The Online Marketing Institute's Annual List of Top Digital Strategists Share Their Best Advice for Driving ROI in the New Year.
Welcome to part-two of the top digital strategists series. This part is focused on B2B marketing and how to use content to improve your digital strategy. If you missed part-one, read what top OMI educators had to say about the future of social media in 2014.
To help marketers discover new opportunities for driving ROI, the Online Marketing Institute identified the top 40+ digital strategists, and asked them for their best advice for 2014. These OMI online learning center digital educators were selected because they are:
- Embracing the latest integrated digital strategies and technologies
- Advancing the industry through education — speaking, blogging, and teaching
- Driving game-changing results for their clients and organization
B2B MARKETING INSIGHTS
In the second installment of this three-part series, 17 digital strategists well-versed in the area of B2B marketing share their best practices, predictions for the future of business to business marketing, evaluation of industry trends and share the know-how to deliver thought provoking insight that will lay the groundwork for you to build an effective, holistic digital marketing strategy in 2014.
9. Rediscover the humanity in your digital communication
"Rediscover the humanity in your digital communication and make sure your team is listening, paying close attention, and taking action to build a relationship between your brand and your consumers. Whether you’re on the front lines of consumer service or in the boardroom making company-wide decisions, whether you're online or face-to-face, listening and responding accordingly is paramount to success. Sometimes that means engaging with the consumer, sometimes it means delivering what they’re really after. But it always means responding with exceptional service and creating an unparalleled experience with your brand at every touchpoint."
- Susan Baroncini-Moe
Susan Baroncini-Moe is the author of the bestselling, Business in Blue Jeans: How to Have a Successful Business on Your Own Terms, in Your Own Style. She is an executive coach and a marketing consultant for B2B and the wellness and hospitality industries. She regularly speaks to audiences of all sizes and has shared the stage with business giants like Michael E. Gerber, Bob Burg, and Larry Winget, among others. Susan and her businesses have been featured in Redbook Magazine, USA Today, MSN Living, Investor’s Business Daily, Yahoo Finance, and American Express Open Forum, and she is a Guinness World Records® titleholder.
10. Deliver more contextual content
"Content management will become increasingly valuable to marketers who are looking to ramp up their efforts to deliver more contextual content offers. By establishing a strategy to conceptualize, produce, launch, and measure content, organizations can optimized content delivery and programs. Marketers also should embrace new metrics to quantify engagement. Understanding content consumption and sharing habits enables marketers to segment audiences. This strategy helps improve internal effectiveness and integrated planning; deliver contextual content offers; and understand which key performance indicators matter to content marketing. A shared process for content management also helps other marketing stakeholders to collaboratively support development and maximize launch initiatives."
- Amanda Batista
As part of the Oracle Eloqua Marketing organization, Amanda Batista, drives Eloqua's major content initiatives to support thought leadership, team enablement, and educate customer communities. She also manages the award-winning 'It's All About Revenue' Blog, crafting content that helps marketers and salespeople bridge their gaps and rethink technology to meaningfully engage with their communities. Amanda also is a freelance music writer, and her passion is helping modern marketers find inspiration in engaging pop culture. Follow Amanda on Twitter @AmandaF_Batista.
11. Take a journalistic approach to content
It's an editorialized and blended world of owned, earned and paid! Brands that take on a journalistic approach to content and treat their blogs and social networks like individual publications will build strong communities and ever lasting relationships; ultimately converting into business.
- Lisa Buyer
Lisa Buyer is President and CEO of The Buyer Group, an interactive public relations and social agency located in Celebration, Florida and editor for Social #PR Chat covering trends in Social PR, Mobile PR, Brand PR and SEO PR. Lisa writes for several industry publications covering how public relations influences search and social and is a regular speaker with PubCon, SMX, ClickZLive (formerly SES), OMI and an instructor of the University of San Francisco’s online Advanced Social Media certificate program. Lisa graduated from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism. Go Gators! Her favorite hashtags are #yoga, #sunsets and #surfing. Follow @lisabuyer for more.
12. Start acting as publishers
"Businesses everywhere will start acting as publishers. Instead of using content just for lead generation, companies will start creating more specific, targeted content pieces to be used as a sales tool. B2B companies, in particular, will up their targeted and niche content marketing campaigns to assist buyers during the decision making process. Companies need to focus on creating original and branded content that they can push our to both their potential and current clients in order to build thought leadership in their respective industries."
- Alessandra Ceresa
Alessandra Ceresa is the Director of Marketing at GreenRope. With an iPhone, MacBook and iPad on hand at all times, Alessandra’s enthusiasm for marketing and social media landed her the position as the Director of Marketing for a leading software company, GreenRope. After graduating from the University of Southern California, Alessandra gained years of experience as a Public Relations executive in both San Diego and Los Angeles. She was responsible for developing and executing marketing campaigns, both online and offline, for numerous companies across multiple industries. Her passion for small business and online marketing led her to her current position, Director of Marketing for GreenRope, and as a freelance marketing consultant, content creator, and overall marketing strategist. Alessandra has since developed her expertise to include CRM, marketing automation, and email marketing.
13. Create content that means something
"Touch people. Get it out of your head that what you're doing is "digital" and never treat anyone as a number. Create content that means something to them. Understand them. Help them. Invoke emotion. You don't want followers, fans, users, or any such frigid thing. You want new friends. Sure, your relationship might exist largely on a rectangular piece of glass. Aim to "kiss their glass.""
- Barry Feldman
Barry Feldman of Feldman Creative is a veteran copywriter, creative director and content marketing strategist. He works with clients of all sizes to create effective online marketing programs. In addition to publishing his tips and tactics at the "The Point," www.feldmancreative.com/blog, Barry contributes articles to many of the web's leading publishers of marketing and social media advice.
14. Customer is the King or Queen
"We marketers are in the throws of finalizing our yearly plans. Here are three predictions for 2014.
1. CONTENT IS NOT JUST KING OR QUEEN: It’s still all about content. But not just about the creation of it. We have to enhance content strategy into more than just demand generation campaigns and form fill outs. Excellent content is not the measure of success — but rather now the standard.
2. CUSTOMER IS THE KING OR QUEEN: 1000% agree — we need to take the same approach to our existing customer base as we have with net-new logo acquisition. It is not just about customer communication but more so about added revenue generation.
3. SOCIAL TECHNOLOGIES WILL IGNITE INTEGRATED MARKETING: And not just social media, but leveraging social behavior. How do we get things done more effectively by leveraging how people consume information and how people work? We will see a rise in more social-centric applications that connect desperate systems, functions and organizations."
- Christelle Flahuax
Christelle Flahaux is the Senior Director of Global Demand Generation at Jive Software. A senior Marketing professional with over 15 years experience in various marketing management and sales operations roles. Expertise is in sales and marketing alignment for large enterprise software teams. Management of Telemarketing teams with a focus on generating highly qualified net new inquiries for the field and building programs post inquiry to nurture and warm leads that are not ready to purchase. Extreme focus on conversions to pipeline and revenue, not just inquiry creation. Responsibility for all marketing operations, proposals, sales forecasting, sales database maintenance, tracking and reporting. Performed market analysis on various industries as a basis for targeted sales programs and lead generation. Leading cross function teams to implement and manage customer satisfaction programs for key clients. Coordination of all external and internal communications, i.e., press releases, newsletters, e-mail blasts, event management for tradeshows, conferences, seminars, webinars, and corporate hospitality programs at sponsored events.
15. Collect social proof
"B2B buyers are spending more time educating themselves before they contact sales. Instead of sales pitches, they want social proof that your products and services deliver results. For example, technology buyers on a Spiceworks panel cited that they want to see unbiased reviews from people who have used your products. Meanwhile, a hawkeye study revealed that 71% of B2B buyers in the awareness stage and 77% in the evaluation stage cited testimonials and case studies as the most influential types of content. If you want to engage customers, then collecting testimonials, case studies and five-star product reviews should be at the top of your marketing “to-do” list this year."
- Rachel Foster
Rachel Foster is a B2B copywriter who helps her clients improve their response rates, clearly communicate complex messages and generate high-quality leads. Rachel has shared her insights on B2B marketing in presentations for The Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs and Business 2 Community. You can connect with Rachel on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter (@CopywriterTO) or check out her B2B marketing resources and blog.
16. Brand advocacy is the new digital marketing goalpost
"For the last two decades, much of digital marketing has focused on generating impressions, traffic, clicks, and conversions. The new goalposts for digital marketing are about building an army of Advocates for your brand and products. It’s not difficult to get more clicks. You can do this by slashing prices or running splashy promotions. But this is the “fast-food” approach to marketing.You may get filled up quickly but it’s not very nutritious. Even worse, this approach – if you rely on it too much – can ultimately damage your body (or your brand.) A more valuable and sustainable approach is to create and nurture relationships with Advocates, who will promote, support, and defend your brand and products for years. Apple, Amazon.com, Trader Joe’s, and USAA (a financial services company for the military and their family members) are among the world’s most recommended brands. These companies didn’t build their brands through price-cutting and short-term promotions. They delivered customer experiences worth talking about. And helped nurture relationships with Advocates, who then spread the word among their social networks. Are you still obsessing about yesterday’s goalposts and metrics? Or are you building a movement around your brand and products?"
- Rob Fuggetta
Rob Fuggetta is the Founder & CEO of Zuberance, a social media marketing company that manages and powers Brand Advocate programs for leading brands. Prior to founding Zuberance in 2008, Fuggetta was the Chief Marketing Officer at Genuity, a Verizon spin-out. He also was formerly a partner at Regis McKenna, Inc., the legendary high tech marketing and communications firm in Palo Alto, where he co-led the global Apple account. Fuggetta has spoken at dozens of industry conferences and seminars including events sponsored by the American Marketing Association (AMA), the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), TedX, the Online Marketing Summit, the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG), and more. Fuggetta also has published articles about brand advocacy in AdAge, Forbes, iMedia, AMEX Open Forum, McKinsey’s Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Forum, and elsewhere. A resident of San Carlos, CA, Fuggetta is an avid tennis player, a rabid San Francisco Giants fan, and proud father.
17. Add social science to your marketing arsenal
"Add social science to your marketing arsenal: Today, terrific targeting, content and offers only get you so far. To increase your engagement and conversion rates, study the social scientists. They, along with behavioral economists, have proven that people take cognitive shortcuts when making decisions. And they’ve shown these shortcuts can be prompted – resulting in automatic behaviors. Now you can stack the deck every time you craft a subject line, write an email, lay out a landing page, design a call to action, etc. Tap into proven human behavior triggers like the Scarcity Principle, Cognitive Fluency, Loss Aversion and dozens more to prompt the behaviors you want."
- Nancy Harhut
Nancy Harhut is Chief Creative Officer at Wilde Agency, where she combines marketing best practices with behavioral science in order to get people to act. She and her teams have won over 200 awards for digital and direct marketing effectiveness, including two 2013 International Echo Awards for Nationwide Insurance and TripAdvisor.com. A sought-after speaker at industry events, Harhut has shared her expertise with audiences ranging from Moscow, Russia to the US Department of Defense.
18. Test with new channels to build new audiences
"In 2014, it is all about distribution. We've all heard the quality or quantity debate for some time and now it is more important to market our marketing, in the words of Jay Baer. Digital marketers should opt to create stellar content and dedicate the same amount of resources, if not more, to ensure their target audience engages and acts upon the content. Test with new channels to build new audiences:
-Build relationships with internal and external influencers to extend your reach
-Experiment with paid campaigns to ensure your content is getting consumed
-Get close with demand generation to plan larger campaigns rather than one-off email blasts
-Repurpose existing content in new formats to help increase shareability on social channels"
- Amanda Maksymiw
Amanda Maksymiw is the content marketing manager for Lattice Engines, a Big Data for sales and marketing company in Boston, MA. She is responsible for setting and managing the Lattice’s content marketing and social media strategies including creating, producing, and publishing engaging content. Throughout her career, she has advised and worked with several technology startups on their content strategies. In 2012, Amanda was named Content Marketing Tactician of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
19. Create a balance of messaging across channels
"Don't throw away the "exploration" broadcast messaging with the "targeted conversion" messaging. It's the proverbial baby in the bath water. Advanced data management and campaign automation - coupled with the new marriage of content marketing and analytics -- make targeted messaging - display, CRM retargeting, triggered email, social, mobile and even offline mail - so easy, multi-channel and powerful, that it's tempting to ignore the power of the good old broadcast message. Consider the latter as a way to uncover new truths about various audiences, and to improve your segmentation. Often, the unexpected, generic message will reveal as much about a person's habits and interests than the uber-targeted one. Create a balance of messaging across channels to make all your content marketing work harder."
Stephanie Miller is a relentless customer advocate and a champion for marketers creating memorable online experiences. A digital marketing expert, she helps responsible data-driven marketers connect with the people, resources and ideas they need to optimize response and revenue. She speaks and writes regularly and leads many industry initiatives as VP and “Chief Listening Officer” at DMA.
20. Enter a branded content channel
"Branded Content will be a game changing for many businesses. Why? Does your businesses want more traffic, leads and thought leadership? Most businesses do and trying to generate these are some of the greatest challenges they face. Enter a branded content channel. It is one of the quickest ways to generate more traffic, leads and thought leadership by accessing a channel in which your target audience is already participating in droves. It generally costs a “reasonable” amount, but the value (i.e. cost for new leads) is generally in the ballpark of $5- $20. Would you pay that for a new lead?"
– Chris Muccio
Chris Muccio is the Chief Technologist at SFGI/Catapult Interactive Inc. He is a seasoned executive with a pattern of success in large businesses and start-up companies. Today, as a Hubspot Certified Partner, he has evolved with the digital world to be a leading voice in digital business development and branded content. Among his various achievements, he wrote one of the first books on LinkedIn that became an Amazon Best Seller.
21. Create content that solves business problems
"Just because we produce more content doesn't mean we can digest more. In fact, we can't digest any more information than we did 100 years ago. With the increase in content, the need for high relevancy is critical. Use Big Data to truly understand your audience and then create content that solves their business problems and reaches them on the channels they use. Stop selling and start helping. I'll live by this in 2014 - will you?"
- Amanda Nelson
Amanda Nelson is manager of content for salesforce.com, leading a team of writers to create sales, service, marketing, and mobile content that’s helpful, relevant, and lead-driving. She has a background in account management from interactive and full service advertising agencies. Amanda has spoken at over a dozen conferences and has won awards from the Direct Marketing Association, Content Marketing Institute, Publicity Club of New England, American Banker Association, New England Direct Marketing, University of Hartford and the Advertising Club of Connecticut. Amanda is passionate about content marketing, community management and border collies.
22. Focus more resources on content quality
“Only 36 percent of content marketers feel they use content effectively. Why? Because most brands don’t have a substantive audience to consume it. Every minute of every day 100,000 tweets are shared, 571 new websites are created and over 347 blog posts get published. It’s noisy out there. So how do most marketers address this problem? By focusing more resources on content quality and/or quantity. Those marketers without existing prudent audiences who want to use their content effectively in 2014 must develop a content distribution and promotion plan backed by robust audience and media research. According to Ryan Skinner of Forrester, brands can actually step down content production and step up distribution to get better results. Truly converging owned media with paid and earned media empowers marketers to get their content in front of millions of eyeballs every day and expedite the growth of their own audience.”
– Chad Pollitt
Chad Pollitt is a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Army Commander; a member of a Forbes Top 100 List, and the Director of Marketing at DigitalRelevance. He’s a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and has been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and other websites throughout the world.
23. Choice your voice carefully
"Standing out amidst the escalating online noise and clutter is key. Ensure that the voice sharing your content rises above the din to create a connection. The voice is a combination of the person and the message. Who’s telling your story? Is he relatable? Is she the best choice or an easy solution? Does he or she have followers that will share your message on a wider basis? Is the message relevant and different? Does it translate as genuine and authentic—or, does it proffer thinly-veiled marketing speak? Will it compel others to share your story? Choose your voice carefully. It can mean the difference between rising to the top or disappearing into the fray."
- Denise Roberts McKee
Denise Roberts McKee is the Chief Operating Officer at AboutFace Media, which creates branded documentary videos for the web. Denise’s decades of work within mobile media, gaming, and independent film industries includes teaming up with, and creating award-winning initiatives for, leading brands such as Time-Warner, NBC Universal, Bravo TV New Media, and Rachael Ray. Also a speaker, Denise brings her years of experience to conferences and seminars worldwide, with a focus on content development and marketing.
24. Create visual content for the best ROI
"2014 will see a rise in visual content, and a decrease in the reign of heavy text-based blog articles. Visual content is shared more, gets more engagement on social, communicates information quicker and easier than text, and, as a result, is worth more in SEO. Because of this, visual content has the best ROI currently available to content marketers. The top three types of content will be short-form videos, infographics and slideshares."
- Nick Steeves
Nick Steeves, Chief Product Officer, Wishpond: Nick is Chief Product Officer at Wishpond. Wishpond makes it easy to run contests and promotions on social networks. He and his team discuss social media for small business at blog.wishpond.com
25. Make your message relevant
"Your message must be relevant to your buyers! All successful marketing programs have one thing in common: messages that speak directly to specific buyers. Why? Because relevant messaging establishes an important emotional connection between a business and its buyers, which, in turn, spurs future purchases. Messaging is a large part of the branding process and can drive visuals and campaign themes. Therefore, it is critical to carefully research and develop a thorough buyer profile prior to crafting marketing messages. It doesn’t matter if you’ve developed an amazing concept and launched via the latest digital or traditional marketing channels; if your message doesn’t speak to targeted buyers, your marketing is worthless!"
- Bonnie Taylor
Bonnie Taylor is the VP of Strategic Marketing with the Washington D.C. Metro based marketing firm, CCS Innovations, LLC. Her close to 20 years of experience spent growing companies and generating large-scale awareness has included working with some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Coca-Cola, Revlon, Deloitte, as well as countless mid-size and smaller companies in local, national, and international markets. Ms. Taylor has taken two companies from a single office without a marketing program to worldwide growth in just a few years, earning Inc. 500 and Business Journal ‘Fastest Growing Company’ awards along the way. Not one to always work behind the scenes, she is an internationally published authority on marketing, branding, and corporate growth and performs extensive work with nonprofit organizations.
The Online Marketing Institute is honored to have the same industry experts leading various online learning center classes and crash course programs throughout the year, share their best advice on what to do in the ever-changing online marketing environment.
OMI is committed to bringing forth the insight of industry leaders. Look for the full list of courses from these top digital educators on the online learning center's class topics page.
Stay Tuned for our next installment on overall digital marketing.