5 TopRank Marketing Team Insights for Finding B2B Content Marketing Inspiration

These days, there’s little doubt among B2B marketers that content is the foundation of digital marketing success. After all, studies show that nearly all B2B buyers do some form of online research before making a purchasing decision. As a result, we content creators are tasked with turning out informative, engaging and inspiring content that helps our brand be the best answer wherever and whenever our audience is searching.

But let’s face it, content folks. Despite being proven wordsmiths and marketers, our creative engine stalls from time to time. I’ll certainly admit that my computer screen and I have had some intimate moments—mostly me staring longingly at a blank document and praying the words will come.

So, what’s a B2B content marketer to do when our creative engine breaks down—or rather before it loses steam? Where can we find inspiration?

For me, my salvation lies in my fellow TopRank Marketing team members. As the old adage goes, two heads are better than one, so I often tap outside perspectives to kick-start my creative juices. So it’s only natural that this piece includes tips and insights from some of those team members.

Whether you’re planning content or looking to weave a creative metaphor into a piece, below my team members share how they overcome creative challenges and find content inspiration in the B2B space.

1. Mining for gold in SERPs.

“Lately I’ve been performing more incognito searches for priority keywords. Whether you need contextual clues surrounding search intent, or need to brainstorm ways to one-up your top competition with an even better answer, there’s gold in them thar SERPs.”

Jesse Pickrain, Senior Content Marketing Manager


There’s gold in them thar SERPs. – @jpickrain on finding #B2Bcontentmarketing inspiration
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2. Finding the pulse.

“For me, it’s all about tapping into topics that are occupying our societal consciousness at the moment. What are people talking about? Where are they focusing their attention? Why are these matters so magnetic? I’ll peruse Google News, Buzzsumo and various blogs in efforts to press my finger on the proverbial pulse. It doesn’t even need to be business-related; sometimes entertainment and politics can provide valuable fodder enabling us to look at B2B marketing in new and enlightening ways.”

Nick Nelson, Content Strategist


Entertainment & politics can enable us to look at #B2Bmarketing in enlightening ways. @NickNelsonMN
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3. Adding some visual stimulation.

“I go to free image sites like Pixabay and Pexels, and just browse the most recently added pictures. It’s a soothing stream-of-consciousness tour through visual content that will frequently spark a creative idea.”

Josh Nite, Content Marketing Manager


I go to free image sites & browse new pictures to inspire #content creativity. @NiteWrites
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4. Giving the people what they want

I spend a lot of time researching and reading to stay on top of what is happening in the world of marketing. A lot of my inspiration comes from the stories I read from other smart marketers. I like to find a ways to help our team create content that aligns with the needs of our audience.

Like Nick, Buzzsumo is a fantastic tool for uncovering top stories (across multiple verticals) that people are sharing. You can also use the tool to identify who the top sharers are to see if they are either part of your target audience, or influence your target audience.

I also spend a significant amount of time reviewing the performance of our own content to see what is resonating most with our audience. This can help determine where we should invest more time and effort. (Give the people what they want!).

Ashley Zeckman, Director of Agency Marketing


Inspire your #B2B #contentmarketing by staying on top of the latest industry happenings. @azeckman
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5. Being in the “brief”.

I routinely use Anders Pink to stay up on the latest news and find inspiration. This web app allows me to create a “briefing” where I can see everything trending in B2B content marketing. If I want to see what resonated the most with audiences, I can filter the briefing down further by limiting results to the past 24 hours, three days, or even three months.

Annie Leuman, Copywriter


I routinely use @AndersPink to stay up on the latest news & find #content inspiration. @aleuman4
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Looking for More B2B Content Marketing Inspiration?

Then allow me to suggest a few other posts to give you a creative boost:

  • Feeling Stuck? 5 Tips to Restart your Content-Creating Brain
  • How to Create Best Answer Content: 6 Inspiring Examples
  • How 7 Startups Skyrocketed to Success with Content Marketing
  • Is Your Content Marketing Designed for the New Customer Journey?

If you’re looking to tap the talented TopRank Marketing team to inspire your efforts, learn more about our approach to B2B content marketing.

Where do you find creative inspiration for your B2B content marketing efforts? Tell us in the comments section below.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | 5 TopRank Marketing Team Insights for Finding B2B Content Marketing Inspiration | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Got amazing content but no leads? 5 ways to rethink your paid strategy

Content marketing isn’t easy — especially if you don’t have a content distribution strategy! Columnist Todd Saunders outlines how PPC can be used to enhance your organic content efforts. The post Got amazing content but no leads? 5 ways to rethink your paid strategy appeared first on Search…

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11 Content Marketing Tips to Build Your B2B Business

As the father of an 8-year-old boy, most of my disposable income is tied up in little plastic bricks. In my house, you’ll find thousands of them in bins, several elaborate sets on display, and a distressing number of the (razor-sharp) things underfoot.

I’m not complaining, really. I have as much fun building with them as he does. And as a marketer, having Lego around is a good reminder of the value of content marketing. Great content can drive marketing goals while providing something of real value to its target audience: The Lego Movie was a 90-minute commercial for Lego, but it was also entertaining and heartfelt. I laughed, I cried, I bought $ 100 worth of tie-in toys… everybody won.

Your B2B offering may not have that Lego coolness factor. The Industrial Turbine Movie is unlikely to score with critics or with audiences. But content can still help you build your business.

If you’re just getting started with content marketing, start with this guide to content marketing strategy. Then use the following tips as an advanced class to make your content even more valuable to your audience. And, most importantly, to connect that audience to your business goals.

10 Content Marketing Tips to Build Your B2B Business

#1: Find the Intersection of Brand Expertise and Customer Needs

The Venn diagram of what your brand wants to talk about and what your customers want to learn about is never going to be a perfect circle.

The value lies in the overlap of your brand’s knowledge and your customer’s questions. It doesn’t help anyone to write informed content on an irrelevant topic, or uninformed content on a relevant one. Find out where your Venn diagram overlaps and start there. Then add a unique angle—something your brand is uniquely qualified to bring to the table.

#2: Help Prospects Succeed at Their Jobs

Note that you’re not just addressing the intersection of your company’s solution and customers’ needs. If your only helpful advice is, “Buy our product, here’s how it solves your problem,” you’re not really serving the audience.

B2B marketers frequently hear, “This content doesn’t address our product’s features, so it’s not relevant.” But anything that helps your potential buyer do his or her job better is acutely relevant. Helpful content builds brand recognition, establishes trust, and leads to loyalty when it’s time to make a purchase.

#3: Start with a Single Channel

In his book Content, Inc., Joe Pulizzi suggests focusing on just one channel for publishing your content. Create a repository of content on your owned real estate, using organic and paid social to drive traffic back to your home turf. The end goal should be creating a destination for visitors, who can become subscribers and eventually customers.

#4: Beef up Your Core Content

Before you start filling out your editorial calendar, make sure your site has a bare minimum of useful static content. The most compelling, viral blog post can’t get business results if your site lacks some of these basic building blocks:

  • An “About” page with your company’s philosophy and mission statement
  • A product page that explains exactly what your offering is and does.
  • A differentiator page explaining why your offering is unique.

#5: Encourage C-Suite Thought Leadership

Make sure there is a variety of voices in your content. That means tapping internal subject matter experts, certainly. But it’s also worth encouraging executives to contribute to content as well. Your C-suite is influential both in your organization and in your industry. Help them see the real business value of thought leadership content in building an audience, accelerating sales cycles, and lifting brand recognition.

 

#6: Collaborate with Influencers (and Prospects)

We’re pretty sold on influencer marketing at TopRank Marketing, for at least a dozen reasons. Influencer co-created content helps you reach a wider audience, boosts your credibility, and helps build mutually beneficial influencer relationships, for starters.

Start seeing your prospects as influencers, too. The next time you’re creating an influencer asset, look to people working at your most valuable target companies. Promote their content, make contact, and ask them to share their expertise. Working together to make something cool is a great way to start a relationship.

#7: Set a Cadence of Quality

How often should you publish content? As often as you can without sacrificing quality. If you can publish in-depth, supremely useful, world-beating content every day, go for it. But it’s better to post one great piece of content a week than 7 mediocre ones.

Set a cadence you will be sure to keep up with, and publish regularly to get your audience in the habit of visiting your site.

 

#8: Plan a Full-Funnel Content Mix

It’s easy to focus on bottom-of-funnel content—the ultra-specific stuff designed to lead directly to a purchase decision—because that content is perceived as having the greatest effect on the bottom line. But if all your content is at the bottom of the funnel, you don’t have a funnel.

Plan to cultivate a healthy content balance that addresses every stage of your buyer’s journey. That means more top-of-funnel than bottom-of-funnel content, and middle-funnel content that connects research to purchase intent.

 

#9: Create a Variety of Content Types

Nothing against the venerable white paper, that staple of B2B content marketing, but modern buyers are looking for a little more variety. Spice up your content mix with infographics, short video, SlideShare presentations—anything that adds visual interest can make your content stand out from the crowd.

When your content plan has diversity in content type, funnel stage, and authorial voice, you’ll be far better equipped to make your site a destination for readers.

 

#10: Include Logical Next Steps

Building a business with content is all about laying out a journey your customer can take. Their path may loop, move backwards, or leap forward, but each piece of content should clearly point them to the next destination. Every asset should have at least one call to action, whether it’s to read a piece of content further down the funnel, download an asset, subscribe, or schedule a demo.

 

#11: Gate Assets Sparingly

A gated eBook is most B2B marketers’ go-to lead capture tool. It’s a fine tactic, and one that we regularly employ to great success. It’s important, though, to make sure you have a healthy portion of ungated content. And it’s vital that your gated content provide value that’s worth the customer giving up their contact information.

For the most part, save your gated content for middle and bottom-of-funnel content. Keep the content highly specific and targeted at those most ready to purchase, and you can pre-qualify your leads. Gating top-of-funnel content can lead to either a high influx of low-quality leads, or (more likely) precious few people making the conversion at all.

Lego of Your Fear and Start Creating Great Content

You don’t have to be a billion-dollar toy corporation to create content that moves people to take action. With these tips in mind, you can develop a relevant, dynamic, compelling content marketing mix. Superlative content gets results, whether you’re selling little plastic bricks or million-dollar cloud software solutions.

Need help building your content empire? Learn more about TopRank Marketing’s content marketing services.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | 11 Content Marketing Tips to Build Your B2B Business | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Optimizing Sites for Featured Snippets with Q&A Content [Case Study]

Posted by NickRebuildGroup

Ranking near the top of the SERPs for short-tail keywords in competitive business verticals can be extremely difficult. Wikipedia, Dictionary.com, and similar sites have the market cornered on ranking at the top of search results. Even if you manage to rank in the first position, there are featured snippets, ads, map packs, and other SERP layouts that are dominating the space as well.

Because short-tail keywords have such broad search intents, it’s in the search engine’s best interest to try and answer questions directly in SERPs. That is the intent of featured snippets. If a search engine is able to answer a user’s query without them leaving the results page, they believe that delivers the best result. And the proliferation of featured snippets is only beginning. According to Search Engine Land, 19.45% of queries will display rich answers (a form of featured snippets) in Google.

A search for “what is orthodontics” in an incognito Google Chrome window displayed the following featured snippet:

orthodontics Google Search.png

This search result satisfies at least one large search intent: “What is orthodontics?” I use this as an example because my agency and I had been trying to get a client to rank for this keyword for some time. They were a dental practice with locations across the US that offered both orthodontic and general dental procedures. We had optimized their locations for their orthodontic procedures, but we wanted to get their non-localized service pages to rank as well in order to draw new patients that may be in the beginning stages of looking for a new orthodontist. But without a local qualifier, it was difficult to get the pages to rank for the short-tail searches.

After a year and change of writing, optimizing, re-writing, and re-optimizing the content — all while building links — we weren’t getting any movement with our organic rankings. It seemed that business websites were not meant to rank for these short-tail keywords. Content creators have long lamented that featured snippets don’t attribute where the content in the SERP comes from, thus leaching traffic away from the site.

We believed that rich snippets in SERPs would become more prominent — especially with mobile and voice search on the rise — and that, even without proper attribution, it would benefit our client to appear in these types of search results, especially if we were able to rank in long-tail, question-oriented searches. If we could rank in a featured snippet, where a potential consumer was asking a question about a service that we provide, it would benefit us to answer that question for them. Not only would we achieve the coveted “zero position,” we would position our client as authorities in their vertical, potentially increasing conversions.

With this in mind, we began developing the strategy that would ultimately lead us to ranking in featured snippet searches.

Q&A content

Question and answer content on websites is fairly standard. Many companies will place Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) content on their sites to help users with any questions they may have instead of answering them directly. Noting the prevalence of featured snippets in SERPs, we used the Q&A format to create new content to find out: a) could we rank for these queries? and b) would it benefit our client to rank in these queries?

Research & content creation

Using SEMRush, we conducted keyword research to find long-tail keywords with high monthly search volumes. Some of the phrases we decided to create the content around were “how long does it take to put on braces,” “how much does Invisalign cost without insurance,” and other similar queries. We also asked our client’s call team and Livechat correspondents to send us the most-asked questions they receive about orthodontics. The questions that the internal teams provided were primarily about pricing and insurance. This information was vital for our new Q&A content, as it allowed us to create answers we knew our users were looking for.

While researching current featured snippets, we gleaned that the content must emphasize the answer, not the answerer. Meaning, the content needed to be straightforward and answer the query without any marketing fluff. We ensured that our headers included the targeted keyword, along with the title tags. Once the content was created, we placed each question in the main navigation bar on the site, with each one leading to a separate landing page.

Link building

As most SEOs will tell you, backlinks are still a very important ranking factor. It was our belief that building links to our new Q&A content would be essential in ensuring that it ranked well. We built links exclusively via sites like Quora and Reddit, the idea being that these are places where people are already asking questions that we can answer as experts, while linking back to our site. In order to avoid spamming, we limited the number of links that we built per month.

Results

After a year of collecting data, we can confidently say that not only were we successful in getting the site to rank for a featured snippet, but traffic to the orthodontics content increased by 46.10%, conversions from the content increased by 235%, and the conversion rate increased by 129.30%.

CaseStudyPublication-Graphs.jpg

Organic sessions to the orthodontic Q&A content

CaseStudyPublication-Graphs2.jpg

Organic conversions from orthodontic Q&A content

CaseStudyPublication-Graphs3.jpg

Organic conversion rate from orthodontic Q&A content

The results were even more striking on mobile, where traffic increased by 91.46%, conversions increased by 322.22%, and conversion rate increased by 120.53%.

CaseStudyPublication-Graphs4.jpg

Mobile organic sessions to the orthodontic Q&A content

CaseStudyPublication-Graphs5.jpg

Mobile organic conversions from orthodontic Q&A content

CaseStudyPublication-Graphs6.jpg

Mobile organic conversion rate from orthodontic Q&A content

Measurement method

For this study we only looked at organic and mobile organic traffic. We also only looked at traffic that landed on our site via the orthodontics content (meaning we only measured users that entered the site via one of the orthodontics pages from an organic source).

Attention metrics

It should be noted that this implementation was not successful in every facet. One of the most important goals for new content is making sure that users engage with it. And at Rebuild Group, we normally measure content engagement through attention metrics: pages/session, average time on site, bounce rate, etc.

Upon collecting the data, we noticed that all attention metrics decreased year over year. Our hypothesis is that because the content is both meant to answer a question and is easily digestible, users were more likely to leave the site after their question was answered. It explains why traffic, conversions, and conversion rate increased so much year over year and attention metrics decreased.

Rankings

Most important to this experiment, we were able to have our site rank in the first position — or zero position — in search results for the query “how long do you wear invisalign a day,” while also ranking on the first page (though not the first position) for other Q&A orthodontic terms.

how long do you wear invisalign a day 3:14:17.png

We started ranking in the first position for this term in mid-January, though we lost the ranking shortly thereafter. We began to consistently rank in the first position in March and are still ranked there as of this writing.

Our belief is that by simply answering the question and including the keyword in crawlable parts of the content, we were able to rank in the first position for one of our targeted Q&A phrases, resulting in a featured snippet.

Conversions

Conversions were measured as the number of contact form submissions sent during sessions where a user entered the site via the orthodontic content. As mentioned above, conversions and conversion rates for all organic and mobile organic traffic increased greatly year over year. However, the effects were not seen until 9 months into the experiment.

When the traffic was measured at 90 and 180 days, organic traffic to the new content was steadily increasing overall and via mobile devices, but conversions and conversion rate had not gone up compared to the previous year. It wasn’t until 270 days in, when we first ranked in the featured snippet SERP, that conversions began to increase.

CaseStudyPublication-Graphs7.jpg

Organic traffic to the orthodontic Q&A content

CaseStudyPublication-Graphs8.jpg

Organic conversions from orthodontic Q&A content

Once we were consistently ranking in the first position for a featured snippet SERP, while also ranking on the first page of SERPs for other queries, our conversions and conversion rates began to greatly increase.

Google Home

As stated earlier, voice search is on the rise. Once we were able to rank as a featured snippet in a targeted SERP, we wanted to see if that featured snippet would affect how Google Home provided an answer to the targeted query:

*Note: This video was recorded on my phone, so the quality is not the best. You may need to turn up your volume to hear the question and answer.

As you can see, Google Home clearly attributes the answer to our client, answers the question, and then sends the user to the Home App, where the answer is again shown:

IMG_1667.PNG

From there they can click through to the site on their mobile device:

IMG_1668.PNG

In the end we drew a strong correlation between the implementation of the Q&A orthodontics content, ranking highly in rich snippet SERPs, and increased conversions and conversion rates. But like all things SEO, there are no definites when implementing this kind of strategy. We implemented content that drove users to a site that offered services they were looking for. Someone searching “how to boil water” is not likely looking to buy new pots and pans. Ultimately, it’s important to know what your users are looking for and cater to their searches. Once you’re able to answer their questions with simple, to-the-point content, the rest is easy.

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YouTube using Redirect Method technology to fight terrorist video content in search results

The new technology will surface playlists with content that aims to disprove extremist video propaganda attached to certain search terms. The post YouTube using Redirect Method technology to fight terrorist video content in search results appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Why Content Curation Is an Essential Part of Your Marketing Mix

Imagine if an art museum contained every single painting created over a hundred-year period. It wouldn’t be much fun to visit, right? Hundreds of thousands of images, of wildly varying quality, without organization or context? It would be like a Google image search crossed with a garage sale.

Content curation is what turns a warehouse full of art and artifacts into a museum. A good curator sifts through the content to find pieces that are valuable for an intended audience. Their job is to direct attention to worthy content—and in doing so, make the museum a worthwhile place to visit.

Your blog readers and social media followers are drowning in content. You can be the content curator that helps direct their attention to what is most helpful, educational, or entertaining. Content curation, as part of your editorial strategy, can help make your blog a more valuable destination for your readers.

But the benefits go both ways; as you help your readers find great content, you’re helping your organization, too. Here are just a few ways curated content can help advance your marketing goals, and some of our favorite curating tools.

The Benefits of Content Curation

#1: Fill Your Editorial Calendar

It takes consistent publishing of quality content to make your blog a destination for readers. TKeeping up a regular cadence can be tricky, especially with a small (or non-existent) content team. Curation helps fill in the blanks with less effort than it takes to create new content.

 

#2: Provide Variety from Promotional Content

One of the top reasons people unfollow brands on social media is too much promotional content. Even if your content genuinely adds value beyond promoting the brand, people can get burned out on your brand’s voice. Pulling in content from other sources gives readers variety without pushing them off your site.

 

#3: Enhance Your Brand’s Credibility

Your brand content should have a definite point of view, taking a strong stance on issues that affect your industry. That’s a vital part of developing thought leadership. But don’t go it alone; curate supporting content from other respected industry players. Add context to this third-party support to show how it matches your brand’s philosophy, and you can boost your credibility.

 

#4: Expand Your Audience

Curation not only helps you better serve your existing audience, it can help you reach a new set of relevant readers. Share your curated post on social media and tag your sources, and they’re likely to share the post with their audience as well. 

 

#5: Spark Influencer Relationships

When you’re seeking to engage an influencer, it helps to give before you ask. Start by following your influencers on social media, then include some of their existing content (properly quoted and credited) in your curated post. Then when you make initial contact, you can show that you’re already promoting them. Many of our most valuable long-term influencer relationships started with a curated post. 

Content Curation Tools:

#1: Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo finds most-shared content based on a keyword, topic, or even a domain. It’s my go-to tool for weekly or monthly roundups. The “trending now” feature is fantastic for surfacing content that’s just starting to gain traction, so you can share it before it goes viral. There’s a free version with limited functionality, but I’ve found the paid version is well worth the investment.

 

#2: Feedly

Feedly is a great way to keep up with multiple content streams, to find the pieces that will be most valuable to your audience. You can customize it with RSS feeds from your favorite sites and see everything in one place. Replace your daily content crawl with a single organized list.

 

#3: Pocket

Pocket makes it possible to curate content wherever you are, from your morning commute to your late-night Facebook crawl. It’s especially useful for saving content when you see a promising headline, but don’t have time to peruse the article. Essentially you can fill your Pocket throughout the day, then evaluate what you’ve saved and choose what to use.

 

#4: Twitter Lists

If you follow more than a few people on Twitter, odds are your main feed is a quick-scrolling, impossible-to-follow mess. Twitter lists can help organize the information into something actually useful. Create a list of accounts that regularly tweet curation-worthy content, and it can be a valuable resource.

 

#5: Industry Newsletters

Email marketing is in something of a creative renaissance right now. As a marketer, it’s a great tactic for reaching your audience. As a curator, though, you should check out email newsletters from the audience side. Sign up for newsletters from your colleagues in the industry—perhaps even competitors—to find more content you can share with your audience.

Help Your Audience Find the Good Stuff

Content curation is good for your audience—it helps cut through content clutter so they can focus on the good stuff. And, of course, what’s good for your audience is good for your business. Add curation to your content strategy to provide value for your audience, expand that audience, and lay the groundwork for influencer co-created content in the future.

For more influencer marketing tips, check out our research guide Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Why Content Curation Is an Essential Part of Your Marketing Mix | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®