Ad Spend, Chatbot & New Google and FB Tools

2020 September 25 MarketingCharts Chart

2020 September 25 MarketingCharts Chart

US B2B Digital Advertising 2020
B2B advertisers are relying more than ever before on paid ads, with a 22.6 percent increase for 2020 in B2B digital ad spending, contributing to a total spend that is expected to top $8 billion in the U.S. alone by the end of the year, according to newly-released forecast data of interest to digital marketers. eMarketer

The ‘Purpose Gap’ Facing Many B2B Brands
86 percent of senior-level B2B professionals see clear brand purpose articulation as important, however just 24 percent see activated purpose within their organization — two of several insights of interest to online marketers in new survey data from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and others. MarketingProfs

How Bad Data Hurts B2B Companies
88 percent of B2B marketers see quality data as important in executing a successful account-based-marketing (ABM) strategy, while some 27 percent aren’t certain how much of their data is accurate, according to recently-released survey data. Demand Gen Report

Chatbot Usage Has Nearly Doubled in B-to-B Marketing This Year
The use of chatbots in conversational marketing has risen 92 percent year-over-year, while live chat usage expanded by some 35 percent and social media interactions grew by 31 percent over the same period, according to recently-released survey data. Adweek

Facebook launches Facebook Business Suite, an app for managing business accounts across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger
Facebook has rolled out its tool for businesses to manage multiple Instagram, Facebook and Messenger profiles and pages in a unified location, with the release of its Facebook Business Suite utility, featuring post scheduling, ad creation, and insight data, the social media giant recently announced. TechCrunch

Global brands advance towards ‘holy grail’ of cross-media measurement
An ambitious global cross-media measurement proposal framework featuring a new publisher log-based solution utilizing Virtual ID (VID) has been put forth as part of a major push by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and brands, the WFA’s Cross-Media Working Group recently announced. The Drum

2020 September 25 Statistics Image

Google Combines Custom Affinity and Custom Intent Into Custom Audiences
Google has rolled out changes giving advertisers new Google Ad audience features across display, YouTube and discovery campaigns, refining and combining previously separate audience intent and affinity tools, the search giant recently announced. Search Engine Journal

LinkedIn launches Stories, plus Zoom, BlueJeans and Teams video integrations as part of wider redesign
LinkedIn (client) has rolled out its ephemeral video and photo LinkedIn Stories feature, expanded platform search functionality, and video chat for direct messaging — three of an array of new additions of interest to digital marketers, the firm recently announced. TechCrunch

New open source robots.txt projects
Google has released a specification testing tool for websites seeking to adhere to its Robots Exclusion Protocol, along with a parsing and matching utility for improved robots.txt web crawler indexing information, the search film recently announced. Google Webmaster Central Blog

What Should B2B Vendor Websites Focus on as the Pandemic Affects Purchase Behavior?
68 percent of B2B buyers say that their purchase cycles have lengthened since 2019, with the most common buying journeys lasting between one and six months, while 53 percent consider web search a top research method, followed by 41 percent who consider vendor websites a top evaluation method, according to recently-released data. MarketingCharts

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2020 September 25 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at “lifestyle brands” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Overwatered Houseplants Hoping Woman Goes Back to Work Soon — The Hard Times

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Stop Telling The Same Old Story — Mark Armstrong
  • Nick Nelson — 10 Tips for Changing the Way You Think About Your Small Business — Small Business Trends
  • TopRank Marketing — Why Convenience Is Essential — Forbes

Have you found your own key marketing stories from the past week of news? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thank you for taking the time to join us for the weekly B2B marketing industry news, and we hope that you will return again next Friday for another look at 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.

The post B2B Marketing News: Rising B2B Ad Spend, Enterprise Chatbot Usage Doubles, B2B’s Purpose Gap, & New Tools From Google & Facebook appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing for Beginners (YouTube)

How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing for Beginners (YouTube) Over the past few years, I was learning everything. But how I started making money was exactly with affiliate marketing. It happened before I even knew what it really involved. You know. you see the potential, like the product or the course. The guy is …

How to Make Money with Affiliate Marketing for Beginners (YouTube) Read More »

Get Ready For Video In 2021: Watch 5 Creative Examples of B2B Marketing on YouTube

Smiling man against a creative colorful background image.

Smiling man against a creative colorful background image.

What’s new at YouTube, and how are B2B marketers using the world’s largest video platform in creative and engaging campaigns?

Let’s take a look!

Google’s omnipresent YouTube brought in revenue of over $15 billion in 2019, has over two billion monthly active users (MAUs), and by some estimates is considered as the world’s number two search engine, making it nearly inescapable for B2B marketers seeking to host and promote video content. While not necessarily out of this world, YouTube’s orbit casts a wide swath in the B2B marketing universe.

Planets VisualCapitalist Image

During the pandemic, video and webinar content has seen the largest increase in views according to recently-released PathFactory survey data, leading the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to suggest that “Now Is the Time for B2B Content.”

64 percent of B2B buyers have increased their use of online video during the pandemic, according to newly-released report data from Google and Ipsos, which has also showed a whopping 88 percent increase in the usage of digital marketing overall.

Think With Google Chart

Another study by MediaPost and Bombora also saw increased interest in video during the global health crisis — a move that’s not surprising considering the power of video to drive authentic engagement in as little time as possible, as we’ll see in our five examples from B2B firms using YouTube in creative ways. First, however, let’s look into the latest news surrounding YouTube.

What’s New At YouTube?

YouTube just launched a beta trial of its new YouTube Shorts 15-second vertical video creation function — presently only for users in India with a global rollout planned — joining Instagram’s recent test of its similar Instagram Reels capability.

YouTube Shorts Image

These short video features squarely spring from the popularity of TikTok, and have come at a time when the beleaguered company — now sought for acquisition by Oracle* — has faced significant challenges with its U.S. operations. Oracle’s proposed deal with TikTok — owned by ByteDance, its parent company in China — has met with initial approval by some advertisers.

Oracle, which has recently forged partnerships with firms including Zoom, may at first seem like an odd fit for the acquisition of an app dedicated to short-form video creation and sharing, however should it succeed in controlling TikTok’s U.S. operations it would undoubtedly lend a significant infusion of enterprise-level business exposure.

That could pave the way for increased B2B use of the type of short videos that can be created with TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, and with ever-more content being viewed on smartphones, vertical video undoubtedly has a massive audience.

YouTube — which said that its Shorts feature provides a way to “discover, watch and create short, vertical videos on the YouTube app.” — has allowed users worldwide to upload short vertical video using the #Shorts hashtag, which will feature Shorts videos on YouTube’s coveted homepage.

YouTube Shorts video can include music and feature multiple segments and playback speeds, along with timers for recording hands-free video, the firm said.

The rise of vertical video brought on by TikTok and now Instagram and YouTube may end up making the format another standard digital asset for B2B marketing design teams, with its own strengths in areas such as mobile, and weaknesses in others such as display on traditional desktop and non-smartphone devices.

On the advertising front, YouTube is planning to launch engaged-view conversions (EVC) metrics by the end of the year, bringing data on viewers who watch at least 10 seconds of a video ad and subsequently click away, yet nonetheless end up converting within a set number of days, YouTube recently noted.

“By the end of the year, we will make engaged-view conversions a standard way of measuring conversions for TrueView skippable in-stream ads, local campaigns and app campaigns,” Nicky Rettke, YouTube director and product manager of YouTube Ads, explained in a recent post on the Google Ads & Commerce Blog.

On the live-streaming front, YouTube has continued to embrace the multi-billion dollar esports vertical —  which is comprised of more than 400 million players globally — offering a number of advertising opportunities for certain B2B brands.

Whether 2021 will see more B2B brands sponsoring esports players or events remains to be seen, however B2B marketers may be taking a closer look at opportunities in esports, as Rosalyn Page recently examined in “What Brands Need to Know about Esports.”

Live-streaming has also gained momentum in the relatively new area of streaming e-commerce, backed by firms including Amazon, and as Bloomberg News recently reported, the practice is expected to generate more than $100 billion in global sales in 2020.

While more video is being watched than ever due to the pandemic, a significant amount of video seen on social media timelines is viewed with the sound turned off, making it more important than ever to ensure all video content has quality subtitling available along with a #Captioned hashtag.

A good resource for information about video captioning for YouTube and elsewhere is Meryl Evans, an acknowledged “#Captioned pusher” and a fellow former bulletin board system SysOp.

In B2B marketing, YouTube video content doesn’t necessarily always need to be traditional camera footage, as alternative formats such as animation are becoming easier to create than ever before, as Victor Blasco, chief executive of Yum Yum Videos recently explored in “Making Animated Marketing Videos That Engage Customers.”

Now let’s jump-cut to five recent examples of B2B marketers using YouTube to tell creative and engaging video stories.

1 — HP’s Dear Future Me

In more ways than one storytelling is truly at the heart of powerful marketing messages, as witnesses in spades in HP’s new “Dear Future Me” video campaign, which offers a heartwarming spin on the practice of writing a letter to your future self, chronicling the stories of six recent high school graduates who wrote themselves such letters six years ago, when they were in the sixth grade.

As part of the campaign, HP’s landing page for the initiative offers a downloadable PDF form where anyone can write their own letter, and incorporates a “We can’t wait to meet the future you” message to end the first of the two-part series of mini-documentary videos.

The second episode lets current sixth graders write letters to their future 2026 selves, and shows them telling their own stories centered around the challenges of the pandemic. “Just try to remember: if you got through this year, you can get through anything,” one student encourages her future self.

HP’s YouTube video descriptions for the series include handy links to the other video in the series, along with an extra link to subscribe to the firm’s channel — a simple yet often-overlooked practice that allows viewers who may have over years trained themselves to ignore YouTube’s own ubiquitous red “Subscribe” button.

2 — Adobe’s Honor Heroes

Adobe’s* “Honor Heroes” campaign, a collaborative global artistic effort to help support the battle against COVID-19, is centered around a single minute of video that has to date tallied nearly 3.5 million views.

During that one minute the work of artists and other creative people is shown, each piece inspired by the pandemic.

On Adobe’s YouTube channel the video’s description includes the campaign’s hashtag #HonorHeroes, and a link leading to a section of Adobe’s website with an image of each of the 116 people chosen as heroes, and a link to their respective Instagram profiles. The campaign’s video is also playable from the page.

Adobe ties the page into their own Instagram account as well, encouraging page visitors to see more about the heroes campaign using the same hashtag this time to link to their Instagram profile and specifically those posts utilizing the campaign hashtag — a technique that can be effectively used to move customers to content on various brand social media channels.

The campaign was also featured on the company’s blog, offering additional context about the campaign with insight from some of those involved, a donation link to the Direct Relief organization, and an embedded instance of the campaign’s YouTube video.

3 — Constant Contact’s Power Hour

Constant Contact regularly publishes video content to its YouTube channel — sometimes releasing up to 12 videos weekly — making it an important part of the firm’s social media efforts.

Recent videos have included answering frequent customer questions, spotlight videos on businesses using the platform, a “Pro Series Power Hour” featuring ABC’s Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary, customer success stories, and a visual series dedicated to using various elements of the firm’s service.

For Kevin O’Leary’s video, Constant Contact has used a detailed description of the spot, with a link to learn more on their website’s blog along with links to five of the firm’s social media profiles.

4 — Deloitte’s A World Reimagined

In Deloitte’s “A World Reimagined: The 2020 Global Millennial Survey” video, the effects of the pandemic on young people in the millennial and Gen Z demographic are visualized and brought to life, highlighting their energy for building a better world.

In addition to watching the video, a micro-site for the campaign allows visitors to download the related report — which surveyed more than 18,000 millennials and Gen Zs across 43 countries — view a replay of the initial live-stream video event related to the effort, and offers an infographic for download and sharing.

The site also includes a Twitter stream of tweets centered around the campaign’s #MillennialSurvey hashtag.

Deloitte also successfully uses YouTube for its “Life at Deloitte” series of company culture videos, using storytelling to build empathy and trust, a tactic MarketingProfs explored recently in “Five Tips for Making Company-Culture Videos That Captivate Your Customers’ Hearts.”

5 — Ernst & Young’s Megatrends 2020 & Beyond

In its “EY Megatrends 2020 and Beyond” video, Ernst & Young looks ahead to future trends and their overall larger meaning — one of its numerous YouTube channel videos exploring the firm’s service offerings and helpful financial-related insight.

Ernst & Young also uses its YouTube profile to share how it has responded to COVID-19, to announce its world entrepreneur of the year, and to archive its live-streaming video from LinkedIn* Live.

Maliha Aqeel, director of global communications at Fix Network World and former assistant director of brand marketing and communications at Ernst & Young, sat down with our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite to share a look at the role of B2B company culture in driving employee and customer satisfaction, in “Break Free B2B Series: Maliha Aqeel on How to Ace B2B Company Culture.”

[bctt tweet=”Marketers and communicators within organizations have to take the charge. Our job is to take all of those values and say, ‘Here’s how it could look. Here’s how the intangible becomes tangible.’ @MalihaQ on #CorporateCulture #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

Snap A New B2B Take On Creative YouTube Marketing

via GIPHY

YouTube offers much more to marketers than simply being the default spot to host and play back video, with ample social features for B2B brands to highlight other channels to follow, threaded viewer commenting if wanted, the forthcoming YouTube Shorts format, an ever-increasing number of ad formats and placement options, and remains a powerful platform for B2B influencers to engage their audience.

We hope you’ve gained at least a few new ideas from looking at the latest news about YouTube, and that you’ll find inspiration from the five fine examples we’ve explored from HP, Adobe, Constant Contact, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young.

Video is only one facet of a well-rounded B2B marketing strategy, yet one that plays an important role in campaigns that attract, engage, and convert. Find out why firms including Adobe, LinkedIn, SAP, AT&T, Dell, 3M and others have chosen to work with TopRank Marketing — drop us a line.

* Oracle, Adobe, and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.

 

The post Get Ready For Video In 2021: Watch 5 Creative Examples of B2B Marketing on YouTube appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Creating a Business Website: Design Done Right

In 2020, business is increasingly moving online. The internet now represents a fundamental feature of our everyday lives, streamlining and simplifying even the most basic and commonplace processes.

When we want to take care of our personal and business banking, we do so over the internet; when we want to track how many calories we’ve eaten, there’s an app for it. No matter what it is, contemporary technology has improved the way we do things.

For businesses, this is a key lesson to learn, for it makes your internet offerings more important than they’ve ever been before. With around 81 percent of purchasers researching online before they buy, and many sales made directly through your website, this must tick a number of key boxes to ensure its efficiency and utility.

Here’s what you need to know.

The importance of colour

 

For those who understand basic psychology, it will come as no surprise to learn that colour can have a significant impact on how we perceive something. In regards to websites, the shades and tones you use say a lot about your brand, so it’s important to choose them wisely.

Firstly, matching your palette to your brand’s colour scheme can go a long way towards making your website look more professional, while also helping to reinforce your personality and enhance your overall appeal.

You’ll also want to make sure that any colours you use are attractive, avoiding options that are garish or likely to give viewers a headache. If you do decide to include bold shades and tones, save these for when you want to draw attention, whether to a point of interest or a call to action.

Readability, too, is key: if your text doesn’t show up very well against your background, change it – the information you’ve posted is almost certainly more important than your aesthetic.

Posting high-quality content

While your website is primarily a means of showcasing your products or services, it’s also much more than this: it’s the place where you can shape your brand and make some real moves towards positioning yourself as an authority.

If you’re looking for an example of this done well, have a browse of this article on the best share brokers NZ. The company, which acts as an online directory, has provided a wealth of information for would-be investors. While it hasn’t notably focused on any one product, it has managed to demonstrate its credentials and knowledge, while creating a genuinely useful resource at the same time. This is something that your own website should strive to achieve, in order to build trust, enhance your reputation, and boost sales in the long-run.

Ensuring ease and simplicity

 

Most importantly of all, any website you produce or commission should have ease and simplicity as its overarching goals. The major upside of buying online is its convenience, so if you make your internet offerings difficult to use, your would-be customers are likely to give up and go elsewhere.

This means that your website should be easily navigable, with everything the customer might need to be simple and straightforward to find. For this reason, we’d recommend that you don’t stray too far from a standard layout, as most internet users like things to be in their proper place (e.g. menus at the top left-hand side and links to the checkout at the bottom of the page).

Could you improve your business website to boost your sales and grow your venture?

The post Creating a Business Website: Design Done Right appeared first on Blogtrepreneur.

Are you a marketer?

Do you try to persuade people of your point of view?

Do you interact with customers? (Or patients, subscribers, fans or citizens)…

Are you a designer?

Would life be easier if your boss understood you better?

Is there a policy you’d like to change or a candidate you’d like to help elect?

Are you hoping to make things better?

Then you’re a marketer.

Proud of it.

Might as well learn to do it better. Because the work matters.

Today’s launch day for the tenth session of The Marketing Seminar. It’s the most effective, widely proven and popular workshop of its kind. I hope you’ll check it out. (Today’s the best day to look for the purple circle). It’s our last session of the year, and this is a great time to join in. That link gets you a significant time-sensitive discount at checkout.

So far more than 10,000 people in nearly a hundred countries have shown up and connected, contributed and learned to improve their craft.

We’d love to have you join us. (Check out what nearly 100 alumni had to say).

Do You Earn Income From Blogging? Don’t Make These 5 Tax Mistakes

Are you making money with your blog? Whether your blog earns income from advertisers, sales, or services, your earnings are subject to state and federal income tax. Every dollar your blog earns needs to be accounted for and if you fail to pay proper taxes, you’ll be subject to fines and penalties. The IRS doesn’t care if your failure to pay is the result of a mistake – you’re still responsible.

If you’re concerned about meeting your tax obligations as a blogger, these are the mistakes you want to avoid.

1.  Not paying self-employment taxes

The biggest misconception about self-employment is that you need to be running an established business to be considered self-employed. The reality is that anyone earning income from any source outside of a W2 job is considered self-employed.

All self-employed individuals are required to pay self-employment taxes. Self-employment taxes are the Social Security and Medicare taxes that employers normally pay 50% for their employees. When you’re self-employed, you are responsible for paying 100% of those taxes.

If you’re not familiar with paying self-employment taxes, download the self-employed tax guide from hurdlr.com to learn exactly what taxes you’re responsible for paying and how to pay on time. Self-employment taxes are due on a quarterly basis, so it’s important to be familiar with the process.

2.  Not reporting your income

The biggest mistake you could make is not reporting your income. Sometimes the IRS will have a record that you’ve earned money even when you don’t report your income. For example, if you’ve earned $600 or more from any one source, that source is reporting your income as their expense on a 1099 form – the same 1099 you get around January. This means the IRS knows exactly how much they paid you and will be expecting you to report that income in April.

Be diligent and report all of your income to avoid getting caught and fined for not paying your taxes. If your blog is earning a considerable amount of money, you might get into serious trouble that includes doing jail time for tax evasion.

3.  Not paying self-employment tax when you don’t owe federal income tax

If you aren’t obligated to pay state and federal income tax, you still need to pay self-employment tax on your income. Income tax is different from self-employment tax. While the government allows certain individuals to have no income tax liability, that’s not true for self-employment tax.

No matter how little income you earn from your blog, set aside the appropriate percentage to cover self-employment taxes.

4.  Justifying expenses because they’re deductible

Many of your blogging expenses are deductible, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend money. Sometimes spending money on deductible expenses is more costly. For example, say your tax rate is 20% and you spend $100 on a tax-deductible piece of equipment. You’ll save $20 on your taxes. However, if you don’t really need that piece of equipment, you’ve wasted the money. By paying taxes on that $100, you would have been left with $80 instead of $0.

Unless you really need something, it’s better to pay tax on your income and stash the rest in your bank account.

5.  Claiming the home office deduction if you don’t meet the requirements

The home office deduction is a source of major confusion for many people. It’s almost impossible to get a concrete, definitive answer on what qualifies as a home office because the guidelines are somewhat vague. However, there are clear guidelines on a home office that doesn’t qualify as a deduction:

  • If you use your home office for anything other than work, including checking personal email
  • Your office has no walls or a door (this is debatable, but the idea is that if your office has no walls or a door, it might not be used solely for business)
  • You need to pass through your office to get to another room in the house

What qualifies for the home office deduction will vary between tax professionals and some might advise you not to take the deduction. Err on the side of caution because it’s not worth an audit.

Don’t fall behind on your taxes

Avoiding these mistakes will help you stay on top of your taxes. Don’t fall behind because it will only cause more stress. Develop a routine for saving a portion of your income so you can always pay your taxes on time.

The post Do You Earn Income From Blogging? Don’t Make These 5 Tax Mistakes appeared first on Blogtrepreneur.

How to Grow Your Business…The Organic Way

There are a million and one ways to grow a business. There’s digital and offline. There’s social media, email, paid search, content marketing, and SEO. And underneath each of these headings, there are thousands of ways to approach promotion. The question is, how do you grow in an organic fashion that gives you the most value in return for your time, energy, and effort?

What is Organic Growth?

To understand what organic growth is, you must first understand what it’s not.

Typically, when a business wants to grow, they take on loans and pay for traffic via advertising and partnerships. They essentially “pay to play.” That would be labeled as artificial growth. (Not that it’s fake, per se, but because it requires a steady influx of cash in order to continue growing.) The ideal goal is to grow in an organic fashion.

Organic growth is growth that occurs naturally and with little or no cost (outside of time and compensation for the team members involved). It’s typically much slower, but the results are sustainable. Even after you stop actively pursuing growth, it happens naturally as a result of the strong foundation that was put into place. 

5 Tips for Organic Growth

Organic growth isn’t easy or quick. But if you really want to build a successful business that eventually feeds itself, this is the way to go. Here are a few tips you may find useful:

  • Start Free

If you can manage it, the best tip for spurring organic growth is to offer your products or services for free (in the beginning). Whether it’s one week, one month, or even a year, offering your value for free gets people to buy in without having to put anything on the hook. You can grab some customers pretty quickly this way; you’ll just have to find a way to stay afloat until the revenue comes in.

This strategy only works if you’re supremely confident in the quality of your product or service. In other words, it needs to blow people away. That way, when you do decide to start charging, the majority of your customers stay on. 

  • Hire Talented Salespeople

Few hires are more important in the early days of building a business than salespeople. Rather than hiring the cheapest ones you can find – or paying them 100 percent on commission – pony up as much as you can afford. These are the people who will carry your business forward. If they’re good, they’ll be worth every penny.

  • Get Your Website Ranking

To succeed with organic growth in 2020 and beyond, you must have a well-optimized website that ranks well. This will allow you to pick up free traffic from Google and the other search engines. How do you do that?

  • Develop high quality content that adds value to your target audience.
  • Build backlinks to your website.
  • Invest in high quality SEO. 

Getting your website to rank for the search terms you want takes time, but it’s a solid investment that will deliver value over and over again.

  • Upsell and Cross-Sell

It’s much more cost-effective to keep an existing customer than it is to go out and earn another one. And while it’s important to do both, the best organic growth occurs from upselling and cross-selling the customers you’re already doing business with. Look for ways to make this happen and you’ll reap the rewards.

  • Educate Your Audience

If you own a business, you’re ultimately in the “trust” game. To grow, you have to convince people to trust you with their time, money, privacy, etc. The number one way to accomplish this is by educating.

Many businesses are afraid they’ll give away too much information, but the truth is that you can’t give away enough. The more value you offer through blog posts, YouTube videos, and courses, the more people will trust you enough to buy from you.

Adding it All Up

Organic growth is slow, tedious, and will make you want to give up at times. But despite the friction, it’s well worth the investment of time and energy. Because, at the end of the day, nothing beats building a business with a solid foundation. No matter what happens in the years to come, you can rest assured that you’ll be around to see it through.

The post How to Grow Your Business…The Organic Way appeared first on Blogtrepreneur.

B2B Marketing Technology in 2021: 5 Key Focuses

2021 MarTech Image

Marketer Using Laptop Keyboard

If the 1982 movie Blade Runner and its dystopian depiction of what the world would look like in 2019 were accurate, this is what we’d have been living through last year:

via GIPHY

Needless to say, our predictions of society’s future state, and technology’s long-term evolution, are not always on the money. While certain aspects of Blade Runner’s vision might’ve been frighteningly accurate, Los Angeles is not yet inhabited by flying cars or giant video advertisements projected onto the entirety of skyscrapers.

With that said, today’s marketers can much more easily look ahead to 2021 — suddenly only a few short months away — and make educated guesses about what the year will hold. Many of the marketing technologies that will transform business and drive strategies are already on the rise, if not gaining mainstream traction.

Martech 2021: 5 Trends to for B2B Marketers to Watch

Businesses and marketing departments might be facing spending restrictions and budget cuts amidst the turmoil of 2020, but marketing technology is not an area that’s widely being affected. On the contrary, in fact: The latest Pulse Survey from ClickZ found that marketing technology budget shares rose from 32% to 42% between May and late July.

Where are organizations investing, and which technologies will rule the roost in the coming year? Here are five evidenced trends I’ll be following:

1 — Content experiences are at the forefront

In ClickZ’s research, this is the category that was leading marketing technology’s growth here in 2020.

“People being indoors and looking for new ways to educate themselves about the current climate and consumer content can safely be considered as one of the reasons businesses are tirelessly looking to enhance their target audiences’ experience,” wrote Kamaljeet Kalsi.

ClickZ Image

(Source)

This isn’t such a novel concept — TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden was among those preaching experiences as the future of content marketing many years ago — but technology is continually improving our ability to deliver content in ways that are more interactive, immersive, and impactful.

I think back to last week’s blog post on storytelling, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s assertion that video games offer the most promise on this front. Technology will continue to bring more capabilities to the table in terms of gamification, interactivity, and innovation.

Making content consumers feel like participants rather than onlookers holds the key to heightened engagement.

2 — Facilitating a socially distant world

Will there be in-person events in 2021? It’s possible but doesn’t feel very likely right now — certainly not at the scale of annual conferences and summits we’ve come to love. As brands keep working to build relationships with prospects and customers from a distance, technology will need to do much of the heavy lifting.

We’ve already seen some great new tools and capabilities arise this year in terms of teleconferencing, live-streaming, and virtual events. What else might emerge, with a litany of tech companies now centering their focuses on what has suddenly become a ubiquitous need?

In a way, this development helps to level the playing field for smaller businesses. While it may not be feasible for a startup sales enablement shop to organize a massive gathering like Dreamforce, bringing people together through interactive virtual events is a different story. In fact, this format can actually make it easier to follow up, convert, and attribute results concretely.

It’s not just about technology that helps engage customers from afar. It’s also about technology that helps marketers collaborate and work together in distributed settings. And adopting these tools will benefit companies and agencies long-term, because the remote work trend was already on the rise long before COVID struck.

In 2021, marketers will truly equip themselves for the future of work. We’re already well on our way; according to a recent survey, “companies reported that responding to the new circumstances of the pandemic accelerated their digital communications strategy by 6 years on average.”

[bctt tweet=”“As brands keep working to build relationships with prospects and customers from a distance, technology will need to do much of the heavy lifting.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

3 — Data privacy and cybersecurity gain urgency

Data exploitation became a huge story after the 2016 election, and I regret to inform you it’s likely to bubble up again this fall. Even outside of that, cybersecurity has been a growing concern for many years and becomes all the more pertinent as customer data is increasingly decentralized and cloud-based.

While these matters have often fallen under the purview of IT in the past, marketing needs to have a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion. Sending a convincing message that it’s safe to do business with your brand — sensitive data won’t be shared, lost, stolen, or misused — and backing it up is essential to building trust in the new world of business.

4 — Simplicity and synchronicity are vital 

In its latest marketing technology landscape visualization, Chief Martech charted some 8,000 different solutions in the wild. Eight thousand!

ChiefMartec Image

The beauty of this vast landscape is that marketing technologies now exist to address almost any need imaginable. The downside, of course, is that the sheer volume and range of options can feel completely overwhelming. The balance between not enough martech and too much martech is a delicate one.

In the near future, streamlining will be the name of the game. How can you carve down your tech stack to the true essentials? Which solutions can cover multiple needs for your team? How can you solicit a continuous feedback loop so users are able to openly communicate when a tool isn’t working for them, and action is taken rapidly?

Finding the answers to these questions will help marketing organizations find greater efficiency and effectiveness with martech in 2021.

[bctt tweet=”“The balance between not enough martech and too much martech is a delicate one.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

5 — Artificial intelligence keeps growing and embedding

The buzz around marketing technology seems to vary from month to month, with a new category or niche entering and then exiting the spotlight. One that never seems to lose its luster, however, is AI. This is because the technology is powerful and endlessly applicable.

We already see AI being widely leveraged in modern marketing strategies — chatbots, predictive analytics, deep learning, etc. — but the potential remains so much greater, and I believe we’ll continue to see it realized in the coming year. One threadline I’ll be keeping a close eye on is formative AI, cited as a trend driving Gartner’s hype cycle of emerging technologies in 2020.

“Formative AI is a type of AI capable of dynamically changing to respond to a situation,” according to Gartner. “There are a variety of types, ranging from AI that can dynamically adapt over time to technologies that can generate novel models to solve specific problems.”

How could formative AI come into play for marketing in order to drive more personalized and memorable B2B marketing experiences? Go ahead and dream on it. That’s what separates us from the machines, after all. (Or at least one of the differences pondered by Blade Runner and its source material.)

Marketing Technology Will Always Have Its Place

This chaotic year of 2020 has served to reinforce the immense value of technology in my day-to-day. Without having easy access to chat apps, video-conferencing platforms, shared documents, and other digital tools, a day in the life of a content marketer during the pandemic would be far more challenging and inefficient. Instead, I’m basically able to do my job seamlessly without much disruption, other than the lack of seeing my coworkers’ faces IRL.

I do miss that very much, and for all the talk about technologies to watch in 2021, I’m most hopeful for a return to semi-normal human interaction and physical proximity. Up until then, and after, martech will help us continue to keep audiences (and ourselves) educated, entertained, engaged and connected through the digital space.

I don’t know about flying cars or skyscraper billboards, but I can say with confidence that the future of marketing and its technologies is going to look a lot more like 2020 than any years preceding.

For more insight into what the next year may hold, click over to our post from Lane Ellis on 8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021.

The post B2B Marketing Technology in 2021: 5 Key Focuses appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021

Professional business-woman smiling image.

Professional business-woman smiling image.

What do B2B marketers stand to gain by using Reddit?

Just how effective is Reddit for advertising and organic marketing communication, and what are some of the top tips and advice for B2B marketers new to Reddit or those looking to expand their presence on the social media platform?

Let’s take a look at the answers to these questions and more, including eight things B2B marketers need to know about social news aggregator and discussion platform Reddit, including why more businesses than ever will be using the platform in 2021 and beyond.

While by no means a thorough guide to marketing with Reddit, we’ll explore what it is, who uses it, what it’s doing to help marketers, how some B2B marketers are using it, plus some of the latest news from the social media platform.

1 — What Is Reddit & Who Uses It?

As one of the world’s most used websites and the fifth most-visited in the U.S., Reddit presently counts some 430 million average monthly active users, generating more than 30 billion monthly views of user-generated content in over 130 thousand message board communities.

74 percent of consumers in a joint Reddit and YPulse survey said in a whitepaper that Reddit — founded 15 years ago — is where they learn about the topics they love the most.

Earlier this year our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite advised B2B marketers to proceed, but with some caution, when considering Reddit, in “6 Unconventional Social Channels for B2B Marketing.”

“If your target audience is on Reddit, it’s worth testing the waters with a few sponsored posts. Just keep it transparent, honest and genuine: There’s a whole sub-Reddit devoted to mocking tone-deaf marketing,” Joshua urged.

In my article “B2B Marketing Mythbusters: Dispelling 10 Common Myths with Extraordinary Marketing,” I used Reddit as an example of the myth that B2B marketers don’t use cool social media platforms, and pointed out that Fortune 500 firms now regularly have social media presences on the more fashionable social channels such as Giphy, Snapchat, Facebook Horizons — the social media giant’s foray into the virtual reality (VR) world — and certainly Reddit.

2 — What Is Reddit Doing To Help Marketers?

Reddit Screenshot

Reddit has noted its ability to let advertisers target their audiences, tell their stories, and measure their success, along with the opportunity to reach influential communities where millions of people are engaging with relevant content — all areas that B2B marketers are keen on improving.

Reddit offers a variety of promoted post options that let marketers place ads throughout the platform as well as in the firm’s official app.

To encourage businesses to try advertising on the platform, over the past year Reddit has partnered with three research firms and released report data showing some of the advantages Reddit offers over other social media sites.

In conjunction with Verto Analytics, Reddit has explored how the platform offers a unique path to driving purchases, in “Reddit’s Role in the Path to Purchase.”

The study compared some 1,500 instances of product research on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest, and found that Reddit users evaluate just over twice as many brands in up to four times as many research sessions as on other platforms, with the notable exclusion of LinkedIn*, traditionally the leading social media platform among B2B marketers, which was not included in the survey.

The study noted that Reddit users decide on purchases nine times faster than on other social platforms, spend 15 percent more, and are some 13 percent more likely to share positive messages about a brand both online and offline. For B2B marketers dealing with often lengthy sales cycles, some of the speed advantages seen for Reddit could be a welcome experience.

Reddit users appear to spend more time in the consideration stage of the purchasing journey than those on other platforms — with its 32 percent tally versus 20 percent for other platforms, and they also tend to spend less time in the decision making stage.

Reddit Purchase Journey

The study also found that a whopping 90 percent of consumers trust the research they do using Reddit more than other websites or apps, a situation that will appeal to B2B marketers who have been working hard to rebuild eroded trust in marketing, as our CEO Lee Odden explored recently in “In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience.”

Earlier this year Reddit joined with GlobalWebIndex to conduct a study examining Reddit’s increasing role in the online community space, resulting in the 29-page “The Era of We and the Rise of Online Communities” report.

The report offers marketers looking to begin advertising on Reddit a fair amount of background data including what the platform’s users want brands to be using Reddit for, with the leading desired qualities being content that is:

  • Bold
  • Exclusive
  • Funny
  • Trendy / Cool
  • Reliable

Reddit Brand Qualities

3 — How Are B2B Marketers Using Reddit?

“We’re using data sets like Reddit, where the depth and the quality of conversation are extremely high in the communities,” Brian Wright, social media listening and intelligence leader at Wells Fargo recently told eMarketer.

Jennifer Heyman, vice president of digital and social media at Wells Fargo, also mentioned Reddit in our annual social media marketing trends article, “13 Top B2B Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2020.”

“My prediction is that brands will divert spend from large paid awareness campaigns to more targeted authentic conversations found on platforms like Reddit or in Facebook Groups,” Jennifer observed.

“Essentially a shift of paid spend to the channels enabling a more focused and direct conversation with a customer. Personalization will continue to dominate social conversation, as brands emphasize both staying connected and infusing some fun into the message,” she added.

[bctt tweet=”Brands will shift social media focus from paid spend to channels enabling a more focused and direct conversation with a customer. @jheyman ” username=”toprank”]

Wells Fargo also mentions Reddit in some of its educational resources, noting that “Sites like Reddit and Quora are also popular options where potential students can talk about applying to schools,” all joining to highlight the social media platform’s increasing presence among large businesses.

Marketers promoting podcasts can connect with specific audiences on Reddit, or in its podcast-specific /r/podcasting sub-Reddit. Outside of that sub-Reddit, podcast marketers can generally find greater acceptance by first becoming known to an audience on the platform rather than posting links — to podcasts or any manner of outside content — right off the bat.

Podcasts have seen increasing numbers of listeners during the pandemic, and we’ve examined the growing success of podcasting among B2B marketers in several recently article including “What B2B Podcasters Need to Know About SEO” and “B2B Podcasting: 20 Stats that Make the Marketing Case.”

4 — AMAs Find A Welcome Home On Reddit

Reddit has also been a popular platform for hosting ask-me-anything (AMA) events, which can be a good way for B2B firms to begin utilizing the service if the interviewee is especially relevant to a particular topic.

Even NASA used Reddit’s /askscience sub-Reddit for a recent AMA event with planetary scientists and astrobiologists, which the organization cross-promoted on its LinkedIn and other social media accounts.

Technology giant Accenture also recently used its /accenture sub-Reddit for an AMA with its managing director Tristan Morel L’Horset, and last year the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity conducted its first Reddit-hosted AMA, featuring the noted festival’s managing director Simon Cook.

5 — Finding Relevant Audiences & Low-Hanging Keywords

In “The Guide to Unbundling Reddit,” Greg Isenberg, growth advisor at TikTok, has examined how Reddit has been affected by the pandemic, and looks at tools such as RedditList.com for finding relevant audiences.

The folks at Backlinko recently explored how to use keyword-finding tools such as those from SEMrush or Ahrefs to find relevant Reddit keywords for marketing efforts, in “17 Advanced SEO Techniques for 2020.”

HubSpot also recently took a look at some of the challenges and opportunities marketers face using Reddit, in “Everything Our Paid Team Learned From Attempting a Reddit Advertising Strategy,” finding the platform’s audience engagement a key advantage.

6 — Reddit’s Penchant For Technology Industry Professionals

With an especially avid cadre of technology enthusiasts, Reddit joins developer communities at GitHub, LinkedIn, HackerNews and others as go-to social destinations for engineers and programmers, making it a good choice for B2B firms in those sectors.

The tech-savvy nature of many of the communities on Reddit may seem merciless and intimidating at first glance, however with proper interactions brands can find valuable communication possibilities on the platform, especially when B2B marketers take the time to understand their audience and the questions they’re asking.

7 — Reddit Helps Customers Vent & Connect

Reddit joined Twitter and Facebook as the go-to platforms for venting about poor brand experiences online, with Twitter typically offering the speediest replies from brands — according to survey data from WhoIsHostingThis?

Who Is Hosting This Image

With enough effort, B2B brands that genuinely care about addressing such concerns can find Reddit a good spot for building goodwill, as we explored in “Wow Your Crowd: How Content Marketers Can Create Powerful Audience Connections,” and “B2B Marketers, Are Your Content Marketing Efforts Sparking Joy for Your Audience?

8 — What Else Is Up With Reddit Lately?

Reddit is presently running an “Up the Vote” brand marketing campaign — its first — as Adweek’s Sara Jerde chronicled in “Reddit’s Cheeky Marketing Campaign Encourages Users to Vote.”

In May Reddit tapped a former Pinterest and Google advertising leader in a move aimed at bringing more brand advertising activity to the platform, a shift that also saw the firm restructuring its sales team to adjust to changes brought by the global health crisis.

This year Reddit also rolled out its most visible advertising format to date, with “Trending Takeover” 24-hour campaigns that offer prime exposure advertisers, after having tested the format with partners including Adobe* and Spotify.

Adobe previously partnered with Reddit for a unique collaborative global digital canvas, with “Reddit X Adobe,” featuring thousands of artistic layers of imagery from users around the world.

Make Your Reddit High Noon Move Count

via GIPHY

While Reddit may no longer be the wild west for B2B marketers, incorporating it into your strategy doesn’t have to be a shootout at high noon if you take to heart the information we’ve explored together here.

When coupled with a powerful strategy such as B2B influencer marketing, Reddit can play an important role in driving successful business and customer communications.

* LinkedIn and Adobe are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post 8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.