Monitor & Engage With Facebook Reviews From the Smart Inbox

Reputation management is an essential part of an effective social media strategy. Since its launch in late 2013, Facebook Reviews has quickly become one of the most popular ways for consumers to leave direct, public feedback for brands. What’s more, nearly 66% of consumers who want to share their experiences, thoughts and opinions are most likely to do so on Facebook.

Today, in order to help brands gather and acknowledge this valuable customer feedback, we’re excited to announce that you can manage your Facebook Reviews from Sprout. Whether you manage one Page or many, you can seamlessly continue the social conversation by monitoring and engaging with ratings and written reviews alongside all other incoming messages in the Smart Inbox.

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Manage Your Facebook Reviews From the Smart Inbox

Within the Smart Inbox, Facebook Reviews surface the numerical rating as well as the written review left on your Page(s). In addition, comments and comment replies on Facebook Reviews have been added to the existing Comments message filter within the Smart Inbox.

Users can continue to leverage Sprout’s engagement toolset to better manage their online reputation—including replying, tasking, tagging and marking messages complete. With collaborative tools and intuitive workflows, your team can increase productivity, escalate issues tied to negative Facebook Reviews and create tasks for efficient follow-up.

Keep in mind, Facebook Reviews are only available for businesses that list a physical address on their Page. Reviews can be enabled and disabled by a Facebook Page Admin by visiting Page Settings > General and selecting the Reviews section on Facebook.com.

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Manage Facebook Reviews for Multi-Location Businesses

Local businesses rely on Facebook Reviews to raise brand awareness, drive traffic to their stores and ultimately build customer relationships. The Smart Inbox brings reviews across multiple location Pages into a single, filterable stream. For businesses that operate more than one brick-and-mortar location, a unified inbox saves time by enabling teams to monitor and engage more productively.

When managing multiple location Pages across a team, the flexibility of the Smart Inbox makes it easy to divvy up the workload and keep each team member focused on what they are responsible for monitoring and managing. Simply click on a specific Page name in the Profiles list to isolate messages specific to that Page. Use the View By Type toggle to focus on Reviews.

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Better Understand the Customer Journey

Facebook Reviews are just one of many customer touch points along a customer’s path to purchase. In order to better understand the customer journey it’s important to consider previous comments, Wall Posts and Private Messages from a Facebook user. These past interactions provide powerful context that can shed a light on what led to a particular rating or review.

Sprout’s Contact View lets Sprout users easily access this message history when engaging with a Facebook Review. In addition, social CRM tools like contact details and notes lead to more informed and personalized responses creating an overall better customer experience.

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Whether you are managing one Facebook Page or one hundred, Facebook Reviews in your Smart Inbox enable you to continue the social conversation with your customers. You can also easily address Facebook Reviews that require a timely response on the go with full support in Sprout’s mobile apps. When customer reviews can happen anytime, responding to and acknowledging this feedback is pivotal to maintaining strong customer relationships.

Stay tuned for more updates to the Smart Inbox.

This post Monitor & Engage With Facebook Reviews From the Smart Inbox originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Monitorea y participa con las Opiniones de Facebook desde la Entrada inteligente

La gestión de reputación es una parte clave de una estrategia en redes sociales efectiva. Desde su lanzamiento en 2013, las Opiniones de Facebook se han convertido rápidamente en una de las maneras más populares que eligen los consumidores para dejar comentarios directos y públicos para las marcas. Además, prácticamente el 66% de los consumidores que quieren compartir sus experiencias, pensamientos y opiniones tienden más a hacerlo en Facebook.

Para poder ayudar a las marcas a recolectar y responder a estas opiniones valiosas de los clientes, nos complace anunciar que podrás administrar las Opiniones de Facebook desde Sprout. Ya sea que administres una Página o muchas,puedes continuar sin problemas la conversación en redes sociales al monitorear y participar con calificaciones y opiniones escritas junto con todos los demás mensajes entrantes en la Entrada inteligente.

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Administrar las Opiniones de Facebook desde la Entrada inteligente

En la Entrada inteligente, las Opiniones de Facebook muestran las calificaciones numéricas y las opiniones escritas que se dejaron en tu(s) Página(s). Además, los comentarios y las respuestas a comentarios en las Opiniones de Facebook se han agregado al filtro Comentarios existente en la Entrada inteligente.

Los usuarios pueden continuar aprovechando las herramientas de participación de Sprout para mejorar la administración de la reputación en línea, entre ellas respuestas, asignación de trabajo, etiquetado y marcado de mensajes como completos. Con las herramientas colaborativas y los flujos de trabajo intuitivos, tu equipo puede aumentar la productividad, escalar problemas relacionados con Opiniones de Facebook negativas y crear tareas para un seguimiento efectivo.

Ten en cuenta que las Opiniones de Facebook solo están disponibles para aquellas empresas que informan su dirección física en su Página. Un Administrador de la página de Facebook puede activar o desactivar las Opiniones al visitar Configuración de la página > General y al elegir la sección Opiniones en Facebook.com.

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Administrar Opiniones de Facebook para empresas con ubicaciones múltiples

Las empresas locales confían en las Opiniones de Facebook para aumentar la percepción de la marca, impulsar el tráfico a sus tiendas y, por último, construir relaciones con los clientes. La Entrada inteligente recoge las revisiones de Páginas con ubicaciones múltiples en una sola secuencia filtrable. En el caso de empresas que operan en más de una ubicación tradicional, la bandeja de entrada unificada les permite ahorrar tiempo al permitirles a los equipos monitorear e interactuar de manera más productiva.

Cuando un equipo administra Páginas con distintas ubicaciones, la flexibilidad de la Entrada inteligente facilita la división de la carga laboral y permite que cada miembro del equipo se concentre en lo que les corresponde monitorear y administrar. Simplemente haz clic en un nombre de Página específica en la lista Perfiles para aislar los mensajes específicos de esta Página. Usa la opción Ver por tipo para poder centrarte en las Opiniones.

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Comprender mejor el recorrido del cliente

Las Opiniones de Facebook es solo uno de los múltiples puntos de contacto del cliente en su camino hacia la compra. Para poder comprender mejor el recorrido del cliente, es importante tener en cuenta comentarios anteriores, publicaciones en muros y mensajes privados que realizó un usuario de Facebook. Estas interacciones pasadas ofrecen un contexto valioso que pueden ayudar a dilucidar lo que permitió llegar a una clasificación o revisión particular.

La vista Contacto de Sprout permite que los usuarios de Sprout accedan fácilmente a este historial de mensajes al interactuar con una Opinión de Facebook. Además, las herramientas de CRM en redes sociales como detalles de contacto y notas permiten dar respuestas más informadas y personalizadas por lo que se ofrece una mejor experiencia al cliente.

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Ya sea que administres una Página de Facebook o cientos de páginas, las Opiniones de Facebook en tu Entrada inteligente te permiten continuar la conversación con tus clientes. También puedes acceder a las Opiniones de Facebook que requieren una respuesta inmediata sobre la marcha gracias a la aplicación móvil de Sprout. Ya que las opiniones de los clientes se pueden dar en cualquier momento, responder a estas opiniones es fundamental para mantener relaciones fuertes con los clientes.

Quédate atento a las próximas actualizaciones de la Entrada inteligente.

This post Monitorea y participa con las Opiniones de Facebook desde la Entrada inteligente originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Monitore e interaja com as Avaliações do Facebook usando a Inbox inteligente

A gestão de reputação é uma parte essencial de uma estratégia eficaz de rede social. Desde o lançamento no final de 2013, as Avaliações do Facebook tornaram-se rapidamente uma das formas mais populares de os consumidores deixarem feedback direto e público para as marcas. Além do mais, quase 66% dos consumidores que querem compartilhar suas experiências, pensamentos e opiniões são mais propensos a fazê-lo no Facebook.

Hoje, para ajudar as marcas a reunir e reconhecer esse feedback de clientes preciosos, temos o prazer de anunciar que você pode gerenciar suas Avaliações do Facebook pelo Sprout. Se você gerencia uma ou muitas páginas, pode perfeitamente continuar a conversa na rede social monitorando e interagindo com avaliações e comentários por escrito junto a todas as demais mensagens recebidas na Inbox Inteligente.

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Gerencie suas Avaliações do Facebook usando a Inbox Inteligente

Dentro da Inbox Inteligente, as Avaliações do Facebook abrangem a avaliação numérica, bem como a avaliação por escrito deixada na sua(s) página(s). Além disso, comentários e respostas a comentários nas Avaliações do Facebook foram adicionados ao filtro de mensagens de Comentários existente na Inbox Inteligente.

Os usuários podem continuar a tirar proveito do conjunto de ferramentas de engajamento do Sprout para melhor gerenciar sua reputação na internet— respondendo, atribuindo tarefas e marcando mensagens como concluídas. Com ferramentas de colaboração e fluxos de trabalho intuitivos, sua equipe pode aumentar a produtividade, encaminhar problemas ligados a Avaliações negativas no Facebook e criar tarefas para um acompanhamento eficiente.

Não se esqueça, as Avaliações do Facebook estão disponíveis apenas a empresas que possuem um endereço físico em sua Página. As Avaliações podem ser ativadas e desativadas por meio de um Administrador da Página do Facebook, o qual deve acessar Configurações de Página > Geral e selecionar a seção Avaliações no Facebook.com.

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Gerencie as Avaliações do Facebook para empresas que possuem várias unidades

As empresas locais recorrem às Avaliações do Facebook para aumentar a notoriedade da marca, direcionar o tráfego às suas lojas e, finalmente, desenvolver relacionamentos com os clientes. A Inbox Inteligente reúne em um fluxo único e filtrável avaliações em Páginas de diversos locais. Para as empresas que operam mais de um local físico, uma inbox inteligente unificada poupa tempo, permitindo que as equipes monitorem e interajam de forma mais produtiva.

Ao gerenciar Páginas de diversos locais por meio de uma equipe, a flexibilidade da Inbox Inteligente facilita a divisão da carga de trabalho e mantém cada membro de equipe focado em suas responsabilidades de monitoramento e gestão. Basta clicar no nome de uma página específica na lista de perfis para isolar mensagens específicas a essa página. Use o modo de exibição por tipo para se concentrar nas Avaliações.

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Entenda melhor a trajetória do cliente

As Avaliações do Facebook são apenas um dos muitos pontos de contato com o cliente ao longo da trajetória de compra de um cliente. Para entender melhor a trajetória do cliente, é importante considerar os comentários anteriores, publicações na linha do tempo e mensagens privadas de um usuário do Facebook. Essas interações anteriores fornecem contexto poderoso que pode lançar luz sobre o que gerou uma avaliação ou crítica em particular.

A Visualização de Contatos do Sprout permite que os usuários acessem facilmente o histórico de mensagens ao interagirem usando uma Avaliação do Facebook. Além disso, as ferramentas de CRM Social como informações de contato e notas levam a respostas mais conscientes e personalizadas, criando uma melhor experiência geral para o cliente.

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Não importa se você gerencia uma ou cem páginas no Facebook, as Avaliações do Facebook na sua Inbox Inteligente lhe permitem continuar a conversa com seus clientes nas redes sociais. Você também pode tratar facilmente as Avaliações do Facebook que exigem uma resposta imediata usando os aplicativos móveis do Sprout. Como as avaliações dos clientes podem chegar a qualquer momento, responder e reconhecer esse feedback é fundamental para manter relacionamentos sólidos com os clientes.

Fique atento para obter mais atualizações na Inbox Inteligente.

This post Monitore e interaja com as Avaliações do Facebook usando a Inbox inteligente originally appeared on Sprout Social.

What is Data Quality and How Do You Measure It for Best Results?

We’ve talked a lot about data quality in the past – including the cost of bad data. But despite a basic understanding of data quality, many people still don’t quite grasp what exactly is meant by “quality”.

For example, is there a way to measure that quality, and if so, how do you do it? In this article, we’ll be looking to answer those questions and much more. But first…

Dispelling Data Quality Myths

decision-makersThe foundation for ensuring data quality starts when basic requirements are created

One of the biggest myths about data quality is that it has to be completely error-free. With websites and other campaigns collecting so much data, getting zero errors is next to impossible. Instead, the data only needs to conform to the standards that have been set for it. In order to determine what “quality” is, we first need to know three things:

  1. Who creates the requirements
  2. How are the requirements created, and
  3. What degree of latitude do we have in terms of meeting those requirements

Many businesses have a singular “data steward” who understands and sets these requirements, as well as being the person who determines the tolerance levels for errors. If there is no data steward, IT often plays the role in making sure those in charge of the data understand any shortcomings that may affect it.

You Can Have It Good, Fast or Cheap – Pick Two

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Everything from collecting the data to making it fit the company’s needs open it up to potential errors. Having data that’s 100% complete and 100% accurate is not only prohibitively expensive, but time consuming and barely nudging the ROI needle.

With so much data coming in, decisions have to be made and quickly. That’s why data quality is very much a delicate balancing act – juggling and judging accuracy and completeness. If it sounds like a tall order to fill, you’ll be glad to know that there is a method to the madness, and the first step is data profiling.

What is Data Profiling?

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Data profiling involves looking at all the information in your database to determine if it is accurate and/or complete, and what to do with entries that are not. It’s fairly straightforward to, for instance, import a database of products that your company manufactures and make sure all the information is exact, but it’s a different story when you’re importing details about competitor’s products or other related details.

With data profiling, you’re also looking at how accurate the data is. If you’ve launched on 7/1/16, does the system record that as 1916 or 2016? It’s possible that you may even uncover duplicates and other issues in combing through the information you’ve obtained. Profiling the data in this way gives us a starting point – a springboard to jump from in making sure the information we’re using is of the best possible quality.

Determining Data Quality

So now that we have a starting point from which to determine if our information is complete and accurate, the next question becomes – what do we do when we find errors or issues? Typically, you can do one of four things:

  • Accept the Error – If it falls within an acceptable standard (i.e. Main Street instead of Main St) you can decide to accept it and move on to the next entry.
  • Reject the Error – Sometimes, particularly with data imports, the information is so severely damaged or incorrect that it would be better to simply delete the entry altogether than try to correct it.
  • Correct the Error – Misspellings of customer names are a common error that can easily be corrected. If there are variations on a name, you can set one as the “Master” and keep the data consolidated and correct across all the databases.
  • Create a Default Value – If you don’t know the value, it can be better to have something there (unknown or n/a) than nothing at all.

Integrating the Data

When you have the same data across different databases, the opportunity is ripe for errors and duplicates. The first step toward successful integration is seeing where the data is and then combining that data in a way that’s consistent. Here it can be extremely worthwhile to invest in proven data quality and accuracy tools to help coordinate and sync information across databases.

Your Data Quality Checklist

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Finally, because you’re dealing with so much data across so many different areas, it’s helpful to have a checklist to determine that you’re working with the highest quality of data possible. DAMA UK has created an excellent guide on “data dimensions” that can be used to better get the full picture on how data quality is decided.

Their data quality dimensions include:

Completeness – a percentage of data that includes one or more values. It’s important that critical data (such as customer names, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.) be completed first since completeness doesn’t impact non-critical data that much.

Uniqueness – When measured against other data sets, there is only one entry of its kind.

Timeliness – How much of an impact does date and time have on the data? This could be previous sales, product launches or any information that is relied on over a period of time to be accurate.

Validity – Does the data conform to the respective standards set for it?

Accuracy – How well does the data reflect the real-world person or thing that is identified by it?

Consistency – How well does the data align with a preconceived pattern? Birth dates share a common consistency issue, since in the U.S., the standard is MM/DD/YYYY, whereas in Europe and other areas, the usage of DD/MM/YYYY is standard.

The Big Picture on Data Quality

As you can see, there’s no “one size fits all” approach to maintaining accuracy and completeness on every type of data for every business. And with big data’s appetite for information growing more and more every day, it is becoming more important than ever to tackle data quality issues head-on. Although it can seem overwhelming, it’s worth enlisting data hygiene tools to let computers do what they do best – crunch numbers.

The most important step you can take is simply getting started. The data is always going to grow as more prospects come on board and new markets are discovered, so there’s never going to be a “best time” to tackle data quality issues. Taking the time now to map out what data quality means to your company or organization can create a ripple-effect of improved customer service, a better customer experience, a higher conversion rate and longer customer retention – and those are the kinds of returns on investment that any business will wholeheartedly embrace!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

A Process You Can Follow to Become an Influencer in Your Industry

The term influencer is being tossed around a lot these days.

I would even classify it as one of the top 10 buzzwords of 2016.

Influencer marketing is quickly becoming one of the hottest and most effective strategies in existence.

In fact, “59 percent of marketers use influencer engagement campaigns for product launches and content creation.”

This technique gets results because businesses make $6.50 for every dollar invested in influencer marketing, according to a poll of marketing professionals conducted by Tomoson.

But what about when YOU’RE the influencer? You’re the one calling the shots.

Becoming an influencer in your industry can have immense benefits.

You can use your experience and credibility to sway the opinion of others, build trust, develop your brand, and so on.

But how exactly does one become an influencer?

While there’s no magic recipe and a lot of variables involved, I’ve found there is a distinct process you can follow.

It definitely takes time to achieve this status, but following the right steps should eventually elevate you to influencer status.

What is an Influencer?

First things first. What do I mean when I say influencer?

Influencer Analysis is dead on with their definition:

“An influencer is an individual who has above-average impact on a specific niche process. Influencers are normal people, who are often connected to key roles of media outlets, consumers groups, industry associations or community tribes.”

In other words, people recognize that you’re an expert (or at least highly knowledgeable) in your industry and that you’ve got a sizable following.

This might include a loyal legion of blog subscribers, social media followers, etc.

Keep in mind you don’t need to do it on the macro scale to be an influencer. You don’t have to be Taylor Swift or Jay Z.

In fact, there are countless micro-influencers who may not be recognized on the large scale but hold a lot of sway nonetheless.

Some people who come to mind include Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income and Tim Ferriss.

At the core of it all, influencers have authority, and their word is as good as gold.

People recognize the value they bring to the table and are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

I’ve found that the process of becoming an influencer has five key steps.

Step 1 – Focus on a niche

The first and most important step to becoming an influencer is to focus on what you’re passionate about.

You can’t be everything to everyone. To gain traction and be recognized as an authority figure, people need to link your name to a particular niche.

Take Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, for example.

He’s a blogger, podcaster, speaker, and author who specializes in one specific area: blogging.

His name is synonymous with blogging, and his website is one of the top resources for learning about blogging and how to become a better blogger.

Notice that he doesn’t talk about fashion, ice skating, or cooking. His core focus is on blogging. That’s it.

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While you don’t have to completely pigeonhole yourself, it’s important that you pick a particular niche and focus wholeheartedly on it.

You need to eat, sleep, and breathe your niche. This allows you to establish authority in a particular area.

Ideally, in time, people will recognize your expertise and take notice.

They’ll want to follow you on whatever outlets you use (e.g., a blog, Twitter, and/or industry publications) and be interested in what you have to say.

Step 2 – Share your knowledge

To make a name for yourself and establish a presence, you need to create plenty of industry-centric content.

This is vital because it’s a surefire way to prove that you know your stuff and demonstrate the value you bring.

Fortunately, this has never been easier to do than today.

With a ton of media outlets available, there’s no shortage of mediums to choose from.

A good old-fashioned blog is one of the best places to get started, and it provides you with a platform to develop your unique voice.

In fact, “86 percent of influencers also operate at least one blog.” And I feel that launching my own personal blog has been a contributing factor to getting to where I’m at today.

You’ll definitely want to be active on social media as well.

Ideally, you’ll create and maintain profiles on at least three different networks because this increases your reach and gives you the opportunity to establish a strong brand identity.

It’s also great because you can connect with other like-minded people in your industry.

Notice that Darren Rowse has a solid presence on multiple social networks:

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However, a blog and social media are just the tip of the iceberg.

There are countless other mediums you can use to demonstrate your knowledge and boost your “street cred.”

Some options include:

  • Podcasting
  • Creating webinars
  • Creating videos
  • Slideshows
  • Whitepapers
  • Infographics

I’m also a huge proponent of writing a book.

There’s something about authorship that can really skyrocket your credibility and make people take notice.

An e-book is nice, but a legitimate printed book is even better.

Just think about it.

If someone lands on your website and sees that you’ve published a book, they’ll probably take you a lot more seriously than they would have otherwise.

Your perceived value can quickly go through the roof this way.

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Legitness!

Finally, there’s guest-blogging.

While this strategy got some heat for awhile because of its association with potential Google penalties, it’s still incredibly effective, especially for establishing yourself as an influencer.

I attribute a lot of my success to the fact that I made it a point to be featured on publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

Guest-blogging is awesome because it kills two birds with one stone. Or six birds. Or more.

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First, you can reach a huge audience basically overnight.

Say the blog or publication you post on has 100,000 readers. You can get your content in front of a large-scale audience and tangibly demonstrate the industry knowledge and expertise you bring to the table.

Second, you can increase your perceived value dramatically. Being associated with other leaders and influencers in your industry elevates your brand equity significantly.

This way, you can piggyback on their success and use it to establish yourself as a viable influencer.

If you’re looking for some guidance on the guest-blogging process, I recommend checking out this post from Kissmetrics. It has some super helpful tips.

The bottom line here is that you’ll need to put forth plenty of effort, creating a lot of quality content and distributing it across a variety of mediums.

This is key for getting your name out there and getting the ball rolling.

Step 3 – Have an opinion

What’s one thing that all influencers have in common?

They have their own take on things. They have a voice. They have an opinion.

This is what makes them distinguishable from the masses and what gives them their swagger.

What they aren’t is vanilla or lukewarm on topics.

With 1,400 blog posts, 2,460,000 pieces of Facebook content, and 277,000 tweets posted each minute, there’s an immense amount of noise on the Internet.

In order to rise above it, you need to be an independent thinker.

Quite frankly, I think it’s better to be occasionally offensive or to go against the grain than to be 100% agreeable all the time.

Not that you should go out of your way to stir the pot, but it’s okay for your thoughts to deviate from the norm.

People are attracted to those who can think for themselves and have their own views on things.

Whatever industry you’re in, hold true to your values, and be sure to have your own opinion.

This is essential for eventually becoming an influencer.

Step 4 – Network, network, network

Once you’ve established yourself to some extent, you need to make an effort to connect with others.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to create leverage is to network with other influencers.

Or as Marketing Land puts it,

“To establish yourself as an influencer, you need to interact with influencers.”

But when you’re an up-and-comer and still working to establish yourself, you’re usually the one who will need to put in the legwork.

Seldom will the heavy hitters reach out to you (at least at first). That’s why you’ll need to be the one to reach out.

There are two main ways to do this.

One is to connect digitally, and the other is to connect in person.

The first option is usually done via interacting with prominent people on social media and commenting on their blog posts and other content they post.

The goal here is to start a conversation and gradually build rapport. This takes time and can’t be done overnight, so you need to be persistent about it.

For example, you might get in the habit of providing insightful comments at the end of an influencer’s blog posts that further the conversation.

After three or four times, it’s likely they’ll take notice of you, and this can open doors for the future.

But how do you know with whom to interact?

If you need some help deciding whom to target, I recommend using Buzzsumo.

The site has a section devoted to tracking down top influencers.

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Just click on “Influencers,” and type in the topic you’re interested in.

I’ll use “content marketing” as an example.

After entering this as a search term, I got a list of content that received a ridiculously high number of shares. Also listed are the people who wrote these pieces.

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This can be an effective way to find the people you should try to connect with.

The second option is to network in person.

Some ways to do this include:

  • attending industry tradeshows,
  • going to conferences/industry events, and
  • landing public speaking engagements.

Public speaking in particular can be a potent way to make connections because all eyes are on you, and you never know who could be in attendance—it could be a huge influencer who holds a lot of sway.

Step 5 – Engage your audience

Last but not least, you need to keep the conversation going.

Seldom do people want to follow someone who tries to be all high and mighty and acts as if they’re too good to interact with their followers.

They want to follow someone who’s real, accessible, and approachable.

That’s why you need to put in the effort to religiously respond to blog comments, reply to messages on social media, thank people for reading your content, etc.

Here’s an example of me responding to a comment on my blog:

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I would also recommend occasionally sharing outstanding content that members of your audience post on social media or commenting on their blogs as well.

That, right there, can be huge for boosting your brand equity and for forming super tight relationships.

The trick is to capitalize on the momentum you generate and to keep the ball rolling.

Conclusion

I’ll be honest. Becoming an influencer isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight.

It takes a lot of hard work, consistent effort, and persistence. Even after you become an influencer, you need to keep your foot on the gas pedal to maintain your status.

Although it’s not easy, it’s definitely worthwhile.

The great thing about it is that building influence has a snowball effect. While you may only have a minimal amount of influence when first starting out, this grows and grows over time.

After awhile, your influence can become immense without you having to put a lot of extra effort into it.

In other words, the first stages are the most difficult and time-consuming.

But after you establish yourself, you simply need to maintain your status, and the world becomes your proverbial oyster.

What specific things do you hope to achieve by becoming an influencer in your industry?

11 Qualities of the Ideal Social Media Strategist

There is no single quality to look for when searching for the ideal social media strategist. Social media strategy doesn’t mean just posting fun pictures and trolling for trends all day. A social media strategist must be able to work in many different disciplines and across each social channel.

From day to day, they could wear the hat of a photographer, editor, copywriter, planner, customer support and even social media analyst. The big question becomes how can one person do all that? Below are some of the qualities that make a social media strategist effective:

1. Multidisciplinary

The need to work in a variety of mediums brings us to the first, and likely most important quality for a social media strategist to have—multi-skills. Social media is intrinsically multidisciplinary as it is comprised of multiple networks, and no two function exactly the same.

The mark of a well-rounded social media strategist is the ability to clearly identify various workflows, plans and rules as they apply to their respective networks. While some strategists often have a favorite network, top social media strategists can handle all pillars of a social strategy for any platform.

Another way to look at the multidisciplinary quality of a social media strategist, is they must be proficient in every aspect of social, including:

  • Proactive and reactive engagement
  • Proactive and reactive publishing
  • Social media analytics
  • Strategizing

How does a social media strategist handle all these disciplines? Multitasking is their friend. It behooves a social media strategist to seek out ways to make multitasking easier and more effective.

It is in their best interest to streamline their processes so they can work smarter, rather than grind their gears all day inundated with tasks. This means not only do social media strategists switch from task to task by the minute, but they should be deeply familiar with the tools that allow them to do so.

A social media strategist’s toolkit could include a range of productivity apps, a social media management tool like Sprout and they might even need familiarity with content management systems.

social media management

2. Audience Focused Vision

Having a long-term vision for a social customer care strategy is an integral part of being a social media strategist. Not only does a strategist have to listen and understand the concerns, demands and even praise of current customers, but they also have to be proactive about what future customers might say.

In addition, they should set forth guidelines for their social customer care strategy and make sure it’s being implemented.

Tagging messages for sentiment is one of the easiest ways to track customer feedback.

Sprout Social Message Tagging

Monitoring response time is another way to measure the effectiveness of your customer service on social.

sprout social team report

A good social media strategist will take these social media analytics and find ways to improve them for the future.

Social media strategists are also a front line for customer support, so it’s integral that they put the customer first. According to research from J.D. Power and Associates, 67% of consumers have used a company’s social media site for servicing.

Social media strategists should have a genuine desire for their company to succeed beyond increasing market share and revenue. They need to make a positive impact in the hearts, minds and eyes of their direct supporters and community. For instance, Jimmy John’s is well known for providing excellent customer service and have built a stellar reputation as a result.

Their passion to help should be reflected in their behavior. For example, if a social media strategist promises to pass feedback along, they should follow through and report back to the customer about any improvements/changes.

A desire to help is an intangible quality that is hard to teach, but possessed by some of the most successful social media strategists out there.

3. Strong Communication Skills

A social media strategist has to be able to drop what they’re doing at a moment’s notice and hop on a trending topic or a disgruntled customer service complaint. In those unexpected windows of time, they must effectively communicate to higher-ups why they are shifting their focus.

In addition, a social media strategist has to communicate plans regarding their content distribution plan, and how that will affect other departments within their organization. An ideal strategist has the skills to communicate how these plans will push the overall business goals forward.

A Social media strategist needs to be able to extend their communication skills outside of the organization as well:

Another reason to keep those communication skills strong is to develop internal education and training. One way to do this is through an employee advocacy platform where the strategist can curate content intended for company wide social sharing.

bambu content curation

While the social media team might lead the charge for your company’s social media marketing efforts, they can also work to get people from other departments involved as well.

4. Creativity

Not only does a social media strategist have to exercise the left side of their brain by being strategic and analytical, but they also have to use the right side of their brain by being artistic and creative.

This position looks at a strategy through multiple lenses. Not only are they mindful of specific network rules, distribution guidelines, media types and posting conventions, but also they consider the impact of the actual content. You could have a well-planned distribution strategy, but if your content does not resonate with your audience, it won’t make a difference.

Curating quality content, campaigns and providing value to your community can require a lot of creative thought. This is especially true when it comes to the saturated social media space. These days it’s about what sets your content apart and pulls eyes off the page. A social media strategist has to conceptualize, categorize, visualize, edit and execute every piece of content that goes out.

A creative eye also comes in handy when drafting the aesthetic of social posts. Every detail is important:

  • Should there be an image involved?
  • Do you need to include a link?
  • How will the meta-data appear?
  • How will the copy line up?

Creative license also comes into play when considering things like video length, call-to-action screens and even the tone of the message. Is it exciting? Does the message seem fun? Does it make someone want to take action?

5. Be Daring

Social Media Strategists should never fear failure. Due to the ever changing landscape of social media marketing, one of the best attributes people in this position can have is the willingness to try and test anything. In fact, testing should be one of their hobbies.

There are so many variables in social media you shouldn’t be afraid of changing formats, media types, content style or tone.  The curiosity to test new platforms and tactics and see how they affect the bottom line should be ever-present. For instance, our community outreach manager Sarah Nagel wasn’t afraid to give Blab a try with our Sprout All Stars.

You never know when you will strike gold, and a good social media strategist will be ready to pivot their process based on what they learn at any moment.

6. Proactive

Social Media never sleeps. Your strategy needs to be just as proactive as it is reactive. A good social media specialist will always be seeking new campaign ideas, engaging new prospects and practicing social listening to spot mentions of their brand or relevant conversations.

If a social media strategist is on their listening game, they will be able to seize ample opportunities for outreach. After all, being proactive isn’t just related to your specific social media strategy. Being proactive in terms of monitoring trends and competitors can have its advantages as well.

Anticipating the opportunity for social moments is key, and people in this position couldn’t do that if they weren’t looking to the future.

7. Tech Savvy

Being experienced with various social networks is an obvious plus for a social media strategist, but there is some technical aptitude that goes along with that.

A good social media strategist is comfortable with all the technicalities of social sites, third party platforms and all social tech in between. From HTML to Boolean search operators, there is a definite need for tech knowledge.

Being familiar with the technical aspects of social media marketing gives strategists a better understanding of the work it takes to produce and distribute content. Over time, that can eventually lead to more tangible benefits such as quicker response time or better user experience.

8. Analytical

Strategists should communicate a plan of action and report key performance indicators to the people that truly care about a business’s bottom line. This position is often tasked with updating their leadership team with progress numbers, anecdotal wins, visual data and ROI reports.

One of the greatest things a strategist can do when starting out at a company is to find someone who tracks those bottom line metrics for the company and see how they do it. With that information, they can map their strategic efforts to specific metrics and start attributing some of the successes to the social strategy.

In addition to communicating across their teams, social media strategists also have to be able to communicate up to executives. In order to get “buy-in” and participation, strategists need to demonstrate their goals, strategy and results of any social initiative to specific department heads.

That means being comfortable using social media analytics tools. Analyzing reports and explaining data to management and executives is crucial. Sprout’s analytics make it easy for strategists to generate reports that are simple to present to higher-ups and non-marketers.

sprout social group report

Strategists have the ability to relay not only the big, but also the small moments of success that come along to reinforce a company’s faith in its process. These wins can be visualized through screenshots of incoming praise or small statistical anecdotes that show growth.

9. Organized

You can’t have a strategy without being organized. Similarly, you can’t manage a social media strategy without managing your time wisely. As a result, a social media strategist should have a high level of organizational skills.

Not only do they have to conceptualize campaigns and distribution rhythms, but they also should lead and execute these formalized plans from start to finish. One campaign could require a whole host of tasks. Gathering media, writing copy, setting dates, formatting and scheduling all have to be planned and executed perfectly.

One outlying variable or blunder can throw off an entire campaign. To do this at scale, a good strategist will implement tools, policies and processes for their social presence so that at any time another member could pick up where the other left off.

Using a social media calendar is one of the best ways to keep content organized and plan ahead.

Social media content calendar

10. Agility

The strategist part of the title never goes away. Not only does strategy encompass a plan of action, but also the links in between actionable items, including:

  • The communication
  • The follow through
  • The analysis

Strategy can pivot at any point and you may be asked to post something at a moment’s notice. New trends emerge in social media all the time, which is another reason a flexible strategist is integral to staying relevant. An agile social media strategist that can pivot based on feedback or trends is one you can trust to really see a strategy through full circle.

Patience and flexibility are especially important when dealing with customers and trying to help them with their issues. Although it’s not always easy to understand a problem in 140 characters, patience and flexibility allow a strategist to thoroughly take on customer service complaints.

On the flip side, when a community member is readily offering praise, agility also comes into play. If a social media strategist is agile, they will adapt to the message and treat it with care. Rather than sending a canned “Thank You” response, a genuinely caring strategist will look through conversation history and go the extra mile to make a personal connection whilst showing gratitude.

11. Passion

At the end of the day, there is no one size fits all social media strategist. While some traits may be stronger than others, the most important attribute is passion.

In the end, if someone has passion for the product, subject or community they are championing, it shows. And when a social media strategist truly believes in what they are sharing, then their content strategy becomes genuine messaging and moves far past promotion.

What’s on your list of qualities you look for in a good social media strategist? Leave a comment and let us know!

This post 11 Qualities of the Ideal Social Media Strategist originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Everything We Know about Google Penguin 4.0

penguin-4-0Google Penguin 4.0 was officially announced on Friday and I’ve waited a few days to collect various questions and observations.

I’ll be updating this post as more questions and observations are coming.

So what do we know by now?

From the official announcement:

  • Penguin 4.0 is real time (and part of algorithm): Google will determine if a web page should be affected by Penguin filter as it crawls the page. This means, you won’t need to wait till the next Penguin update to see if your site is no longer affected by it. The filter may be removed as soon as Google re-crawls the page again. This also means this is the last officially announced update.
  • Penguin 4.0 is now “granular” which sounds like it may affect pages or sections of the site, not always entire sites.

What does it mean?

Penguin will be hard to diagnose

With no dates and official announcements, Penguin will become very hard to diagnose, especially if the site is partially effected.

This means a thorough professional backlink profile audit is more important than ever.

Should disavow still be used?

Yes, it has been confirmed that Disavowing bad links is a viable option after you did you due diligence in removing them.

URLs is the disavow file should be re-crawled for those backlinks to be discounted (same as before)

Observations so far:

It looks like the impact has been very mild but it only confirms that Penguin is now real time: It takes time to crawl the web!

The post Everything We Know about Google Penguin 4.0 appeared first on Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog.

5 Awesome Takeaways from HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 Report

state-of-inbound-2016

Today’s consumers are much more self-directed in their buying habits, leveraging the internet and mobile technologies to research, review, interact and buy the products and services they need or want. As a result, many brands and marketers are shifting their marketing tactics to join consumers on their buying journey, rather than interrupting their day with a random cold call or talking at them as they flip through a magazine.

That shift is toward inbound marketing tactics such as blogging, eBooks, whitepapers, social media marketing and dozens of other content marketing tactics—a way of effective marketing that TopRank Marketing is all about. And the growth and importance of inbound marketing is only going to grow, according to HubSpot.

HubSpot—whose CEO Brian Halligan coined the term “inbound marketing”—recently released its eighth annual State of Inbound report, digging into where the “inbound movement” is and where it’s headed. They surveyed more than 4,500 marketing and sales folks from B2B and B2C backgrounds at small- and mid-sized businesses to uncover their challenges, priorities and strategies for the future.

The results? Here’s what Halligan had to say in the opening introduction of the report.

“The world is becoming more inbound. It’s growing more authentic, less interruptive. And with the findings of this year’s report, I think it’s safe to say that over the next ten years we’re going to see an even more inbound world.”

Below I dive into some of the findings that I found interesting, as well as some of the key takeaways that I believe will help marketers evolve their inbound marketing tactics and strategies.

#1 – Sales and marketing alignment is a must.

When it comes to generating more leads and turning those leads into sales, the old adage “two heads are better than one” couldn’t be more true.

Sales and marketing teams that work together have a greater chance of success because it’s easier to track and measure ROI. According to the report, 82% of companies with effective marketing strategies say their sales and marketing teams are tightly aligned.

An easy first step for aligning your teams is to meet regularly. Sales reps are constantly talking to and meeting with current and prospective customers, giving marketers the ability to tap into that knowledge to gain detailed audience insights. They can then use those insights to create content that actually resonate with their audience at all stages of the sales funnel, and ultimately bring in more qualified leads.

#2 – Educating your audience is the key to success.

Prospecting is one of the most difficult parts of a sales person’s job, and it’s even more difficult when they’re talking to prospects who lack knowledge about the company and its products or services. According to the report, sales reps report that prospecting becomes increasingly difficult as the amount of knowledge a prospect has goes down.

What does this mean for marketers? It means that creating quality and informative content not only helps your target audience learn, but it also grows brand awareness—which can help drive more informed leads to your sales team.

Use the knowledge you’ve gained from your sales teams, as well as any data you’ve collected, to create content concepts that will provide your audience with the best possible answer for any of their queries. Consider using a mix of inbound and content marketing that fit with how your audience likes to consume content.

#3 – Having the right measurement tools is critical.

According to the report, generating website traffic and leads, and proving ROI are the two top marketing challenges cited by respondents. With both challenges being metric-based, HubSpot cited the lack of the proper tools as the major driver of these challenges.

At a minimum your website should have Google Analytics—or your preferred analytics tool—installed and tracking. The data collected will help you understand how people are coming to your site and how they’re interacting with your content. In addition, utilize the insights and analytics dashboards on your social pages to gain more insights.

If you’re ready to go a step further, companies such as HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot offer paid marketing analytics and automation tools that can be incredibly helpful.

#4 – Investments in visual content will continue.

Humans are incredibly visual creatures. In fact, research shows that 90% of the information that comes to our brains is visual. So it’s really no surprise that visual content is proving to be more popular and engaging with our audiences—and marketers plan to up their visual game in the coming year.

According to the report, 48% of marketers plan to add YouTube as one of their content distribution channels in the next 12 months. In addition, 39% plan to add Facebook video and 33% plan to add Instagram to their efforts.

While visual content holds many marketing opportunities, don’t feel like you have to do and be everywhere. Choose the types of content and platforms that make the most sense for your business, aligning with where your audience is and what your ultimate business goals are.

With that said, if you’re unsure—feel free to experiment a little bit. But make sure you’re tracking your efforts and results so you can see if it’s a worthwhile investment.

#5 – Growing organic presence is a top priority.

As Google continues to refine its search algorithms and grows its artificial intelligence programs, marketers are constantly fighting to keep and improve their key rankings. So, it’s no surprise that HubSpot found that 66% of marketers say growing SEO and organic presence is their No. 1 priority within their inbound marketing projects.

SEO and organic search should absolutely be a priority for all inbound marketing efforts. But make sure you’re focusing on the right things.

Put your effort behind the on-page aspects that will provide a better user experience, rather than traditional technical tactics like optimizing the metadata of a page. Of course, those technical pieces still hold some relevance to search engines, but focusing on really matters to your audience is how you’ll get the best results.

Check out our post Understanding the Impact of Artificial Intelligence for a closer look at some of the recent changes in search and how to move forward.

Why We Inbound

HubSpot’s report is bursting with more than 100 pages of interesting insights and findings. But one of my favorite takeaways came from Halligan. I think it really sums up why we inbound and content marketers love what we do.

As he so eloquently wrote in the report’s introduction:

“Inbound means transforming how we do business to be more helpful, more human, more empathetic. It focuses on the whole process of turning a stranger into a delighted customer. Inbound is about matching the way you market and sell with the way people actually want to shop and buy.”

Download the full State of Inbound 2016 report.

How will your inbound marketing efforts evolve in the next year? Tell us in the comments section below.


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The post 5 Awesome Takeaways from HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2016 Report appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

A Journey Or A Destination?

Is your life a journey or a destination?

Alan Watts – Why Your Life Is Not A Journey

Alan Watts – Why Your Life Is Not A Journey from David Lindberg on Vimeo.

(thanks for the find, Tom Webster).

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Introducing Snapchat Spectacles: Smart Glasses

So Snapchat is becoming a camera company. Or so they say, with the launch of “Snapchat Spectacles” a new smart glasses product that lets users instantly snap 10 second videos straight from the glasses that are soon to go on sale for about $130 a pair. It’s a pretty big play for Snapchat, and while […]

Advertising. Full Steam Ahead.

“Advertising is dying. Advertising is dead. Advertising doesn’t work.”

A common theme. A common rant. It’s fine to think that advertising doesn’t work. It’s fine to question it, in a world of spam, terrible infomercials, 30 second spots that are horrific, or by the amount of paper that gets popped on to our doorsteps to buy stuff on a daily basis. It is true that not every piece of advertising is a piece of art (in fact, the opposite). Still, the data does not lie.

Advertising growth is about to hit a record high.

That is fact-based. That is data. That is our reality. Today, MediaPost published the news item: U.S. Ad Growth To Hit Record $178 Billion

“The U.S. advertising market is expected to grow at its fastest rate since 2010 – nearly 6%. Upgrading its earlier forecast, London-based advertising researcher Warc says U.S. ad spend will rise 5.8% to a record high of $178 billion – double the amount projected for the overall U.S. economy. A previous December forecast had estimated the U.S. ad market climbing 4.9% for 2016.”

What are the factors at play here?

To put this number into perspective, the United States is the world’s largest national economy in nominal terms, and second largest according to purchasing power parity. It represents over 20% of nominal global GDP and 17% of gross world product. The United States’ GDP was estimated to be just under $18 trillion as of Q2 2015. In short, $178 billion is a huge part of the economy, not to mention how much advertising dollars plays into actual purchases. Meaning, imagine what the GDP would look like if the advertising dollars were not there, plus its ability to drive actual sales. The numbers would be horrific. In short: advertising has a significant role in our economy (whether you like ads or not). Many might take exception to making the correlation between advertising spend and its efficacy. That’s a fair debate, but I would argue that at this scale, it has to work. If it did not provide factual business results, it would not be growing at scale. It would remain stagnant or it would be shrinking as the years wane on. That being said, the growth could be fear-based. There may be a business sentiment that tough times are around the corner, so spending now and grabbing market share is the right strategy to ensure a tougher future. Others might argue, that if trouble is around the corner, a business might hold back or reduce ad spend to save those chestnuts through the tougher winter. The other two (and very important factors) that are driving this year’s growth were the Olympics and the Presidential campaign.

And, how is digital advertising doing?

From the article: “U.S. digital media spending will grow at over double the rate of TV – 13.7%. Overall, Warc says digital media will achieve near the same dollar value of the TV ad market this year – and rising above TV next year.” These are the moments that I could only have dreamt about twenty years ago. In 1999, I would sit, stare and wonder at my computer screen if these little banners and search-triggered ads would ever amount into anything. TV was so dominant. And, here we are. If you think about the advertising landscape, it’s hard not to be amazed at the many ways advertising has changed in such a short while. From email and search to display and native, it’s amazing. The analytics, optimization and general marketing tech landscape is almost impossible to track. A new generation of startups, the evolution of traditional firms and the invention of new jobs, responsibilities and opportunities. Young people are eager to enter into this industry.

Advertising is alive and well and… growing…

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#SproutChat Recap: How to Manage your Content Calendar with Trello

Staying organized and on-task is essential for any professional. This is especially true for social media managers. For social and editorial content, a tool like Trello is essential to track posts and maintain your sanity.

This week at #SproutChat, Sprout All Star Erica Moss from Trello joined us for a valuable chat around managing a content or editorial calendar with the visual collaboration tool.

Get Your Entire Team on Board for Maximum Efficiency

Trello’s collaboration features are not to be missed. Individual users can gain a lot of organization and productivity and that result is just multiplied with more team members working together on a board. Whether you’re working across specialty, department or across the country, get on the same page quickly by using Trello team features.

Don’t Miss These Trello Features

Take advantage of all the integrations with other tools for maximum efficiency. Having tools “talk” to each other will kill tedious tasks and allow you to focus on what’s really important. Trello has a lot of other capabilities to decrease the amount of time you need to spend on administrative tasks.

Get Started

The use cases for Trello are vast. Tell us how you use the tool or get inspired  for content organization via this example of an content calendar.

Join us next week to discuss LinkedIn Reporting. Stay up to date with weekly chat topics and connect to other #SproutChat folks via our Facebook community.

This post #SproutChat Recap: How to Manage your Content Calendar with Trello originally appeared on Sprout Social.

What Makes B2B Content Remarkable for Buyers?

It’s no secret. Everyone knows the biggest problem B2B content marketing faces today. Well, actually several give B2B marketers fits.

Which one am I talking about?

Making B2B content engage and actually drive more leads. How bleak does the situation look?

Not good. Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report surveyed 3,714 B2B marketers from around the globe. The report defines “effective” as “accomplishing your overall objectives.” CMI asked B2B marketers to rate themselves. Shockingly, just 30% of B2B marketers rate themselves as “effective”. And that was down 21.05% from 38% in 2014.

And Heinz Marketing quotes IDG Connect as saying “86% of buyers say content is neither useful, relevant, nor aligned with needs of people in the buying decision.” That makes B2B buyers information-rich and knowledge-poor.

The natural question to ask then becomes, “If marketers’ typical approach to B2B content doesn’t work, what does?”

I’ve been on a personal quest to find out over the past several months. Let me explain some of the top elements of lead-generating B2B content.

Show Your Buyer Why They Need to Change Their Behavior

CEB Group research published at Harvard Business Review shows exactly what buyers want. They feel they must learn something new about their business and have a compelling reason to change their present behavior.

This explains why you can craft useful, interesting, and in-depth information, yet still not generate the leads you want. You have to make more of the right content based on your knowledge of your buyer and their industry and problems.

SaleCycle actually had the stomach to admit on Econsultancy that 80% of its B2B content failed.

They were creating lots of content, but most of it wasn’t about topics that interested their prospects. Content that taught prospects facts, stats, and best practices about sales worked. Client stories worked too. However, their content about careers and company culture, though useful, absolutely bombed by comparison.

So, SaleCycle learned that lots of in-depth content doesn’t necessarily work. But they found what did through their analytics.

Include Emotion in Your B2B Content

You hear it all the time: B2B buyers are intelligent, sophisticated people. They only need the facts. True with some aspects of marketing (especially white papers).

But remember, they’re human beings and have emotions too.

What does research say about emotions in the B2B buying process? They play a far larger role than you think. Check it out:

B2B buyers make highly emotional decisions. (Image Source)

In fact, Kapost goes so far as to claim emotions matter more to buyers than logic and reason.

Are they completely outlandish in their claim?

Joint research among CEB Marketing Leadership Council, Motista, and Google also found:

“Not only did the B2B brands drive more emotional connections than B2C brands, but they weren’t even close. Of the hundreds of B2C brands that Motista has studied, most have emotional connections with between 10% and 40% of consumers. Meanwhile, of the nine B2B brands we studied, seven surpassed the 50% mark. On average, B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.”

Why would this be?

Think about it, well, logically. With many purchases, B2B buyers find themselves in an intensely emotional situation.

They spend a lot of money on their purchases. At least several other people get in on the decision, so they want to look good. Make a bad decision, and they’ll lose an abundance of credibility and respect, and possibly their job. They want to go with the safe option, the one practically guaranteed to give them good results.

Consumers, on the other hand, generally make small purchases that don’t put a big dent in their budget. If the purchase doesn’t work out, they get angry, and often can get their money back. A few family members might be upset too.

But, it’s just a little money. And they have plenty of competing choices to choose from. So for many consumer purchases, it’s not a big deal to make a bad decision.

Possibly the greatest example of emotional marketing in B2B is IBM’s famous slogan from the 1980s:

“No one ever got fired for buying IBM.”

Why did it work so well? With so much at stake for B2B buyers when buying computer hardware back then, they wanted to make a safe decision. No one wanted to lose their job, or a lot of respect, for going with an unknown competitor.

So, the slogan appealed powerfully to buyers’ desire for safety, security, and predictability. Like Apple today, IBM was the dominant tech company of the 1980s.

And of Course…B2B Buyers Use Logic Too

While buyers use more emotion in their decision than consumers, they also have to line up all the facts. But most B2B content doesn’t give them what they want in this respect either:

“66% of technology buyers feel that digital content needs to be more aligned with organizational objectives and relevant to the decision making process.” – IDG Connect survey

How do you do this? It’s a simple process, but it isn’t easy. Skilled marketers learn the questions B2B buyers ask throughout the sales cycle. They answer those questions with content.

Does that sound anything like what your sales team does? If they’re good at what they do, your sales team should already know these questions and answers. So, it’s just a matter of having a productive conversation with sales.

But, not all marketing and sales teams have positive relationships. If you don’t have access to this data, you have a number of tactics you can use to get it:

  • Ask sales if you can silently observe a few of their phone calls
  • Talk with customers you recently acquired because you know they love you now (you could offer a reward to the customer that’s chosen)
  • Check out B2B software review websites like G2 Crowd
  • Watch your competitors’ content, and especially the pieces that get the most social shares
  • Review your own analytics as you gather data, focusing in particular on how many buyers took your desired next step, which could be done easily with the Kissmetrics funnel report
  • Find and follow industry websites and thought leaders and watch the hot topics
  • Follow your buyers on Twitter and LinkedIn to see what they talk about
  • Do a Twitter advanced search using some of the keywords your buyer might use, and see what questions come up
  • Search and follow the most relevant topics to your buyer on Quora

In my opinion, talking to sales, listening to their conversations, or talking directly with customers gives you the fastest and most useful results. When that’s not possible, you’ll have to research multiple sources online and construct the sales cycle from scratch.

The Amount of Trust Buyers Give Your Content Depends on Its Source

How your buyer comes into contact with your content directly affects the amount of trust they give it. If they stumble across a blog post or get the exact same content from your sales team, they place a far different level of trust in it.

Look at how much buyers trust content, depending on the source it comes from:

trusted-information-sourcesB2B buyers still trust recommendations from their peers more than anything else. (Image Source)

So if you pay any attention, you probably hear non-stop about “influencer marketing.” According to these stats, since buyers trust peer, colleagues, and independent content most, influencer marketing is a worthwhile approach.

It’s not just another fad destined to go away. For what it’s worth, B2B buyers’ minds have worked this way for decades. Count on getting your content into their peers’ hands as a valuable marketing tactic for many years to come.

Buyers, Including Millennials, Want Their Content in a Certain Format

You may have heard about 2016 being “the year of video marketing.” Snapchat, Instagram, and even Pinterest also get touted as the next biggest channels for B2B marketers. Periscope even gets some attention.

The real question: should you even spend any of your time working on channel strategies?

According to research from The Economist, no. Both veteran and young professionals still prefer plain ol’ text:

professionals-prefer-text-articlesMost business professionals still prefer text content over any other format. (Image Source)

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any video in your B2B marketing strategy. I’m not saying that.

But, if you drive yourself mad because you don’t have a podcast, webinar, video, infographic or whatever, relax. B2B buyers don’t need anything fancy schmancy.

Just give them new and compelling information that gives them the business case for change.

Each Content Type Has an Ideal Place in Your Sales Cycle

You have such a massive mix of content to choose from. Blog posts, white papers, case studies, newsletters, videos, infographics…

What should you create, and where should you target it in the buy cycle? Eccolo Media surveyed B2B buyers firsthand to find out. And here’s what they found:

content-types-in-sales-cycleWhere the most common types of content work best in the sales cycle. (Image Source)

Basically, content works well before the sales cycle even begins, and best during the early and middle sales cycle.

To gather the data, Eccolo Media surveyed more than 100 B2B marketers. 33% were influencers while 67% were decision makers ranging in age from 20 to over 60, and holding positions from manager to vice president at all sizes of companies.

And they also give some interesting data you don’t see on the above chart: 80% of survey respondents thought it was “important” or “very important” to get content on an ongoing basis after their purchase.

Eccolo Media found B2B buyers want these types of content post-purchase:

  • 36% want “thought leadership” content
  • 30% would like technical support and updates
  • 25% love new product info
  • 9% find customer stories useful

Define What Content Marketing Success Looks Like

To find out what buyers want, you have to define what success means to you. Once you know that, then you can determine whether you’ve given buyers what they want (or not).

Now, all kinds of debate exists as to how you know you’ve succeeded. Some say MQLs. Others SQLs. Others look at follower counts, likes, and shares.

And then you even hear about brand new metrics like “return visitor rate (RVR).” Which should you trust?

I personally like two indicators:

  1. The number of buyers who take the next step (whatever that is) you ask for in your content gives you a good indicator of what you will see in your final conversion goal (MQLs, SQLs, sales, revenue)
  2. Looking at the correlation between increases in your key metrics and changes in your revenue or profit. For example, when you see an increase in prospects who try a demo following a white paper, you notice a jump in revenue too.

And I like these because it’s so difficult to get B2B buyers to take the “next step,” regardless of what that is. B2B marketing expert Ardath Albee looks at that action as a sign of commitment, which is hard to get from B2B buyers.

Address the Fear of Loss

Should you focus on benefits or fear?

Many B2B marketers today would say you should sell benefits. And it’s not wrong to sprinkle benefits throughout your content marketing.

However, if you want action, you should focus on avoiding pain. Legendary marketer Dan Kennedy says:

“When you understand that people are more likely to act to avoid pain than to get gain, you’ll understand how incredibly powerful this first formula is.”

With this quote, he speaks in relation to his PAS (problem-agitate-solve) marketing formula. If you click the link above, you can learn about the formula in great detail.

The gist is:

  1. Start your copy with the prospect’s problem
  2. Agitate the problem by describing all the emotions they feel
  3. Talk about the solution you have for them

You’ll see more action when you focus on fear of loss instead of only highlighting benefits in your copy and content.

Sales Should Actively Reach Out to Prospects with Case Studies

You’ve heard the stat: 60% – 70% of B2B content just sits around, collecting digital dust. How do you make a cohesive, usable system that produces qualified leads with that?

Well, you can start with case studies. Because out of all content types, 84% of 319 execs surveyed at companies with $1 billion or more in revenues say they would respond positively when vendors initially reach out with sales emails that include case studies (more than any other content type).

You can see the full data below:

exec-response-sales-outreach-content-typeWhat execs trust most when your sales team reaches out to them with content. (Image Source)

With case studies, the closer the focus customer’s success story matches your prospect’s situation, the higher the response rate.

Don’t have case studies matching the prospects you want to attract? Time to write some. Your sales team knows many customers that succeeded. Offer your sales team $1,000 for the customer that you end up profiling. You’ll get more suggestions than you need.

Now You Can Stop Wasting Your Time and Do More of What Works

Over the next few years, I think we’ll see more B2B content marketers finding success. Everyone rushed to join the craze so fast, thinking content would be a quick fix to all their marketing ailments.

But now, with reality becoming clear, many will have to evaluate what works, and what doesn’t. And with this research in hand, you can stop wasting time and money and beat your competitors to high-ROI prospects.

About the Author: Dan Stelter, “The B2B Lead Gen Guy,” crafts persuasive content that makes attracting qualified leads effortless for B2B service, software, and tech companies. Learn how you can avoid 7 humiliating B2B content mistakes that frustrate buyers when you download your free special report.