abraham Lincoln to build trust through storytelling.

The post Your Guide to Effective Storytelling in B2B Content Marketing appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Richard Bond 2021-02-16
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Content Writer Drafting Copy on Laptop

Content Writer Drafting Copy on Laptop

“You can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that.” - Homer Simpson

Homer might be right, generally speaking. But I still maintain that good, accurate, timely statistics from trusted sources can serve as vital guideposts and benchmarking tools, especially when it comes to business strategy.

This certainly applies in my own corner of the business world: the fast-changing and critically important field of B2B content marketing.

Trends in content marketing tend to reflect broader truths, since we’re talking about the ways in which companies and customers interact and communicate. Because of this, I like to keep a close eye on new research and data as it surfaces, filing away nuggets that strike me as especially telling.

Today, I’ll share six new B2B content marketing statistics that everyone should know.

6 Eye-Opening B2B Content Marketing Statistics for 2021

These stats highlight many of the challenges, opportunities, and changes unfolding here in 2021.

#1: Businesses are the most trusted institution for information in 2021. (Source: Edelman)

Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer shows that the business sector has risen above government, media, and NGOs in its Trust Index. Edelman also found that business is now seen as the institution that is both competent and ethical.

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Needless to say, this is a big moment for content marketers. Distrust is running rampant among misinformation, uncertainty and anxiety across the globe. People are looking to businesses for credible, clear, and accurate insights and guidance. As marketers, we must harness this opportunity to earn and solidify this trust.

How can we best do so? Edelman’s survey results point to a clear answer: by vigorously guarding information quality and filtering out the noise.

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[bctt tweet="“People are looking to businesses for credible, clear, and accurate insights and guidance. As marketers, we must harness this opportunity to earn and solidify this trust.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

#2: 88% of marketers say collecting first-party data is a priority in 2021. (Source: Merkle)

This comes from Merkle’s 2021 Customer Engagement Report, highlighting a key frontier for informing content strategies this year. While third-party data and insights like those we’ve aggregated here are useful, nothing can quite match the relevance and impact of information drawn from your own customers and digital experiences.

Heightening data privacy regulations are playing a major role in motivating these initiatives, according to Merkle’s research. The report also points to a rise in “zero-party data,” which includes "transaction intentions, preference data, personal context, and what the customer thinks about the company."

Per Merkle: "Marketers don't have to infer customer preferences or behavior through secondary behavior but are instead explicitly told, straight from the source. The best zero-party data is when the customers trust the brand and are willing to volunteer their data with the understanding that it will improve their experience."

#3: Mobile device usage rose dramatically in 2020. (Souce: App Annie)

Surely this comes as no surprise. Deprived of the ability to congregate in person, many of us increased our reliance on different forms of connection and entertainment. App Annie’s State of Mobile 2021 report found that mobile adoption saw two-to-three years worth of advancement in 12 months during 2020, with mobile time surpassing live TV.

Substantial increases were seen across the board globally:

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App Annie also shared data around the most-used social networking apps in 2020. No. 1 on the list may surprise you:

  1. TikTok
  2. Facebook
  3. WhatsApp Messenger
  4. Instagram
  5. Facebook Messenger

While these apps tend to be utilized more in the B2C realm for marketing purposes, it’s valuable to note the popularity and traction.

#4: Brands are using Instagram Stories more than ever. (Source: Rival IQ)

On that note, the newly released 2021 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report from social analytics firm Rival IQ casts light on usage and engagement trends around Instagram Stories, a fast-rising channel that holds some intrigue for B2B brands. As mentioned above, Instagram is a traditionally B2C-centric marketing app, but given the growing adoption and the amount of time people spend on it, no marketer should ignore it. I wrote here a couple years ago about why Instagram Stories were generating B2B buzz, and now that buzz is loudening.

For those who are interested in dabbling, Rival IQ offers this advice based on its research findings: “Focus on creating a few really engaging, dynamic frames to start off your Story. If your brand can hook viewers early with great content, it’ll improve your retention and turn your followers into fans.”

#5: Most B2B marketers say the pandemic had a meaningful impact on their strategies. (Source: CMI/MarketingProfs)

The 2021 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report placed a special emphasis on understanding how organizations responded and adapted to COVID-19. Seventy percent of respondents in the survey from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs said the pandemic had a major or moderate impact on their content strategy, with most describing their adjustments as a combination of short-term and long-term.

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When asked specifically about the most common changes made in response to COVID-19, these were the top responses from B2B marketers:

  1. Changed targeting/messaging strategy (70%)
  2. Adjusted editorial calendar (64%)
  3. Changed content distribution/promotion strategy (53%)
  4. Changed website (40%)
  5. Put more resources toward social media/online communities (40%)

#6: The top barriers to creating great B2B content are workload and changing priorities. (Source: Radix Communications)

Radix Communications surveyed more than 100 B2B marketers to learn which obstacles loom largest in this year. The most commonly cited barriers in the way of great content were changing priorities and workload, although respondents were more likely to name interference and resources as a “big problem” than workload.

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Another finding in Radix’s research: “B2B marketers who can’t talk to customers are 27% less likely to be happy with their content’s business results.” This ties back to the prioritization of first-party data and gathering direct insight from the audience.

B2B Content Marketing by the Numbers

Homer Simpson wasn’t entirely off base. People can dig up statistics to make almost any type of case. But here, the numbers only confirm trends and realities that most B2B content marketers are already experiencing. Trust hangs in the balance; data is growing both more important and more nuanced; mobile and social media usage have exploded; and evolving priorities create new challenges for planning.

We hope that the context provided by these B2B content marketing statistics helps you as you find your way in the new landscape. For more forward-looking insight to guide your strategy, check out Lee Odden’s post on the Top B2B Marketing Trends for 2021.

The post 6 Eye-Opening B2B Content Marketing Statistics for 2021 appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Willie Edwards 2021-06-01
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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®.

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Stephen Somogyi 2018-11-01
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There is a growing interest in content marketing in the B2B industry, but it is still challenging to find the strategy that takes you from interest to actual results.

88% of B2B marketers are using content marketing this year, up from 86% in 2015, while 65% of them want to know what makes a content effective.

A documented content strategy is the first step towards an effective content marketing plan, as it serves as the guide for every stage.

It’s the guide that will take you from awareness to engagement, defining the goals for each stage and how to reach them.

A documented content marketing strategy should include:

Focusing on the audience: What does your audience expect from you?

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Dwight Black 2021-01-05
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Woman Jumping Over Pitfalls Image

Woman Jumping Over Pitfalls Image

It’s been almost 40 years since Pitfall!, the classic side-scrolling platformer for the original Atari, was first released. David Crane’s creation went on to become one of the first console video game hits, selling more than 4 million copies, and is now remembered as an influential breakthrough for the medium.

Why did Pitfall! gain such rampant popularity? Because it was realistic and relatable!

I’m not talking about the pixelated 2D graphics or exotic jungle setting. I’m talking about the basic premise of problem-solving. The game is full of traps, hazards, and challenges, but there’s always a way around them. “Oh hey, a giant pit full of alligators. How will I get to the other side? Perhaps by grabbing hold of that swinging vine…”

via Gfycat

Today’s B2B content marketers may feel like they’re navigating a landscape filled with pitfalls — dangers or difficulties that are easily encountered but not immediately obvious. To help you on your journey, we’ve identified five of the most pervasive pitfalls so you can spot them and avoid them.

5 Pitfalls in B2B Content Marketing & How to Steer Clear

From messaging to strategy to execution, these are five of the most counterproductive missteps that are commonly made by modern content marketing practitioners.

1 — Speaking to the Many Instead of the Few

If you’re talking to everybody, you’re talking to nobody. This is a critical guiding philosophy, which may run counter to the way many marketers and writers were trained. (Especially those with backgrounds in journalism or media.)

There’s a natural compulsion to make B2B content as accessible and broadly applicable possible, in order to maximize the potential reach. But with so much information and so many resources at the fingertips of today’s decision makers, marketers need to get more specific and direct. Joel Goobich of Vestorly called out “vague, generalized content” at the top of his recent list of B2B content marketing mistakes shared at Forbes.

“Why would your B2B audience want to consume content that doesn’t speak directly to them and their interests?” he wonders. “Often B2B content is overly generalized and lacks a target audience and specific industry focus.”

What To Do: Narrow your scope. Get a clear handle on the audience(s) you want to reach, and the unique qualities, characteristics, or challenges that differentiate them from other segments. Don’t be afraid to turn away those readers or viewers who won’t find the content useful. Then, make sure your measurement strategy aligns with this selective approach. In other words, de-prioritize vanity metrics like impressions in favor of those measuring business impact.

2 — Strategizing SEO Around Keywords Instead of Intent

Keywords have been the driving force in search engine optimization for many years, serving as a cornerstone in the strategic framework for many content strategies. And keywords still have a valuable purpose. But more and more, achieving success with SEO initiatives is about understanding search intent and aligning with the motivations of searchers. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Unless you operate in a novel industry or vertical, it’s likely that the most valuable keywords you’re targeting are highly competitive. Focusing on search intent lends itself to longer-tail keywords and semantic searches, opening up more topical areas to pursue with your content.
  2. Accounting for intent rather than solely looking at keywords makes the content better. Traditionally, businesses have had a tendency to say, “This keyword has high volume and is relevant to our industry, let’s write blog posts that tie it to our product.” But if it’s not a keyword with transactional or commercial intent, then such an angle will likely miss the mark with searchers.
  3. For this reason, intent-based SEO content is more successful. It moves creators away from outdated tricks like keyword-stacking, and toward methods that actually help content rank today. A recent post from Backlinko notes that “satisfying Search Intent is ultimately Google’s #1 goal,” while pointing out that Google’s latest Quality Rater Guidelines (released in October of 2020) are “OBSESSED with Search Intent.”

What To Do: Make search intent the foundation of your SEO strategy, giving keywords and search phrases the context they need to be meaningful. The informative post from Backlinko above, as well as Google’s report on how intent is redefining the marketing funnel, are enlightening reads on the subject.

[bctt tweet="“Make search intent the foundation of your SEO strategy, giving keywords and search phrases the context they need to be meaningful.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

3 — Failing to Connect with Relevance

One reason Pitfall! was such a hit back in the early 1980s is that it struck a resonant chord with audiences, who were transfixed by its treasure-hunting adventure theme following the 1981 theatrical release of Raiders of the Lost Ark. This same dynamic was at play with early arcade breakthroughs like Space Invaders and Asteroids, which channeled the sci-fi enthusiasm fueled by movies like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

What do the people in your audience care about? Don’t limit your thinking to their professional interests. One of my favorite case studies from our clients at LinkedIn highlighted a company called SolarWinds, which recognized that its IT customer base tended to share a special affinity for sci-fi and Star Wars especially. So they did a promotion on LinkedIn that involved giving away a multitool in the shape of the Millenium Falcon.

SolarWinds’ manager of demand and marketing later said the campaign’s engagement was “probably the highest I’ve ever seen for any campaign that I’ve run across any platform.”

What To Do: Scrutinize your content hooks — the introductory sentences of articles or the early seconds of a video — to confirm you’re drawing an immediate thread of relevance with your audience. Never put yourself or your solutions first. And, in accordance with item No. 1 on this list, aim to be narrow instead of broad.

4 — Speaking to the Mind and Not the Heart

Business decisions are made on the basis of rational and logical drivers, out of necessity. But they are not made solely through those lenses. Humans are complex and emotional beings, not robots. In our recent round-up of B2B content marketing predictions for 2021, Ty Heath suggested that 2020’s pandemic “will accelerate the shift to a ‘right-brain’ movement,” with greater emphasis on humor, storytelling, and emotion.

Engaging your audience at a deeper level will help you build genuine trust, which is the single most essential ingredient for long-term business success.

What To Do: Challenge yourself and your team to create content that goes beyond dry informational details, specs, features, and product benefits. Cultivate a brand voice that is professional but not overly formal and stuffy. Build trust through storytelling.

5— Failing to Learn from Failure

Although Pitfall! was a bit before my time, I learned much about trial-and-error from my early experiences with 8-bit video games. Back then, it was all about learning from your mistakes — “Oops, I just fell into the lava and died … I’ll remember that was there next time through.”

Content marketing isn’t quite the same, because we’re not just playing through the same level over and over again, but there are always constructive lessons to be taken away from a dead end or disappointing outcome. Learning and growing often requires a willingness to fail. The alternative is constantly playing it safe, which in the end isn’t really all that safe.

In her own prediction for 2021, Carla Johnson cautions against this urge, which may be heightened in a precarious economic environment. She argues that responding to the demands of 2020 left marketers with “no room for trial and error,” and that in the coming year, “B2B content marketing will be about taking smart risks that lead to more innovative work.”

What To Do: Experiment! Make small bets and take measured risks as you seek out fresh ways to engage and connect with your audience. Ironically, one of the biggest mistakes we can make as B2B content marketers is being too afraid to make mistakes.

[bctt tweet="“Ironically, one of the biggest mistakes we can make as B2B content marketers is being too afraid to make mistakes.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

Here’s to Smooth Sailing in 2021

Every marketer is bound to hit their share of snags and setbacks this year. But if we stay vigilant in avoiding the pitfalls we can anticipate —like the five cited above — and embrace the unpredictable hardships as opportunities to learn and adapt, we’ll make it through and come out stronger on the other end.

For more guidance and inspiration to carry you through the new year, check out our top 10 content marketing posts from 2020.

The post Pitfall! Steering Clear of 5 Common B2B Content Marketing Missteps appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Calvin Bourque 2019-10-22
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Most B2B marketers use content marketing effectively to achieve top-of-the-funnel goals like brand awareness and audience education.

But they are missing out on opportunities deeper in the funnel.

The three most-cited content marketing goals achieved in the last 12 months were:

However, fewer B2B marketers say their efforts delivered success against goals like:

Building loyalty with existing clients/customers (63%)

What do the three latter goals have in common?

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blogsfry 2022-01-04
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Rapidly, top notch, connecting with content turned into an outright need for most organizations. The different types of careers 2022 Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report gives a fascinating knowledge into the new post-pandemic scene. Advertisers needed to become accustomed to new substance creation, joint effort, and work process devices, similar to a substance showcasing stage. While this might have required some variation, it took into account expanded between departmental joint effort and empowered organizations to make more successful substance in general. Advancements B2B Organizations Use for Content MarketingThe report showed 83% of organizations that believed their professional careers to be fruitful use joint effort and work process devices to further develop how they work with conveyed groups.
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James Mcgaugh 2016-10-15
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This week we ve got a bumper crop of B2B goodies, including the just-published B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends survey, tips on using Twitter lists as well as Snapchat and Instagram to improve your company s presence and profits, predictions for the future of Big Data and more.

Content Marketing Takes a Turn for the Better: New 2017 Research

— CREATIVE & DIGITAL @francecreative October 13, 2016

The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs have published their annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends survey.

Still, the survey surprisingly found that many B2B companies have small — sometimes even one-person — content marketing teams serving their entire organizations, and we can expect to see a greater focus on content marketing as it moves toward ubiquity in the coming year.

4 Ways B2B Can Use Snapchat and Instagram https://t.co/pShWdjD3Sc HowTo b2b https://t.co/U9WnRvG20x pic.twitter.com/xnIsjF2i7q

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Trisha Lewis 2017-10-24
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Unique, emotionally compelling content used to be the outlier; soon it will be the norm.

The whip-smart marketers at Kapost just published their 2017 B2B Content Strategy & Operations Benchmark.

They surveyed hundreds of B2B marketers in diverse industries, from small businesses to enterprise organizations.

You can’t score a touchdown if you don’t know where the end zone is.

Unfortunately, it looks like a great deal of B2B content marketers are lost in the field.

Everyone responsible for creating content should have a working knowledge of the entire process, from strategy through amplification to measurement and optimization.

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Henry Booker 2018-11-08
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In fact, according to the 2019 B2B Content Marketing Report produced by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, the most successful content marketers (65%) are far more likely to have a documented strategy than their less successful peers (14%).

That same report revealed that just 27% of B2B marketers say their content marketing efforts are very or extremely successful in achieving their organization’s desired results.

Every marketer has access to data, but many are often overwhelmed by it all and struggle to uncover meaningful insights to act on.

Not too long ago, Forrester reported that companies only use 12% of the data they have at their disposal.

Imagine what opportunities you could find hiding in that 82%.

Your objectives are the foundation of your strategy, guiding your decisions and tactical mix so you can drive results.

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Jeremy Green 2021-07-20
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Hands holding illustrations of a human brain and heart image.

Hands holding illustrations of a human brain and heart image.

B2B marketers have been pushing for personalized content for a good long while. Now we’re also trying to humanize content — to make the case that B2B buyers are human beings who want to connect with other humans on an emotional level.

Isn’t it remarkable that we still have to make that argument? 

But I’m not here to write another 1000 words about humanizing content. I want us to take it a step further, beyond personalization, humanization, personality and empathy.

B2B content marketing needs to come from the heart.

True, genuine heart is the last frontier in content. Every brand has an Instagram with behind-the-scenes content to boost authenticity. Every brand is striving to give at least the appearance of sincerity, personality and transparency.

A lot of it is about as deep as the checkout clerk telling you to “have a nice day.” To stand out now, B2B content needs to hit on a more fundamental level. 

Why Write from the Heart?

Even as we talk about “human to human” or “B2Me” marketing, we still tend to think that B2B content needs to be head-driven, mostly logic and reasoning, with a thin gloss of personality and emotion on top to “humanize.” 

The truth is, of course, that humans are inherently emotional creatures who seek connection with each other. We most often decide with our hearts first, then apply logic in retrospect. 

B2B content with heart seeks to make a connection first, then supply value, then finally ask for a next step. It has to be in that order.

So, what does it mean to write from the heart? 

1. Upgrade Personality to Passion

 I am not passionate about, say, a software-as-a-service platform that collects customer data for marketers. And I’m not sure I want to meet the person who is. 

But I am passionate about less intrusive marketing, about people getting connected with solutions that meet their needs, and about a future where marketing is helpful and productive, not annoying. So I can lead with the passion, the why that drove us to create this solution, and then I can talk about the product’s capabilities.

2. Upgrade Empathy to Compassion

Let’s face it: The marketing term ‘empathy’ sometimes has little to do with what the word actually means. While we may strive for truly feeling someone else’s hopes and fears, it tends to be in the service of persuasion, rather than connection.

Compassion is more than just walking a mile in someone’s shoes. It’s sincerely desiring to help them — to ease suffering, bring joy, and help them be successful. Do you care if the people you’re marketing to get promoted, get to spend more time with their kids, can finally afford to buy a starter home, and so on?

If you can show that you have true compassion for your audience, beyond the solution you’re offering, you’re far more likely to make a connection.

3. Upgrade Authenticity to Vulnerability

Here’s a hard one. Very few brands want to seem vulnerable or fallible. Even with behind-the-scenes content, they tend to present a highly sanitized version of the business. If you admit a fault, or share an obstacle you had to struggle to overcome, will you lose people’s trust and confidence in your brand?

Absolutely not. You’re writing to people who experience hardships and make mistakes. You’ll make a better connection if you show that your brand is made up of fallible human beings, too.

There’s nothing more authentic and transparent than a warts-and-all look at the problems your company faces and the ways in which you try, fail and ultimately succeed. 

4. Upgrade Thought Leadership to Humility

What’s the fastest way to make a connection with a stranger? Ask them to do you a favor. Ask for help. Most salespeople are familiar with this phenomenon, sometimes called the “Ben Franklin Effect.” The idea is that if someone does you a favor, they’re demonstrably more likely to do a second one, and to regard you more kindly than if you had done a favor for them. 

I think the same is true with content marketing. Thought leadership content tends to lack the notion of humility — it usually focuses on establishing knowledge and authority, of the author as an inerrant source of truth.

The problem is, no one really likes a know-it-all. A hefty dose of humility can make thought leadership content much more engaging, and much more likely to start a conversation. 

Imagine a blog post that goes, “I’ve seen success in my business with x, y, and z. But I’m still not sure how to best go about a, b, and c. What are your experiences? What do you do in this situation?” 

The thought leader in this case is adding value by sharing their own experience and success, but also allowing others to share their expertise as well. The result can be a conversation that benefits everyone involved - author, audience, and brand.

Your Heart Will Go On

As Maya Angelou famously said, people may forget what you say, but they will never forget the way you made them feel. And the best way to engage someone’s emotions is to share your own. We can’t settle for the shallow marketing equivalents of passion, compassion, vulnerability, and humility. 

We need to embrace the difficult but rewarding task of bringing our whole hearts to what we’re creating.

How do you create content with heart? Let me know in the comments.

And take our B2B Influencer Marketing Survey to share your opinions.

The post Write from the Heart for More Memorable B2B Content Marketing appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Monte Martin 2018-02-28
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In fact, Ytel’s 2018 State of B2B Marketing Communications survey revealed that 55% of respondents agreed that they have a hard time getting their message and content in front of their target audience.

Well, there’s more content at buyers’ fingertips than ever before, search engines are getting in touch with their human sides, and organic visibility on social media is effectively extinct.

However, buyers are increasingly looking to those they know and those they think they know for insights, answers and recommendations.

To highlight how creating more credible content with influencers can help your B2B brand get in front of interested buyers, create an engaging experience, and inspire action, take a look at these three examples from the TopRank Marketing playbook of successful client influencer content marketing programs.

The Situation: The legal sector is one of Introhive’s focus industries.

However, it’s an industry that’s been reluctant to adopt CRM technologies.

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Earl Rizvi 2021-07-21
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Are old formats worth clinging to? Is your B2B content marketing primed to go the way of Blockbuster or Netflix? We take on the whole view of B2B marketing in the modern era. Continue reading

The post Beyond the PDF: Why B2B Content Marketing Demands an Evolution appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

Madeleine Vogel 2016-12-22
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But now you can overcome these, and other B2B content marketing obstacles, with the help of influencers.

Influencer content marketing involves integrating the power of influencers into your content marketing strategy.

Here are a few ways influencer content marketing can benefit your business:

Your B2B content marketing strategy may not be yielding desired results because your content isn t relevant enough.

Co-created content is highly effective for winning over the loyal band of followers these influencers already have.

This can help increase the quality and quantity of your leads.

Ronald Gibson 2018-05-07
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A BIG THANKS goes to the team at B2B Marketing Exchange for sharing raw case study data and both Anne Leuman and Lane Ellis from my team at TopRank Marketing for their collaboration on word-smithing the content and capturing the images of this post.

Check out the case studies below covering a range of categories including:

32 B2B Marketing Case Studies Featuring Killer Content and Performance Results

Project: Ciox Health partnered with Content4Demand to uncover new growth opportunities with target audiences (e.g.

The final campaign featured an infographic, interactive quizzes, interactive listicles, checklists, Q sessions, and mixed media video.

Project: Equifax developed a multi-touch campaign consisting of more than seven touch points, including emails, social posts, blogs, webinars, and promotional emails.

Eric Whitefield 2019-01-22
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Oh, and read at your own risk.

While outside forces are pushing her to reconcile with her husband, Midge is firm in putting her own happiness first for once in her life.

It’s this decision that leads her to a career (gasp!)

This sets Midge on a mission to find her voice and achieve success on her own terms, something that all B2B content marketers can certainly identify with.

In today’s competitive landscape, B2B content marketers are experiencing more pressure than ever to establish an authoritative, authentic, and trustworthy voice that resonates with audiences, compels them to act, and ultimately drives results.

But the reality is that Midge goes on to bomb quite a few of her sets.

Dwayne Alcorn 2020-09-03
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Book Laying in Front of Tranquil Lake Scenery

Book Laying in Front of Tranquil Lake Scenery

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a guy who understands content. He was the featured keynote speaker at Content Marketing World three years ago, and his company HitRecord empowers creators to collaborate and produce awesome stuff together.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt also understands storytelling. He is an actor, director, producer, and writer who has appeared in numerous beloved movies and TV shows. His work as an author includes a series of works called The Book of Tiny Stories.

“The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories,” the tagline asserts.

Given his experience and expertise at the intersection of content and storytelling, it’s worth listening any time Gordon-Levitt speaks on these subjects. So I definitely took notice when the film icon suggested recently that the future of storytelling lies not in movies, but video games.

The gaming medium “feels like kind of the most groundbreaking storytelling,” Gordon-Levitt observed in a new episode of the YouTube show Hot Ones. “Storytelling that's completely in a whole different realm than anything we've seen before.”

Personally, I can’t disagree with him. I love video games, in large part due to the immersion of a well-crafted narrative that draws the player into an interactive virtual world. And while marketing departments aren’t exactly concocting the next Grand Theft Auto, we do have the ability to deliver storytelling experiences that go above and beyond, by embracing many of the same principles that make video games such an appealing format in the eyes of Gordon-Levitt and others.

Of course, the formula for impactful storytelling in B2B content marketing is different from video games, or movies, even though it might share commonalities with both. To help you develop stories that engage and activate your professional audience, I've developed a blueprint, which I’ve dubbed the S.T.O.R.Y. model.

The S.T.O.R.Y Model for Great Storytelling in B2B Content Marketing

Sizzle. Tension. Originality. Relevance. Yearning. Every stellar piece of storytelling in B2B content marketing encompasses these five words. Let's break down each one, and how they come together for a powerful experience. (We'll lean on JGL to visualize these concepts.)

Sizzle

sizzle (n): a state or quality of great excitement or passion

In Gordon-Levitt's world of filmmaking, a "sizzle reel" refers to a short, fast-paced video edit featuring the best of someone's past work. Sizzle reels are often put together by actors who distribute them in hopes of landing gigs. As the name suggests, these reels need to sizzle: The excitement and passion must be on display right away in order to wrangle the attention of a casting director sorting through hundreds of them.

The B2B marketer's directive is no different. Earning the attention of our audiences in the era of rampant content saturation means we need to bring it. If your story does not imbue a genuine and immediately discernible sense of passion and excitement, it may very well not be worth telling.

via GIPHY

Tension

tension (n): a balance maintained in an artistic work between opposing forces or elements

Sizzle is how you grab the audience's attention with your story. Tension is how you keep it. Storytellers can build tension by referencing or hinting at something early on, and then gradually working toward the payoff.

This dynamic was explained beautifully by Andrew Davis at CM World – one year after Gordon-Levitt’s appearance – in his opening 2018 keynote exploring the “curiosity gap” and how it counteracts dwindling attention spans. I had the pleasure of watching Davis break it down alongside my colleague Ashley Zeckman, who recapped the session here on our blog. Read her post and you’ll learn everything you need to know about using tension to keep your audience hooked.

[bctt tweet="“The more tension you raise, the more your audience needs to see the outcome.” @DrewDavisHere #Storytelling #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

via GIPHY

Originality

originality (n): freshness of aspect, design, or style

In order to be memorable, it must be novel.

While it's valuable to keep someone watching or reading to completion, we're not telling a great story simply because they absorbed the whole thing. We're telling a great story if it sticks with them. To this end, freshness and originality are essential qualities.

The human brain can only consciously store so many memories. There isn't much room for redundancy.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every story you tell, but there should always be at least one inventive or unexpected element that makes it feel unique.

via GIPHY

Relevance

relevance (n): the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate

From one view, the word "relevance" is incredibly broad. From another, it is narrow as can be.

Example: Coronavirus is relevant to every human being on Planet Earth right now. But, what about the mental health impact of a pandemic on first-time telecommuters, and how HR managers can provide meaningful support? Now you’ve zeroed in.

Here is where we begin to diverge from standard forms of entertainment. Great art often speaks to the many. Great B2B content marketing should speak to the few, but in a fiercely resonant way.

[bctt tweet="“Great art often speaks to the many. Great B2B content marketing should speak to the few, but in a fiercely resonant way.” @NickNelsonMN #Storytelling #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

via GIPHY

Yearning

yearning (n): a feeling of intense longing for something

And here is where we fully settle into the marketing realm. Leaving the viewer with a sense of yearning is a common objective in entertainment – think cliffhangers – but only in content marketing is it requisite for efficacy.

This doesn’t mean someone finishes your story and has a yearning to go buy the product or service. That's an unlikely (albeit highly impressive) outcome. It means they yearn for more – more installments in the series, more content from the brand, more information on the website, more social media posts from the account.

via GIPHY

Tell Your Brand’s S.T.O.R.Y.

When your story sizzles, builds tension, exudes originality, sparks relevant tones with a defined audience, and leaves the reader or viewer yearning for more … you’ve got yourself a highly effective piece of B2B content marketing. The specifics within this framework are flexible and open to your own creative spin – you’d hardly be able to check the “originality” box if that wasn’t the case – but the overarching principles of impactful marketing narratives are quite consistent in every successful production. They’re most often found in movies and video games too, for that matter.

via GIPHY

To learn how you can apply this formula to establish stronger relationships with your audience, check out my blog post on channeling the skills of Abraham Lincoln to build trust through storytelling.

The post Your Guide to Effective Storytelling in B2B Content Marketing appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Willie Edwards 2021-06-01
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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®.

Dwight Black 2021-01-05
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Woman Jumping Over Pitfalls Image

Woman Jumping Over Pitfalls Image

It’s been almost 40 years since Pitfall!, the classic side-scrolling platformer for the original Atari, was first released. David Crane’s creation went on to become one of the first console video game hits, selling more than 4 million copies, and is now remembered as an influential breakthrough for the medium.

Why did Pitfall! gain such rampant popularity? Because it was realistic and relatable!

I’m not talking about the pixelated 2D graphics or exotic jungle setting. I’m talking about the basic premise of problem-solving. The game is full of traps, hazards, and challenges, but there’s always a way around them. “Oh hey, a giant pit full of alligators. How will I get to the other side? Perhaps by grabbing hold of that swinging vine…”

via Gfycat

Today’s B2B content marketers may feel like they’re navigating a landscape filled with pitfalls — dangers or difficulties that are easily encountered but not immediately obvious. To help you on your journey, we’ve identified five of the most pervasive pitfalls so you can spot them and avoid them.

5 Pitfalls in B2B Content Marketing & How to Steer Clear

From messaging to strategy to execution, these are five of the most counterproductive missteps that are commonly made by modern content marketing practitioners.

1 — Speaking to the Many Instead of the Few

If you’re talking to everybody, you’re talking to nobody. This is a critical guiding philosophy, which may run counter to the way many marketers and writers were trained. (Especially those with backgrounds in journalism or media.)

There’s a natural compulsion to make B2B content as accessible and broadly applicable possible, in order to maximize the potential reach. But with so much information and so many resources at the fingertips of today’s decision makers, marketers need to get more specific and direct. Joel Goobich of Vestorly called out “vague, generalized content” at the top of his recent list of B2B content marketing mistakes shared at Forbes.

“Why would your B2B audience want to consume content that doesn’t speak directly to them and their interests?” he wonders. “Often B2B content is overly generalized and lacks a target audience and specific industry focus.”

What To Do: Narrow your scope. Get a clear handle on the audience(s) you want to reach, and the unique qualities, characteristics, or challenges that differentiate them from other segments. Don’t be afraid to turn away those readers or viewers who won’t find the content useful. Then, make sure your measurement strategy aligns with this selective approach. In other words, de-prioritize vanity metrics like impressions in favor of those measuring business impact.

2 — Strategizing SEO Around Keywords Instead of Intent

Keywords have been the driving force in search engine optimization for many years, serving as a cornerstone in the strategic framework for many content strategies. And keywords still have a valuable purpose. But more and more, achieving success with SEO initiatives is about understanding search intent and aligning with the motivations of searchers. There are several reasons for this:

  1. Unless you operate in a novel industry or vertical, it’s likely that the most valuable keywords you’re targeting are highly competitive. Focusing on search intent lends itself to longer-tail keywords and semantic searches, opening up more topical areas to pursue with your content.
  2. Accounting for intent rather than solely looking at keywords makes the content better. Traditionally, businesses have had a tendency to say, “This keyword has high volume and is relevant to our industry, let’s write blog posts that tie it to our product.” But if it’s not a keyword with transactional or commercial intent, then such an angle will likely miss the mark with searchers.
  3. For this reason, intent-based SEO content is more successful. It moves creators away from outdated tricks like keyword-stacking, and toward methods that actually help content rank today. A recent post from Backlinko notes that “satisfying Search Intent is ultimately Google’s #1 goal,” while pointing out that Google’s latest Quality Rater Guidelines (released in October of 2020) are “OBSESSED with Search Intent.”

What To Do: Make search intent the foundation of your SEO strategy, giving keywords and search phrases the context they need to be meaningful. The informative post from Backlinko above, as well as Google’s report on how intent is redefining the marketing funnel, are enlightening reads on the subject.

[bctt tweet="“Make search intent the foundation of your SEO strategy, giving keywords and search phrases the context they need to be meaningful.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

3 — Failing to Connect with Relevance

One reason Pitfall! was such a hit back in the early 1980s is that it struck a resonant chord with audiences, who were transfixed by its treasure-hunting adventure theme following the 1981 theatrical release of Raiders of the Lost Ark. This same dynamic was at play with early arcade breakthroughs like Space Invaders and Asteroids, which channeled the sci-fi enthusiasm fueled by movies like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

What do the people in your audience care about? Don’t limit your thinking to their professional interests. One of my favorite case studies from our clients at LinkedIn highlighted a company called SolarWinds, which recognized that its IT customer base tended to share a special affinity for sci-fi and Star Wars especially. So they did a promotion on LinkedIn that involved giving away a multitool in the shape of the Millenium Falcon.

SolarWinds’ manager of demand and marketing later said the campaign’s engagement was “probably the highest I’ve ever seen for any campaign that I’ve run across any platform.”

What To Do: Scrutinize your content hooks — the introductory sentences of articles or the early seconds of a video — to confirm you’re drawing an immediate thread of relevance with your audience. Never put yourself or your solutions first. And, in accordance with item No. 1 on this list, aim to be narrow instead of broad.

4 — Speaking to the Mind and Not the Heart

Business decisions are made on the basis of rational and logical drivers, out of necessity. But they are not made solely through those lenses. Humans are complex and emotional beings, not robots. In our recent round-up of B2B content marketing predictions for 2021, Ty Heath suggested that 2020’s pandemic “will accelerate the shift to a ‘right-brain’ movement,” with greater emphasis on humor, storytelling, and emotion.

Engaging your audience at a deeper level will help you build genuine trust, which is the single most essential ingredient for long-term business success.

What To Do: Challenge yourself and your team to create content that goes beyond dry informational details, specs, features, and product benefits. Cultivate a brand voice that is professional but not overly formal and stuffy. Build trust through storytelling.

5— Failing to Learn from Failure

Although Pitfall! was a bit before my time, I learned much about trial-and-error from my early experiences with 8-bit video games. Back then, it was all about learning from your mistakes — “Oops, I just fell into the lava and died … I’ll remember that was there next time through.”

Content marketing isn’t quite the same, because we’re not just playing through the same level over and over again, but there are always constructive lessons to be taken away from a dead end or disappointing outcome. Learning and growing often requires a willingness to fail. The alternative is constantly playing it safe, which in the end isn’t really all that safe.

In her own prediction for 2021, Carla Johnson cautions against this urge, which may be heightened in a precarious economic environment. She argues that responding to the demands of 2020 left marketers with “no room for trial and error,” and that in the coming year, “B2B content marketing will be about taking smart risks that lead to more innovative work.”

What To Do: Experiment! Make small bets and take measured risks as you seek out fresh ways to engage and connect with your audience. Ironically, one of the biggest mistakes we can make as B2B content marketers is being too afraid to make mistakes.

[bctt tweet="“Ironically, one of the biggest mistakes we can make as B2B content marketers is being too afraid to make mistakes.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

Here’s to Smooth Sailing in 2021

Every marketer is bound to hit their share of snags and setbacks this year. But if we stay vigilant in avoiding the pitfalls we can anticipate —like the five cited above — and embrace the unpredictable hardships as opportunities to learn and adapt, we’ll make it through and come out stronger on the other end.

For more guidance and inspiration to carry you through the new year, check out our top 10 content marketing posts from 2020.

The post Pitfall! Steering Clear of 5 Common B2B Content Marketing Missteps appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

blogsfry 2022-01-04
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Rapidly, top notch, connecting with content turned into an outright need for most organizations. The different types of careers 2022 Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report gives a fascinating knowledge into the new post-pandemic scene. Advertisers needed to become accustomed to new substance creation, joint effort, and work process devices, similar to a substance showcasing stage. While this might have required some variation, it took into account expanded between departmental joint effort and empowered organizations to make more successful substance in general. Advancements B2B Organizations Use for Content MarketingThe report showed 83% of organizations that believed their professional careers to be fruitful use joint effort and work process devices to further develop how they work with conveyed groups.
Trisha Lewis 2017-10-24
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Unique, emotionally compelling content used to be the outlier; soon it will be the norm.

The whip-smart marketers at Kapost just published their 2017 B2B Content Strategy & Operations Benchmark.

They surveyed hundreds of B2B marketers in diverse industries, from small businesses to enterprise organizations.

You can’t score a touchdown if you don’t know where the end zone is.

Unfortunately, it looks like a great deal of B2B content marketers are lost in the field.

Everyone responsible for creating content should have a working knowledge of the entire process, from strategy through amplification to measurement and optimization.

Jeremy Green 2021-07-20
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Hands holding illustrations of a human brain and heart image.

Hands holding illustrations of a human brain and heart image.

B2B marketers have been pushing for personalized content for a good long while. Now we’re also trying to humanize content — to make the case that B2B buyers are human beings who want to connect with other humans on an emotional level.

Isn’t it remarkable that we still have to make that argument? 

But I’m not here to write another 1000 words about humanizing content. I want us to take it a step further, beyond personalization, humanization, personality and empathy.

B2B content marketing needs to come from the heart.

True, genuine heart is the last frontier in content. Every brand has an Instagram with behind-the-scenes content to boost authenticity. Every brand is striving to give at least the appearance of sincerity, personality and transparency.

A lot of it is about as deep as the checkout clerk telling you to “have a nice day.” To stand out now, B2B content needs to hit on a more fundamental level. 

Why Write from the Heart?

Even as we talk about “human to human” or “B2Me” marketing, we still tend to think that B2B content needs to be head-driven, mostly logic and reasoning, with a thin gloss of personality and emotion on top to “humanize.” 

The truth is, of course, that humans are inherently emotional creatures who seek connection with each other. We most often decide with our hearts first, then apply logic in retrospect. 

B2B content with heart seeks to make a connection first, then supply value, then finally ask for a next step. It has to be in that order.

So, what does it mean to write from the heart? 

1. Upgrade Personality to Passion

 I am not passionate about, say, a software-as-a-service platform that collects customer data for marketers. And I’m not sure I want to meet the person who is. 

But I am passionate about less intrusive marketing, about people getting connected with solutions that meet their needs, and about a future where marketing is helpful and productive, not annoying. So I can lead with the passion, the why that drove us to create this solution, and then I can talk about the product’s capabilities.

2. Upgrade Empathy to Compassion

Let’s face it: The marketing term ‘empathy’ sometimes has little to do with what the word actually means. While we may strive for truly feeling someone else’s hopes and fears, it tends to be in the service of persuasion, rather than connection.

Compassion is more than just walking a mile in someone’s shoes. It’s sincerely desiring to help them — to ease suffering, bring joy, and help them be successful. Do you care if the people you’re marketing to get promoted, get to spend more time with their kids, can finally afford to buy a starter home, and so on?

If you can show that you have true compassion for your audience, beyond the solution you’re offering, you’re far more likely to make a connection.

3. Upgrade Authenticity to Vulnerability

Here’s a hard one. Very few brands want to seem vulnerable or fallible. Even with behind-the-scenes content, they tend to present a highly sanitized version of the business. If you admit a fault, or share an obstacle you had to struggle to overcome, will you lose people’s trust and confidence in your brand?

Absolutely not. You’re writing to people who experience hardships and make mistakes. You’ll make a better connection if you show that your brand is made up of fallible human beings, too.

There’s nothing more authentic and transparent than a warts-and-all look at the problems your company faces and the ways in which you try, fail and ultimately succeed. 

4. Upgrade Thought Leadership to Humility

What’s the fastest way to make a connection with a stranger? Ask them to do you a favor. Ask for help. Most salespeople are familiar with this phenomenon, sometimes called the “Ben Franklin Effect.” The idea is that if someone does you a favor, they’re demonstrably more likely to do a second one, and to regard you more kindly than if you had done a favor for them. 

I think the same is true with content marketing. Thought leadership content tends to lack the notion of humility — it usually focuses on establishing knowledge and authority, of the author as an inerrant source of truth.

The problem is, no one really likes a know-it-all. A hefty dose of humility can make thought leadership content much more engaging, and much more likely to start a conversation. 

Imagine a blog post that goes, “I’ve seen success in my business with x, y, and z. But I’m still not sure how to best go about a, b, and c. What are your experiences? What do you do in this situation?” 

The thought leader in this case is adding value by sharing their own experience and success, but also allowing others to share their expertise as well. The result can be a conversation that benefits everyone involved - author, audience, and brand.

Your Heart Will Go On

As Maya Angelou famously said, people may forget what you say, but they will never forget the way you made them feel. And the best way to engage someone’s emotions is to share your own. We can’t settle for the shallow marketing equivalents of passion, compassion, vulnerability, and humility. 

We need to embrace the difficult but rewarding task of bringing our whole hearts to what we’re creating.

How do you create content with heart? Let me know in the comments.

And take our B2B Influencer Marketing Survey to share your opinions.

The post Write from the Heart for More Memorable B2B Content Marketing appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

tobbyparsons 2021-04-05

A individualized advertising technique can help a business to understand what customers hope for.When applied in the right fashion, a marketing technique can show obvious results in the context of ROI, traffic and on the web visibility.

In order to get probably the most from it, the marketers should go up to speed on a range of electronic marketing solutions to change the way they promote their businesses.A successful electronic advertising campaign contains qualified strategies, structures, and top-notch technologies, along side qualified experience.

The professionals set the goals maintaining in your head your objectives and utilize most readily useful practices to accomplish them for you skyandzen.

The marketers begin the work by outlining the company goals.

Planning, delivery and administration, etc.

Social media marketing advertising is one of many advanced and helpful digital marketing techniques that allow a company to learn the customers.

Thomas Gibson 2019-06-25
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“Oh, like the Wendy’s Twitter account?”

I’ve had variations on the above conversation more times than I can count.

No one has the patience for, “I write business-to-business content designed to help people do their jobs better, which also builds affinity for a client brand, with the end goal of influencing purchase decisions.”

So most people think I just write fun stuff all day, that it’s a purely creative job.

Here’s my list of must-have B2B content marketing skills.

12 Must-Have B2B Content Marketing Skills

Nicholas Patton 2017-09-27
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Over the past few years, content marketing has been steadily getting an increased share of the B2B marketing budget pie.

Because consumers have an appetite for it and marketers have tasted success with content marketing.

There’s no mistaking that content marketing delivers more exposure, leads and revenue.

A recent study by the Content Marketing Institute reveals that 75 percent to 99 percent of businesses use up to 5 percent of their marketing budget for content marketing.

Between 10 percent and 24 percent of B2B players that participated in the research dedicate 24 percent of their marketing funds to content marketing.

The amount you may choose to allocate will depend on factors such as your past experience, present content marketing targets, current staff and business intelligence.

Michael Ambriz 2018-10-19
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2019 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: A First Look at New Research

For the ninth year MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute have released a detailed B2B content marketing report, with plenty of relevant insight for digital marketers.

The 6th Annual B2B Marketing Data Report

A newly-released Dun and Bradstreet survey looks at the state of B2B marketing, as the firm has done each of the past six years, offering a slew of insights for digital marketers.

Facebook rolls out 3D photos that use AI to simulate depth

Facebook recently began launching the ability of create 3D photos using artificial intelligence to create the illusion of depth, a new tool in the digital marketer’s belt.

Richard Bond 2021-02-16
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Content Writer Drafting Copy on Laptop

Content Writer Drafting Copy on Laptop

“You can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that.” - Homer Simpson

Homer might be right, generally speaking. But I still maintain that good, accurate, timely statistics from trusted sources can serve as vital guideposts and benchmarking tools, especially when it comes to business strategy.

This certainly applies in my own corner of the business world: the fast-changing and critically important field of B2B content marketing.

Trends in content marketing tend to reflect broader truths, since we’re talking about the ways in which companies and customers interact and communicate. Because of this, I like to keep a close eye on new research and data as it surfaces, filing away nuggets that strike me as especially telling.

Today, I’ll share six new B2B content marketing statistics that everyone should know.

6 Eye-Opening B2B Content Marketing Statistics for 2021

These stats highlight many of the challenges, opportunities, and changes unfolding here in 2021.

#1: Businesses are the most trusted institution for information in 2021. (Source: Edelman)

Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer shows that the business sector has risen above government, media, and NGOs in its Trust Index. Edelman also found that business is now seen as the institution that is both competent and ethical.

Edelman Image

Needless to say, this is a big moment for content marketers. Distrust is running rampant among misinformation, uncertainty and anxiety across the globe. People are looking to businesses for credible, clear, and accurate insights and guidance. As marketers, we must harness this opportunity to earn and solidify this trust.

How can we best do so? Edelman’s survey results point to a clear answer: by vigorously guarding information quality and filtering out the noise.

Edelman Image 2

[bctt tweet="“People are looking to businesses for credible, clear, and accurate insights and guidance. As marketers, we must harness this opportunity to earn and solidify this trust.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

#2: 88% of marketers say collecting first-party data is a priority in 2021. (Source: Merkle)

This comes from Merkle’s 2021 Customer Engagement Report, highlighting a key frontier for informing content strategies this year. While third-party data and insights like those we’ve aggregated here are useful, nothing can quite match the relevance and impact of information drawn from your own customers and digital experiences.

Heightening data privacy regulations are playing a major role in motivating these initiatives, according to Merkle’s research. The report also points to a rise in “zero-party data,” which includes "transaction intentions, preference data, personal context, and what the customer thinks about the company."

Per Merkle: "Marketers don't have to infer customer preferences or behavior through secondary behavior but are instead explicitly told, straight from the source. The best zero-party data is when the customers trust the brand and are willing to volunteer their data with the understanding that it will improve their experience."

#3: Mobile device usage rose dramatically in 2020. (Souce: App Annie)

Surely this comes as no surprise. Deprived of the ability to congregate in person, many of us increased our reliance on different forms of connection and entertainment. App Annie’s State of Mobile 2021 report found that mobile adoption saw two-to-three years worth of advancement in 12 months during 2020, with mobile time surpassing live TV.

Substantial increases were seen across the board globally:

App Annie Image

App Annie also shared data around the most-used social networking apps in 2020. No. 1 on the list may surprise you:

  1. TikTok
  2. Facebook
  3. WhatsApp Messenger
  4. Instagram
  5. Facebook Messenger

While these apps tend to be utilized more in the B2C realm for marketing purposes, it’s valuable to note the popularity and traction.

#4: Brands are using Instagram Stories more than ever. (Source: Rival IQ)

On that note, the newly released 2021 Instagram Stories Benchmark Report from social analytics firm Rival IQ casts light on usage and engagement trends around Instagram Stories, a fast-rising channel that holds some intrigue for B2B brands. As mentioned above, Instagram is a traditionally B2C-centric marketing app, but given the growing adoption and the amount of time people spend on it, no marketer should ignore it. I wrote here a couple years ago about why Instagram Stories were generating B2B buzz, and now that buzz is loudening.

For those who are interested in dabbling, Rival IQ offers this advice based on its research findings: “Focus on creating a few really engaging, dynamic frames to start off your Story. If your brand can hook viewers early with great content, it’ll improve your retention and turn your followers into fans.”

#5: Most B2B marketers say the pandemic had a meaningful impact on their strategies. (Source: CMI/MarketingProfs)

The 2021 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report placed a special emphasis on understanding how organizations responded and adapted to COVID-19. Seventy percent of respondents in the survey from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs said the pandemic had a major or moderate impact on their content strategy, with most describing their adjustments as a combination of short-term and long-term.

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When asked specifically about the most common changes made in response to COVID-19, these were the top responses from B2B marketers:

  1. Changed targeting/messaging strategy (70%)
  2. Adjusted editorial calendar (64%)
  3. Changed content distribution/promotion strategy (53%)
  4. Changed website (40%)
  5. Put more resources toward social media/online communities (40%)

#6: The top barriers to creating great B2B content are workload and changing priorities. (Source: Radix Communications)

Radix Communications surveyed more than 100 B2B marketers to learn which obstacles loom largest in this year. The most commonly cited barriers in the way of great content were changing priorities and workload, although respondents were more likely to name interference and resources as a “big problem” than workload.

RadixI Image

Another finding in Radix’s research: “B2B marketers who can’t talk to customers are 27% less likely to be happy with their content’s business results.” This ties back to the prioritization of first-party data and gathering direct insight from the audience.

B2B Content Marketing by the Numbers

Homer Simpson wasn’t entirely off base. People can dig up statistics to make almost any type of case. But here, the numbers only confirm trends and realities that most B2B content marketers are already experiencing. Trust hangs in the balance; data is growing both more important and more nuanced; mobile and social media usage have exploded; and evolving priorities create new challenges for planning.

We hope that the context provided by these B2B content marketing statistics helps you as you find your way in the new landscape. For more forward-looking insight to guide your strategy, check out Lee Odden’s post on the Top B2B Marketing Trends for 2021.

The post 6 Eye-Opening B2B Content Marketing Statistics for 2021 appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Stephen Somogyi 2018-11-01
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There is a growing interest in content marketing in the B2B industry, but it is still challenging to find the strategy that takes you from interest to actual results.

88% of B2B marketers are using content marketing this year, up from 86% in 2015, while 65% of them want to know what makes a content effective.

A documented content strategy is the first step towards an effective content marketing plan, as it serves as the guide for every stage.

It’s the guide that will take you from awareness to engagement, defining the goals for each stage and how to reach them.

A documented content marketing strategy should include:

Focusing on the audience: What does your audience expect from you?

Calvin Bourque 2019-10-22
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Most B2B marketers use content marketing effectively to achieve top-of-the-funnel goals like brand awareness and audience education.

But they are missing out on opportunities deeper in the funnel.

The three most-cited content marketing goals achieved in the last 12 months were:

However, fewer B2B marketers say their efforts delivered success against goals like:

Building loyalty with existing clients/customers (63%)

What do the three latter goals have in common?

James Mcgaugh 2016-10-15
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This week we ve got a bumper crop of B2B goodies, including the just-published B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends survey, tips on using Twitter lists as well as Snapchat and Instagram to improve your company s presence and profits, predictions for the future of Big Data and more.

Content Marketing Takes a Turn for the Better: New 2017 Research

— CREATIVE & DIGITAL @francecreative October 13, 2016

The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs have published their annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends survey.

Still, the survey surprisingly found that many B2B companies have small — sometimes even one-person — content marketing teams serving their entire organizations, and we can expect to see a greater focus on content marketing as it moves toward ubiquity in the coming year.

4 Ways B2B Can Use Snapchat and Instagram https://t.co/pShWdjD3Sc HowTo b2b https://t.co/U9WnRvG20x pic.twitter.com/xnIsjF2i7q

Henry Booker 2018-11-08
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In fact, according to the 2019 B2B Content Marketing Report produced by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, the most successful content marketers (65%) are far more likely to have a documented strategy than their less successful peers (14%).

That same report revealed that just 27% of B2B marketers say their content marketing efforts are very or extremely successful in achieving their organization’s desired results.

Every marketer has access to data, but many are often overwhelmed by it all and struggle to uncover meaningful insights to act on.

Not too long ago, Forrester reported that companies only use 12% of the data they have at their disposal.

Imagine what opportunities you could find hiding in that 82%.

Your objectives are the foundation of your strategy, guiding your decisions and tactical mix so you can drive results.

Monte Martin 2018-02-28
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In fact, Ytel’s 2018 State of B2B Marketing Communications survey revealed that 55% of respondents agreed that they have a hard time getting their message and content in front of their target audience.

Well, there’s more content at buyers’ fingertips than ever before, search engines are getting in touch with their human sides, and organic visibility on social media is effectively extinct.

However, buyers are increasingly looking to those they know and those they think they know for insights, answers and recommendations.

To highlight how creating more credible content with influencers can help your B2B brand get in front of interested buyers, create an engaging experience, and inspire action, take a look at these three examples from the TopRank Marketing playbook of successful client influencer content marketing programs.

The Situation: The legal sector is one of Introhive’s focus industries.

However, it’s an industry that’s been reluctant to adopt CRM technologies.