Alternative Lending: Some Common Misconceptions

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The cat is out of the bag. Alternative lending is here to stay.

As traditional banks become more restrictive in their approval process, more and more people are turning to non-bank options to get financing. What’s more, consumers can choose from a variety of non-traditional loan avenues. These include peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding, and factoring.

But like anything new and unfamiliar, some misconceptions plague the alternative lending industry. Our goal in this article is to address these misconceptions and invite more confidence in the industry.

The Application Process Is Long and Tedious

A fundamental assumption, whether you need a loan for business reasons or for personal ones, is that you’ll have to go through a tedious process. In other words, you believe it will take a while from the time you submit an application until you receive a response.

Luckily, you won’t have to go through that hassle with alternative lending. With the help of technology, many of these lenders use apps and online platforms.

For example, a third-party review of 5K funds states that using this online lending platform will allow you to choose from a range of offers from their partner lenders. The application process is convenient, and you could get an approval within minutes.

You Only Apply for Alternative Lending If a Bank Rejects You

Some applicants do indeed turn for approval to alternative lending after a bank declines them. But there are also excellent reasons why some would make alternative lenders their first choice over banks.

For one, these lenders judge you less, are more flexible, and respond quickly to your inquiries. Moreover, many of these lenders offer unsecured loans. This is perfect if you don’t have collateral.

Lastly, with alternative lending you can choose a repayment option that works for you.

Alternative Lending Is Not a Regulated Industry

Another incorrect assumption about the alternative lending industry is that these lenders do not have to comply with capital requirements such as banks must do.

It is essential to understand that unlike banks, alternative lenders do not offer the same services as traditional banking institutions. Alternative lending operates under a different business model and capital structure.

Nevertheless, these companies must still adhere to federal regulations. This is especially the case when it comes to customer disclosure and transparency.

You Get High Interest Rates with Alternative Lending

Some people are wary when it comes to applying for loans online. It is true that there are some unscrupulous lenders out there. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t find an honest lender and a good deal with alternative lending.

If you have excellent credit, chances are you will get a reasonable interest rate. Similar to traditional lending, extending credit to someone without security and with poor credit entails risks. As such, it is possible to pay higher interest rates in these instances.


Lenders Use Algorithms That Lack the Personal Approach

Online lending platforms do use sophisticated algorithms to find the best offers and lenders that best fit your needs. Yes, you may no longer need to speak to a loan officer personally. However, these algorithms make the process of alternative lending more efficient and convenient.

On the other hand, if you prefer to get in touch with the lender, there are contact channels available so you can build a better business relationship throughout the application, approval, and repayment process.


If your business is experiencing cash-flow issues, or if your personal debts have gotten out of hand, consider alternative lending for a loan that can get you back on track with your finances.

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Buying Cryptocurrencies? Follow These Rules

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Since 2017, the number of people who have been buying cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin has increased significantly. If you’re considering joining their ranks, this article posits guidelines that can safeguard your investment and protect your sanity.

The Crypto Market Is Poised for a Huge Boom

According to current predictions, the cryptocurrency market is set to witness massive growth in the first few months of 2020. In fact, John Mcafee predicted that Bitcoin (BTC) will be valued at $1 million by the end of 2020. This would give it a total market capitalization of $15 trillion, which is bound to attract new investors.

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Are you ready to start buying cryptocurrencies, too? Then make sure to follow these golden rules to safeguard your investment.

Study Cryptocurrency Properly

Study the field before buying cryptocurrencies

Before taking the plunge, you need to have a clear understanding of how cryptocurrency works. Buying cryptpcurrencies is completely different from making investments based on the workings of a fiat currency.

For example, the number of cryptocurrencies is limited. Therefore, their price is wholly dependent on the market’s demand and supply. That is, if the demand for buying the currency increases, the price rises as well. On the other hand, if more people want to sell their shares, the price decreases.

Additionally, there are a number of different cryptocurrencies available on the market. Each one has its own perks and drawbacks. Therefore, before buying any cryptocurrency, conduct thorough research to select the one that best suits your needs.

To get you started, Wikipedia offers a list of cryptocurrencies with basic information. Click here to study that list before buying any cryptocurrency.

Next, study in detail the performance of your chosen cryptocurrency. Learn the reasons why the currency’s price soared previously or why it has the potential to increase in the future.

This will give you an idea of the most suitable time to buy your chosen cryptocurrency. Once you get a clear idea of the recent patterns the currency’s price has followed, it will be easier for you to understand if it is the right choice for you.

Further, sites like Is-Scam Website can help you stay aware of the latest goings-on in the market.

Avoid Impulsive Buying and Selling

After selecting a particular cryptocurrency, use data analysis to study the patterns of change in the price of your chosen cryptocurrency. This will help you determine the best time to buy it.

Next—and this is important—after you have bought your cryptocurrency, don’t make the mistake of following the charts obsessively.

Of course, you want to follow your cryptocurrency’s current price in the market. However, you must keep in mind that all cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile. In other words, there is a high possibility that, right after you buy it, the price of your cryptocurrency will either rise significantly or fall drastically.

Moreover, it is almost inevitable that your nerves will be on edge right after you buy a new cryptocurrency. In such a condition, if you see the price rise higher, you might be tempted to invest more in order to earn higher dividends.

On the other hand, if the prices fall, you might succumb to fear. Afraid of losing all your money, you will sell your share at a very low price.

In either case, if you impulsively decide your next course of action based on these prices, you will be falling into the trap of carelessly buying and selling cryptocurrencies on a whim. However, the best practice is to avoid checking the charts for at least for twenty-four hours after your transaction.


Avoid Selling and Buying Cryptocurrencies on Weekends

Avoid selling and buying cryptocurrencies on the weekends

The cryptocurrency market, unlike the traditional stock markets, does not close on weekends. It is fully functional around the clock. However, it is advisable to avoid buying and selling cryptocurrencies on weekends.

Because many investors are eager to follow developments in the crypto markets even on weekends, the market is much more volatile on weekends. However, the volume of trading for Bitcoin and altcoins is much lower. Therefore, the market is difficult to predict on the weekends.

While you might gain good profit from buying and selling cryptocurrencies on the weekends, the possibility of suffering a large loss is equally high. Therefore, it is better to take a break from trading Bitcoin and altcoins on weekends. Conserve your energy so you can make better investments in the week ahead.

Devise a Decision-Making Process for Buying Cryptocurrencies

There is a plethora of channels where you can get information about the various cryptocurrencies. This gives you an opportunity to consult multiple sources before you make a decision on your investments.

However, excessive information about buying cryptocurrencies can do more harm than good. It will force you to weigh in on the contradictory sets of information you find, for example.

It is better to train yourself in the technical analysis of Bitcoin and altcoins. Doing so will make it easier for you to form your own opinions and determine the ideal time to buy cryptocurrencies. Also, before you make your investments, select some relevant and trustworthy sources of information and refer to them in the future.

Try this decision-making process for several trading cycles. If it proves to be successful, stick to it whenever you’re buying cryptocurrencies. But if, as you gain experience, you feel you can improve it for better returns, feel free to make changes.

Set Buying and Selling Prices—and Stick with Them

When trading Bitcoin or altcoin, many experts urge you to follow the maxim, “Buy low, sell high.” However, if you follow this strategy to the letter, you could be tempted to wait too long before buying new cryptocurrencies or selling off the ones you already possess. This can prove disastrous and put your investment at risk.

As we mentioned previously, the cryptocurrency market changes rapidly. Prices can change drastically within only an hour. If you wait too long, you might miss out on an excellent trading opportunity.

Therefore, it is better to set certain limits for yourself for buying and selling cryptocurrencies. Then try to stick to these limits in every trading cycle.

However, as you gain experience, don’t hesitate to change these limits as and when you feel necessary. After all, the limits you decide upon should be based upon recent developments and requirements.

Set up Blocks of Time for Conducting Trade

Set up blocks of time for buying cryptocurrencies

The cryptocurrency world never sleeps. Trading takes place around the clock every day of the year. As a result, some investors fall into the trap of following the prices of Bitcoin and altcoins all day every day. However, by continually checking market conditions, they set themselves up for a great deal of stress.

Don’t do this. If you are under stress, you won’t be able to concentrate, and you will therefore be less able to make wise investment decisions.

Instead, set up blocks of time during the weekdays when you will conduct your trades. Devote the rest of your time to everything else your life. Be sure to include relationships, self-care, and time for recreation in that mix.

In this way, you can stay on top of any new developments in the market and make wiser decisions about your investments.


Enjoy Greater Profits by Following These Rules for Buying Cryptocurrencies

Just as in every other trading market, finding success in the cryptocurrency market is all about your research and your understanding. But if you follow these rules while buying cryptocurrencies, you will make more profitable investments more often.

For more ideas and inspiration written especially for entrepreneurs like you, be sure to visit our blog often.

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Break Free B2B Series: Judy Tian on Humanizing B2B Through Influencer Marketing

As the world’s largest social network for professionals, LinkedIn* lies at the epicenter of people and business. 

Profiles on the platform put a real face on our professional brands, allowing visitors to learn about our interests, career experiences, and personalities. Emphasizing this human element, and creating a genuine sense of community among members, is paramount to LinkedIn’s brand mission according to Marketing Manager Judy Tian

“As a platform where so much of people’s job opportunities and personal and professional development takes place,” she says, “we really sought to humanize the brand and make it a more community-based platform, where real stories can be told and people would feel like they have relatable experiences there with others.”

[bctt tweet=”We really sought to humanize the brand and make it a more community-based platform, where real stories can be told. @judytian07 on @LinkedIn’s #InfluencerMarketing strategy #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

A key aspect of this initiative was launching an ambitious influencer campaign, helping LinkedIn connect more deeply with its audience of marketers and salespeople by highlighting the human side of these professions, through partnerships with recognizable and respected pros from both fields.

In her interview with TopRank Marketing President Susan Misukanis, Judy provides a behind-the-scenes look at that campaign and LinkedIn’s overall influencer marketing strategy. She unpacks one specific empathy-driven campaign, where influencers shared personal struggles and trials in their careers and how they overcame them. She also offers her views on measuring the seemingly immeasurable, aligning with influencers around shared values, understanding the crucial difference between reach and relevance, and more. 

Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Judy Tian

If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.

  • 0:30 — Growth and progression of influencer marketing
  • 1:15 — Understanding relevance and why it matters
  • 2:15 — Tracking shared values with influencers
  • 4:00 — Example of a human-focused LinkedIn influencer campaign
  • 7:00 — Measuring the success of an influencer program
  • 10:45 — The difference between reach and relevance
  • 12:00 — The “four Rs” as influencer selection criteria
  • 14:00 — Overcoming internal skeptics to launch an influencer program
  • 16:45 — Paid vs. unpaid influencer initiatives in B2B
  • 19:30 — Where will influencer marketing evolve in the next 2-3 years?
  • 21:00 — Nurturing micro influencers and integrating offline tactics

Susan: Can you give an example of how LinkedIn is working with influencers at a campaign or ongoing relationship level?

Judy: We did a really exciting campaign around telling stories of our influencers. We work with marketing and sales influencers, and so we really wanted to celebrate who they were as a person beyond just their profession. We developed this social campaign called “My Marketing Story” and “My Sales Story,” and we asked each of these marketing professionals and sales professionals about, what were some of the most vulnerable moments in their careers? What did they learn from their failures? Maybe some career mistakes or bumps along the way. What we got were some really honest answers about people being fired, people being let go unexpectedly, people learning a lot of business lessons from working at Little Caesar’s, and that actually shaping their career in a different trajectory.

Susan: Where do you think marketers who are just getting started with influencer program might be heading down the wrong path in terms of how to measure, and how would you counsel them?

Judy: I would say that one of the biggest traps that I’ve seen when it comes to measurement in influencer marketing is really caring about the reach metrics, and trying to understand: if we’re working with an influencer how big is their network, and how many followers do they have? I’m really excited that now we’re changing the conversation a little bit more to relevancy. When I first started partnering with some of the internal stakeholders that were excited about the influencer programs as this new shiny object, many of the questions were around, ‘Okay, if we do this one post with them, how many impressions are we gonna get? Is it a million per influencer?’ Even though I think reach is part of the equation, and we want to work with influencers who have a substantial amount of reach, I think I’ve had to do a lot more internal education of: actually, the relevancy and engagement are what’s important. Are the influencers actually experts in the areas you wanna talk about? And are they gonna have credibility with their end users? And then are they going to shed credibility onto your brand as a result?

[bctt tweet=”Even though I think reach is part of the equation, and we want to work with influencers who have a substantial amount of reach, the relevancy and engagement are what’s most important. — @judytian07 #InfluencerMarketing #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

Susan: Who do you admire in terms of influencer marketing?

Judy: Mindy Kaling was somebody that I really respected and really enjoyed hearing from at Content Marketing World. There was a question of how does she choose working with a variety of brands, and for her it has to be something that she really cares about. For instance, she loves shopping, so DSW was one of the partners that she chose to work with, because that’s something she already feels passionate about. And I just love that she chose to do something that would be authentic and true to her. I think right now there’s a lot of backlash that celebrities and influencers are facing because they’re accused of being sellouts, and they just promote brands or products that may not necessarily be something they believe in, but they just want the checks. I think the more we can push the conversation, and influencers, to think about it in that way, and brands to also think about partners that will have authentic, true passion for your products and your business, the better it will be for us as consumers. 

Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:

* Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

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Busy Entrepreneurs: Stay Ahead with Organizational Tips

Being an entrepreneur means you’re always juggling multiple responsibilities. Whether it’s chasing payments, generating leads, or administrative tasks your job is never done. Getting organized helps busy entrepreneurs like yourself manage the growing complexities that come with being in business.

Here are five tips to help you get organized and tackle all the tasks on your to-do lists:

FeaturePhoto by Humphrey Muleba from Pexels

Utilize Digital Tools Whenever Possible

Hopefully, you’re already using digital tools for managing your business’s goals, projects, and tasks. Try to find digital tools to manage the time-consuming administrative aspects of running your business. As the adage says, “work smarter, not harder!” Digital tools are a busy entrepreneur’s best friend.


For example, a digital voicemail service can use voice recognition technology to transcribe messages and send them to you via email or text message. This saves you minutes in your day to listen to and write down voicemail content. You can even set your phone to read your voicemail text messages while you’re driving.

Another useful digital tool is electronic invoicing software. If you’re still using manual invoicing methods, it’s time to switch. Ariba points out several benefits of using e-invoicing software. These include fewer errors, improved cash management, stronger contract compliance, faster processing, and web-based access to status updates. Clients prefer an easy way to view and pay their invoices. This also means that your clients will more reliably pay invoices on time and will improve your cash flow.

busy entrepreneur - prioritize

Differentiate Between Tasks and Goals

If you’re not achieving your goals – or if you’re achieving them too quickly – your goals might be too vague or too specific or they might actually be tasks. Sometimes the difference between goals and tasks is confusing. For instance, acquiring 10 new leads by the end of the week is a goal, but making the phone calls to get those leads is a task. The calls are tasks, while the ultimate purpose of making the calls, such as building a new client base, is your goal. As a general rule, tasks are things that can be completed in several hours and goals are more long-term. Goals are usually the end result, not an action. 

Busy Entrepreneurs Delegate

You might be the only person who bothers to clean the glass plate in the microwave, but that doesn’t mean you should be cleaning the kitchen in your office. That is a job a busy entrepreneur must delegate. Peter Economy from Inc.com recommends taking the time to plan your delegation strategy. Make sure you delegate tasks to the right people. Engage employees who get things done according to your company standards. Make sure each person taking on a task is reliable. 

Don’t delegate everything. For instance, don’t delegate tasks like performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, and sensitive matters. However, calling clients to make payment arrangements, getting a booth at an upcoming trade show, and organizing a fundraiser are all examples of tasks you should delegate.

Most importantly, give people enough authority to complete the tasks you delegate. Don’t leave people hanging without the ability to make decisions to spend a little money, consult with others, or represent your company when needed. Delegating tasks will result in more engaged and productive employees and more time for the important work that only you can complete.


It is impossible to get everything you want to accomplish done in one day. There will always be leftover tasks on your list when you go to bed. The key, according to multiple entrepreneurs, is making sure the leftover tasks aren’t priority tasks that did not meet deadlines.

Rather than making a long list of tasks and plowing through them one-by-one, look at your tasks for the day, week, and even the whole month and prioritize them. This helps you handle the tasks that are critically linked to time-sensitive goals quickly. The rest can wait.

Time is Limited, Even for Busy Entrepreneurs

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but that doesn’t mean you have 24 hours to get work done. Time is limited and it’s crucial to strictly manage your work hours for each day.

Start limiting other people’s access to you during your working hours. Don’t take unscheduled phone calls. These waste precious time and can distract you from your prioritized tasks. Schedule your tasks to be performed at a specific time. Then, keep track of your time. This will help you identify ways to increase your efficiency.

Once you organize your time and prioritize your tasks, you will experience a reduction in stress and an increase in productivity. In fact, you will ultimately have more free time to spend however you wish.

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Membership Programs: An Invaluable Marketing Strategy

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To improve their brand visibility and increase customer loyalty and spending, many brands are turning to membership programs, also known as customer loyalty programs. By signing up for one of these programs, your customers could gain access to exclusive discounts when they buy from your brand. You can also provide them with exclusive content on a regular basis, or even exclusive events, like members-only festivals. In exchange, they may pay an annual membership fee, or they may be enrolled completely for free.

Why are membership programs becoming so
popular as a marketing strategy, and how can you get started with one of your

Advantages of Membership Programs

There are several benefits to executing a
strategy like this, especially when compared to other marketing strategies:

Low Overhead Costs

Marketing is all about return on investment (ROI), or how much revenue you’re able to generate, compared to what you invest. Accordingly, you can focus on improving results, focus on lowering costs, or preferably, both.

Customer membership programs are especially appealing because they’re much less expensive than, say, buying up a bunch of billboards around town or launching a national-scale paid advertising campaign online. The discounts and freebies might cost you a bit. However, they won’t cost nearly as much as most marketing and advertising campaigns.


What do you want your membership program to be? You have nearly limitless options for how to design and execute your platform. For example, are you interested in providing members with exclusive content or exclusive discounts? Alternatively, are you more interested in collecting annual payments from members in exchange for special privileges at your locations? There’s no right or wrong answer here. It all depends on your goals.

Word-of-Mouth Potential

Customer loyalty and membership programs have powerful word-of-mouth potential. This is because when someone gets some free product as a reward for being a member, or when they land a huge discount, they’ll likely tell their friends and family members about it. That’s an easy way to spread visibility and awareness of your brand. Moreover, it also serves as a warm introduction, making you instantly more trustworthy in those new customers’ eyes.

Status Quo Bias and Customer Loyalty

People are inclined to keep things the same for the sake of preserving familiarity. If they have your membership card, and they’re used to all the privileges that are associated with it, they’ll be disinclined to switch to a competitor. What’s more, this is likely to remain true even if the competitor offers slightly better deals or incentives.

This is why membership programs are so important for retaining customers and improving loyalty. The only catch is that you have to sign your customers up before your competitors beat you to it.

Customer Data Access

Most brands use customer membership or loyalty programs as a way to gain access to more customer data. By signing up, customers provide more information about themselves. Moreover, by scanning their membership card regularly (or using their online account), they’ll be feeding you data about their buying habits and interests. You can then analyze the data to learn more about your target demographics. This will enable you to market to them better in the future.

Natural Customer Pool Optimization

If your customer
membership program has even a slight barrier to entry, it’s going to filter out
customers who aren’t likely to stick with your brand long-term. This has a nice
secondary effect of filtering your customer pool to favor people more likely to
be loyal to your brand—and therefore those who are more profitable to the

Better Customer Communication

Membership programs also allow you to improve communication with your customers. For example, you’ll have a good excuse to send regular emails to your customers. Additionally, they’ll have a good reason to reach out to you if they have a question, comment, or concern. Ultimately, this results in a better consumer-brand relationship—and more benefits for both of you.


How to Start a Membership Program of Your Own

Despite these massive advantages, starting a membership program of your own can be challenging. Designing a schedule of rewards for your customers and launching a system that can collect and store customer data securely is not something everyone can do.

Fortunately, there are many out-of-the-box membership programs you can use as a template to design your own. What’s more, website plugins and add-ons to make it easier to collect customer information.

If you’re just getting started, the best place to begin is with your high-level goals and objectives. Obviously, you’re trying to improve customer loyalty and increase sales, but how exactly do you want to do that?

Are you trying to make more money short-term, or are you trying to optimize your customer pool long-term? Are you more interested in existing customer loyalty or the attraction of new customers? Understanding these objectives will help you shape your membership program in a way that complements and supports them.

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How to Execute Sales Outreach Like a Pro

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Sales outreach is all part of being a successful sales professional. Most of your leads won’t fall into your lap. You have to actively go looking for them. From searching for new customers to generating sales from old customers who might have gone cold, read on for some advice.

Use a CRM for More Effective Sales Outreach

Customer Relationship Management CRM) tools are essential these days. For example, top CRMs like Salesforce, Nimble, and Freshsales make it much easier to juggle sales outreach to hundreds or even thousands of customers like a pro. Therefore, if you are working in sales, make sure you invest in a CRM system.

CRM’s allow you to automate your sales outreach. This saves time and prevents both new and old customers from slipping through the net. However, don’t rely on a CRM to do everything. There are still some things that require the human touch.


Stay Engaged with Sales and Sales Outreach

Sales is not a nine-to-five job. If you want to meet—and exceed—your sales targets, you need to allocate adequate time for sales outreach. In other words, don’t sit in your office and wait for customers to come knocking on your door. Many of them won’t think about your company unless you jog their memory or let them know you exist.

Set aside a block of time each day for sales outreach, and use this time to call on prospects. First, sort them into new and old prospects.

Old customers should be contacted according to a rota. For example, set reminders so each customer is contacted every three months (or whatever is most appropriate). This prevents them from getting too cold.

Search for New Prospects

Then, have another block of time set aside for new prospects. Unless you outsource lead generation, the onus is on you to find new customers. Luckily, there are several ways you can do this from the comfort of your office.

For example, let’s say you sell products in the local area. Go through your list of existing customers and use a tool like Nuwber.com to search for people living on a particular street or in a certain neighborhood.

In fact, with this sales outreach tool, you can search by name as well as by address. Then the tool will give you other names, addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers of people living nearby. You can then target these individuals with a preliminary email or cold call.

Treat Existing Customers with Respect

Make sure you initiate follow-up calls or emails with existing customers to check in after they have placed an order.

Your aim is not to pester them to death with annoying phone calls and emails. No, the purpose of follow up calls and emails is to find out if they have any problems or questions.

Be courteous and respectful of their time. If they say they are too busy to talk, ask them to let you know if there is a problem and make a diary date to call them back when it’s more convenient. Treating your existing customers like the treasures they are is one of the keys to being great with sales outreach.

Send Out Discount Codes and Freebies as a Part of Your Sales Outreach Efforts

Both new and existing customers will often be tempted by a gift or enticing discount code. If the discount code or special offer is good enough, it may be enough to persuade them to make a purchase.

Free gifts have a similar effect, except they come with no strings attached. Here, the customer is happy to receive a freebie, but they are under no pressure to buy anything. Instead, it paints you, the salesperson, in a positive light. Then, when they are ready to buy, they will turn to you first. In other words, being a thoughtful and likable person is a big part of successful sales outreach.


Sales outreach is a skill. If you lack confidence in your sales skills, ask a more experienced colleague to mentor you. By embracing CRM’s and tools like Nuwber, it won’t be long before you are smashing your targets like a true pro.

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10 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2020

Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2020

Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2020

In late 2018, B2B influencer marketing was on the industry watch list as predictions for what this year would hold began popping up. And what we saw were some major advancements in what B2B marketers had planned for influencer marketing in 2019 including:

Some of these initiatives rose to the top for 2019, while others got lost in the day-to-day shuffle. However, 2019 was the year that B2B marketers really LEANED IN on influencer marketing in a way they hadn’t before. Many of the predictions from last year have become best practices for some of today’s top brands.

What does 2020 hold? To help turn your B2B influencer marketing dreams into a reality, we’ve tapped 10 influencer marketing leaders to share their top predictions for 2020.

The Integration of Influence in 2020

TopRank Marketing has been in the business of B2B influencer marketing since before it had a name. We’re constantly iterating on our approach and finding new ways to help our clients achieve influencer marketing success, and we’re proud to have been named by Forrester as the only B2B marketing agency with influencer marketing capabilities.

In 2020, I predict that we’ll see EVEN MORE brands integrating influencer marketing into strategic marketing initiatives in a way that supports multiple objectives (and even departments or business units). The intersection of business priorities, search demand and influencers is what we like to call the “Content Sweet Spot”.

And, by integrating these three areas (and keeping an eye on trending data), influencer programs have the opportunity to create strategic and long-lasting impact for your business on an even grander scale. So, what do our other experts predict will change in 2020? Read on to find out!

Focusing on Engagement Over Reach

Alyssa Samuelson
Senior Communications Manager, Microsoft

Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to influencer reach. Brands are finding more value in the ways in which followers engage with influencers rather than in how many people might see a piece of content. Measuring likes, comments and shares show that an influencer’s audience is listening and the content is resonating. Tapping into influencers who may not have millions of followers but do have a loyal audience can be meaningful to brands, particularly those who are trying to reach very specific audiences.

[bctt tweet=”Now and in 2020, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to influencer reach. @alyssasamuelson #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Going All-In on Always-On Influencer Marketing

Garnor Morantes
Group Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

I predict organizations are going to lean more heavily into fostering deep, personal relationships with influencers. Influencer marketing was largely borne from leveraging an influencer’s scale and mass appeal, but consumer savvy and skepticism have resulted in greater importance on authenticity.

As a result, I anticipate organizations will focus their efforts on building lasting, ongoing relationships with a more targeted group of influencers. In addition to working with influencers more as partners and collaborators, the investment in an always-on program focused on uncovering/sharing true, authentic messages and insights that resonate with customers will make influencer “reach” less of a priority.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict organizations are going to lean more heavily into fostering deep, personal relationships with influencers. @garnormorantes #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Judy Tian
Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

I predict that brands and influencers will have an increasingly collaborative relationship, with influencers being brought in even earlier in the process. We’re already seeing collaboration at the content and creative development stage, but I predict that influencers will partner on even earlier work such as brand messaging, idea validation, and campaign brainstorming – ultimately in service of better content for the end-consumer.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict that brands and influencers will have an increasingly collaborative relationship, with influencers being brought in even earlier in the process. @judytian07 #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Taking Influencer Activations Beyond Digital

Rani Mani
Head of Social Influencer Enablement, Adobe

Despite the fact that today’s technology makes it beyond easy to connect with people around the world virtually, there is something profoundly special and different about in-real-life (IRL) activations. Shared, in-person experiences facilitate a sense of community and form bonds between people that no amount of emails and social media likes can possibly come close to.

Though it is often a substantial time and financial investment, we at Adobe are always looking for IRL influencer activations. It can be as simple and informal as grabbing a bite to eat together or something a bit more planned like a visit to HQs to meet with the corporate strategy team and participate in product demos.

My favorite was our AdWeek related Nasdaq interview experience followed by our group cooking class. We were able to support each other and build on one another’s thoughts and later let our hair down and engage in some good, old-fashioned fun. We all left so energized and invested in one other’s lives in ways that you simply don’t get with online interactions alone.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict in-real-life experiences between brands and influencers will grow and facilitate a greater sense of community. @ranimani0707 #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Janine Wegner
Global Thought Leadership Program Manager, Dell Technologies

The biggest challenge for brands is the break-through of key differentiators like their USPs, values and the benefit to their stakeholders – online and offline. Besides engaging key spokespeople, brands will increasingly collaborate and co-create content through real-life activations with external experts that influence their target audience.

It takes a “mesh” of the right voices to bring the stories and proof points to live. For instance, at key events, brands can partner with influencers to shape audience engagements by providing key audience and industry insights, as well as be a participant to elevate the conversation and/or be an amplifier of the activation digitally.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict that brands will increasingly collaborate and co-create content through real-life activations with external experts that influence their target audience. @JanineWegner #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Read: How to Integrate Online and Offline Tactics to Cultivate Influencer Relationships

Combining Content and Influence

Amisha Gandhi
Vice President, Influencer Marketing & Communications, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass

In B2B, the emphasis will focus on building “communities of influence” around industry experts, employees and brand advocates/customers.  The communities will act as watering holes where people can learn, share ideas and find value through authentic interactions vs. one-way content. This will play well with ABM efforts to personalize content by making it more interactive and engaging. The effect will be to attract target consumers rather than push content to them.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict that the emphasis will focus on building ‘communities of influence’ around industry experts, employees and brand advocates/customers. @AmishaGandhi #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing

Content is the currency of value that B2B brands and influencers exchange. However, as more buyers become numb to information overload and brand marketing, it’s not enough for B2B companies to inform buyers with expert quotes, interviews and webinars.

To truly stand out in 2020, B2B influencer marketing programs must optimize beyond reach to experience. Influencer-driven content experiences—from audio to video to interactive—deliver engaging information that inspires buyers to action. When content is experiential and influential, everybody wins.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict that influencer-driven experiences will be what it takes to optimize influencer marketing programs beyond reach and to inspire action. @leeodden #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Integrating with Employee Advocacy

Ryan Bares
Global Social Programs Lead: Social Influencers & Employee Advocacy IBM Systems, IBM

I’m building brand ambassadors by enabling employees to be active on social media.

Any influencer strategy must incorporate employee advocacy.

… It’s no longer one or the other.

I’ve seen success with my tailor-made social media education for IBM subject matter experts. This included social media 101 (i.e., building out a profile), to more advanced topics like social listening and producing long-form content. I then served-up great influencer content (topic-based) to interested IBMers so they can join the conversations and engage online.

I highly expect to see more brands focusing on employee coaching and mentoring to elevate their influencer strategy in 2020. Employees are an important part of the mix so don’t overlook them.

[bctt tweet=”I highly expect to see more brands focusing on employee coaching and mentoring to elevate their influencer strategy in 2020. @RyanBares #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Embracing The Rise of Video & Audio

Ursula Ringham
Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAP

2020 will be the year of B2B influencer marketing, with companies finally understanding how to use video, podcasts, and long-form content such as blogs to tell their story and reach new audiences. And storytelling will be key to this success, having the influencer tell the brand story through their lens.

[bctt tweet=”2020 will be the year of B2B influencer marketing, with companies finally understanding how to use different types of content to tell their story and reach new audiences. @ursularingham #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Making Authenticity a Priority

Angela Lipscomb
Influencer Relations Manager, SAS

Even as recently as five years ago many B2B marketers didn’t understand how influencers could bring value to a brand if they weren’t endorsing it. They didn’t understand that the essence of an influencer’s value is in their neutrality.

To be a trusted advisor an influencer must remain objective. So, for the sake of authenticity, it’s important that brands don’t expect influencers to regurgitate a brand message which is fundamentally detrimental to the brand, the influencer and the consumer. If you’re collaborating with an influencer who is the right fit then their vision should be in sync with your vision. Give them free rein to do what they do best; to educate and inspire.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict that more brands will understand the true essence of an influencer’s value: neutrality. To be a trusted advisor an influencer must remain objective. @AngelaLipscomb #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Finding Your Influencer Marketing Focus for 2020

According to CMI and MarketingProfs’ 2020 B2B content marketing benchmarketing report, 46% of marketers that identify as high-performers, are investing in influencer relations.

So the question remains, what will your 2020 influencer marketing journey look like? And which of the predictions above will you lean into first?

*Disclosure: LinkedIn, Dell and SAP are TopRank Marketing clients. 

What else is on the 2020 marketing horizon? Get a glimpse with our roundup of top B2B content marketing trends and predictions for 2020.

The post 10 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2020 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Don’t Do This! Ruinous Startup Blunders

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay 

Every multi-billion-dollar business you have ever heard of was once just an idea. As that idea grew into a startup, an entrepreneur began working toward the enormous profits many of us admire and aspire to today. Along the way, that hardy soul naturally made multiple blunders.

In fact, many entrepreneurs face catastrophic failure. Only the sturdiest among them rises from the ashes and rebuilds.


In this post, we take a look at some common startup blunders we can all learn from, so you can avoid making the mistakes others before you have made.

Succumbing to a Fear of Failure

Some people give up before they ever get started, due either to a fear of failure or, surprisingly, a fear of success.

Fear will keep you circling around the same blunders over and over because you won’t want to try new things. As a result, your great ideas will remain just that. They will be “great ideas” for all time.

So don’t let fear rule your world. Give yourself permission to fail and step outside of your comfort zone. You’re going to make mistakes. Just accept that and try to learn the lessons your mistakes teach you. It’s the only way to win.

Failing to Study the Lay of the Land

One of the biggest blunders you can make as an entrepreneur is failing to conduct thorough research on the ground.

Your type of business should match the needs of your target customers. Bring to them a product or service they need. Make sure the quality of that product or service is impeccable.

Then create awareness about your offering with skillful marketing. In fact, be sure to invest in marketing. Great marketing will pay off in the long run.

Building on a Poor Foundation

Don’t make the blunder of failing to lay a strong foundation. And pay attention to detail. Small errors when you’re first starting out can grow into ginormous failures over time. However, with careful planning and attention to detail, you can win the game.

Failure to Follow
the Law

Unfortunately, many up-and-coming entrepreneurs don’t pay as much attention as they should to laws and regulations governing businesses in their country. Unfortunately, these blunders can catch up with you eventually.

For example, some entrepreneurs try to evade paying their taxes. This is not a good strategy, and it is sure to lead to tax audits, sleepless nights, and worse.

If you have already made this blunder, don’t hesitate to contact experienced tax professionals for the IRS audit help you need to protect your business and its assets.

Doing Things
Your Own Way

It could be that you enjoy being self-reliant. While this may be good stand in some situations, refusing to ask for help when you need it could lead to ruin for your business. Even in the very beginning, you’re going to need to rely on others. Trying to handle everything in your startup all by yourself will drain you.

This doesn’t mean you need to employ a bunch of workers you won’t be able to pay. That would be a huge blunder!

But do hire specialists when you need them on a short-term basis. And seek out a mentor, perhaps another entrepreneur with a little more experience than you have. At the very least, build a relationship with a colleague you can bounce ideas off of from time to time.

Hiring a Weak Workforce

When your business has grown to a point that it’s time to hire employees, be sure to do your hiring thoughtfully and carefully.

Finding the right people to work with you can lead your business to success. Moreover, make sure your employees understand your goals and your vision. Only in this way can they can help you fulfill your goals.

Additionally, invest in your employees. For instance, provide them with training to enable them to better perform the work you pay them to do. This will keep on-the-job blunders to a minimum. Build relationships with them, and interact with them on a personal level. Let them get to know you so they can learn how you want things done.

Also, acknowledge their efforts. Remember that their successes on the job lead toward the growth of your business. Don’t make the mistake of bossing your employees around. Instead, welcome them as your partners in achieving success for your business.

Avoid These Blunders and Make Your Own Unique Mistakes Instead

While it’s not possible to build a business from scratch and avoid making any blunders, it is possible to beat the odds and reach the top. All you’ll need are confidence, strategic thinking, and plenty of hard work.

For more inspiring articles written with you, the entrepreneur, in mind, be sure to visit our blog often.

The post Don’t Do This! Ruinous Startup Blunders appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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Marketing Automation: 5 Methods You Need to Be Using

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

When marketing strategies lose their effect on target audiences, companies must find new ways to keep them interested in their brand. That’s where marketing automation comes in. Marketing automation is the process of using web-based services and software to manage and automate marketing tasks.

Find out how marketing automation can help your business grow. Read now about five effective strategies.

1. Use Marketing Automation to Offer Content That Keeps Leads Interested

Marketing automation is all about providing digital content to your target audience. Unlike traditional content such as billboards and newspaper articles, marketing automation content can easily be found online when prospects search for specific keywords.

It’s important to create content that’s both engaging and relevant to what your business sells. This is because the incorrect information could result in the loss of leads to customer conversion.

Because it changes according to the past interests or behaviors of your leads, this type of marketing automation is called adaptive content. Typically, this type of content is personalized. For example, emails will have leads’ names on them. This creates an immediate connection.

Marketing automation
content allows the lead to view and engage with what’s being presented without
talking face-to-face with a sales representative. Most people prefer to deal
with B2B (business to business) this way because it allows them to be flexible
with their buying choices.

Content by way of marketing automation can be in the form of:

  • Email newsletters
  • Direct social media messages
  • VIP promotions sent via SMS


2. Set up a Drip Campaign to Reel in Prospects

A drip campaign is an automated communications strategy that sends short messages to prospects based on their past online behaviors.

For example, if a prospect is browsing through your web page and they click on a particular product, you can use marketing automation to send them newsletters, sales, or promotions on similar products via email or SMS.

A drip campaign is another way to personalize your engagement with prospects. This could convert them into regular paying customers. This is because drip campaigns have a higher click-through rate when you present prospects with personalized promotions and sales.

3. Turn to Professionals for Expert Marketing Automation Services

If you realize you don’t have the training or background in marketing automation strategies, why not reach out to a professional? There are marketing automation companies that specialize in creating and distributing quality content that will keep your target audience interested in your brand.

The advantage of using a marketing automation service is they will structure and plan your campaigns for you. In fact, professional marketing automation services will provide you with the quality advice you need to run successful campaigns.

Marketing automation companies have the digital tools to optimize your marketing campaigns. Therefore, you can rest assured that a professional automated marketing campaign will bring in new business. Additionally, it will keep existing customers interested in your brand.

4. Learn to Use a Nurture Campaign

Having high traffic on your website doesn’t mean all your visitors are ready to buy from you. However, because they’re browsing through your website they ARE potential customers. In other words, they might buy your products in the future.

Leads that aren’t ready to buy what you’re selling require nurturing via marketing automation. This is done by presenting them with personalized content that’s tailored to their needs. When you nurture your leads you’ll often have a 50% increase in customer conversions simply by sending them adaptive content.

You can nurture your leads by sending them VIP access to parts of your website only they can access. Here you can offer coupons or sales on selected products and services. Another way you can nurture a lead is by offering them free eBooks, tutorials, or getaways if they buy something from your online store.

5. Personalize Emails You Send to Your Prospects

According to TechJury, lead-nurturing emails have an 8% click-through rate. On the other hand, generic emails only have a 3% click-through rate. In short, people are more likely to click on your content when they’re referred to by their name.

Another study found that 7% of people would engage with a service provider if they were sent birthday emails.

Using emails as a platform to engage with leads in a personalized way is a professional approach. Yes, you can also send private messages to prospects via social media. However, most people consider these messages to be click bait. So always opt for marketing automation emails to gain more trust from leads.

The way to get leads to give you their email addresses if you don’t already have them is by implementing the drip campaign technique. Offer them something valuable in exchange for their contact details. Then you can send them personalized content they will benefit from.

Final Thoughts About
Marketing Automation

Are you ready to implement your own marketing automation strategies? There are various automation tools you can use to optimize your marketing campaigns. However, if you’re looking for a more professional approach, opt for a service provider to do your marketing automation for you.

Learn more about the latest in marketing strategies by visiting our blog.

The post Marketing Automation: 5 Methods You Need to Be Using appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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Online Marketing Will Attract New Clients to Your Business

Image by Tammy Duggan-Herd from Pixabay

Online marketing has revolutionized the way businesses approach client acquisition. Before online methods, businesses had to rely on strategies such as word-of-mouth marketing and street advertising to attract client attention.

While similar methods are still effectively used today, they simply don’t compare to the effectiveness and efficiency of online marketing strategies.

For example, if you were to use a local street advertisement for a business, it would require physical effort as well as dedicated time to implement. On the other hand, a strategy such as paid online advertising can be left on autopilot. This leaves you time to work on other areas of your business. Financially, traditional marketing can’t compare to online methods, either.

Online Marketing Is Inexpensive and Effective

To give some perspective as to how cost-effective online marketing methods are, most businesses are leaving money on the table by using other methods instead.

For example, what other strategies allow a business to start a marketing campaign with a budget of only $5 a day, as online methods can do?

Furthermore, online marketing contributes to enhanced client retention rates. In a nutshell, client retention is the long-term acquisition of clients that allows a business to sustain a steady flow of revenue.

However, if all you’re interested in right now is gaining new clients, rest assured that Vujà Dé Digital can help your business.

For instance, they will employ such strategies as pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimization. With these things in mind, let’s go over seven more ways online marketing can expose your business to new clients.

#1: Online Marketing Highlights Your USP

A unique selling proposition (USP) is the main source of revenue for a business. Your USP can come through a product, service, or anything else your business does that helps you stand out from the crowd. In short, your USP is radically important in attracting and keeping clients.

With online marketing, businesses have the advantage of highlighting their unique selling point through their ad copy or blog posts.

The more naturally you can point out your USP to new prospects, the greater your chances of converting them into customers.

#2: Online Referrals Circulate Quickly

Online referrals are the digital marketing version of the traditional marketing method of word-of-mouth marketing. That is, they work the same way. They bring awareness about your business from past and current clients.

The chief difference is that online referrals have the potential to spread like wildfire through multiple sources. For example, a well-made video about your business’s USP could go viral on social media platforms.

#3: Conversational Blogging Will Bring More Clients Your Way

Blogging is one of the main components of the online marketing method called search engine optimization (SEO). Blogging can be used to inform or entertain potential clients for any cause.

Additionally, you can also use it to demonstrate transparency with prospective clients. Do this by blogging about the behind-the-scenes aspects of your business in a conversational tone.


#4: Remarketing Campaigns Reclaim Long-Lost Clients

Remarketing campaigns target leads that have visited your sales or marketing funnels but then left without purchasing. These clients are then classified as new prospects since they haven’t been converted.

With remarketing, you target them once more through tracking ads and other similar methods. However, this method of online marketing can get quite technical. Therefore, it’s best to leave it to a professional agency such as Vujà Dé Digital.

#5: Online Marketing Boosts Brand Recognition

Your business’s brand is everything when it comes to client acquisition. More than anything, your brand allows your business to provide ways for prospective clients to connect with your business.

Branding activities can include creating a compelling brand image, revealing your company’s lofty principles online, or prominently featuring your company slogan on your site.

#6: Positive Reviews Showcase Your Business

One of the most overlooked benefits of online marketing is that it allows your business to highlight positive reviews. What’s more, you have multiple avenues for doing so, including your business website, your blog, or local search engine reviews.

Positive business reviews constitute a powerful tool for attracting potential clients, leading them to choose your business over your competitor’s.

#7: Qualified Ad Copy Targets Key Audience Segments

Ad copy is perhaps the most effective way to bring in new clients. The reason this is so is that ad copy can be structured to qualify clients.

For example, if you want to bring in new clients to your business, your online ad copy can include promotions specifically for new clients.


If you want your marketing budget to cost less and bring in more new business, online marketing is the way for you to go.

The post Online Marketing Will Attract New Clients to Your Business appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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