Better Business Blogging – 7 Lessons Learned from Writing 1 Million Words

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blogging tips toprank

Blogging for over 10 years has been quite a journey to say the least. During that time, I’ve had my share of challenges, opportunities, disappointments and surprises.

Back when I started, there’s no way I would have imagined having so many things to say for so long or anticipated what impact ongoing content creation would have on me personally and for our digital marketing agency – TopRank.

It’s true that a blog is not for every business, but every business that blogs, sees numerous advantages. For many, there are roadblocks and unrealized opportunities. Businesses can get caught up in those distractions and let their blogs die. As an example, IBM research shows that 80% of the blogs started there have fewer than 5 posts.

To navigate those distractions, it takes more than commitment. It takes some vision and inspiration. Along those lines here are a few lessons and takeaways I’ve learned from writing over 1.2 million words on this blog over the past 11 years.

Stand for Something: Be Specific

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stand for something
Being focused and opinionated attracts attention. It builds authority & credibility. When a company can establish trust with readers, it’s a sure way to create a connection and become a source of information on a regular basis. Specificity brings clarity and as your audience grows, topical focus can diversify. Being opinionated will attract and repel readers. Rather than looking at what you lose, look at what you gain in terms of actively engaged members of your growing community.

Know Your Audience: Empathy Drives Relevance

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Know Your Audience
Make an active effort to understand how your blog readers prefer to discover, consume and act on content. This means knowing your target audience and the stages of inquiry they go through during the customer lifecycle. Blog content that satisfies those information needs in the formats that readers most enjoy will retain readers and inspire engagement.  Empathy for your readership (vs. only writing about your own brand) will help you create more relevant content experiences.

Tap Into Offline to Online Engagement to Create Content Magic

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Tap Into Offline to Online Engagement
Events are one of the most untapped sources of great content that bloggers can use to connect with a variety of audience targets. Whether liveblogging a prospective customers’ presentation at an industry conference or writing a wrap up of a panel of industry influencers, event blogging creates content that serves multiple objectives: creates useful content for your blog community, creates value for people you’d like to do business with, creates a content asset that will be linked to from newsrooms and share on social networks.

Blogging about industry influencers and prospective customer contacts online and then engaging them in person at an event is another powerful connection of offline to online for blogging. The content is a win for everyone and the potential relationships are valuable too.

Great Content Isn’t Great Until It’s Discovered, Consumed & Shared

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Great Content Isn’t Great Until It’s Discovered, Consumed & Shared
Invest equally in creative elements of your blog and in the promotion of blog content. Simply writing great ideas isn’t enough to stand out. To attract, engage and inspire blog readers, it’s important that the experience has a visual component to it. Of course the content needs to be easy to find as well – wherever your target readership prefers to discover content. That could be email, search, social streams, news feeds or subscriptions.

Look Beyond Yourself For Blog Topics & Writing

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Look Beyond Yourself For Blog Topics & Writing
A person has finite topic ideas and brands tend to have a limited scope of topics they want to talk about.  Running out of ideas is a common source of writers’ block, so be sure to connect with the community for inspiration – crowdsource topics through analysis of blog engagement, through social media monitoring and important questions that get asked.

At the same time, insourcing content creation within your company is an important way to share the load of business blogging as well as shining a light on other voices and talent within your organization.

A Blog is Only As Interesting As the Interest Shown in Others

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A Blog is Only As Interesting As the Interest Shown in Others
One of the most powerful motivators for humans is recognition. Business blogs are a terrific platform for recognizing talent in and outside the company. More importantly, business blogs have an opportunity to highlight members of the blog community. That recognition is very powerful, but it doesn’t “just happen” by publishing lists.

Get into the habit of asking the blog readership and connected social networks questions. Ask their opinions. Ask for feedback and insights about a particular topic from your blog editorial calendar.  Then curate the responses into content that recognizes contributors. Promote the crowdsourced content back out to the social networks where the questions were asked and it will be very motivating for all involved.

Optimizing Blog Performance is a Continuous Effort

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Optimizing Blog Performance is a Continuous Effort
Expectations for how a business blog will provide value for the brand and community of readers can vary. What’s most important is that specific goals are identified, if not hypothesized, along with key performance indicators that measure progress towards stated goals.

Blogging, social media and communities are a very dynamic mix and it will take a persistent effort to try new topics, formats and media to connect with your readership. Monitoring social network friend counts, traffic and search ranking isn’t enough in most cases, so business blogs should allocate marketing analytics resources to the blog as they would to any other business marketing effort. The insights drawn from social media monitoring, community engagement and web analytics alone can provide a goldmine of information on topics to write about, types of media to use in posts and where/how to promote on social networks.

Takeaways for Business Blogging

  • If you start blogging, finish it – commit to success
  • Focus on meaningful vs. mechanical approach to content
  • Create value for readers first, build your own brand and create demand for your valuable information
  • Don’t go it alone – ask for help!

I’ll be talking about blogging for business and marketing more in-depth this weekend at the Minnesota Blogger Conference #MNBlogCon – I hope to see you there!

Number photos 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 from Shutterstock

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Better Business Blogging – 7 Lessons Learned from Writing 1 Million Words |

October 23rd 2014 blogging, Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Safety Check Everyone, Content Marketing in 2015, Golden Triangle Downfall

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Twitter Vs Facebook

Twitter vs Facebook: Key Statistics, Facts & Figures [INFOGRAPHIC] - How do Twitter and Facebook compare?  Who wins in a no-holds fight between the two?  This infographic has the answers you seek. AllTwitter

Facebook Introduces Safety Check - In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates. It is in these moments that communication is most critical both for people in the affected areas and for their friends and families anxious for news. Facebook

Study: 86% of B-to-B Marketers Now Use Content Marketing - The vast majority of b-to-b marketers now use content marketing as part of a strategic marketing approach, although less than half have a documented content-marketing strategy and most admit they can’t track the return on their investment, according to a study released today by the Content Marketing Institute. AdAge

Online Display Spending to Grow $18 Billion in Next Five Years - Driven by the steep growth rate of online video and mobile display, online advertising will grow from this year’s $19.8 billion to $37.6 billion by 2019, according to Forrester Research’s “North American Online Display Advertising Forecast” released this week. Direct Marketing News

Study: Clickthrough Rate Continues To Rise As Reach Drops On Facebook - Pages’ posts reach a smaller amount of their Facebook fanbase, but those who do see posts are engaging more and clicking on posts — according to a study by Komfo. AllFacebook

70% Of B2B Marketers Are Producing More Content, But Only 21% Are Able To Track ROI - The B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends, produced by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs and sponsored by Brightcove–say that 10 times fast–is out and provides an interesting, if not concerning, glimpse of how B2B marketers are approaching their marketing strategies. Marketing Pilgrim

Bing Ads Showing Twitter Followers In Ads - Bing and Twitter have had a partnership dating back to the ancient days of 2009 and have renewed their deal to feature tweets in the search results every two years since. Now, Bing Ads is testing out an integration to show the number of Twitter followers advertisers have within their ads. Search Engine Land

Facebook Launches Mobile ‘Like’ Button - Facebook first previewed a mobile Like button at its f8 conference in April, but the company announced today that it is rolling the feature out for anyone. Now app developers can use the Like button to get people to easily become a fan of the page. AllFacebook

Google Answer Boxes Appearing 44% More Frequently [STUDY] - Moz published a report today containing data which shows a significant jump in the appearance of Google’s Quick Answer boxes. The jump initially began last week, but went relatively unnoticed in light of the Panda 4.1 rollout getting all the headlines. Search Engine Journal

Google Displaying Not Mobile Friendly Icons In Search Results - Earlier this month, we reported Google began testing mobile friendly icons in the mobile search results, again. They did this back in August as well. But now, they are testing showing an icon that tells the user if the site/web page is not mobile friendly. Search Engine Roundtable

New Google Eye Tracking Study Shows The Downfall Of The Golden Triangle - A new Google eye tracking study published by Mediative shows how the evolution of the Google search results from 2005 to today has resulted in searchers looking outside of the golden triangle. Search Engine Land

Google: 30% Of First Page Search Results Contain HTTPS URLs - Here are more Google HTTPS tidbits from my SMX coverage last week. Did you know that Google has shared data saying only 10% of the web pages out there are over HTTPS? Did you also know that 30% of the first page searches results contain one or more HTTPS results? Search Engine Roundtable

From our Online Marketing Community:

In response to When do B2B Tech Companies Need Content Marketing? Inspiration for 2015 Marketing Planning, Ted Hart Karczewski said, “Great Post, Lee! We come across this a lot when talking with clients/prospects. B2B tech companies are so used to talking about their product features or services that breaking the mold and embracing content marketing can be tough to sell internally!”

And on B2B Marketing on Facebook? Yes! So Say IBM, Volvo, Salesforce & Lattice Engines, Suraj Karakulath commented, Great post. Nailed it with the human touch and the more ‘fun’ posts to let the audience ‘exhale’. We also try to intersperse our in-house content with some comic strips and fun videos. It does not even have to be original content sometimes – you could even share third-party content and credit them. Sharing others content also makes a good impression. There needs to be a human behind the business. Speaking of which, I still can’t get that song “Dumb Ways to Die” out of my head. The gorgeously animated video just makes it even better. Because of the video, I became aware of Metro Trains Melbourne and also learnt about some dumb ways to die :)

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: AllTwitter

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Online Marketing News: Safety Check Everyone, Content Marketing in 2015, Golden Triangle Downfall |

October 17th 2014 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Facebook Fiends, Snapchat Ads, Goodbye Fake Likes

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Marketers Twisted Cross Channel Attribution

Marketers’ Twisted Cross-Channel Attribution [Infographic] - Linking customer data points can sometimes feel like playing a game of Twister. With so many on- and offline customer touchpoints, the pressure to connect the dots can leave marketers feeling red in the face or blue with defeat. Check out the infographic above to see how marketers are connecting the dots. Direct Marketing News

Report: We’re Spending 49% More Time in Social Media Apps vs. Last Year - Do you feel more social than you did a year ago? Or at least more mobile? Localytics, a mobile marketing and analytics platform, took a a closer look to see how mobile app engagement has intensified over the last 12 months. Our time spent on mobile apps now exceeds our time spent on desktop browsing. SocialTimes

Social Media Ad Spend Share Worldwide [STUDY] - North America will account for 42.3 percent of all social network advertising expenditure in 2014, ahead of Asia-Pacific (29.2 percent) and Europe (22.4 percent), reports eMarketer. AllTwitter

REPORT: U.S. Adults Avg. 21 Minutes/Day on Facebook - Adults in the U.S. will spend an average of 21 minutes per day on Facebook in 2014, or 6 percent of their digital time, but 10 percent of U.S. digital ad spending goes to the social network, whereas in other digital media categories, U.S. adults’ digital time usage percentages are higher than digital ad-spending percentages, according to new data from market researcher eMarketer. AllFacebook

The Majority of All Social Media Users are From Outside the United States [STUDY] - Almost nine in 10 of Twitter’s active users are located outside the United States, reports GlobalWebIndex. AllTwitter

Study: Facebook Fans Who Interact With The Brand Page Make For Higher-Paying Consumers - How valuable are Facebook fans? YetiData and Collective Bias conducted a four year-long study of a major grocery store’s Facebook page (150,000 fans), discovering that Facebook fans of the store on average bought 125 more items than a typical customer — a 35 percent rise. AllFacebook

Snapchat Ads Are Coming Soon, Says CEO Spiegel - Snapchat, the startup that raised money this year at around a $10 billion valuation without any revenue, will start making money from advertising soon. AdAge

Study Shows CTRs A False Metric For Mobile Ad Performance - A new mobile advertising study, commissioned by xAd and carried out by Nielsen, holds some important and perhaps surprising findings for marketers. Many people have long known that the click-through (CTR) is not a very useful metric for display ads and mobile display ads in particular. This study proves it. Marketing Land

Study: Retargeting on Facebook & Display Leads to Greater CTR - While retargeting is a growing trend on Facebook, a new study by Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer Marin Software shows that brands who serve these kinds of ads both on the social network and through display tend to have more success than those who retargeted only on one or the other. InsideFacebook

Report: 45 Percent Made Retail Purchase After Seeing Mobile Ads - Mobile advertising platform NinthDecimal released its Q2 “audience insights” report. The findings are focused on retail and contain a number of useful insights for marketers. Marketing Land

Where Are Marketers Planning to Spend Their Holiday Budgets? [Infographic] - As the holiday season approaches, marketers are gearing up for their campaigns. Just like the pumpkin spice must flow, so must the marketing dollars. A new infographic from Oferpop makes a few predictions about 2014 holiday marketing trends. SocialTimes

Facebook Clamps Down on Fake “Likes” to Protect Businesses - The social network is tackling scammers who seek to produce fake Likes. Facebook is tightening its security rules and using machine learning to spot suspicious behavior in a bid to clamp down on “Like” scams that hurt businesses through fraudulent activity. ClickZ

From our Online Marketing Community:

From What is the Future of Content for B2B Marketing? Find out at #MPB2B, Kostas Chiotis said, “Some great thoughts here Lee, I especially have to agree with this – “Quality will crush quantity in content marketing.””

On The Number One Secret to B2B Content Marketing Success Plus 150 B2B Marketing Statistics, DIFY Social Media – Sam commented, Really awesome list of statistics! Interesting that 51% say strategy “somewhat” guides efforts, while 83% say that they do have a content marketing strategy. Sounds like a big portion of companies have a strategy that they simply don’t follow.”

And Edwin Dearborn added, “Wow! What a detailed post. Thanks!”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Direct Marketing News

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Online Marketing News: Facebook Fiends, Snapchat Ads, Goodbye Fake Likes |

October 10th 2014 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Goodbye Yahoo! Directory, Panda Gets Another Update, Pinterest Gets Targeted

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Rise Of Mobile Video

In Two Years, Mobile Video Viewers Have Increased 400% - There’s a very good chance that your customers are watching a video on their smartphone or tablet as we speak. Ooyala says that mobile video views have increased 400% in the last two years, doubling in the last year alone. Right now, 25% of all video views are happening on a mobile device and that number is expected to double again by 2016. Marketing Pilgrim

Facebook Announces The New Atlas: A Cross-Platform Ad Network - As rumored, Facebook will announce today the relaunch of Atlas at Advertising Week in New York City. Atlas focuses on people-based marketing, getting away from cookies and enabling true cross-device advertising. Erik Johnson, the head of Atlas, announced the relaunch in a blog post. AllFacebook

Panda 4.1 — Google’s 27th Panda Update — Is Rolling Out - Google has announced that the latest version of its Panda Update — a filter designed to penalize “thin” or poor content from ranking well — has been released.  Search Engine Land

75% of Twitter Users Purchase Products Online Each Month [STUDY] - Yesterday Twitter announced its entrance into the e-commerce business with its new ‘buy’ button, which allows users to make purchases directly through Twitter via a single click. AllTwitter

Why Do Brands Have Such Small Mobile Advertising Budgets? [Study] - Forrester research shows that brands shy away from investing in mobile advertising because it’s difficult to track performance. ClickZ

Twitter Says They Have More Impact On Tech Sales Than Any Other Social Network - As Facebook warns marketers about less exposure, Twitter invites tech marketers over for celebration. A new survey (paid for by Twitter) shows that tech shoppers are 40% more likely to discover new products on Twitter than any other social network. Marketing Pilgrim

The Yahoo Directory — Once The Internet’s Most Important Search Engine — Is To Close - For some, it may seem like there has always been Google, and it’s always been the main way people have found things on the web. But before Google, there was the Yahoo Directory and its hand-compiled list of websites, organized into topics. Now, the venerable Yahoo Directory is closing. Search Engine Land

Four in Five Marketers Promote Content via Social Media [STUDY] - 80 percent of U.S. marketing professionals use social media to promote their content, reveals a new study. AllTwitter

Digital Tops Marketing Priorities for Retailers This Holiday Season [Study] - Only 32 percent of retailers plan to invest in mobile commerce this holiday season, despite it being defined as a “competitive weakness.” Digital is expected to be the most utilized avenue of marketing for retailers this holiday season, according to a study from eBay Enterprise released earlier today. ClickZ

Only 53% of Inbound Marketers Measure ROI - Only a bare majority of inbound marketers are measuring ROI, according to HubSpot’s latest annual “State of Inbound” report, with that result continuing a theme from past studies. But that doesn’t appear to be stunting their confidence: a significant share of inbound marketers are reporting higher ROI than last year – perhaps as previous success is the top reason given for increasing inbound budgets.  MarketingCharts

Pinterest Ad Plans Include Audience Targeting & Conversion Tracking - Pinterest’s advertising plans, further teased late last Friday when the company announced it would update its privacy policy on Oct. 19, became a little clearer today. Marketing Land

Local News Readers Share More Stories on Social Media [STUDY] - People who prefer and read local news media are more likely to share that content on social media sites than those who consume their news from national sources, reveals a new study. AllTwitter

From our Online Marketing Community:

From The B’s in B2B Are People Too – A More Human Approach to Business Marketing, Kostas Chiotis said, “Great post Lee, I couldn’t agree more with all of the comments made. I have always placed a great amount of value on relationships in any marketing situation. I think Brian puts it best when he says marketing will be from one business person to another.”

On Online Marketing News: Pinterest and Instagram Are Addictions, YouTube Most Converting, Facebook Gets Timely, Brandignity shared, “Interesting to see YouTube being the most converted platform. I think it boils down to the effort required to make a great video. A tweet you can push out in just a few minutes but a good converting video takes time and people recognize that.”

And Kostas Chiotis added, “Hi Ben, great round up of the most recent news. I was particularly interested in reading about YouTube conversion rates. I’ve been thinking for a little while now that video marketing is going to be more and more important in the future.”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Marketing Pilgrim

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2014. |
Online Marketing News: Goodbye Yahoo! Directory, Panda Gets Another Update, Pinterest Gets Targeted |

October 3rd 2014 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Pinterest and Instagram Are Addictions, YouTube Most Converting, Facebook Gets Timely

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SMB Media Spend

SMBs Allocate More Budget to Social Than Other Channels - BIA/Kelsey’s new study shows that small and medium businesses now use social more than any other media platform for business purposes. ClickZ

A Quarter of U.S. Teens use Twitter’s Vine [STUDY] - One in four (25 percent) of teenagers in the United States use Vine, Twitter’s short video sharing social network, reveals new data from GlobalWebIndex. AllTwitter

Pinterest and Instagram are Strongly Associated with Smartphone Addiction - A study from Baylor University on smartphone addiction found that certain activities — notably Pinterest and Instagram — “are associated significantly with cellphone addiction.” Interestingly, Internet use and gaming were not associated with addiction. SocialTimes

YouTube Converts More Customers Than All Other Social Networks [STUDY] - VentureBeat reports that, when it comes to paid advertising on social media platforms, YouTube is king. Search Engine Journal

Pinterest to Let Brands Target Their Existing Customers With Ads - Pinterest’s advertising product is only a few months old, but the social network isn’t wasting any time in trying to catch up to Facebook’s and Twitter’s more sophisticated ad businesses. AdAge

Organic Search Drives 51% of Traffic to Websites [Study] - SEO platform provider BrightEdge recently released a report showing the majority of websites studied within its Data Cube data set showed organic traffic was the largest source of traffic over paid search and social media across the sectors studied.  Search Engine Watch

79% of Marketers Say Social Media is the Most Effective Channel for B2B [STUDY] - Almost four in five marketers believe that social media is the most effective channel for business to business brands, reveals a new study. AllTwitter

YouTube’s New Real-Time Analytics Offers Minute-By-Minute Video View Count - YouTube announced a major upgrade to its analytics dashboard that will provide video publishers a minute-by-minute look at how many people are watching their videos. Marketing Land

Study: Facebook Ads Outpacing Organic For Conversions - As more companies realize that advertising on Facebook is a necessity to reach fans and customers, a new study shows that ads play a huge role in gaining conversions through the social network. AllFacebook

Google Structured Snippets Officially Live In Search Results - Earlier this month, we caught Google testing a form of knowledge graph data within the search results snippet. This feature is now officially being confirmed by Google on the Google Research Blog. Search Engine Land

Facebook News Feed FYI: Showing More Timely Stories from Friends and Pages - Facebook has updated their news feed to show more timely stories and content being shared right now. How will this change how brands post? Facebook

YouTube Drives More Sales Than Other Social Media Platforms [Study] - A recent study of paid social media finds that YouTube is more effective at both introducing customers to products and converting sales than any other social platform. ClickZ

From our Online Marketing Community:

From 31 Predictions on the Future of B2B Marketing, Kostas Chiotis shared, “hanks Lee, A great collection of experts sharing their advice. I think I have to go with Ann Handley’s comments about the length of posts. Internet browsers have always been thought of as lazy and they would not scan through a long article, but now there is a definite shift towards longer content – providing that it is useful of course!”

In response to How to Get Executive Buy-In for Your B2B Influencer Marketing Program, Jack Holt said, “One tip I do have that’s worked wonders for our customers – segmenting  your influencers and pushing the right kind of content for where their audience is in the buying cycle. We’re seeing b2b as a potential major segment of influencer marketing – they just “get it”. And yet, I see them less prepared internally to deal with influencer marketing as well as less amenable to an agency manager. All things to work on, which makes it more and more exciting for us.”

And Gary Preston commented “Great article Brooke. Surely one of the easiest ways to build and ROI case for influencer marketing is to align it to a business case for improved organic search positions and therefore leads / sales that will result from a strategically sound influencer campaign? In all my years of experience on big brand authentic SEO projects they all rely heavily on influencer marketing in some shape or form. The one consistent is the revenue potential model that is built right at the start that can help to size the level of investment that goes into influencer marketing.”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: ClickZ

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Online Marketing News: Pinterest and Instagram Are Addictions, YouTube Most Converting, Facebook Gets Timely |

September 26th 2014 Online Marketing

How to Get Executive Buy-In for Your B2B Influencer Marketing Program

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Increasing numbers of marketers are enthusiastic about the power of influencer marketing – and not just in the B2C marketing world. B2B marketers are also discovering that influencer marketing goes beyond things like asking bloggers to vouch for their products on Twitter in return for a free sample.

Professionals with clout are engaged in active digital conversations about things that matter to them with their audiences – audiences that contain buyers that are influenced about which products and services they buy. According to a study by Nielsen, 85% of consumers seek out trusted expert content when considering a purchase.

Aligned with these influencers, B2B brands can build relationships, speak to industry issues, and form mutually beneficial partnerships. As Lee wrote recently, influencer marketing can be a faster way to build thought leadership than creating it from scratch. We’ve been implementing B2B influencer content programs for ourselves and clients for several years. The impact has been substantial, creating greater awareness, consideration and authority for the B2B brands involved. We’ve also learned the importance of gaining consensus about what an influencer marketing program can achieve.

Savvy B2B marketers know that changes in marketing strategy and tactics require some convincing and support in order to be successful. Before you go full steam ahead with something new like an influencer marketing program, it’s important to get buy-in from executives, your stakeholders, and anybody else whose support is needed with marketing strategy decisions.

So how do you take a new B2B influencer marketing plan back to your constituents on Monday morning and get them as excited as you are?

Even if you’re enthusiastic about how an influencer marketing will help your B2B brand grow awareness, you may still be a few steps removed from getting your boss on board. From conceptualizing content marketing campaigns to carrying them out, marketing teams already have hefty to-do lists. Researching and writing content, designing visual components, building ebooks and landing pages, hosting webinars – you and your team’s hands are probably already pretty full.

To your stakeholders, the idea of adding a relationship-building outreach component may bring up a few questions:

  1. Concern that your brand’s messaging will lose its focus by bringing in other people to contribute,
  2. Worry about a potential bottleneck to the content creation process, or
  3. Doubt that pursuing influencers will contribute to your overall goal of generating more leads or sales.

And yet for many B2B brands, influencer marketing is working – and it’s worth a shot for your brand, too. TopRank Marketing influencer content programs and those of clients like Dell, LinkedIn, CMI and MarketingProfs are great examples of B2B influencer marketing in action.

To echo the Beatles, brands really do get by with “a little help from their friends”. So how do you communicate that vision to the powers that be?

Be the expert

Working with influencers is a whole new world for many B2B marketers. As the marketing expert spearheading the influencer marketing program, you will need to serve as the guide that your stakeholders can trust.

Help your boss and constituents understand what influencer marketing is and is not:

  • Influencer marketing is aligning with prominent industry leaders in order to develop relationships with the goal of mutual promotion for everyone involved.
  • Influencer marketing is not stalking and schmoozing popular people with the hopes that their breeze will lift your sail.

Depending on your company’s business goals, make sure you highlight how implementing an influencer content marketing program will help you achieve the bottom line – or contribute to facilitating the customer journey. Communicate the potential benefits of an influencer marketing program. This includes:

  • Increased brand awareness where buyers and other influencers seek expert information
  • More awareness amongst industry media and blogs
  • More social engagement and social penetration for your content
  • In-depth expert content that can be repurposed in blogs, white papers, social messages, and more.
  • Lasting relationships with real people who matter to your industry
  • Contacts and leads
  • Shorter sales cycles

Show them the data

There’s no guarantee of success with every new marketing initiative, but you can go in with some analytical confidence that you’re making a smart move with a clear line of sight to important business goals. In one study from Augure, 70% of marketers reported success from their influencer marketing efforts. From the consumer standpoint, numerous statistics show that consumers listen to and trust what influential folks are saying on social media when they make purchasing decisions. Furthermore, 92% of consumers trust earned media, according to Nielsen.

Industry proof points will also help your stakeholders get on board with an influencer marketing program. Consider:

  • Which of your competitors are moving in this direction?
  • Are there others in your industry who have chosen to pursue influencer marketing?

Before you make your case, do a little research so you can say with confidence whether or not your company would be pioneers and leaders in this venture, or whether there is an opportunity to one-up what’s already being done.

As buyers become increasingly wary of brand-first, sales-oriented communications, the data definitely supports joining hands with influential friends in your industry to provide education, engagement and affect purchasing decisions.

Share a game plan

When pitching an influencer marketing program, bring a well-defined strategy, but be open for discussion. Will you go all in, or test how influencer outreach goes first? Starting small could mean wholeheartedly targeting a few quality influencers for an upcoming campaign, and then analyzing the results afterwards to gauge the success of the tactic.

Provide examples of a thought leader who is already speaking to your target audience – whether it’s a prominent expert who tweets hourly about the issues your C-suite executives are battling (that you can help them fix), or an entrepreneur who shares productivity tips with a following of business managers who may also need your B2B solution. Share steps for how you might attract, engage and partner with those influencers.

The success of a B2B influencer marketing program will ultimately depend on the cooperation of your selected influencers. But if you can make strategic outreach informed by social data to the right people, the results and relationships that come out of the initiative could truly be spectacular. If your stakeholders believe in the power of friendship and the notion that “a rising tide lifts all ships”, it’s likely that they’ll be enthusiastic about the prospect of an influencer marketing program, too.  With that consensus, your executives will be more willing to support whatever time and effort you need to make an influencer content marketing program happen.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What other tips do you have for getting B2B buy-in for an influencer marketing program?

Photo: Shutterstock

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How to Get Executive Buy-In for Your B2B Influencer Marketing Program |

September 24th 2014 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Unpopular Is Less Popular On Social, C-Suite Doesn’t Get Digital, Facebook For The Media

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Media Time On Social

Social Networking Accounts For (at Least) 28% of All Media Time Spent Online [STUDY] - Internet users now spend a daily average of 6.09 hours on online media, and more than one full quarter of all that time that is used by social networking on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, reveals a new study.  AllTwitter

The U.S. Accounts for 41.5% of all Mentions on Twitter (UK: 9.7%, France: 5.4%) [INFOGRAPHIC] - Did you know that more than two in five of all mentions on Twitter – all those @replies and @username tags we each do many times each day – take place in the United States? Find out more from this informative infographic. AllTwitter

Facebook Announces Facebook Media — A Hub For Media Outlets and Others - For advertisers looking for support or guidance, there is Facebook for Business. Now, for members of the media (as well as public figures and other organizations like nonprofits), there’s Facebook Media. The social network today announced Facebook Media, a similar resource for media outlets looking for more efficient ways to utilize Facebook. Facebook

It Would Cost Each User $232 A Year For An Ad-Free Internet, Study Finds - We all know that ads are the lifeblood of the Internet. Annoying? Sure. You’d be hard-pressed, though, to find anyone who didn’t understand that they were a necessary evil. But what would happen if we were to somehow–miraculously?–dispense with all the ads? How much would you be willing to pay? Fast Company

Fortune 500 Blogging Down 3% This Year, First Drop In 7 Years [Survey] - For the first time in seven years, the use of a corporate blog among the Fortune 500 has dropped. Marketing Land

83% of Fortune 500 Companies Have Active Twitter Profiles [STUDY] - Twitter has always been popular amongst America’s largest corporations, and a new study has revealed that 83 percent of the Fortune 500 are now active on the platform, an increase of 6 percent from last year. AllTwitter

The Top 25 Mobile Apps (Twitter is 14th, Behind Yahoo Weather) [STATS] - comScore tracked the 25 most popular apps amongst adults in the U.S., measuring both iOS and Android, and found that 115.4 million people had used the Facebook app in June of this year. 83.4 million had used YouTube, and other Google properties (Play, Search, Maps and Gmail) also featured in the top 10. AllTwitter

Pew: Social Media Users with Unpopular Opinions are Less Likely to Speak Out - According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, social media users with unpopular political opinions are less likely to speak out on social platforms and in real life. This is in contrast to the commonly-held belief that social networks give those with minority opinions a venue for their thoughts. SocialTimes

Less Than Half of Marketers Say the C-Suite “Gets” Digital - Companies identified as “digital marketing leaders” in the latest marketing study from Epsilon and Econsultancy tend to have better alignment throughout their organization about the digital marketing strategy, as well as better financial performance and customer retention, than their peers. Direct Marketing News

Video Marketing Survey: 71% Say Video Conversion Rates Outperform Other Marketing Content - Marketers who fail to incorporate videos into their content marketing strategy may be overlooking a potential goldmine. According to a video benchmark report from video marketing and analytics platform Vidyard, 71 percent of marketers said their video content’s conversion performance was either somewhat or much better compared to other types of marketing content. Marketing Land

70% of College Students Post to Snapchat Daily (Twitter: 46%, Facebook: 11%) [STUDY] - Remember when everyone thought Snapchat was just a novelty app? Something trivial, used by kids? How we all rolled our eyes when Snapchat had the audacity to turn down a $3 billion buyout from Facebook? AllTwitter

Study: How cost-efficient is Facebook advertising? - Even as the cost of Facebook advertising rises, is the social network’s offering the most efficient for marketers? According to a new study by Neustar, Facebook advertising in Q2 beat out other avenues (network, portal and exchange) in terms of reach efficiency and average cost. AllFacebook

From our Online Marketing Community:

From Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content – Interview with Ann Handley, Ann Handley replied, “Thanks for having me, Lee! And the fun photos… Great content IS great marketing! :)

Go4Word said, “I really loved this article. Some really great points and points of view. We will definitely be looking at including some of the suggestions into our content marketing efforts.”

And on Online Marketing News: Most Popular Acronyms LOL, Most Social Isn’t Engaging, Twitter CEO Does Some Explaining, Kostas Chiotis said “Great round up of the latest Social Media news Ben. I think the topics I’ve found most interesting in recent days has been the study regarding mobile use and also on social media roi.”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!


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Online Marketing News: Unpopular Is Less Popular On Social, C-Suite Doesn’t Get Digital, Facebook For The Media |

September 19th 2014 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Most Popular Acronyms LOL, Most Social Isn’t Engaging, Twitter CEO Does Some Explaining

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Twitter Adds Buy Button

Twitter ‘Buy’ Button Launches (Alongside New Twitter Commerce T&Cs) - We’ve been tracking the rumours for a while and now, finally, Twitter’s ‘Buy’ button has launched, and with it some new Twitter commerce terms and conditions. AllTwitter

Display Grabs Larger Share of Rapidly Growing Global Mobile Ad Spend - Global mobile advertising revenues almost doubled from $10.1 billion in 2012 to $19.3 billion in 2013, details a new report [pdf] from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and IHS. While search remained the dominant revenue format, its share of total revenues remained flat at 48.9%, as its 92% year-over-year increase in revenues was on par with the overall gains. Display ad spending showed more rapid growth, more than doubling en route to 41.5% share of total revenues, up from 35.7% the year prior. MarketingCharts

The Most Popular Acronyms on Twitter - Twitter’s tight character-count limit can lead to a lot of brevity in speech. Expressing ideas needs to be done succinctly, and as such, acronyms like LOL, OMG and IDK are very popular. A study conducted by We Are Social ranks the top 50 social acronyms. SocialTimes

Twitter CEO Explains How (And Why) Random Favorites Are Appearing in Your Timeline - Last month Twitter started experimenting with showing favorites to some users from the accounts that they follow – that is, when their friends favorited a tweet, some of those favorites started to show up in their timeline. AllTwitter

Study: 81% of CMOs Are Confident They’ll Meet Revenue Goals - Reflecting confidence in the global business economy, 81% of senior marketers surveyed by the Chief Marketing Officer Council said they’re confident they’ll meet management goals for top-line revenue growth and market share in the next 12 months. AdAge

Facebook: 15M People Talking About ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, 1.2M Videos Posted - People all over Facebook are soaking themselves with ice water to bring awareness to ALS — including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. But how widespread has this been? Facebook released statistics Friday, showing that 15 million people across the social network have posted about, commented or liked a post related to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. People have also posted more than 1.2 million videos. AllFacebook

79% of Marketers Have Used Promoted Tweets in 2014 (But CPC Has Doubled Since January) [STUDY] - Twitter launched its Promoted Tweets marketing products back in April 2010 to much fanfare (and more than a little hyperbole). While the platform took a little while to find its legs, a new study has revealed that almost four in five U.S. marketers have now used Promoted Tweets in their advertising campaigns, despite paying more than twice what they were just six months ago. AllTwitter

Study: Consumers Increasingly Turn To Mobile & Varied Media Combinations In Last Mile - If you thought people started their shopping on mobile then turned to their laptop or desktop to close the sale, you’re mistaken. Last week, the Local Search Association released an infographic based on 2013 statistics from our annual “Local Media Tracking Study,” conducted by Burke, Inc., which provides key insights into the reach of various local media sources across computer/laptop, mobile phone/smartphone and netbook/tablet. Search Engine Land

Tumblr to Offer Brand Image Analysis - Tumblr is sealing a deal this week with image recognition company Ditto Labs to provide marketers with intelligence on how their brands are presented in the 130 million images posted daily on the social network, according to a report in Mashable. Digital Marketing News

173 Million Americans Now Own a Smartphone - More Americans are using smartphones. As adoption reaches full market saturation, the analyst focus continues to shift toward software apps. comScore released data reporting key trends in the U.S. smartphone industry for June 2014. Social Media Today

Just One Third of Marketers Say They Can Accurately Measure Social Media ROI [STUDY] - How do you measure the return on investment for your social media campaigns? It’s the age-old question, and one that brands and marketing departments have struggled to answer for a decade now. And they’re still mystified: a new study reveals that just one third of executives are confident that they can accurately measure the effect of company social media use. AllTwitter

Most Popular Digital Marketing and Online Advertising Metrics - How do most digital marketers measure success? CMO took a look. Here is what they found. MarketingCharts

99% of Social Media Posts Generate Almost no Engagement [STUDY] - A new study has revealed that 99 percent of organic, unpaid social media posts generate little to no engagement, with that remaining one percent soaking up almost all of the Likes, retweets, shares and comments across the top platforms. AllTwitter

From our Online Marketing Community:

In response to 5 Ways to Optimize Your Content Marketing World Experience, Mike Turner said, “Great article Lee! There are plenty of new ideas to add to those I had already planned. Thanks for posting.”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Graphic: Twitter

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Online Marketing News: Most Popular Acronyms LOL, Most Social Isn’t Engaging, Twitter CEO Does Some Explaining |

September 12th 2014 Online Marketing

Creating Content That Drives Revenue: Jason Miller and Shafqat Islam

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Jason Miller and Shafqat Islam

It’s another packed house in the ROI track with LinkedIn’s Jason Miller and NewsCred’s Shafqat Islam taking the stage after Shane Snow’s inspiring session. The duo did not disappoint. When it was over, the gentleman seated behind me said, “that was the best presentation I’ve seen yet.” The gentleman next to him concurred.

Shafqat kicked it off with a fantastic segue from Shane Snow’s Che Guevara story, telling the crowd about the Che poster he proudly displayed on his wall when he was younger. He then cited the following George Bernard Shaw quote:

If at age 20 you are not a communist then you have no heart. If at age 30 you are not a capitalist then you have no brains.

What a perfect way to introduce the topic of content creation and ROI.

Next, Jason took the stage and did some “face melting” with his amazing insights and delivery style. I’m extremely fortunate for the opportunity to work with, and learn from, brilliant marketers like Jason Miller and his tag-team partner Deanna Lazzaroni at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions on a regular basis.

I can’t possibly cover all the helpful information Jason and Shafqat shared in less than five blog posts, so hopefully I can pass along some of the value provided with my three top takeaways.

Takeaway #1: Don’t over-complicate content marketing ROI

“We seem to complicate this stuff even though its not too complicated,” said Jason, before revealing the one job of content marketers: empathizing with prospects and customers.

The answer is not more content. The answer is more relevant content, and content marketers can get to the point, optimally, via insights. Jason believes that analyzing the following three (and only three) metrics will reveal everything you need to know about the effectiveness of your content:

  • Referral traffic: If more people are discovering your content by means other than branded searches, this is a good sign that it’s resonating
  • Social engagement: Sharing is a sign of relevance. It indicates you are connecting with your audience. Even if it’s only ten shares, if it inspires shares by the right people, that’s all you need
  • Lead quality: If people are entering the funnel and are converting more quickly, it’s a sign that your content is connecting and nurturing

Takeaway #2: Consumers love packaged content and content marketers should too

Jason cited Doug Kessler’s advice to focus on hitting one home run per quarter. Marketers can accomplish this with a big rock piece of content. One piece of content can fill an editorial calendar with social shares and blog posts for weeks on end. Marketers can also drive greater ROI and efficiency by creating themed content that can be aggregated into a big rock piece of content later.

3 ways to create big rock content

  1. Create the all-encompassing guide to whatever the hell conversation you want to own
  2. The Hugh MacLeod strategy: write a series of relevant blog posts then roll them into a nice package
  3. Flip your case studies on their heads. Turn your bottom funnel case studies into success stories, as Pantheon did with their “8 Amazing Drupal Launches” piece

Takeaway #3: Content marketing ROI begins with proper organization of the marketing team

To ensure efficiency and consistency, the entire team needs to be aligned. Jason’s Kiss slide explained this perfectly:

Kiss Content Team

The only things missing here are Kiss’s manager (PR) and the amazing shows they produce (event marketing). Kiss built a thriving community by working harmoniously, and content marketing teams can do the same. Your community doesn’t need to be as large as the Kiss Army to drive results, they just need to be engaged. Creating engaging content is easier when all the moving parts of your marketing team are moving toward the same objectives.

Thank you to Jason Miller and Shafqat Islam for delivering a thrill. I look forward to reading Jason’s new book, Welcome to the Funnel.

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Creating Content That Drives Revenue: Jason Miller and Shafqat Islam |

September 12th 2014 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Bing Gets Conversational, LinkedIn Gets Transparent, YouTube Wins Popularity Contest

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10 Reasons Social Is Good For Business

10 Reasons Why Social Media is Good for Business [INFOGRAPHIC] - Some say social doesn’t make business sense.  Those folks are wrong. This infographic covers 10 reasons why social is good for business and why you should be doing it too.  AllTwitter

Bing Launches Conversational Search - In its continued drive to build a search platform based on entity and conversational understanding, Bing has launched a new feature that enables the site to keep the context of a search from one query to the next. Search Engine Land

Facebook Drives More In-Store Sales for Small Businesses Than Pinterest or Twitter [Study] - A new study from digital marketing company G/O Digital shows that compared to Twitter and Pinterest, Facebook is better at driving offline sales for small businesses, with 84 percent of respondents saying that local deals or offers on Facebook heavily influence their decision to make in-store purchases. ClickZ

Reddit Announces ‘Pressiquette’ Guidelines for Journalists - Reddit now has guidelines for journalists who wants to source, link, quote or use its public forum for news content. Want to use an image or source a Redditor? You’ll need to get permission. SocialTimes

LinkedIn Goes Transparent, Gives Users More Data Control - LinkedIn announced this week that it is giving users more control over their data on the network. Marketing Land

STUDY: 84 Percent Claim Facebook Offers Can Influence a Purchasing Decision - According to a new study by G/O Digital, when people want to find out more about a local small business — they check Facebook more than any other social channel. G/O Digital, a Gannett company, found that when asked which social channel users go to in order to find out about a local business, Facebook led the way at 62 percent. Pinterest was second at 12 percent, and Twitter third at 11 percent. AllFacebook

Facebook Now Tells Whether Mobile Ads Lead to Desktop Purchases - Facebook is trying to show advertisers how powerful its mobile ads can be when it comes to driving sales. The social network announced on Wednesday that it would start telling advertisers on what device people saw an ad and on what device they took an action, such as buying a product or signing up for a test drive, as a result of seeing that ad. That means Facebook will be able to credit mobile ads that lead to desktop sales and desktop ads that result in mobile purchases. AdAge

North American Mobile Ads Doubled to $8.1 Billion in 2013 - Spurred by smartphone proliferation and the expansion of low-cost cellular data plans, dollars spent on mobile ads increased by 122% to $8.1 billion in North America last year, compared to only $3.6 billion in 2012. Regionally, Latin America posted the biggest growth at 215%, while spending in Europe rose 90%, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Global Mobile Advertising Revenue study. Direct Marketing News

Farewell ‘Pure’ Exact Match, AdWords Will Soon Require All Campaigns To Use Close Variants - Last week Google has announced that in late September, AdWords advertisers will no longer have the ability to de-select close variants. All campaigns will now include these variants, something that advertisers could previously opt out of. The way close variants will work is completely the same as it has been since 2012. Search Engine Land

Google Guidelines Update: Low Quality Guest Blogging Considered Content Spam - Google has quietly updated their Webmaster Guidelines, the little or no original content section. They added a example reference there for “low-quality guest blog posts.” Brian was the first to spot this change. Search Engine Roundtable

YouTube Stars More Popular Than Hollywood Celebrities Among Teens - YouTube is undoubtedly one of the biggest cultural touchstones of the Internet. YouTube captures more viewers aged 18 to 34 than any cable network and more than one billion unique users every month. A recent study from Variety confirms that YouTube stars are becoming more popular than Hollywood celebrities among 13- to 18-year-olds. SocialTimes

Snapchat is now More Popular Than Twitter Amongst 18-34 Year-Olds [STUDY] - Remember when Snapchat had the audacity to turn down a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook? Turns out that might have been a very smart play, as the photo-sharing and chat app is now more popular than Twitter amongst the key millennial demographic, and has Instagram up next in its sights. AllTwitter

From our Online Marketing Community:

On What’s Next in B2B Marketing? #MPB2B Interview with Scott Stratten @UnMarketing, Gabe Chesman said, “Well done! I almost forgot the discussion was about marketing because of how witty and funny Scott is. He hits the nail on the head with the point that, while being personable on social media is crucial, it shouldn’t dwarf the quality of your product.”

2PartsAnalog also commented, “This article brings to light the need for the organic factor to be present in the marketing process. The human factor is the best element in the marketing factor.”

And Kostas Chiotis added, “Another great interview Lee. I love Scott’s analogy of sending a Mannequin to network for you! I feel the same way about automated SMM – If you genuinely do not have time then hire someone who understands your brand enough to do it for you!”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: AllTwitter

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2014. |
Online Marketing News: Bing Gets Conversational, LinkedIn Gets Transparent, YouTube Wins Popularity Contest |

September 5th 2014 Online Marketing