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3 Types of Business Riding the COVID-19 Storm

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

In this post, we take a look at three businesses that are riding the COVID-19 storm.

Right now there are bigger things going on in the world besides business. Nevertheless, jobs and the economy will play a huge part in the world’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been practically impossible for some businesses to remain operational in their original incarnations. Others have scrambled to digitize as many of their services as possible. Meanwhile, those who were already 100% online—or at least had a sophisticated delivery service in place—have probably performed best.

Let’s take a look at three types of businesses riding the COVID-19 storm.

1. Food Subscription Services Are Doing Well During the COVID-19 Storm

It’s a no-brainer that the tills are ringing in many takeaways during the coronavirus lockdown. However, what’s perhaps slightly more surprising is the rapid rise of food subscription services. In the midst of this COVID-19 storm, their customers still like preparing their own meals with healthy ingredients and minimal waste.

For example, firms like Gousto and Hello Fresh are performing bullishly and look pretty futureproof. Moreover, the convenience is welcomed by customers who want to venture out as little as possible. In fact, the only problem is an occasional lack of capacity for new subscribers due to the huge demand.

RELATED ARTICLE: BUSINESS INFORMATION UPDATES DURING COVID-19 BREAKOUT

2. Virtual PT Is All the Rage as the Coronavirus Pandemic Rolls On

With gyms closing, many people immediately started looking for a more social and interactive way of keeping fit at home. In other words, people wanted more than turning on some tunes and performing solo workouts while the storm thundered on outside their homes.

Fitness guru Joe Wicks has become even more of a household name in Britain. Meanwhile, non-celeb trainers who are tech-savvy have benefitted, too. And PT apps like Kaia have also come into their own.

It’s probably inevitable that unhealthy lifestyle choices like increased alcohol consumption are also taking hold. But at least the continuing craze for personal fitness provides some balance. Moreover, it contributes positively to public health at a particularly important time.

3. DIY Is Trendier Than Ever

Tinkering around with minor and intermediate home improvements is another reasonably healthy distraction during the COVID-19 storm (provided you’re super careful with health and safety). Lots of people were already ordering items online before large stores like B&Q in the UK reopened their doors with social distancing measures in place.

But other businesses have also felt the benefit. For instance, door specialist Oakwood Doors is still delivering pristine portals to anyone who fancies having a go at hanging their own door.

Perhaps you want to sand down your baseboards to apply a coat of fresh paint. Or maybe you will replace your lampshades or attempt to wallpaper your kitchen. Regardless of the projects you undertake, you’re contributing toward keeping the DIY industry in sterling shape.

How Will Your Business Weather the Storm?

These three types of businesses all leveraged their existing advantages and remained open during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Governments, health workers, and ordinary citizens are working hard to establish a “new normal.” Hopefully, as the storm passes, other businesses will find innovative ways to resurrect themselves.

The post 3 Types of Business Riding the COVID-19 Storm appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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The B2B Marketing Force Multiplier: Integrated SEO and Influencer Marketing

B2B Marketing Force Multiplier SEO Influence

B2B Marketing Force Multiplier SEO Influence

As business customers with questions are ignoring tone deaf brand marketing (and tiring of Pandemic messaging too) they are increasingly in search of information more than ever. Trust Radius reports that some B2B tech categories are seeing anywhere from 194% to 613% increases in search driven traffic. Search engines are clearly positioned to deliver answers for buyers seeking answers, but where is the trust? And more importantly, is your brand the best answer when and where buyers are looking?

SEO alone is not enough. A study from CSO insights ranked Web searches the 8th most trusted source of information for technology buyers. According to a study by Forbes/Yext, only 50% of customers believe search results. Search ads are not necessarily the solution because 65% of marketers don’t trust them either (HubSpot).

What good is being found in search if customers don’t trust what they find?

The solution? Make search optimized content more trustworthy, credible and useful by partnering with industry experts to create it. A Demand Gen Report study reports that 95% of buyers prefer influencer content. That’s an incredibly strong level of preference that B2B marketers would be negligent to ignore.

SEO and influence are excellent partners to deliver a satisfying content experience. To do that, you must first find the sweet spot for your customers with content that is findable with SEO and credible by showcasing relevant expertise from industry influencers.

Influencer content also optimizes B2B brands for Google E-A-T. Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness are page quality characteristics highlighted in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. When B2B companies ensure their content demonstrates E-A-T characteristics, it’s akin to optimizing for both better Google and customers.

Credible Content Creation and Promotion can be a force multiplier for your marketing performance for multiple reasons. First, influential experts can extend the output of your marketing department by helping you make content. Second, those same experts can add credibility to brand content with quotes, insights on entirely influencer generated content. Third, the investment in content creation by those influential experts can also inspire them to promote that content to their trusted networks through social shares, inclusion in industry publications or cross published to influencer media (podcasts, livestream video, recorded video, blog posts, etc).

Like all marketing efforts, its important to identify your SEO and influencer marketing goals: improved organic search visibility, increased click through rates from Google to your site, improved time on site, increased click throughs from SEO landing pages to deeper content, and conversions referred from organic search.

Because influencers are involved, you can also benchmark and monitor the brand share of voice on social networks for the influencers you are working with, the social reach and impressions of their social shares, the referred traffic and conversions from their shares.

If the influencers you are working with publish their own content and you are able to engage them to cross-post or create original content aligned with your campaign, you can track the search visibility of your brand mentions on their websites. Doing so can help you manage achieving multiple positions within search results on the same query.

To help you get started towards realizing the marketing multiplier effect of integrated SEO and influencer marketing, here is a checklist of considerations in 5 sections:

Step 1 – Create Your Target Customer Profile

  • Describe your customer – demographics, psychographics, firmographics
  • What search keywords matter to this customer?
  • Which types of influencers matter to this customer?
  • What content topics and types are important for this customer?
  • What questions does this customer want answered?
  • Which social platforms does this customer use?
  • Which publications, podcasts or “shows” does this customer subscribe to?

Step 2 – Identify Influencers for SEO Topics

  • Leveraging SEO keyword research and an understanding of the content to be created/optimized, research 5-10 on-topic influencers using BuzzSumo, Traackr or other influencer marketing software.
  • Identify influencers creating on-topic content with great search visibility (Consider influencers recognized by Google with a Knowledge Panel).
  • Evaluate influencer’s link attraction rate when they publish or contribute content.
  • Align search keywords and corresponding influencers with content intended to function at the appropriate stage in the customer journey: Top, Middle and Bottom of funnel.

Step 3 – Influencer Content Activation

  • Use the Target Customer Profile to document specific content types and content sources (social platforms, media, blogs, newsletters, podcasts, YouTube channels etc) that matter to your customer.
  • By topic, map relevant influencers to specific content assets for activation.
  • Engage influencers and invite them to provide content for their assigned topics in the format preferred.
  • Use SEO topics in influencer interview questions to inspire SEO-friendly answers.

Step 4 – Content Promotion

  • Identify opportunities to engage individual influencers for content promotion. Examples include: podcast, webinar, report contribution, social shares, quotes for blog posts, 3rd party editorial, newsletter or brand social channels.
  • Create UTM codes for URLs of content provided to influencers to share so they can be tracked in your analytics.
  • Provide influencer creators with topic clusters they can organically use in content and social shares.
  • Identify pre-launch influencer engagement opportunities – provide prewritten social shares.
  • Create an announcement blog posts, social promotions and engage influencers to create blog, video and social network content.
  • Create a series of promotional emails.
  • Support blog, social and earned media with targeted online advertising.
  • Post launch, repurpose influencer content on brand social networks, blog and in contributed articles.

Step 5 – Ongoing Influencer Engagement

  • Monitor the group of influencers you are working with for brand & keyword mentions on social networks and engage appropriately.
  • Repurpose influencer quotes in ongoing content: newsletters, presentations, contributed articles to publications, ebooks, infographics, etc.
  • Share updates with the influencers you are working with on the status of the campaign they participated in, updates to relevant technology or solutions and about your influencer program.
  • Find ways to connect influencers with each other: host an influencer happy hour on Zoom, create a LinkedIn or Facebook group, create channel on Slack.
  • Surprise and delight influencer contributors with feedback, tokens of appreciation and thank you’s.
  • Consider providing influencers with SEO audits of their blogs so they can improve their organic search visibility.

Topics that drive SEO and topics that guide influencer identification and content collaboration are a natural fit and can expand the impact of your organic search visibility as well as the advocacy about your brand amongst trusted voices in your industry. As effective organic search visibility requires ongoing care and optimization, influencer relationships also require ongoing care and nurturing.

Organic SEO is a form of “always on marketing” that works 24/7 and a small ongoing investment can pay big dividends when your B2B brand content is presented by Google at the very moment the buyer is looking. The same optimism about influencers can be said when it comes to brand advocacy and a trusted industry expert organically recommends your brand.

I hope this checklist has provided you with some direction that will help you get started with a search optimized and integrated influencer marketing strategy. There are many levels of process, tools and deep expertise that can make implementing an effort like this successful in a reasonable amount of time. If you have any questions or need help, the masters of SEO and Influence at TopRank Marketing are happy to help! Visit our Influencer Marketing Services resources or contact us directly.

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B2B Marketing News: Brands Spending More on Data, Spotify Turns Video Chats into Podcasts, & Consumers Trying More New Brands

2020 May 8 MarketingCharts Chart

2020 May 8 MarketingCharts Chart

How COVID-19 Is Impacting Business Event Planning
70 percent of business event planners have changed previously-planned in-person events to virtual platforms due to the pandemic, and 47 percent expect that once it ends people will still be hesitant to travel, with 27 percent expecting a swift uptick in real-world events due to pent-up demand, according to newly-released survey data from the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). MarketingProfs

Google ad sales steady after coronavirus drop; Alphabet leads tech share rally
2020 first-quarter advertising sales at Google tallied $33.8 billion, with 73 percent coming from search and 12 percent from its YouTube property, and Google’s ad business accounting for some 83 percent of revenue for parent firm Alphabet, according to newly-released financial results. Reuters

Spotify-owned Anchor can now turn your video chats into podcasts
Spotify will utilize its Anchor property to make it possible to convert video meeting content into podcasts, offering marketers new options for making use of a virtual hangout video content podcast conversion feature, Spotify recently announced. TechCrunch

Google’s new Podcasts Manager tool offers deeper data on listener behavior
Google has rolled out a new podcast analytics data feature — Podcasts Manager — that provides marketers an assortment of new podcast listening data, the search giant recently announced. Marketing Land

LinkedIn’s up to 690 Million Members, Reports 26% Growth in User Sessions
LinkedIn (client) saw its user base increase to 690 million members — up from 675 in January — with an accompanying 26 percent increase in user sessions, and LinkedIn Live streams that increased by some 158 percent since February, according to parent firm Microsoft’s latest earnings release. Social Media Today

Advertisers Continued to Gravitate to Instagram in Q1
Advertisers moved to spend more on Instagram during the first quarter of 2020, with ad spending up 39 percent year-over-year on the platform, holding steady at 27 percent of parent company Facebook’s total ad spend, according to recently-released Merkle data. MarketingCharts

2020 May 8 Statistics Image

Brands Are Using More Data And Spending More On It: Study
B2B marketers are making greater use of data and spending increasingly to gather it, according to recent report data from Ascend2, showing that 47 percent use engagement data to make marketing decisions, one of several report statistics of interest to digital marketers. MediaPost

Most consumers are trying new brands during social distancing, study finds
Brands are seeing newfound levels of audience interest, with an uptick in consumer interest for trying new brands that has been observed during the pandemic, with members of the Gen Z and Millennial demographic seeing the biggest increases, according to recently-released survey data. Campaign US

Marketers Ante Up for In-Game Advertising
A $3 billion in-game advertising market in the U.S. alone has attracted additional advertisers, and a new Association of National Advertisers (ANA) examination of data from eMarketer found some surprises in that most mobile gamers were over 35, with 20 percent being over 50, while the majority were female, several of the in-game advertising statistics of interest to digital marketers. ANA

Data Hub: Coronavirus and Marketing [Updated]
Digital marketing has fared better than traditional campaigns in the face of the global health crisis, according to newly-released survey data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) exploring the differences between the pandemic and the 2008 recession. MarketingCharts

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 May 8 Marketoonist Comic"

A lighthearted look at generic advertising “in these uncertain times” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

WHO Releases New Guidelines to Avoid Being Nominated for Viral Challenges — The Hard Times

Major Relief: Microsoft Has Confirmed That The Xbox Series X Will Play Video Games — The Onion

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — What’s Trending: Embracing Data — LinkedIn (client)
  • Lee Odden — 10 Expert Tips for Marketing During a Crisis — Oracle (client)
  • Lee Odden — Klear Interviews Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Marketing [Video] — Klear
  • Lee Odden and TopRank Marketing — Pandemic Cross-Country Skiing in Duluth, Minnesota: A Personal Timeline — Lane R. Ellis

Have you got your own top B2B content marketing or digital advertising stories from the past week of news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for taking time to join us, and we hope you will join us again next Friday for more of the most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

The post B2B Marketing News: Brands Spending More on Data, Spotify Turns Video Chats into Podcasts, & Consumers Trying More New Brands appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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How to Protect Your Business from Product Liability Issues

Photo by Boston Public Library on Unsplash

If your business manufactures, distributes, and/or advertises specific products, you need to take product liability seriously.

If one of your products ends up harming, or worse, killing someone, one or more of your customers could take legal action against you with the help of a product defect attorney.

Then, if you lose the case, you could end up owing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. This could result in enormous strain or even the closure of your business. Plus, even if you win, you could still be on the hook for enormous legal costs.

Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help you protect your business from product liability issues.

RELATED ARTICLE: BUSINESS SERVICES YOU MAY WANT AND SOME YOU NEED

Purchase Product Liability Insurance

The most straightforward, and in many cases the most effective way, to protect your business from product liability issues is to purchase product liability insurance. As the name suggests, this is a specific type of insurance policy meant to protect your business from product liability-related threats.

If you have a product liability insurance policy and a customer sues your over a product defect, it will likely kick in. Then it will compensate you for legal costs up to a specified amount. The fallout may not be good for your business’s reputation. However, your policy will help to mitigate your financial losses.

Get an Umbrella Liability Insurance Policy

Most product liability insurance policies have a strict upper limit in terms of payout. Therefore, if your company ends up liable for damages above and beyond that upper limit, you may suffer the damage directly. That’s why many businesses have an umbrella liability insurance policy. Such a policy can provide additional protections above and beyond the limits of other policies.

Test Your Products Thoroughly

Your insurance policies will cover your costs in the event of a tragedy. Nonetheless, it’s still important to take proactive measures to prevent product liability tragedies from occurring.

One of the best ways to do this is to test all your products throughout the research and development process. Are there any inherent risks to using this product? How could it potentially be misused? Do average people understand the proper instructions and safety measures necessary to use this product as intended?

Include All the Necessary Warnings

Depending on what types of products you create and where you live, you may be legally responsible for several things. This might include sharing a variety of safety warnings about your product. For example, you might be required to state that your product is a fire hazard, or that it could cause cancer.

At an absolute minimum, you’ll want to comply with all laws that apply to you, warning consumers of ways your product could result in harm.

It’s also useful to issue a separate page of warnings about your product. For example, you can explicitly detail how your product is meant to be used and define specific forms of misuse to avoid. If you’re effective in communicating these warnings, consumers who violate these recommendations may not be able to file a claim against you.

Investigate and Vet Your Suppliers

You may have a solid, safe product, but if one of your suppliers makes a mistake—like allowing a corrupted batch of raw materials to enter the supply chain—it could still compromise the integrity of your products.

Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to investigate and vet your suppliers. Don’t partner with a vendor until you have a thorough understanding of how they operate, what quality control measures they include, and how their past performance has played out.

By working with reputable, trustworthy partners, you’ll limit your exposure to long-term risks in terms of product liability.

Institute Regular Testing and Monitoring to Nip Product Liability Issues in the Bud

Even with the best policies and practices in place, there are opportunities for mistakes to slip through.

Therefore, institute regular testing and monitoring throughout your manufacturing process and throughout your supply chain. In this way, you can catch product liability issues before they become a major problem. Safety supervisors and similar positions can be responsible for noting product defects before they ever make it to a consumer.

Investigate Deviations

No matter how careful you are or how many safeguards you have in place, there’s still a chance that a defective product will make it to an end consumer.

If and when this happens, you need to know about it. Be prepared to investigate these aberrations from your normal workflow. What batch was this product a part of? Can you issue a recall? How did this happen in the first place? The more you know, the better your chances of preventing similar product liability issues in the future.

Be Proactive When It Comes to Product Liability

The major caveat with these strategies is that they must be undertaken proactively. You can’t procrastinate your execution. Each day you operate without product liability insurance or other protections, you’ll be vulnerable. Plan ahead for every contingency to maximize your chances of success.

To stay up-to-date on best practices for running your business successfully, be sure to visit our blog frequently.

The post How to Protect Your Business from Product Liability Issues appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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Hitting a Content Marketing Home Run with Experiential

Man Staring Intently at On-screen Experience

Man Staring Intently at On-screen Experience

While their importance pales in comparison to many other things taken away by our society’s ongoing lockdown, I do find myself missing sports. Going without them during a difficult time causes me to appreciate the comfortable routine and reliable distraction they provide all the more.

Those who know me will not be surprised to learn that I’m longing for baseball especially — everything from strikeouts and singles to slides and steals. But there is no part of the game I miss more than home runs.

Home runs are among the most satisfying individual achievements in sports. When a batter goes deep, he takes care of everything, going from home plate to home plate and putting a run — or more — on the board single-handedly. It is the literal representation of “covering all your bases.”

via GIPHY

With baseball and many other cherished forms of entertainment amiss, content marketers can help fill the void by focusing on experiential content, which is characterized by its ability to pull in a user through immersive, interactive, impactful elements. These kinds of deeper digital experiences are also more valuable from an engagement and awareness standpoint, at a time where in-person events are off the table.

“Because people are figuring out how to thrive in an almost entirely online world, their expectations towards a brand’s digital experience [are] also changing. It’s no longer about clicks, downloads, and impressions,” writes Diginomica’s Barb Mosher Zinck in recapping Mark Bornstein’s chat from the Discover Martech Virtual Event last month. “It’s about engagement. It’s about experiential marketing.”

With this context in mind, how can marketers hit a home run with experiential content, covering all the bases for both their audience and their business?

Covering Every Base with Experiential Content

Reflecting the baseball diamond, I see four key aspects of knocking it out of the park with experiential content, at a time where doing so might be especially beneficial for marketers.

Base 1: Entertaining and Effective

The proverbial square one (or first base, in this case) is that experiential content needs to be compelling and engaging. If you aren’t getting someone’s attention and piquing their interest quickly with the content, you’re out before you’ve left the batter’s box.

Technology is always offering new ways to increase the allure of experiential content, including tools like virtual reality, augmented reality, feature integration, and interactive functionality. Small touches like the animations and clickable elements in TopRank Marketing’s Break Free of Boring B2B infographic, for example, can go a long way. The more you bring the user into the experience and make them feel like part of the story, the more successful your content will be.

It’s not just about the entertainment factor. That second word — effective — is equally important, if not more so. Your content should effect the person consuming it, be it emotionally or attitudinally. Ideally, the person consuming this experience will feel something, and come away thinking differently about its subject.

Once you accomplish this, you’re rounding first base and heading into second.

[bctt tweet=”“If you aren’t getting someone’s attention and piquing their interest quickly with the content, you’re out before you’ve left the batter’s box.” @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

Base 2: Educational and Informative

Most marketing content is designed to inform in some way, satisfying the curiosities of its audience while intertwining a distinct point of view. The experiential dynamic is particularly valuable for this purpose. As the old saying goes: “Show me and I’ll forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I’ll learn.”

AT&T is one example of a company that’s using emerging experiential technologies for employee training purposes, taking advantage of the heightened ability to make information stick. As you plan a content marketing initiative, think not just about ways to entertain your audience, but also ways to memorably imprint the messages and revelations you want them to take away.

By this point, you’re already halfway home.

Base 3: Collaborative and Orchestrated

Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a solo home run. But the feat is far more exciting when there are runners on base to drive in. Teamwork comes into play in multiple ways when it comes to maximizing the value of experiential content.

via GIPHY

First and foremost, your efforts should be strategically orchestrated throughout the organization. While marketing drives the bus, plenty of others ought to be riding along. By nature, experiential content is intended to address a nonlinear customer journey in which B2B buyers average 17 meaningful interactions on the way to completing a purchase (per SiriusDecisions). How do all those interactions come together around your experience in a consistent, unified, personalized way? How will you ensure that every customer-facing function is aligned?

Secondly, there is the importance of collaboration within the marketing department itself. Generally speaking, a great piece of experiential content is shaped by many different talents and skills: writers and strategists shaping the content, designers and artists bringing it to life visually, search and social specialists making it easily discoverable, etc.

And finally, there is the influencer aspect. While not always a fit, influencers can usually power up experiential content in profound ways:

  • Adding unique insight and perspective from their expert point of view
  • Bringing built-in credibility and trust with their own established audiences
  • Amplifying promotion of the content through their own networks

One example of interactive influencer content in action can be found in the self-guided experience around AI and finance that TopRank Marketing put together with Prophix. The asset beat engagement benchmarks by 642%.

[bctt tweet=”“Great experiential content is shaped by many different talents: writers and strategists shaping the content, designers and artists bringing it to life visually, search and social specialists making it easily discoverable.” @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

Bringing It Home: Impactful for the Business

The three components above all focus on making experiential content valuable to the audience. This is a worthy point of emphasis, since strengthening relationships and building trust are essential objectives for modern brands, especially in our current climate.

But of course, investing the time and resources into creating a high-caliber content experience also needs to be justified by bottom-line business impact. The good news is that bringing users into the experience lends itself to driving action; for example, statistics show that interactive content generates twice the conversions of passive content.

At all comes back to the overarching strategy. What specific business results are you hoping to achieve? How will you facilitate them in a user-friendly way that nurtures trust and builds momentum in the customer journey? Which other tactics will support these goals?

It’s important to think about setting up positive outcomes beyond the direct conversion. A person interacting with your content may not be inclined to fill out a form at that moment, but if they remember the experience, and the way it altered their thinking, and it brings them into your marketing funnel weeks or months later, that’s a win. This reinforces the value of getting it right with items one and two on this list — effect and educate.

Make Your Experiential Content Campaign a Round-Tripper

We may not have sports, but we still have sports metaphors. I’ll keep seeing to that. And the home run serves as a perfectly fitting allegory for experiential content, which can produce so much value for a brand on its own, with one swing of the proverbial bat.

When you combine immersive entertainment with memorable learnings, collaborative clout, and measurable business impact, you’ve got yourself a marketing moonshot. All that’s left at that point is the bat flip.

via GIPHY

For more practical tips and guidance on this subject, I encourage you to check out Joshua Nite’s recap of the B2B Marketer’s Journey To Experiential Content presentation from B2B Marketing Exchange in February.

The post Hitting a Content Marketing Home Run with Experiential appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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B2B Marketing Mythbusters: Dispelling 10 Common Myths with Extraordinary Marketing

Wrecking ball breaking through a wall.

Wrecking ball breaking through a wall.

B2B marketing is boring, doesn’t feature influencers, and uses only monotonous white papers and lifeless case studies — we’ve all heard these stereotypes, but what is the reality of B2B marketing in 2020?

The traditional image of dull B2B marketing has been turned on its head in recent years, and we wanted to explore 10 top myths and show how the state of B2B marketing has gone from bland to unforgettable.

Let’s dig in and break down the biggest B2B marketing myths, and look at how your brand can benefit from the new era of business marketing.

1 — B2B Marketing Goes From Boring-2-Boringest

The Myth:

The grand-daddy of all B2B marketing myths — dating back nearly to when the term business-to-business was coined — is the notion that it stands for boring-to-boring, with marketing about as exciting as forty shades of dreary gray.

The Myth-Buster:

As we’ll explore throughout this post, the B2B marketing of 2020 has left boring in the dust, replaced with exciting and truly memorable content experiences.

As the B2B marketing landscape continues progressing from its dusty Boring-To-Boring roots, business customers are expecting content and experiences that are increasingly similar to what B2C efforts have long provided.

Today’s B2B customers expect to find all of the relevant information they seek brought to life through an online interface that’s not only easy to search and navigate, but one that’s also chock full of interactive and story-rich user experience features that make interacting an entertaining experience, such as our “Laser Bear.”

Click Here to see the Break Free from Boring B2B Guide in Full Screen Mode

[bctt tweet=”“Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating. You know you can’t bore people into buying your product, you can only interest them into buying it.” — David Ogilvy” username=”toprank”]

2 — B2B Marketing Doesn’t Use the Cool Social Media Platforms

The Myth:

You won’t find B2B brands actively sharing content and interacting on Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, Twitch, or other fun and fresh social media platforms.

The Myth-Buster:

Fortune 500 firms regularly now have social media presences on fashionable social channels such as Giphy, Snapchat, and even Facebook Horizons — the social media giant’s foray into the virtual reality (VR) world — all gaining new B2B brands at a faster pace than you might imagine.

Our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite recently took a look at “6 Unconventional Social Channels for B2B Marketing,” showing how B2B brands can gain a competitive edge by adopting unconventional social channels.

Out client Dell Technologies offers a fine example of how B2B brands are embracing nontraditional social channels, with its Dell Technologies Giphy page.

via GIPHY

Despite using social media more than any other demographic, Gen Z is most at home not on traditional mainstream social platforms but increasingly on gaming platforms, according to recent Kantar study data, which showed that 90 percent of the demographic use gaming platforms to serve roles similar to those social media does for some 59 percent of the general population.

To learn more, we’ve also looked at how B2B brands are successfully using various social media platforms:

[bctt tweet=”“B2B marketers should be exploring any channel where their audience is. While it’s easy to feel like the more younger-skewing platforms are optional, we ignore them at our peril.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

3 — B2B Marketing Doesn’t Relate to Real People & Their Stories

The Myth:

B2B marketing isn’t about me or my real challenges, and never even attempts to appeal to people like me — instead it just continues to put forth insincere messages targeting people who don’t exist in the real world.

The Myth-Buster:

Telling real stories about actual people has catapulted B2B influencer marketing to the forefront of business marketing success, while B2B marketing in general has also continued to embrace the importance of storytelling.

We’ve set out to tell the intriguing stories of many top B2B marketers in our Break Free B2B video interview series, to date featuring 23 industry professionals such as Amisha Gandhi of client SAP Ariba and Kelvin Gee of client Oracle,  sharing their insights and passions.

Some, such as Eaton’s director of corporate marketing Zari Venhaus have explored the importance of storytelling.

Another benefit of telling the stories of real people in B2B industries is that it lends itself well to the creation of episodic content, as our senior content strategist Nick Nelson explored in “Hungry for More: What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Episodic Content.”

Additional takes on how storytelling benefits B2B marketers are available in our following related articles:

[bctt tweet=”“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.” — Steve Jobs” username=”toprank”]

4 — B2B Marketing Never Gets Heard, or If it Does It’s Quickly Ignored and Forgotten

The Myth:

B2B marketing is just wasted effort, since nobody ever really reads it or pays any attention to its boring business-suit-and-briefcase imagery. Who would ever remember a B2B advertising message, anyway?

The Myth-Buster:

Study after study continues to show that real emotion makes us remember digital content and messaging, and smart B2B marketing has grown significantly in its use of the kind of authentic storytelling that people will remember.

The most-shared ads during the last Olympics were all loaded with hard-hitting emotion from brands like Panasonic and Apple, and the Super Bowl perennially features similarly emotion-packed spots from brands like Google and Microsoft.

[bctt tweet=”“Stories are just data with a soul.” @BreneBrown” username=”toprank”]

5 — B2B Marketing is For Stodgy Old People

The Myth:

B2B marketing is for stodgy old fuddy-duddies, and has no relevance for anyone under 40 or 50.

The Myth-Buster:

B2B marketers freshly out of college are having tremendous impact in today’s professional brand messaging, and are bringing with them their younger takes on B2B marketing, which will increasingly drive the industry.

Thanks in large part to the successful inroads B2B influencer marketing have made for brands looking to reach younger audiences, when an influencer recommends a product, 51 percent of Millennials say they are more likely to try it, according to research data from Valassis and Kantar.

Gen Z and Millennial B2B marketers who have grown up with newer social media platforms are occupying ever-more positions of power all the way up to corporate marketing management — a move that has helped today’s B2B marketing look decidedly different from that of even five years ago.

Snapchat recently published a study exploring brand expectations among Gen Z, finding that 82 percent of the demographic want brands to act on customer feedback, while a similar report from Campaign Monitor also found Gen Z’s social media platform preferences to differ from those of older generations.

Campaign Monitor Chart

[bctt tweet=”“the B2B marketing of 2020 has left boring in the dust, replaced with exciting and truly memorable content experiences.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

6 — B2B Marketing Should Never Include Interactive or Experiential Content

The Myth:

B2B audiences don’t expect or even want interactive or experiential content when it comes to brand messaging — they want only dense black-and-white case studies of at least 200 pages, or white papers filled with serious professional business information.

The Myth-Buster:

B2B audiences have been starved for interactive and experiential content for far too long, and in recent years have come to expect much more B2C-like digital experiences which incorporate truly entertaining, memorable, and interactive elements.

With 98 percent of consumers more likely to make a purchase after an experience (Limelight), and 77 percent having chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that delivers a personalized service or experience (Forrester), more B2B marketers have begun to use experiential content.

In 2020 experiential content comes in many forms, with just a few examples being:

  • Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Cloud-Based Digital Assets from Ceros and Other Platforms
  • Quizzes and Polls
  • Interactive Flipbooks and eBooks

Experiential content is also intertwined with both storytelling and customer experience (CX), together becoming an extremely powerful triptych of B2B marketing strategy.

You can take a closer look at the growing field of B2B experiential marketing here:

[bctt tweet=”“Experiential content makes us a central part of a story, and not just a passive subject receiving a one-way brand message.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

7 — B2B Marketing Doesn’t Have Influencers

The Myth:

Influencers don’t exist in B2B marketing, because they are only for hawking cosmetics and pushing designer clothing lines on Instagram — what relevance could influencers really have in the professional B2B world?

The Myth-Buster:

Influencer marketing in the business world has never been more vibrant and thriving, especially the kind of always-on B2B influencer marketing our CEO Lee Odden has explored in articles including “Always On Influence: Definition and Why B2B Brands Need it to Succeed.”

Influencer marketing will see global brand spending up to $15 billion by 2022 (Business Insider Intelligence), and with more people using social media and spending greater amounts of time doing so, B2B influencers have a bigger audience than ever.

This may explain why influencers are seeing rising engagements with a variety of firms, as even the World Health Organization recently worked with influencers for its latest “Safe Hands Challenge” hand-washing campaign.

B2C and B2B influencer marketing are undoubtedly very different – and ever-evolving – undertakings, as we recently explored in “B2C vs. B2B Influencer Marketing – What’s the Difference?

[bctt tweet=”“The output of B2B influencer collaboration can be in any form that the brand is currently publishing content: text, video, visual, audio, interactive and even VR.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

Learn more about B2B influencer marketing with these insightful looks at how brands are using it to achieve success, and dig in to recent influencer marketing statistics here:

8 — B2B Marketing is Pointless & Impossible For Brands Than Aren’t Billion-Dollar Firms

The Myth:

B2B marketing is only for billion-dollar mega-corporations looking to attract other massive Fortune 500 firms — and it doesn’t have any relevance for a company with less than 10,000 employees.

The Myth-Buster:

It doesn’t take billion-dollar firms to create priceless B2B marketing efforts. Indeed, some of the most successful and memorable B2B marketing campaigns are coming from small-to-midsize firms, especially those that are using B2B influencer marketing.

Our content strategist Anne Leuman recently took a look at “5 Examples of Effective B2B Content Marketing in Times of Crisis,” featuring several smaller firms including HealthcareSource and our client monday.com, showing how they are putting out timely and helpful marketing messages during the pandemic.

Social media and influencer marketing have helped level the playing field not only among large B2C and B2B firms, but smaller B2B businesses as well.

Being savvy and nimble can propel a business a long way in the B2B marketing world — perhaps even over land and water, as Shakespeare once noted.

[bctt tweet=”“Nimble thought can jump both sea and land.” — William Shakespeare” username=”toprank”]

9 — B2B Marketing Isn’t Even Well-Suited for Social Media

The Myth:

B2B marketers shouldn’t even use social media, since business audiences don’t use social platforms, or if they do, they’re not there to find serious B2B information.

The Myth-Buster:

Nearly everyone uses social media in 2020, with global active social media users topping the 3.8 billion mark recently, and that includes almost all the business professionals in every B2B industry.

Social media and B2B marketing go hand-in-hand these days, and smart marketers recognize the importance of this intertwined system, and work hard to inform and delight on every social channel where their brand’s customers are actively engaging.

[bctt tweet=”“It doesn’t take billion-dollar firms to create priceless B2B marketing efforts.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

10 — B2B Marketing’s Only Real Channel is LinkedIn

The Myth:

LinkedIn is the only social media platform B2B marketers ever need to use, because it’s the only one those in B2B industries ever really utilize.

The Myth-Buster:

While it’s true that LinkedIn is the top social media platform for B2B marketers and professionals in general, and still represents the go-to source for business information when it comes to social — and we’re not just saying that because they are a TopRank Marketing client — if you’re limiting your efforts solely to LinkedIn you’re missing out on key industry players who happen to spend the majority of their social media time on other platforms.

As we’ve shown above, there are a wide array of social media channels B2B marketers are finding vital to their brand efforts. With every Fortune 500 firm now represented on LinkedIn, however, it’s a platform that should be included in every B2B marketer’s mix.

Soar Beyond B2B Myths With Powerful Marketing Tactics

Now that we’ve made an effort to dispel these 10 common B2B marketing myths, we hope that you’ll be better able to power your next marketing campaign using the tactics we’ve looked at, and create B2B content that inspires and enchants while also providing best-answer solutions.

The post B2B Marketing Mythbusters: Dispelling 10 Common Myths with Extraordinary Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Netiquette: How to Master Online Business Communication

Photo by Adam Solomon on Unsplash

If prospective clients are most impressed with a business’s expertise during a meeting, they’re most at ease if a company’s representatives adhere to strong business etiquette practices. Discussing business communication etiquette in the context of international relations, language experts at London Translations say that these unwritten rules “create a mutually respectful atmosphere, improve communication, and enable people to behave in an appropriate manner.”

In unprecedented times like these, where both international and small businesses are mainly communicating remotely, there is a whole new set of rules by which you need to abide when it comes to business communication.

Whether it’s knowing the correct way to write an email to a client or updating a corporate social media page properly, learning appropriate online business communication etiquette will help generate a positive impression of your business.

Regardless, online or offline, following business etiquette can help you get a business deal over the line and forge long-lasting relationships with clients.

Using Emails for Business Communication

Do: Write a Concise Subject Line

The subject line will help to determine whether a recipient will bother to open your email or not. Therefore, make sure it concisely conveys the issue at hand. This also makes it easier for people to find and file messages later.

Don’t: Use an Inappropriate Email Address

Stick to your company email address or, if you’re self-employed, consider setting up a new account for your business communications. If you’d prefer to use your existing personal account, think about how the address looks. Your name should always be included for clarity. Additionally, there should be no mention of anything in any business communication that could be considered inappropriate for the workplace.

Do: Follow Grammar and Punctuation Rules

Poor grammar and punctuation in your business communications could make a bad impression and potentially damage your credibility. It may also cause miscommunication, which can be particularly damaging to business relationships. Therefore, be sure to thoroughly proofread your work, and consider downloading a grammar checker tool to make corrections.

Don’t: Be Too Informal in any Business Communication

Avoid using colloquial greetings like “hey,” “yo,” or “sup” in any business communication. Instead, choose a more conventional “hello” or “hi” in emails.

By the same token, don’t shorten anybody’s name unless they’ve directed you to, and avoid using emojis. You should also use exclamation marks sparingly. Enthusiasm is obviously no bad thing, but too many can make you look overly emotional or immature.

Last but not least, be cautious about injecting humor into business communications unless you know the recipient well. It’s easy for jokes to be lost in translation and cause offense, particularly in written form.

Do: Add a Signature Block

A signature block sits at the bottom of an email and includes basic information like your full name, your role at the company, and your phone number. These make your emails appear professional, create brand awareness, and enable the recipient to contact you through other methods.

Don’t: Choose Quirky Fonts in Your Business Communications

Keep to easy-to-read, classic fonts like Arial or Helvetica in black, and use the same one across every email you send. A 10- or 12-point type will look neat and ensure your recipients can easily read your messages.

Instant Messaging for Business Communication

Do: Make Your Exchanges Quick

Instant messaging (IM) is designed for short conversations with quick responses. Use other forms of business communication for longer exchanges. For instance, consider turning to email, phone, or in-person communications.

Don’t: Ignore Somebody’s Availability Status

Always look at a person’s availability before sending them an instant message. If it is set to “away,” “in a meeting,” or “busy,” be patient and wait until they are ready. Use another means of business communication to contact them in emergencies. And always set your own availability status, too.

Do: Create a Professional IM Handle

Your IM handle will be visible to colleagues and clients, so it needs to be professional, just as it would be for any other business communication. Simply use your full name and add a formal-looking profile photo.

Don’t: Go Overboard with Emojis

Though it depends on your company culture and who you’re talking to, it’s often acceptable to use emojis during IM conversations. Stick to basic, commonly used ones like the thumbs up, smiley face, or OK hand emojis. And don’t litter your messages with too many, as this is overly casual.

Do: Avoid Being Too Formal

Avoid using some of the formal phrases you may include in other forms of business communications, such as “to whom it may concern” or “kind regards.” With IM you can be a little more casual and phrase things as you would in everyday conversation.

Don’t: Use Too Many Acronyms

It’s common to use well-known online acronyms like “lol” or “btw” when instant messaging. However, avoid using lesser-known ones that may fail to get your message across properly and cause confusion.

Social Media and Business Communication

Do: Interact with Others

Posting engaging content is important, but you need to actually interact with your followers, too. This can mean answering a question and responding to feedback. Or, you might ask for recommendations and conduct polls and surveys. Even though you’re well aware that you’re conducting business with social media communications, make connections on social media just as you would in real life.

Don’t: Mix Business with Pleasure in Your Communications

You’re on social media to build your brand’s presence, so sharing personal content could jeopardize its image. This creates an inconsistent business profile, and your communications from this stance may perplex users and prompt them to unfollow.

Do: Give Credit Where Credit Is Due in Any Business Communication

One of the most important social media rules to follow is to always attribute a piece of content you share to its creator. If not, you look disrespectful and distrustful. On the other hand, giving credit can help you make connections with others, as they may be willing to share your content in return.

RELATED ARTICLE: HOW TO EFFECTIVELY SCHEDULE SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT

Don’t: Spam Your Followers

Constant posting, commenting, retweeting, and liking will quickly fill up your followers’ social media feeds. Plus, it has the potential to be irritating. According to social media expert Louise Myers, per day you should be posting:

  • Once on Facebook
  • Three to 15 times on Twitter
  • Three to 11 times on Pinterest
  • One to two times on Instagram
  • Once on LinkedIn

Do: Be Visual

People don’t tend to use social media to read long swathes of text. Moreover, research shows that images can encourage 3.8 times more engagement. Try and incorporate photos, videos, and GIFs wherever relevant.

Don’t: Abuse Hashtags

Hashtags are an invaluable social media tool. They help make your posts visible to people exploring that topic. That said, don’t add too many, as this could look spammy, and even desperate.

About the Author

Syna Smith is head of SEO at a top SEO agency, with 8 years of experience in the digital marketing field. She is a dynamic problem-solver and an expert in blog outreach.

The post Netiquette: How to Master Online Business Communication appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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Creativity Tips: 3 Ways to Invigorate Your Creative Side

Photo by Alice Dietrich on Unsplash

Many people believe that creativity is a trait that some are simply born with and others are unable to learn. And while some individuals certainly appear more creative than others, research shows that it is, in fact, a trait that everyone has within them. Rather than being an innate quality, creativity can simply be learned and harnessed like many other skills.

As explained in Business News Daily, the ability “to look at problems from different angles, to connect and combine concepts, and [..] to challenge traditional assumptions” are at the heart of creativity. As such, at its core, you could argue that creativity is simply a form of problem-solving. This is why many jobs are far more creative than they first seem.

One example is the legal profession. Lawyers need to be creative when making arguments on behalf of their clients. Then they apply case law to back up their reasoning.

Another unexpectedly creative job is as a translator. Texts cannot simply be translated word-for-word to convey their full effect. The translator must also consider cultural differences in order to come up with something that conveys the spirit of the original. “Ultimately, it’s a skill which requires a great deal of problem-solving, particularly when it comes to determining how much social context should inform their work,” translation agency Global Voices explains.

RELATED ARTICLE: 3 EFFECTIVE VISUAL MARKETING CAMPAIGNS

As such, creativity can be hugely beneficial to most jobs and businesses. This is why it’s always worth trying to develop this skill further in one way or another. If you’re looking to stimulate your own creative side, here are three tips for getting started.

1. Exercise Your Creativity

Creativity doesn’t just emerge from some magical section of the brain. It’s ultimately developed using the same tools used for other cognitive tasks, but applying them in specific ways. The more you engage in these kinds of activities, the more creative you’ll become. Think of it like exercising your creativity like a muscle. As Canadian psychologist Donald O. Hebb famously said: “Cells that fire together, wire together.” Practicing will make the connections between the relevant brain cells stronger, so you’ll become more creative.

To achieve this, it’s key that you make time to be actively creative. This typically means getting away from your phone and laptop. When you do, let your mind wander. This will help unlock your imaginative side.

Try to avoid bringing devices to bed or to the bathroom, and switch off notifications for social media and email apps. It’s also good to dedicate a specific period of time to creative thinking, like when you first wake up or during your lunch break. Try activities such as mind mapping or storyboarding your ideas. Even a simple stroll can improve brain function and boost your creativity.

2. Switch up Your Surroundings for More Creativity

Another easy way of getting inspired is to change your surroundings. Just going somewhere with a different color scheme can give your brain the added stimulation it needs. For example, green has been specifically proven to encourage creativity.

Other factors like lighting, tidiness, and the presence of plants can also bolster brainpower. In fact, the detoxifying effects of plants can improve creativity by 15%, while good lighting can increase alertness, mood, and productivity.

Your setting doesn’t just relate to your physical surroundings either. Who you’re with can also have a huge impact on your creativity. Sometimes shifting to a busier environment can get your creative juices flowing, and talking to others may give you the spark of inspiration you need. So, instead of sticking to the same work spot in your office, you could be better off spending more time in communal areas, sharing ideas with your colleagues.

3. Never Stop Learning

When was the last time you learned about a completely random topic, like why seasons changed or how feudalism operated? Well, if creativity is what you want, now could be the perfect time to do your research. Absorbing unfamiliar topics and broadening the horizons of your knowledge can help you think more expansively. After all, in some way, every new idea stems from what we already know.

Consider taking a course in something you know nothing about. (Sites like Future Learn, Open Learn, and Alison are great places to do this.) Alternatively, dive down an Internet rabbit hole about a particular subject that interests you, or simply ask friends in different industries what exactly they do. While it probably won’t be immediately obvious how this will benefit you, these bits of knowledge could prove surprisingly useful during future brainstorming sessions.

About the Author

Syna Smith is head of SEO at a top SEO agency, with eight years of experience in the digital marketing field. She is a dynamic problem-solver and an expert in blog outreach.

The post Creativity Tips: 3 Ways to Invigorate Your Creative Side appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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CBD Industry Thrives Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

Featured photo by GRAS GRÜN on Unsplash

The CBD industry was declared essential as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the US. For this reason, CBD suppliers are doing well while other businesses are not.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left countless businesses struggling in its wake. Many companies have been shut down after being deemed nonessential, and the economy has experienced chaotic ups and downs.

But while so many businesses are experiencing a loss of profits, CBD industry leaders CBDfx have been deemed an essential business. Therefore, they continue to provide high-quality CBD products in their customers’ time of need.

COVID-19 Surfaces in January

When COVID-19 first surfaced in January 2020, the world caught a glimpse of what the future might hold. China faced an epidemic. People all over the world grew concerned. Everyone understood that with the amount of international air traffic to and from China, the virus had great potential to spread.

This growing concern was unfortunately valid, and COVID-19 began to surface in multiple locations around the world.

The Virus Begins to Spread

COVID-19 began to proliferate in Italy, Iran, and the United Kingdom. Panic hung in the air. People ran to the supermarkets and grocery stores to gather up as many supplies as they could.

Naturally, people who normally used CBD products on a daily basis stocked up on their favorites as well.

People bought canned goods and nonperishable items until the shelves were empty. They bought irrational amounts of toilet paper—enough to last them years. Gallon upon gallon of milk disappeared from grocery store dairy cases, so much so that it certainly spoiled in some households before they could possibly drink it all.

The CBD Industry Holds Steady Amid the COVID-19 Storm

With so many people stocking up on irrational things like toilet paper and excessive amounts of milk, many who use CBD have decided to stock up on that product as well. CBD is something people use daily and it takes a long time to expire.

Fortunately for the millions of people who love and use CBD, it has been deemed an essential business. The government recognizes that people use CBD as an important part of their daily lives, and that they should be able to experience the benefits of CBD throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

So it makes perfect sense that in such tumultuous times that high-quality, reputable brands like CBDfx are doing well.

Will CBD Suppliers Run Low?

However, it wouldn’t be any great surprise if even some of the top-tier CBD manufacturers were to exhaust their supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, there is an increased demand. Nonetheless, we expect the CBD industry not only to thrive throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but to potentially see huge profits in its aftermath.

RELATED ARTICLE: HOW YOU CAN ENSURE SUCCESS FROM AN ECOMMERCE SHOP

Why Not Start a CBD Business of Your Own?

So if you have ever considered opening an online store with a focus on CBD products, now could be an excellent time to get started. For tips and help on how to go about it, be sure to visit our blog often.

The post CBD Industry Thrives Despite COVID-19 Pandemic appeared first on Business Opportunities.

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