Enterprise Content Marketing Strategy: Ready, Set, Action! Carlos Abler of 3M #CMWorld


Long ago, I received the best business advice for accelerating performance: Find the smartest people in the industry and learn from them.

Whether you’re a budding director with dreams of the big screen or the director of marketing charged with scaling content across the enterprise, finding the right people to learn from is essential. When it comes to content marketing, you really can’t go wrong with Carlos Abler from 3M.

Carlos is the Leader of Content Marketing and Strategy: Global eTransformation at 3M where he developed the Enterprise Content Strategy and Marketing Acceleration program. You may have heard him interviewed for the Content Marketing Institute’s Pivot Podcast or seen him present at a number of content marketing conferences. In September, Carlos will be presenting at the 2015 Content Marketing World.

To whet your appetite for his Content Marketing World presentation, we sat down with Carlos to talk about content marketing, content strategy, and how to develop a content marketing culture across a large enterprise.

The über-deliverable at 3M is content culture transformation as an essential pillar of digital transformation.

In your current role as Leader, Content Marketing and Strategy, Global eTransformation at 3M, how has your approach to content marketing evolved or changed since you started?  

For me it was a radical change compared to past practice. Before 3M my career was focused on producing, directing and creating content and applications. At 3M the goal is to enable and scale content excellence as a capability for a $30 billion dollar company with 30 divisions and products for just about every vertical known to humankind. So the über-deliverable at 3M is content culture transformation as an essential pillar of digital transformation.

The deliverable of content excellence within an organization is quite different than delivering excellent content. Fortunately transposing what I do into tools and practices is a very natural thing for me to do. My analyst friends tell me it’s unusual to have a dedicated role with content in our title doing the kind of thing I am doing. Rebecca Lieb referred to Michael Brenner and I as unicorns. So I deliver rainbows. That’s different.

Content strategy is a selling term, not a doing term.

How do you define content marketing vs. content strategy? How can they work together better?

Content strategy is a broad term for an array of practices for managing the lifecycle of content. I tend to define the term historically because I never use it for a practical purpose. Ever. Content strategy is a selling term, not a doing term. I use terms like content operations, content organization and content supply chain.

Strategies involve trade-offs toward a goal. The inherent trade-off underlying content strategy is between winning or not winning with content. It is like saying our breathing strategy which ladders up to our goal of not dying. With content, the term strategy only becomes useful as a modifier when focusing on facets of the practice.

If your content isn’t a product then it’s not content marketing; it’s just communication.

I have a definition of content marketing I use internally for our organization, though I like CMI’s definition as an industry baseline. Here is mine:

Content and application marketing is the practice of delivering meaningful content products and applications relevant to helping people achieve their goals and/or serving their experiential interests; a parallel marketing effort for the purpose of increasing brand relevance and supporting the sales and relationship goals of other products. 

There are a few key features of this definition:

  1. Content marketing has self-contained value. If your content isn’t a product then it’s not content marketing; it’s just communication.
  2. I include applications. Applications are just as critical: They are how the content may be delivered, consumed and acted upon.
  3. I explicitly call out both the practical and experiential.
  4. I call out that content marketing is serving the goals related to marketing of other products where content is not the core revenue stream.

How do ‘content marketing’ and ‘content strategy’ work together?

Content lifecycle practices enable content marketing to be successful, while content marketing imposes requirements for what your content practices must be to enable success. They work together better when organizations ensure both practices are alive and well.

So in summary: Content strategy is a broad concept of organizational practices for effectively managing content lifecycle; content marketing is a specific application of content to add value to an organization’s relationship with people. Content strategy enables content marketing and content marketing defines the requirements that content strategy must serve to enable it.

Content is both a vertical and horizontal pillar of the overall marketing and audience relationship practice.

Where do you see content fitting in with the overall digital marketing mix for most large, complex organizations? Do you think content should lead or follow with most digital marketing strategies?

I don’t see content in a leading vs. following dynamic. I see content as both a vertical and horizontal pillar of the overall marketing and audience relationship practice, inseparable from many marketing and all relationship activities.

The concept of content “leading” could be said to apply in addressing an individual who has no familiarity, and you use content marketing to establish a relationship prior to promoting other products. But that would only apply tactically to that particular relationship stage.

Content marketing as interactive and as a vertical and horizontal pillar is true irrespective of company size. The only differences are orders of scale, federated complexity, and sophistication of infrastructure.

In terms of how content marketing works with product marketing; here is how I like to see integrated content marketing programs get lift-off:

We identify how to integrate content marketing practice in concert with marketing planning and implementation cycles. I like to get the content marketing conversation in early during general marketing strategic planning processes.  If you have your conduit champions who are dedicated to content, you can get the right intel to start shaping a plan. Also you can leverage the content champions to steer the larger group to generate more quality actionable information out of the strategic process

Once strategic planning is in but before the organization has built out a tactical plan is the perfect time to insert detailed cross-functional content marketing workshops. Marketing, sales, customer support, technical services or any other key customer facing function are involved across all processes, from information gathering for planning input, to the workshops themselves. Again, it is not a lead-follow situation. It is intensely iterative.

Most large companies are challenged to scale a culture of content creation across the organization. What are some insights you can share with industry peers in terms of how to improve content marketing adoption across the enterprise?

  1. Have all of your core content processes, especially upstream strategic process be fiercely collaborative across customer facing functions. The single most important thing is cross-functional collaboration from the very beginning. Your tactical intel will be more accurate, your assets will actually serve the nurturing process, and you will establish the human-to-human feedback that no technology can replace.
  2. Find people who are truly focused on the customers’ needs and goals. It helps if these are the same people or are partnered with people who have a content responsibility for these audiences.
  3. Accelerate identification of the topics and help that customers are in most dire need of. The faster you get to that, the more grounded in direction tactical discussions and planning can be.
  4. Deploy processes and tools that help people be responsive to the dynamics of content performance. Once they see what the pace looks like for revisiting the hypotheses of their editorial calendars and how feedback iterates on that hypothesis, people get excited.
  5. Help people understand how content can map to the macro-stages of the customer lifecycle, and to the micro-stages of the various subscription transaction, decision support journeys that are contained within that lifecycle. It’s amazing how much people just shoot in the dark and hope they hit something as they check the box of marketing activities. It’s just that with digital technologies they are shooting in the dark with fancier machines.
  6. Help people identify their optimal publishing rhythms. It helps the organization rightly plan for the skills and resources required.
  7. Assign roles with content responsibility and ensure they have the time, skills and production resources required.
  8. As a champion of content you need to cultivate relationships based on service with anyone and everyone in the organization who are champions of content.
  9. Build alliances between siloed entities. In big companies you never know when a subsidiary is already a year and a half into an initiative that just needs to be scaled versus just starting it from scratch.
  10. Create centralization sparingly and empower independence. Centralizations should really be focused on essential control points, economy of resources, and effective service and asset delivery.
  11. Ensure that content is managed in a manner that is findable for repurposing. If people don’t have to re-create the same assets over and over, their entire program will accelerate.
  12. Help the organization quickly develop a hypothesis for what publishing channels to focus on, and what they expect to achieve from each one. Media channels as choreographed network is the key concept.
  13. Create a framework for defining quantitative goals, their respective KPIs and a manner for tracking these. That first step of setting up a quantitative hypothesis is very important. If what comes out of the pipe is very different from what you expected, you can start adjusting accordingly
  14. Run Pilots. Push to get content lifecycle technology gaps filled. Cultivate true believers invested in the systems.
  15. Have answers to every question imaginable about content. You need to be ready to be that go-to person.
  16. Have documented processes tools and templates ready to go yesterday. Build your documentation and tools as though you have been given a hundred million dollars to build the dream team of all time.
  17. Tell the story of content and providing foundational case examples that you continue to refer to time and time again. Get some examples and repeat them in the context of where and how they add value. These types of solid concepts have proven helpful in fostering a productive mental model.
  18. Create big picture visions of what federation and alignment looks like across the content and organizational eco-system. Help people see outside of their silo and have a big picture view.
  19. Have a vision of the future. The most futuristic possible. Really push it. Of course you want to have all sorts of near term feasible visions with incremental steps forward, the patience of a tree, the perseverance of tectonic motion, and release potential of a tsunami; but you never know when you will have those champions who want to dive in and envision with you.
  20. Scale strategy as a service. An often overlooked concept is the notion of how to deliver strategy services at scale. These strategic content services resources should be embedded into fundamental marketing processes upstream from stages where agencies typically get hired.

Just do all that and you’ll be fine.

Thanks Carlos!

Want to learn even more about content marketing?

Then be sure to reserve your space at Content Marketing World for insights from Carlos and over 200 other leaders in the content marketing industry.

In the mean time, be sure to read The Big Picture of Content Marketing Strategy below featuring advice from marketing executives at companies like Marriott, IBM and Eloqua as well as industry thought leaders Robert Rose, Kristina Halvorson and Jay Baer.

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The Digital Marketer’s Mobile Optimization Checklist


Every good marketer knows that one of the key elements to success is making it as easy as possible for your audience to consume and share information. Part of creating ease of use is keeping in mind where and how your audience is spending their time.

What degree of success do you think a marketer would have if they were to plaster flyers at every Red Robin around the country, when the vast majority of their customers eat at In-N-Out in California?

So now we’re all hungry, but what does this have to do with mobile optimization? I hate to be the one to tell you, but mobile internet usage is something we need to be strategizing for now, not in the future.

According to comScore, 60% of all internet usage is made up by smartphones and tablets. Additionally, over 20% of millennials no longer even use a desktop to access information online. You read that right, they are 100% mobile.

Mobile optimization affects everything from creating a responsive website to making tweaks to your content marketing program to serve mobile users. The checklist below provides some helpful tips for staying on top of the mechanics and engagement strategies necessary for mobile optimization.


Responsive Design: Most savvy web developers and many new website templates are now including responsive website design as a standard offering. If you’ve recently updated your website and don’t want to invest in a complete overhaul to create a responsive website, you can setup a separate mobile site. However, always keep in mind that there are benefits and drawbacks to taking this path.

PageSpeed: Mobile users are searching for content on-the-go. There are some fairly simple best practices that you can implement to improve page load speed including:

  • Optimize your images so that they are smaller, and therefore load faster
  • Implement caching plugins
  • Use JavaScript sparingly

Use the PageSpeed Insights tool to test your website’s current performance.

Local Optimization: To ensure that your business surfaces in local results, be diligent about making sure that all of your contact information is consistent across the web.

Title Tags & Meta Descriptions: Your mobile audience is working with a lot less screen than desktop users. Try to be as concise as possible when drafting title tags and meta descriptions.

Content Marketing

Think Concise, Not Shorter: Mobile users need content that is scanable and impactful. Remove the clutter and format your content in a way that makes sense for your audience. This doesn’t mean that marketers need to cut down on the length of the content that is being published, but content should be presented in bite-sized chunks that are easy to consume.

Provide Great Imagery: Visual content performs very well on mobile devices. While you may not have given much consideration to blog or long-form content images in the past, here is your opportunity. A well selected image can be the difference between a consumer engaging with your content, or quickly moving on.

Incorporate Videos: Forrester found that when marketers included a video in an email, the click-through rate increased by 200% – 300%. Additionally, eMarketer uncovered that consumers are actually spending more time watching video on mobile devices than on desktops.

Social Media

Mobile Usage: In 2015, there are approximately 1.69 billion social media accounts that are accessed via mobile. When creating and publishing social media content keep your mobile audience in mind.

Mobile Friendly Apps: Many social media platforms offer mobile friendly applications and add-ons that can be easily integrated into brand profiles.

Get Visual: Incorporate visual elements as much as possible into social media campaigns across all platforms. Also, if it makes sense, utilize platforms like Instagram which present a great opportunity to incorporate images and videos into social media content.

Put Your Website to the Test!

Google provides a couple different tools that can help you determine if your website is mobile friendly, and provide access to some  applications that can help you become mobile if you aren’t currently.

The opportunities above only scratch the surface of mobile optimization. If you can currently check five or more of the items above off your list, you’re on the right track. If not, consider it an opportunity to increase your reach and better serve your mobile audience.

What do you find most difficult about implementing digital marketing programs that are mobile friendly?

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Four Advantages To Building New Homes

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If buying a home is distressing, to build one from scratch can be downright stressful. Construction of new homes, however, offers four advantages.

Unlimited Customization

Many people would like to live in a home tailored just for them. Most do not even consider this option when a move is contemplated, as they feel it would be too expensive to build from scratch. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the new home median price in 2013 was $ 268,900. This is not a high price for total customization and the knowledge that a house is really yours. It is not uncommon to pay more than $ 300,000 for the property that has already been built for the needs of another person. Why pay for a house that is not fully built its own specifications when the same money or less could be spent on customizing luxury?

More efficiency

Houses not only have existing floor creak and paper waste; They come with drafty windows, power devices and ovens energy intensive. All of these problems contribute to a highly inefficient residence. This inefficiency is bound to steal the minister, either by the need to remodel or due to exorbitant energy bills.

The new houses guarantee greater efficiency. This is especially true if they are built in a neighborhood or community with a green initiative. In these communities, existing plans for new housing involve energy saving strategies. These plans may include solar panels and maximum insulation, for example.

Best Resale Value

While most builders are unlikely to sell their homes at any time in your near future, it should be noted that the resale value of new homes is higher than the older. Each custom model is unique, and each has attractive features that cookie cutter houses abound. This makes these new homes attractive and more valuable to potential buyers. If circumstances change and the sale of new construction area, it is necessary, then at least you have the consolation of being able to ask for a higher selling price.

A healthier alternative

Old houses are full of health hazards of their owners. Although potentially beautiful on the outside, these buildings often complications in their walls and hide under your plants. Pest infestation, mold, lead paint and asbestos are some serious health risks that may be associated with older homes. Building a new place on earth can guarantee that none of these health risks is next to people with mortgages.

True pride comes to building a new custom home. As evidenced above, there are many residual benefits of choosing to build rather than buy. Owners who take this path are proud to know that his home is really yours.

Akon hopes to Provide 600 Million Africans with solar power

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Akon began its “Akon Lighting Africa” “to bring millions in Africa electricity through solar energy.

According to reports, rapper and producer tries to get people in Africa to electricity thanks to this initiative.

The eyes of the Academy ultimately provide 600 million people in many African countries currently without electricity there.

Co-founder of the foundation Baithily Samba said: “Africans expect graduates of this center to develop new innovative solutions, technical He told the Academy, which can benefit from Lighting Africa Akon and go further..”

70 percent of Africans are said to be under 35 Akon Lighting Africa also eyes that provide thousands of jobs for job seekers.

4 Ways Solar Panel Installation Can Benefit Your Home

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If you’ve heard a lot about the growing popularity of the installation of solar panels, you may wonder what are the benefits. There are many, to help save the environment to save money on your monthly bills. Learn how this energy source provides many positive benefits in your life.

Free electricity

Best of installing solar panels is that all electricity produced does not cost you a penny. The sun’s energy is completely free, which is an important asset for many people looking to reduce their monthly energy bills. Since this type of installation usually lasts for more than 25 years, you can expect significant savings for as long as you own your home. To get the best performance from your system, ensure that at least 20% of its roof is covered.

Best Resale Value

If you want to put your home on the market in the near future, you have probably been planning renovations that can make your home more valuable to buyers. While many people go the popular route to improve their kitchens or bathrooms, there is a huge financial advantage to have the installation of solar panels is because it can increase the selling price of your home. You can expect to get several thousand dollars more in their final sale with this type of addition.

Saving the environment

The best attribute of installing solar panels is the positive impact it can have on the environment. As no coal, oil and other pollutants are used this energy source, you can worry less about what occurs in the air to turn on the lights, use your stove or heat your home. If your goal is to reduce the impact on the environment, the addition of the house can be good for you.

Endless supply of natural gas

The costs of oil and coal are always fluctuating to track the supply and demand, but no need to worry about the depletion of fossil fuels, when you trust the sun. Opting for a solar panel installation means you will have an endless supply of natural fuel, and you can always rely on solar energy even when other resources become scarce or expensive.

If you plan to have this type of additional power at home, know that there are many ways you can benefit immediately. A specialist can help you select the right amount of coverage of the surface and the installation area to make your home as efficient as possible.

Online Marketing News: Facebook Feed Buzzes Businesses, Promoted Pins Get Powerful, Twitter Shows Search

Influencer Marketing Golden Ticket

Is Influencer Marketing the Next Golden Ticket? [INFOGRAPHIC] – Influencer marketing is growing like crazy. Will it become the next golden ticket? Check out this infographic to find out. The Shelf

Google Webmaster Tools Rebrands To Google Search Console – Google aims to get more users on Google Webmaster Tools by renaming it to Google Search Console. Search Engine Land

Twitter’s Objective-Based Ads Are Now Available To All Advertisers – Company officially launches beta program that it says has helped improve efficiency and cut costs for advertisers who pay only for certain types of engagement, like website clicks, conversions, lead generation or video views. Marketing Land

Tweets Now Appear In Google Search – Twitter and Google announced that tweets now appear in mobile searches. They will make their way to desktop searches in the future. Find out more about how they’ll be appearing. Twitter

Google to Add ‘Buy’ Button to Search Results Within Next Few Weeks – Within the next few weeks Google will be rolling out a “buy” button that will allow people to purchase certain items directly from its search results pages. Search Engine Journal

YouTube Adds Click-to-Shop Button to TrueView Ads – YouTube is tweaking its commercials to be more like interactive infomercials. Ad Age

Google Launches Shopping Ads For YouTube, Integration With Merchant Center – Thursday, YouTube announced a version of product listing ads are coming to retailers’ video ads with TrueView for Shopping. Search Engine Land

Google Upgrades AdWords Editor to Support Labels – Google has made a worldwide update of AdWords Editor that will offer labels, support for upgraded URLs, call-only ads, in-app mobile ads, and custom affinity audiences. Search Engine Watch

Pinterest to Enhance Promoted Pin Ad Capabilities – The visual discovery platform is going to add a slew of new features to promoted pins, including app promotion. How can marketers benefit from these updates? Pinterest is going to make promoted pins more appealing to advertisers by adding a new suite of ad solutions. ClickZ

Google Says Its Google Preferred Viewers 29% More Likely To Visit Brand Sites After Watching YouTube – According to a study conducted by Google this year, nearly one in ten of its Google Preferred desktop viewers do not watch traditional TV. Marketing Land

The Google-Twitter Deal Goes Live, Giving Tweets Prominent Placement In Google’s Results – Tweets now appear for trending topics in a new carousel format. Twitter doesn’t earn directly off display but will gain new traffic. Search Engine Land

Facebook Now Lets People Call Businesses From News Feed Ads – The social network adds “Call Now” button, enhancing the local awareness ad program for local businesses. Marketing Land

From our Online Marketing Community:

In response to Content Marketing: 6 Steps for Building a Massive AudienceJason Quey said, “Great insight Evan, just buffered this! I believe many should focus on the right strategy to a good content foundation.”

On Stand Out or Don’t Bother: Sally Hogshead on Harnessing Your Fascination Advantage, Sebastian Mealer shared, “I love the advice and framework. I took the test and arrived at the two advantages I expected. What I think is great about this is communicating and displaying your strengths, and remembering to focus on them in messages as well as time. Very helpful in distilling unique strengths and value into a concise statement.”

And Daniel Dessinger commented, “Some great tips here. I missed this session at the conference. Thanks so much for sharing with us. I definitely think #4 is our greatest opportunity. It’s easy to focus on competitors and peers and to make sure one is doing what they do. It’s not a creative stance, but it’s more of a CYA approach. Realizing that the REAL success lies in differentiation is a GREAT way to break out of the mold and begin paving a better path for one’s business.”

Then in response to Dr. Evil’s Guide to Landing Page Design and Optimization, Monica Michaela said, “Hi! I totally agree that “confusion is the enemy of action”. Being very clear helps you build trust between your company and your potential customer.

I also believe that having security badges or/and money-back guarantees on your landing page definitely increases the numbers of conversions because everybody wants to feel safe and trust the company they are buying from. Who wouldn’t? =)”

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

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: The Shelf

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B2B Content Marketing Playbook: Tips to Prepare You for the Big Content Game


The 2015 B2B Marketing Report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs sheds a pretty bright light on the true state of B2B content marketing. While 86% of B2B marketers are using content marketing, only 8% rate their content marketing efforts as “very effective”. It’s not so different than teams participating in sports like football. Sure, everyone is playing, but who is actually really good at it?

Fundamental blocking and tackling are key for a winning football game. The same can be said for implementing a successful B2B content marketing program: mastery of the fundamentals is essential. With B2B content creation in particular, marketers must be prepared for everything from understanding the voice of the customer to developing the right mix of content assets.

For most B2B marketers, staying on top of the B2B content marketing game takes practice, practice and more practice to be successful. Drilling those basic skills can mean the difference between winning and losing the business customer acquisition game.

Here’s the good news: We’ve put this B2B Content Marketing Playbook together to provide you with all the content marketing formations you’ll need to play the B2B content game right and maybe even win a content marketing championship!


Learn the Language of Your Customer

Writing killer content for business buyers takes practice. Part of that practice involves understanding the language of the industry that you’re writing for. It is important to strike a balance between incorporating the proper industry terms while not overstuffing your content or using jargon in the wrong context.

Here are a few steps you can take to catch on to the terms you need to know:

  1. Talk to your current customers – learn their pain points, goals and the words they use to describe what’s important
  2. Review the website content of your customers and their competitors – learn to speak like a native
  3. Search for and absorb information from reputable content sources online – where do your customers discover and consume industry and solutions information? What publications, influencers and peers do they listen to and read?

Connect with the Right Content Marketing Resources

Believe it or not, sometimes you’ll need to bring in reinforcements. Determining whether you need to hire experienced industry copywriters for the short or long-term, depends on the project.

No matter how long contract copywriters or content marketing agency resources are a part of your marketing team’s efforts, learn as much as you can in the time that you’re working with them. Be wary of writers that claim to have industry expertise but don’t provide examples of their work.

When interviewing potential resources, keep the following in mind:

  • How long have they been creating content for the specific industry?
  • Have they written content for a reputable content source or company?
  • What is their process for understanding content goals, customer voice and actual content creation?

Map B2B Buyer Personas to Content

To deliver the most relevant and useful information to B2B buyers, its important to identify distinct customer segments and the stages of their buying experience. To write specifically for a group of buyers and what they care about, it’s useful to create a persona that represents their common interests, behaviors, pain points and goals.

For each persona and buying experience or journey, customers will have different types of questions depending on where they are in the process. The B2B content you create should address the needs of a specific customer persona as well as the broad to specific questions they need answered when investigating the kinds of solutions your company offers.

Let’s assume for a second that the product is a marketing automation tool and the target customer is a large brand seeking a solution to help deliver their marketing in a more structured and meaningful way. It’s important that content is created for any one of the positions/needs below:

  • Director of Marketing: Is interested in seeing if there is a better way to create, distribute and track content.
    • Stage: Awareness
    • Sample Blog Content: 10 Signs You May Need Marketing Automation
  • Marketing Manager: Has been given a directive to create a cost/capability comparison for a variety of different marketing automation solutions:
    • Stage: Engagement
    • Sample Blog Content: 5 Features & Benefits of XYZ Marketing Automation
  • VP of Marketing: Needs to determine if Marketing Automation will be a sound investment for the organization.
    • Stage: Conversion
    • Sample Blog Content: 7 Ways Marketing Automation Saves Money & Improves Efficiency

The examples above only scratch the surface in terms of potential personas, stages in the buying cycle and types of content that can be used to meet the needs of your customers.

playbook fumble

Lead Your Content with Key Points

It’s likely that the professionals searching for B2B solutions have responsibilities outside of purchasing the product that you’re promoting via content marketing (aka, they’re busy). Keep that in mind when you’re determining how to structure content.

Blog posts for example, should quickly summarize key points so that the reader can decide if they would like to continue reading. This sets the stage for what they’ll find in the blog post.

The B2B and H2H Tug of War

B2B customers desire content that meets both their personal and business needs. How can you strike that delicate balance?

  • Be specific
  • Show empathy
  • Focus on solutions
  • Inject voice and personality
  • Create content for where they live (social, mobile), not just where they work (blogs, publications)


Incorporate Multiple Types of Content

Did you know that there are well over 30 types of Content Marketing tactics? Based on the product or service that content is being created for, and the audience, there is an incredible opportunity to provide multiple content types to provide buyers with the best possible information experience. Examples of tactics that have traditionally worked well for B2B marketing include:

  • Case Studies
  • White Papers
  • Blog Posts
  • eBooks
  • Digital Newsletters
  • Email Marketing
  • Webinars and Real World Events

Also consider the “human” side of B2B marketing through social media, mobile and visually-focused content. After all, buyers are people too.

Include Calls to Action (CTAs)

B2B content should almost always include a call to action of some sort. It’s important that you always give readers direction on what to do next, whether it’s to consume another piece of content, subscribe, share or make an appointment. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering B2B content CTAs:

  • Don’t Be Shy: Your CTAs should stand out as a clear next step. Instead of burying your CTA at the bottom of the page, consider using your content header or sidebar.
  • Keep it Simple: While you may want to know everything about the person completing your CTA, you have to remove the barrier to entry. Ask for only the necessary information you need to accomplish your goal.
  • Offer Value, Again: Remind the prospect what they’re signing up for. Be sure to reiterate that they are signing up for XYZ webinar, which will help them accomplish ABC.

Experiment with Landing Pages

Landing pages create an enormous opportunity for capturing information that can be used to effectively nurture B2B leads. When experimenting with landing pages here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • There may be different levels of decision makers and different stages of the buying cycle.
  • You can increase the value of good content by requiring form completion
  • Take some time to A/B test your page content and forms
  • Always include testimonials

Why Mastering the Game of B2B Content Marketing is Essential

Jumping head-first into a game of B2B content marketing without mastering the blocking and tackling basics can quickly have you experiencing more losses than wins. In order to create successful B2B content, understand who your customers are, what they care about and how the product that you’re marketing helps solve their business problem. Speak to your target buyer using their language, using the kinds of content they prefer and with offers that will be the most compelling for them to take action.

In football, it’s often said that the best defense is a good offense. Stay on top of your B2B content marketing game by incorporating the basic rules from this B2B Content Marketing Playbook into your content routine.

Photos via Shutterstock: FirstSecondThirdFourth

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B2B Content Marketing Playbook: Tips to Prepare You for the Big Content Game | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Content Marketing: 6 Steps for Building a Massive Audience

Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi has been a content marketer before content marketing had a name. While working at a media company in the Custom Publishing department, he had dreams of starting a small business, which he eventually did in 2007 by starting a blog about content marketing.

Fast forward 3 years later and he had built Content Marketing Institute, which is well-known today as a source of content marketing thought leadership, training, events and consulting.

Today, Joe is joined by many other companies who built their businesses aided by the power of content marketing, such as CopyBlogger, Social Media Examiner, and the team at TopRank Online Marketing.

Being the curious type, Joe wanted to know more about the paths which other businesses had taken in their journey to success through content marketing, so he did some asking around. The interesting thing he found was that when boiled down, there were remarkable similarities between these businesses in terms of the process and steps they had taken, which led Joe to the conclusion that there is a consistent formula for content marketing success.

In his session at Authority Rainmaker 2015, Joe shared six steps businesses should follow if they want to join the ranks of those getting incredible value from content marketing.

Content Marketing Sweet Spot Diagram - Authority Rainmaker 2915

#1 Find Your Content Sweet Spot

It’s hard to make people care about a topic unless you care about it yourself and even harder to hold their attention if you don’t know what you’re talking about. The most successful content comes from people who have identified both:

  • Their area of expertise: what they know
  • Their passion: what they love

Of course, there isn’t always a perfect overlap between passion and expertise, but there should be some. That perfect overlapping area is known as your sweet spot, and that’s where you want to start to focus your content creation efforts.

#2 Find Your Content Tilt

While it would be great if we could all only write about exactly what we wanted (your sweet spot), unfortunately that may not pay the bills without some tweaking. Successful content marketing means serving others first, not yourself, so if your content sweet spot doesn’t align with the needs and interests of your community, it likely isn’t going to attract many eyeballs (or wallets).

Similar to expertise and passion, there may not be a perfect overlap between your sweet spot and what your community wants. Alternately, you may share your sweet spot with others who have well-established authority that would be tough to compete with.

Tilting your content means tweaking your focus so it aligns with an area of opportunity in the community that falls within your sweet spot. Even with the explosion of content on the internet today, there are still plenty of areas which aren’t being served effectively, or at all. If you can tilt your content focus to be the only one that serves the niche, or simply serves it better than anyone else, you can become an authority that attracts and audience and keeps them engaged all the way through to converting into customers.

The key is to be very specific, as this allows your content to be tightly targeted and specific to the needs of your niche community. As John Lydgate famously said, “you can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

The goal for your content should be to please some of the people all of the time, so avoid broad content like a bad cold.

Build Your Content Marketing Base - Authority Rainmaker 2015

#3 Build Your Base

Before you can start to see business benefits from your content, you’re going to need a build a base audience. This takes time for everyone, so it’s important to be patient and set realistic expectations both for yourself and for your key stakeholders.

Brian Clark (CEO of CopyBlogger media) built his base for over 15 months before seeing any monetary gains. Joe admits that when he started the blog that evolved into Content Marketing Institute, he had an audience of one (his mom). It took time for the experts to build a base and it will for you too.

In order to attract an audience, you need to create a content hub for them to go to. While you will need to promote and publish your content to a variety of destinations in order to get traction, your content base or hub is your primary platform where publishing takes place and it should be a place you own, like your blog or newsroom.

The reason why it’s so critical to own your content hub is that it’s insurance for the future. Like many businesses learned last year when Facebook drastically reduced the visibility of brand content without paid promotion, building your content hub on rented land is a recipe for disaster if the landlord decides to change the rules, raise the rent or evict you.

#4 Harvest Your Audience

While our primary focus so far has been to attract new eyes to our content, it’s important to remember to pay attention to retaining those eyes. The internet is awash in content these days and people have short attention spans, so it’s important to keep people coming back or they might forget you.

The key to staying memorable with your audience is to maintain consistent regular touch points by converting them into subscribers. While it may not be the trendiest tactic in digital marketing, email lists are the gold standard when it comes to building a subscriber base. Joe strongly recommends prioritizing email far above social followers, as email tends to generate far better response rates and eventually revenue.

One of the best ways to keep your list growing is to make it dead simple to join. Prominent links on your site template, cross-linked in blog content and on your social channels are essential. Make sure to thoroughly test all your subscription forms as well as reduce required fields down to the bare essentials, as too many form fields are an absolute conversion killer.

While controversial, you should also consider using popup subscribe boxes. Joe was against these at first, but changed his tune when a test showed that popovers not only increased subscriptions but tended to bring in better qualified subscribers compared to the standard non-popup forms.

#5 Diversify Your Offerings

While you should never waver in your topic focus, it makes sense to branch out into multiple formats for your message, as this may help you to both reach new audience members and reinforce your authority among your existing subscriber base.

Joe recommends pursuing a model of content diversification, which includes:

  • Personal content:
    • Blog
    • Book
    • Public speaking
  • Business content:
    • Digital
    • Print
    • In-person

First Build an Audience Then Monetize It - Authority Rainmaker 2015

#6 Monetize

“First build an audience, then monetize it”. For Joe and his team at Content Marketing Institute, their monetization comes in the form of consulting, training and events. Your revenue source(s) will likely be unique to your business, but you should always be on the lookout for new ways to monetize your content marketing.

Although monetization is typically the last step in the audience building roadmap, you should never pass up opportunities along the way to get some monetary value from your content marketing. You may even come across revenue opportunities you never even considered at the outset.

Just make sure that you never cross the line of being pushy or dishonest with your audience in your attempts to monetize. The objective of content marketing is first and foremost to serve your community.

Disclosure: CMI is a TopRank Marketing client.

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Dr. Evil’s Guide to Landing Page Design and Optimization

Sonia Simone - Authority Rainmaker 2015

Copyblogger’s Sonia Simone kicked off her Authority Rainmaker presentation with a question that has certainly been asked before.Is marketing evil? Unfortunately we’ve all come across misguided campaigns that seem intended to trick people rather than help them. But that’s not how it’s supposed to be.

“Like brushing your teeth before going out on a date, marketing is about putting a good face on what you have”, explains Sonia. You may be able to pull the wool over people’s eyes in the short term, but tricking your audience is a sure path to failure in the long run. Every brand’s reputation is pretty easy to research on the internet these days and people just aren’t dumb enough for a truly ‘evil’ strategy to work.

So, effective digital marketing is decidedly not ‘evil’, but can we learn something from evil people? According to Sonia, we certainly can. Drawing on some classic villains including Dr. Evil and the Joker, Sonia laid out how well-meaning digital marketers can benefit from adding just a little ‘evil’ to their landing pages.

Dr Evils Landing Page Optimization Tips - Authority Rainmaker 2015

Always Try to Shoot Fish from a Barrel

The best way to generate conversions from your landing pages is simply to make it easy for people to convert. Like a barrel, a well-constructed landing page puts visitors directly in the firing line of your offer and doesn’t include ‘leaks’ or distractions to divert them from converting.

To get more ‘fish’ into your barrel, it needs to be inviting to your audience. Make sure your landing pages (and by extension your whole website) look professional, are easy to use and load fast. Test your forms across all major devices and browsers, then test them again. Even better, ask your grandma to test them.

Also, your offering needs to be something that people actually want. As Sonia explained, if you’re trying to sell broccoli ice cream, it doesn’t matter how well you market it, because nobody wants that.

Social Proof is Scarily Effective

Just like nobody wants to miss a party that they know their friends will be attending, people are much more motivated to join a list, download an ebook or sign up for an offer if there is evidence that others like them have already taken the same action.

Smart marketers have been aware of the power of social proof for a long time and the really smart ones are incorporating it into their landing pages to help them convert better.

A few ways to take advantage of the evil power of social proof:

  • Endorsements from influential people in the industry
  • Case studies
  • Social share count widgets
  • Facebook Like Boxes

 Landing Page Title Optimization - Authority Rainmaker 2015

Don’t Be Too Clever

Catchy clickbait headlines may work well for BuzzFeed, but they are notoriously poor performers on landing pages.

One of the fundamentals of high-converting landing page is clarity of messaging. While clever headlines may be attention grabbing, they are often confusing and confusion is the enemy of action.

In addition, confusing messaging can lower the perceived trust people have for your company, which is absolutely the last thing you want when potential business is on the line. Would you prefer to trust your health to a doctor who knew her craft, or one who could entertain you with jokes?

There’s a time and place for cleverness, but landing pages are rarely a good fit for either.

 The Terrifying Power of the Call to Action - Authority Rainmaker 2015

A Good Call to Action is Like Jedi Mind Control

When it comes to landing pages, your biggest competitor is inaction. Everyone’s attention is extremely limited, so make sure you aren’t wasting your audience’s time by being confusing or ambiguous with what they are supposed to do by including a good call to action.

Really killer calls to action have the following attributes:

  • Incredible clarity
  • A clear benefit
  • Builds trust

Provide Multiple Paths to Your Evil Lair

Any evil genius with any credibility has at least a few routes to reach their lair. There’s the hallway with spikes that pop out, the ventilation shaft hidden behind a bush and of course the front door (with lasers or something…).

Each of these distinct paths to the inside of your lair appeals to a different kind of secret agent or commando. The cautious and pragmatic spy will likely prefer to take their time and slink in through the ventilation shaft, while the overpowered bruiser henchmen will crash their way through the front door.

Similarly, visitors to your landing pages are likely to respond to different paths to conversion. Varying degrees of experience with your brand, places in the sales cycle and personal values are a few factors that can cause people to respond better to different messages or formats.

Boiling it down, Sonia says there are two major categories which your visitors are likely to fall into:

  • Already sold – These are the people who know what they want, know you can deliver it and are ready to convert. Make sure you have a direct, frictionless, straight-to-the-point path to conversion for these visitors. Don’t waste their time.
  • Need some convincing – There’s a reason these people made it to your landing page (perhaps a useful blog post, ebook, or webinar you created?), but they’re not quite sold yet. A softer call to action will likely work much better for these visitors to help convince them it’s worth it to become a customer.

Make People Feel Safe

In order for evil geniuses to be successful, they must be able to build trust. In order for your landing pages to convert visitors into customers, you have to do the same.

According to Sonia, your audience’s single biggest fear is feeling stupid. Most people want to believe that your offering is everything you claim it is, but they can’t be sure until it’s too late. What if they buy your product and it doesn’t work? What if they join your email list and receive nothing but spam? What if they come to your webinar and you share incorrect or unhelpful information?

All of these unfortunate outcomes can make someone feel pretty stupid. Unfortunately, anyone who has used the internet for a while has probably been in at least one of these situations before, so they have built in wariness about it happening again. Therefore, in order to convert visitors to customers, you need to help them overcome the fear that you’ll make them feel stupid again.

In order to help your audience feel safe to do business with you, make sure your landing pages:

  • Project credibility
    • Include visual indicators such as security badges and privacy policy links.
    • List endorsements from trusted authorities.
    • Include references to other clients you work with.
  • Reverse the risk
    • Offer a money back guarantee.
    • Start with a free trial.

Evil is Good - Authority Rainmaker 2015

The objective of any strategic digital marketing campaign is to translate attention into action. A well made landing page can be scarily effective at doing just that. But, as the decidedly non-evil superhero Spiderman famously said, “with great power comes great responsibility”, so please make sure to use these evil landing page optimization tips for good.

Keep your eye here on Online Marketing Blog as well as Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest and Twitter @TopRank for coverage of the Authority Rainmaker conference. You can also see the eBook we created featuring advice from Rainmaker speakers here.

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Top 3 Solar Energy Breakthroughs to Watch Out For

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Solar power remains untapped genius we need for sustainable clean energy. After the discovery, the cost and effectiveness, even cosmetic-continue to advance this technology as a generator fully commercially viable and sustainable energy.

Getting Skyscrapers in downtown

It will not be long before our cities become independent power, requiring little or no power unsustainable. Gone will be miles of pylons transmission unsightly piles of coal and wind turbines. Such a scenario could be possible in the not too distant future when the solar windows reach their full potential. Professor Henry Snaith, co-founder and scientific director of Oxford says Photovoltaic solar coating technology developed in Oxford PV could transform buildings and skyscrapers of glass covered with a city in power plants. Our future cities glow with the colors of the rainbow, as the buildings on the supply of glass multi-shaded from the sun. According to Oxford PV, some color treatments result in more efficient electrical conversion: black treatment on top of the list, green and red are in the middle, and blue is less effective.

Coming soon: completely transparent solar panels

Ubiquitous Energy, an MIT startup plans to fully transparent market using innovative technology that changes the way cells absorb sunlight solar panels. The new panels use the invisible part of the solar spectrum, while allowing ordinary visible light to pass through. The breakthrough called transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC): use organic salts which absorb wave lengths of invisible ultraviolet and infrared light. These wavelengths of infrared light reflected luminescence not visible in the panel edge, and converted to electricity by the ordinary solar cells.

3D Printed solar tree

Researchers from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have joined solar technologies today 3D printing and print trees harvested energy. The leaves of these trees are specially designed and able to generate enough solar energy to power most mobile devices today and LED bulbs. Trees capture the kinetic energy, even against the wind and thermal energy from the ambient temperature changes. The new solar trees are the product of biomimetics, the new science of copying nature. And biomimicry exploit these new trees come as a Nanoleaf. Unlike conventional solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, lens half the wave length of infrared energy rich Nanoleaf. Equally impressive is the piezoelectric Nanoleaf petiole. When the wind whispers a Nanoleaf return, the mechanical stress resulting in the petiole, branch and branch converts this motion into electricity.

The sun bathes the Earth continuously to 800 terawatts of power. Wind energy is unfortunately untapped. Is not it time that we use more of that free energy?