9 Biggest Event Trends of This Year

By Michael Brenner on November 21, 2022

The past few years have brought some exciting developments in the events industry. And you might be surprised to hear that some of the biggest event trends are here to stay.

By keeping an eye on some of the top event trends expected for next year, you can make sure you plan an event to remember.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Sustainability and corporate responsibility will be key for events run in 2023 and the foreseeable future.
  • Emerging technology, including augmented reality and AI, will continue to offer more opportunities for event planning.
  • Brands must focus on highly personalized events and forging personal connections with attendees.

9 Biggest Event Trends Happening Now

1. Sustainability

The world is heating up – both figuratively and literally. Concerns around climate change have been one of the major themes of the past decade as an increasing number of individuals and corporations make a commitment to lessen their impact on the environment.

This eco-friendly approach has spilled over into the world of events, which traditionally has been a fairly wasteful industry – just think about all the plastic water bottles and catering waste, not to mention the merchandise and freebies that often get thrown away as soon as the event is over.

Easy ways to shrink your carbon footprint for your next big event.

Now the tide is turning, and sustainable events are becoming the more popular (some would say the only) option.

So how do you make a more sustainable event? There are many opportunities, from switching to digital ticketing systems to replacing plastic bottles and cutlery with biodegradable alternatives, using seasonal, local produce in catering, and donating leftover food to local charities.

However, as you can see from the above chart, travel contributes majorly to the carbon footprint of an event. Event planners can reduce this impact by planning more localized events, and even ditching physical events entirely in favor of online events.

As consumers demand brands to develop more sustainable practices, they will also expect events to be planned in a way that will have a minimal environmental impact. Organizations failing to follow this trend may well find that their audience votes with their feet and finds another, greener event to attend next year. And remember – your event is a representation of your brand as a whole. Make sure it aligns with your core values.

2. Mindfulness and Wellness

Next year may be the year we say goodbye to a culture of “hustle and grind.” Working long hours and putting work over personal life is becoming increasingly unpopular with today’s millennial workforce.

The workers of next year and beyond favor a more balanced approach – working smarter rather than harder, with more importance placed on the value of mental health and general wellness.

What does this have to do with events? Well, packing back-to-back workshops and seminars into an exhausting schedule is definitely considered to be an outdated approach.

Over the coming year, expect to see more events incorporating mindfulness and wellness activities into their schedule, whatever the industry. This may include meditation and yoga workshops, dedicated “brain breaks” designed to inspire creativity, “unplugged” tech-free zones, outdoor activities, massage stations, and other sessions designed around wellness.

Salesforce’s annual event, Dreamforce, has taken this trend to heart by partnering with mindfulness organizations to provide guided meditations and mindfulness sessions during the four-day conference, as well as running yoga sessions and fun runs.

3. Hybrid Events

Hybrid events allow for the flexibility of a virtual event, but the connection and engagement of an in-person option.

As time passes, hybrid events are being refined and it doesn’t look like they’re going away any time soon. Check out some interesting stats:

  • Searches for “hybrid event” have increased 237% in the last 5 years.
  • 97% of event marketers believe that the number of hybrid events will increase beyond over the next few years.
  • 59% of event marketers believe that hybrid events will be crucial for their event marketing strategy moving forward.

More than 59% of event marketers believe that hybrid events will be crucial for their event marketing strategy moving forward.

Hybrid events can be any configuration or breakdown of virtual to in-person. Tread lightly though, because more reach and flexibility doesn’t equate to ease of planning.

Be sure to do extensive research before deciding if this could be the right route for your next event.

4. Smaller, More Intimate Events

Running a big flashy corporate event may be seen as a badge of success by many companies, but demand is actually growing for simpler, smaller events with authentic opportunities to meet face-to-face.

Stop thinking of events purely as a marketing opportunity and consider them more as a chance to engage better with your audience and build trust. Consumers are increasingly demanding authenticity from brands and becoming distrustful of big business. Creating more opportunities to speak with individual customers on a one-on-one basis makes your brand feel more personal and less like a faceless corporation.

Smaller events also open up the possibility of using more unique boutique event spaces that are more appealing to attendees.

Networking opportunities are a big attraction for many event attendees, aside from the event itself, so make sure you schedule in plenty of free social time and provide casual spaces that promote interaction.

A huge plus of planning a smaller event is expanding your location options.

5. Non-traditional Venues Gain Popularity

If you’re about to book the conference room in your local hotel for your next event, stop! Research by Social Tables shows that over 90% of event planners agree that events are more likely to be booked in a non-traditional venue than five years ago.

Thinking outside the box when it comes to your event venue comes with advantages. Choosing a visually appealing venue is more engaging for attendees and encourages them to post images of the event on social media.

Some examples of venues that are becoming more popular for hosting events include warehouses, barns, gardens, museums, art galleries, and co-working spaces.

This doesn’t mean that hotels are out completely though. In line with this trend, more hotels are thinking about how they can meet this need for more inspiring surroundings with non-traditional spaces such as rooftops and outdoor venues, or simply offering more options when it comes to event design and styling.

A cozy, outdoor event space with neutral colors, string lights and a fireplace.

As long as you’ve got an inclement weather alternative at the venue, I’m sure your attendees will appreciate the fresh air and Vitamin D that outdoor spaces provide.

Additionally, the growth of ride-sharing apps has made it more practical to host events outside of the typical downtown venues. More accessible and affordable transportation means that organizations can now take advantage of more varied locations and lower cost event venues.

As more event planners are seeking out new venues for events, this hasn’t gone unnoticed. There’s now a new breed of venue sourcing software available that makes it easier for event planners to find an ideal venue based on several different criteria.

6. Experience-First Events

This should be a no-brainer. Isn’t an event already an experience? What you should think about is how you can flip the script of work conferences being boring and just for work.

The homebodies are still out there and some even prefer hybrid events or virtual conferences still. How can you make your in-person event worthwhile?

Some elements of events are inherently experiential so those might come more naturally. Food trucks and swag bags, VIP sections and photo opportunities.

Other parts of an event could be spiced up a bit. If networking is your only pull to have someone attend live rather than online, think harder.

You can add a digital element, such as a photo booth with fun props or even a hashtag-based photo contest. Share results immediately via a QR code or turn the photos into a social wall to display in break spaces or between speakers.

7. Enhanced Personalization

Advancements in technology mean that consumers are now expecting more personalization in their communications with brands, and this is going beyond digital marketing channels to become a key part of events too.

Big Data and AI are creating more personalization opportunities such as the ability to create a unique event schedule for each attendee, or even just to provide a personalized map of the venue location with nearby points of interest.

Companies using events for marketing can also use data collected about event attendee behavior to create personalized follow-ups and more highly targeted and optimized marketing messages post-event. This practice is commonplace in all the big and popular digital marketing conferences today.

8. Augmented Reality

Augmented and virtual reality technology solutions are becoming more commonplace and affordable. There are many potential uses for them in events for a number of different industries.

The AR and VR industry is forecasted to grow by over 25% over the next two years, with AR leading the pack.

A chart outlining VR and AR users in the U.S. over time.

While VR has already been a bit of an event trend over the last few years, AR is taking over as the most popular technology, mainly because it’s more accessible and offers more flexibility in the real world.

VR can certainly help to engage your event attendees and enhance their experience, but it’s still seen as somewhat of a novelty. VR can transport your event attendees to another world and can be useful for virtual tours and games, but its applications are limited.

While virtual reality creates a completely virtual world, augmented reality adds digital elements to the real world environment.

AR technology is a more attractive and practical option for many event organizers because the technology is more affordable and accessible (AR apps can be used on any smartphone) and it offers a huge range of possibilities.

AR can be used for interactive product demonstrations, to help attendees learn more about each other and network, to create interactive venue maps, provide entertainment and opportunities for engagement, and more.

9. Use of AI in Event Organization and Analysis

Another emerging technology that we’ll see more of in the events industry next year is artificial intelligence.

Event planners can use AI in a number of different ways from event planning to during the event and for post-event analysis.

Just as e-commerce sites use AI to power their recommendations engines, event planning software has started using AI to assist planners by finding potential attendees, speakers, influencers, and topics, and suggesting optimal times and venue locations.

AI-powered Chatbots can be used for pre-event marketing and customer service to answer common questions, automate ticketing and follow up leads.

Facial recognition is another highly useful application of AI that can be used in events for everything from security and streamlining registration to personalizing experiences.

Need Help with Content Marketing for Your Events?

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content that’s consistently published, check out our Content Builder Service. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

increase leads

Sometimes, even companies providing content expertise for their own clients lose sight of doing the very same for themselves.

That’s the predicament this Marketing Insider Group client was facing. A marketing services agency providing lead generation and custom content for technology companies, they knew the important role content plays in driving website traffic, leads, and ultimately new business.

Still, due to bandwidth limitations, they had never been able to execute a consistent content strategy for their business. Their leads were being driven by piecemeal tactics, and while many of them were successful, this approach wasn’t allowing them to reach their full potential.

As the agency looked ahead at their goals to scale up the business, they knew they needed a new kind of support.

After partnering with Marketing Insider Group in early 2022, this client was able to surge ahead of their competitors, boost the number of inbound leads they generated, and earn hundreds of top-ranking keywords.

Let’s explore their journey in greater detail to learn exactly how they achieved these results.

The Problem: Random Acts of Marketing

Prior to engaging with Marketing Insider Group, this client was already delivering awesome content for their own clients. They were no stranger to what great content looked like and how to create it.

The thing was, they were growing. Historically focused on IT companies, they were branching out to other areas of the industry like data science and HR tech. They needed to scale, which meant shifting from their high-touch outbound prospecting activities to a more consistent and automated way of generating inbound leads.

“We were doing what a lot of people affectionately refer to as random acts of marketing,” shared one of the client’s marketing leaders in a recent conversation.

“We would support one single initiative and do some marketing around that. Then we would create sales enablement material and do a push around a new product. But one thing we have never done successfully ourselves is continuously executing one marketing activity over a long period of time to build momentum and generate inbound leads.”

That needed to change if the agency was going to scale successfully. Still, they had reservations about whether or not an outside writer or content team could capture their message.

“It’s challenging enough for us to write about our company ourselves, and we understand the business really well. Our reservation was about whether anyone else could do it. Writing an article that ranks is hard on its own, but to write something that wouldn’t be embarrassing when clients see it — I wasn’t sure anyone else could do it.”

During that time, their team saw Michael present about content marketing at an industry event. While their concerns lingered, his talk made them think it was maybe time to take the leap.

“There are a lot of companies out there that claim to do something similar, but they don’t have the experts. There’s cheap labor and AI, but not real expertise. When I heard Michael speak, I was convinced he understood [content marketing] on a deep level.”

The Solution: Close Collaboration and Consistent Content

The onboarding period is a key part of the Marketing Insider Group process — it’s what lays the foundation for everything else. During this time, the MIG and client teams work together to create briefing materials, perform keyword research, develop an extensive list of blog titles, and getting the actual writing and publishing schedule underway.

This client found onboarding surprisingly seamless:

“The writers have taken feedback even better and applied it in a more nuanced way than I expected. The initial ramp-up period was work, but I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it happened — in just a couple of weeks.”

The client did their part too. As content was delivered, they published it consistently to their blog so that performance tracking could begin.

“It would have taken me quite a while to get to the point of understanding [the metrics] you guys track,” shared one of our client’s key leaders. “The position tracking and visibility tracking — they’re some of the most helpful things we can track when we’re thinking about the actual end goal. I probably would have been tracking some vanity metrics that don’t matter instead of those, so it was a huge help, and now other clients we work with find these metrics valuable.”

The Result: Big Ranking Gains and More Inbound Leads

In less than one year, the client has climbed the rankings on Google, earning more than 200 ranking keywords — 10+ in the top 5, 50+ in the top 10, and 100+ in the top 20. They’ve surged ahead of their four biggest competitors in online search visibility — going from the last-ranked to top-ranked position since working with Marketing Insider Group.

Most importantly, they’re gaining 2-3X the amount of inbound leads — and they’re coming directly from new blog posts.

“Our data shows that the flow of inbound leads is coming from the blog articles”, our client shared. “So [buyers] come from a blog article to a product page, then inquire about talking to our salespeople. That wasn’t happening at all before. The volume of inbound leads is now double or triple at this point, what it was before we started.”

Looking for results like these?

Marketing Insider Group’s content strategy has worked for clients in countless industries and uses best practices that have been tested and proven to work. We align them with the specific needs of every client and their audience to create a personalized strategy that drives results.

If you are ready to earn more leads and get more traffic to your site with consistently-published, quality content, check out our SEO Blog Writing Service or schedule a quick consultation to learn more about how we can help you earn more traffic and leads for your business.

How To Optimize Your Blog Page for Conversion

By Michael Brenner on November 21, 2022

marketing insider group's optimize your blog page for conversion

Don’t miss an opportunity to maximize your profits by neglecting to optimize your blog page for conversion.

Converting site visitors into paying customers is key to growing your business. By making your blog page engaging and easy to navigate, you’ll increase visitors’ time-spent on your page and heighten your chances of making a sale.

Increase visibility, build trust with your target audience and turn more visitors into leads with these simple ways to optimize your blog page for conversion.

Key Takeaways

  • Increasing your conversion rate, or frequency of conversion, is the most cost-efficient way to boost your profits
  • Businesses that blog get 97% more links and 55% more traffic to their websites
  • A visually pleasing, easy-to-navigate blog page demonstrates dedication to serving the needs of your target audience and strengthens your customer relationships
  • 90% of the data the brain transmits is visual, meaning that visual optimization of your blog page crucial to making a lasting, positive impact on new visitors

Make the most of your blog page by using a smart strategy that’s proven to optimize your conversion rate.

The Importance of Conversion

If your marketing strategy isn’t generating conversions, or turning site visitors into paying customers, then it’s time to make some changes. Without conversion, you’re likely not making any money. Increasing your conversion rate, or frequency of conversion, is the most cost-efficient way to boost your profits.

You may be thinking that conversions are already accounted for in your SEO marketing strategy – and doing so would sacrifice your potential profit. SEO is an important piece of the conversion puzzle but doesn’t secure a solid step towards sales. SEO helps generate top-ranking content but only optimized landing pages will encourage conversions.

The good news is there’s more ways to maximize conversion than just making sales. Generating a high click-through rate (CTR) heightens your chances of converting visitors and receiving:

  • New appointments
  • Filled-out forms
  • Newsletter sign-ups
  • Phone calls
  • Requests for a quote

These actions and any other that bring your business one step closer to making a sale counts as conversion. This means that increasing your conversion rate is as easy as setting up your website for success.

How Your Blog Page Will Help

Businesses that blog get 97% more links and 55% more traffic to their websites. More leads means more opportunities to convert those new site visitors into sales.

bar graphs show that businesses that blog get 97% more links and 55% more traffic to their websites

Image Source: WordStream

Blogging boosts your brand awareness, improves the ranking of your product pages and drives more traffic to your site. Know your audience, answer their questions and share high quality content. Doing so will demonstrate expertise and build trust with your readers.

Consistently posting helpful content is the first step towards optimizing your site for conversion. Step two is tailoring your blog page to encourage visitor engagement.

A visually pleasing, easy-to-navigate blog page shows readers that you’re dedicated to serving their needs. This strengthens the relationship between you and your visitors, making them more likely to sit back, relax and make a purchase.

Optimize Your Blog Page for Conversion

A well-crafted blog page is one of the best ways to increase your conversion rate. Don’t pass up the opportunity to make a profit and learn how to optimize your blog page for conversion.

Assign Categories

Assigning blog content to categories simplifies navigation and guides your visitors to information they’ve set out to find, leading to a satisfying experience. Satisfied users will trust your site and prioritize your company’s services when they’re ready to make a purchase.

image of category tabs on blog page for marketing agency

Separate your blog articles into 4-6 well-structured categories tailored to general subjects that interest your target audience. Assign each article to one category only and focus category names on keywords or themes related to your business, such as:

  • Content Marketing
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Search Marketing
  • Demand Generation

This allows you to quickly educate visitors and elongate their time spent on your page. The more valuable information they find on your site, the more likely they are to initiate a sale.

Feature Recent Articles on Your Homepage

Featuring recent articles on your homepage brings expertise to the forefront of your business. It shows readers that you’re dedicated to sharing quality information with your loyal readers.

image of featured articles on marketing agency homepage

Demonstrating consistency via your blog page is one of the best ways to establish trust in your community. When your target audience trusts you, they’ll view your business as a way to gain valuable insight and be encouraged to make regular visits. Frequent visits to your site will heighten the chances of raising your conversion rate.

Proper Calls to Action

Possibly the most important aspect of optimizing your blog page for conversion, effective calls-to-action, or CTAs, are key to seeing new visitors make a move towards conversion. Include a CTA or form in the second column of your blog page to kindly remind readers that making a transaction with your business offers great value.

For example, a marketing agency could suggest:

“Sign-up for our newsletter today to learn more about growing your business”

example image of proper call to action on blog page

Each CTA should feel like a natural request to engage with your business’s services. Sometimes all visitors need is a little nudge to sign up for your newsletter to increase their chances of making a future purchase.

Create A Two-Column Layout

A single-column blog page is better than no blog at all, but it’s not an optimized set-up for conversion. A one-column layout sacrifices features that will get you closer to making a sale.

Set up your blog page with two-columns to take advantage of benefits that lead to conversion. A two-column layout gives you the ability to share more content with readers while they’re viewing content on your page. See Marketing Insider Group’s blog article wireframe for a clear example of a two-column layout optimized for conversion.

Marketing Insider Group’s blog article wireframe optimized for conversion

Focus on general blog content in column one and highlight top posts and CTAs in column two. This introduces another site destination to readers and encourages them to keep engaging with your content. The longer visitors stay on your page, the more likely they are to convert.

A two-column blog also enhances overall readability, visual appeal and comprehension of content. Ninety percent of data transmitted by the brain is visual. This means that visual optimization of your blog page is crucial to making a positive, lasting impact on new visitors.

Social Buttons to Encourage Sharing

Encourage site visitors to share your content by making social buttons readily available.

social buttons featured on blog to encourage sharing options

Adding social buttons to your site will gently nudge readers to share relevant information to their personal social channels. This will boost brand awareness and lead to more traffic, ultimately engaging new visitors and increasing your conversion rate.

Shares on social media also helps to establish credibility. When your business communicates competence and trustworthiness, new visitors are more likely to convert.

Add Blog to Main Navigation

Make your blog page front and center to emphasize the value your business adds to your community. New visitors will want to capitalize on your expertise and spend more time engaging with your content.

image of blog tab on main navigation of marketing agency homepage

Alt-text: image of blog tab on main navigation of marketing agency homepage

Adding your blog page to the main navigation of your site also demonstrates your business’s dedication to consistently educating and caring for your customers. New visitors will view your site as a reliable source of information and be likely to convert when they’re in need of your products.

Demonstrate Consistency

Consistency is an important part of every relationship, but especially so with your potential customers. Keeping up with a consistent publishing schedule demonstrates that your content is stable and reliable, making potential customers more likely to pay for your services.

To keep up with your competition, post new blog content at least twice a week on Monday and Wednesday mornings. This is when most people are checking their inboxes and heightens your chances of engagement.

horizontal bar graph shows frequency of posts for businesses with blogs

Image Source: FirstSiteGuide

Although it can be challenging to crank out two new posts a week, it’s a key component to encouraging conversion. Revisit outdated articles and give them a refresh to keep up with consistency in your publishing schedule.

Create Article Template

Another way to show consistency is by formatting your content in the same layout. Using the same template makes readers feel comfortable because they’ll always know what to expect.

Establish a set template with the following features to keep your content credible and uniform:

  • Dates and authors
  • Engaging imagery
  • Links to top posts
  • Encouragement to share
  • Offers to events and downloads

These key elements demonstrate frequency and dedication to your readers. They’ll also encourage visitors to engage with your content and help boost your conversion rate.

The comfort and familiarity of a great blog post will build trust between you and your community, making you their #1 choice when it comes time to make a purchase. Check out Marketing Insider Group’s secrets to creating the perfect blog post and access the downloadable version here.

To learn the basics of writing a blog post, enjoy the short video below.

Attention Grabbing Headlines

Grab your visitors’ attention by using headlines that peak the interest of your target audience. Once you’ve got their attention, they won’t be able to pass up the opportunity to click on your content and learn more.

Concise, catchy headlines are key to helping you stand out in the crowd. Databox reported that headlines are the most important blog element in terms of SEO and conversion.

bar graph shows importance of blog elements to SEO and conversion

Image Source: Databox

Draw your readers in with an intriguing statement or question to optimize your chances of ranking and raising your conversion rate.

Make More Sales Today

Start growing your business’ profits today and optimize your blog page for conversion. Doing so will enhance visitor experience, generate more site traffic and ultimately increase your conversion rate.

For more ways to highlight quality content on your site, check out our SEO Blog Writing Service now or schedule a quick consultation today to learn more!

Digital Ads Don’t Work And Everyone Knows It

By Michael Brenner on November 19, 2022

man disgusted at digital ads

Does Online Advertising Work?

By the title of this article, I’m sure you can guess our short answer is no. We just covered how CEOs don’t think it works. During the pandemic, brands like P&G, Chase Bank, and Uber slashed their ad budgets and saw exactly ZERO impact on their sales revenue.

Now we’re seeing the same thing happen again as ad sales plummet, advertising budgets shrink, and marketers are bring asked to focus on marketing that actually works.

Here’s a few more stats to show that digital ads don’t work:

  • 89% of marketers don’t think digital ads work
  • 36% of the clicks on paid ads are fraudulent. (Search Engine Journal)
  • Venture capital investment in ad tech is declining by an average of 10% each of the last 5 years.
  • Even CEOs from the most recognized brands know that digital ads are a waste money.
  • Businesses big and small from all sectors don’t see any lost sales after they stop spending money on ads.

And yet, business spending on digital ads is still projected to increase by 10% this year.

Most people think marketing is just people buying ads. Google, Facebook, and other social media platforms only exist because they convinced brands to spend money on “highly targeted” ads based on our behavior, demographics, or interests. That’s creepy!

But they must work, right? Cumulatively, brands spend more than $300 billion on digital ads each year!

The truth is, most marketers are simply lining the pockets of big ad tech execs, paying for bot traffic, and delivering no measurable revenue from ad spend.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Digital ads don’t work! And we have the data to prove it.
  • When brands slash their PPC and banner ad budgets, they notice paid traffic drops but sales are unchanged.
  • Venture capital is fleeing ad tech, seeking more sustainable solutions.
  • Our clients spend just 5% of their ad budget on Content marketing but see 7x ROI on average.

Do Digital Ads Work? Not For Most Businesses!

Digital ads don’t work. They’re the definition of a money pit. A swindle. A grift.

According to WordStream’s analysis of $3 billion in annual PPC ad spend, the average click through rate is 2.35%. More than 90% of those clicks bounce. So $3 billion gets you a 0.2% chance of finding a new warm lead.

Multiply that by the average conversion rate for most leads and you get exactly ZERO new customers. On average. (Yeah I know some companies are better than this. And some products are more likely to work.)

What about banner ads? Well, banners have 99 problems but a click ain’t one. The average click through rate on this fun little marketing curse is 0.06%.

Oh, those are just for generating awareness? Good luck with that! No wonder most marketers are miserable!

Digital Ads Might Be the Next Financial Bubble to Burst

eMarketer estimates worldwide digital ad spending sits at $441 Billion and projects that figure to grow to $526 billion by 2024.

eMarketer

Sounds promising for the digital ad industry! Not quite. Look at that dwindling growth rate—during the pandemic, it dropped to just 2.4% when brands halted all their costliest marketing tactics.

Wired ran a groundbreaking piece with a pertinent subtitle to drive home the point in October 2020 that didn’t get nearly enough attention (wonder why):

Wired

It points out that micro-targeted ads are far less accurate and persuasive than they’re advertised.

Plus, the metrics are less-than-transparent for brands like you, yet this is how Google makes 80% of its revenue and Facebook 99%: an average 60% of all digital ad revenue.

Wired’s writers even compare the inevitable implosion to the 2000 mortgage crisis. Think they’re being facetious? Well, consider that the entire industry of tech giants has built an empire off free apps by collecting the data to sell you ads.

Brands Realized Paid Digital Ads Don’t Work

Brands big and small cut the ad spigot in response to the pandemic’s uncertainty, and guess what? Nothing changed.

P&G turned off $200 million, Chase slashed ad reach by 99%, Uber turned off $120 million in ads for app installs—not one business noticed a change in outcomes.

Going back further, that’s the norm since shortly after ads emerged when eBay ended their paid search spending in 2012.

Yep, paid digital micro-targeted ads are just a big house of cards.

Even small businesses who reported a decline of 90% in ad spend saw little to no change in sales revenue.

Bots Drive Up Your Ad Spend More Than You Think

Goggle admits it right away (although I’m not sure who’s behind this embedded instant stat):

Search Engine Journal tells us each brand should expect “fraudulent” clicks to consume 20% of all paid ad clicks—in other words, bots.

But then again, the latest estimates tell us nearly 40% of all internet traffic is just bots, both “good” and “bad.”

Venture Capital Flees Ad Tech Quietly

Don’t get left in the aftermath of capital flight. Today’s capital flight looks much different than 1980s Detroit. Now, it happens internationally across entire sectors—like ad tech.

Back in 2018, Adweek quoted a Forrester report predicting venture capital would scatter from ad tech within the next few years. And looking at the latest stats from Crunchbase, venture capital has fled from ad tech deals at a roughly 10% compounded annual rate over the last five years.

Not good.

If Digital Ads Don’t Work, What’s Next?

Look, you’ve already made it this far—likely from literally asking yourself and Googling “do digital ads work?” Deep down, you know the jig is up, but what replaces them?

First, acknowledge you won’t miss anything by slashing your paid digital ad budget. Get over the FOMO because the ROI never existed and it won’t magically appear no matter how you tweak.

After starting my career in sales, I moved into marketing vowing to only work on things that can show measurable value. I never worked on a branding campaign. I never re-designed a logo. I mainly focused on creating helpful content for customers, knowing that would attract them to my business.

It’s what we now call Content marketing. You don’t have to pay for organic search clicks to your own site. But a small investment in strategic content (our average clients spends just 5% of what they spend on ads), can produce a compounding rate of return.

Replace Your Digital Ad Budget with Content Marketing

Because content marketing works for even the “least successful” content marketers.

As of 2020, 41% of even the low-performing content marketers surveyed said their content marketing successfully generates leads and ROI, compared to almost two-thirds for B2Bs with the best content:

Now, look at the massive gap between high- and low-performers as of last year.

Meanwhile, 29% of the low-performers said their content marketing generated sales and revenue, compared to three-quarters of high-performers.

It’s obvious from these stats and trends in Digital Marketing that businesses are investing more time, energy, and resources into their content marketing because they understand its value. They get that digital ads don’t work and they need a real solution.

Not Just Any Content Marketing Will Do

I get it. Digital ads are appealing because they look highly targeted, and the “clicks” start flowing in right away. But it’s all a charade. Content marketing is genuinely targeted because it uses empathy and brand storytelling— but also delivers traceable ROI.

Ads don’t work because potential customers don’t click them. Bots do. In fact, a quarter of people use ad blockers, so you’re already doomed. (Sorry if this video forces you to watch an ad!!!)

Customers do, however, click organic search results targeted to their query, pain point, and interest.

What are you more likely to click for help building your social media strategy

…one of these useful blogs from an authoritative site?

…maybe one of these interesting scholarly articles?

…or one of these annoying paid ads?

The choice is obvious. It’s clear content marketing delivers trackable results and digital ads don’t work. Trust me, you won’t miss them when they’re gone.

Admit Digital Ads Don’t Work and Start Building Your Content

Hopefully by now you’re ready to stop living in denial, admitting to yourself and your brand that digital ads don’t work.

Digital ads just don’t deliver any real revenue—they cost a literal fortune, and soon, the whole operation will implode. So, will you be holding the bag?

Make 2021 the year you go all-in on content: blogs, eBooks, videos, infographics. You can still create targeted content to reach your audience. Content is simply more sustainable and delivers better revenue.

Which has produced more ROI for you so far this year? Don’t make excuses for Google to keep taking your marketing budget. Make the switch to content.

Take the first step now and browse Content Builder Services to see how can help your brand deliver 7x ROI and 138% YoY organic search traffic. Can your digital ads do that?

goldfish social media attention span myth

I published this article titled “Thanks social media – our attention span is now shorter than a goldfish” all the way back in 2014.

At the time this myth was running around the world that scientists had measured the attention span of humans and found that it dropped from 20 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds. They had borrowed on an old myth that goldfish have the attention span of 9 seconds. And so the assumption was that – thanks to social media which had taken off in the early naughts – our attention span was now shorter than a goldfish!

The implication for marketing was to create shorter content, more entertainment, more humor, more images, more direct promotion. The assumption that our attention span was shorter than a goldfish has since been proven untrue.

In fact the research showed that our ability to process information has actually increased, despite the many and increasing number of distractions we face today. So what’s the implications for digital and content marketing: focus on what works. Helpful content still attracts and converts more than promotional content. Stories beat snippets. Facts beat jokes.

Read on to hear why we need to be vigilant about busting this “Social Media ruined our attention spans and they are now shorter than a goldfish” myth.

Quick takeaways:

  • No one has ever really measured a gold fish attention span
  • Research actually suggest our ability to process information has gone up as has the number of distraction we get from social media
  • Effective content marketing still focuses on helping people as much as possible

Quick Personal Goldfish Story

On October 9, 1999 I married the love of my life. The following day we were whisked off to beautiful Hawaii for an amazing honeymoon trip we still talk about now 23 years ago.

2 days into our trip, I was videotaping the sunset and noticed on the date stamp on this old camcorder screen that said it was October 12th.

October 12th? That’s my birthday! OMG I forgot it was my birthday!

This was 1999. Before Facebook. Before Twitter. Before iPhones.

You see, we have always been a distracted bunch.

Quick Professional Goldfish Story

For years I had talked about this one amazing example of content marketing that really focused on my industry. I used them as a proof point for why we should use content marketing at SAP – to reach and convert our target audience. I used them as an example in my keynotes and content marketing strategy workshops.

Then a few months after I started this company, they called me and asked me to write for them, and help them take their strategy to the next level. I was so excited I could barely contain myself. Then the editor left. Then my main contact left. Then her replacement left. (What was going on?)

Finally I had a call with their Managing Editor. The so-called “VP of Thought Leadership.” And she said to me that they didn’t need me. In fact, they didn’t need the type of content we believe very strongly in. Expert content that balances both quality and quantity. She didn’t believe in thought leadership content. (Ummm, your title is . . .)

The most shocking part was her reason: she said that they had looked at the analytics. And they found that shorter content was found to have more engagement. And her main KPI. Her entire annual performance was based on increasing engagement.

Her conclusion: they were going to write shorter posts. Turn the site into more like a news feed of flashing and sexy content that would drive engagement up through the roof.

I actually said to her that based on her description, she should post single word articles and videos of porn. Because that would boost engagement.

I was not invited to continue working with this company. And this shining example of OG content marketing no longer exists.

What does this have to do with goldfish? The desire to want to chase shinier objects, shorter content, flashier visuals, will always be there. There will always be a metric or a myth or an influencer that will try and sell us on this belief that content marketing is too hard, takes too long, costs too much – when all the evidence shows the opposite.

Origin of The Goldfish Myth

Goldfish having short attention spans is more like an urban myth. We say “you have the (short) memory of a goldfish) because I guess we assume them swimming in a bowl, darting from one thought to another.

No one ever actually measured the attention span of a goldfish. Recent research even shows that goldfish can remember things for up to 5 months! That seems pretty impressive to me for such a little fish.

Apparently, it all started when Statistic Brain apparently reported (the original page no longer exists) on a study by something called “National Center for Biotechnology Information, at the U.S. National Library of Medicine,” (nothing on their website about it) said the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. This is one second less than the attention span of a goldfish. OMG, goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds – 1 second more than you and I.

According to the original source, this was all due to the “external stimulation” of all the content we’re producing and distributing across all the social media channels. The research stated (again you can’t find it now):

“Most educators and psychologists agree that the ability to focus attention on a task is crucial for the achievement of one’s goals. It’s no surprise attention spans have been decreasing over the past decade with the increase in external stimulation.”

The bottom line: this was all a load crap!

This Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Distracted

Since the dawn of modern women and men, there have been sirens screaming that there is too much information out there. Our heads are going to explode. I’m sure it happened when the first person uttered the second word. The first word was cool. But the second word? How many might there be.

This was true when we invented writing, the printing press, the internet, social media, and it’s happening now with web 3.0 and the dawn of practical applications of AI. The human brain is seeing more, learning more, consuming more, and yes therefore we are scanning more. But hey, I still sat down and binged the whole season of The Watcher like it was nothing. Ok seriously, go watch that trailer. And then the show, and call me. Insane!

Oh wait. Ok stay focused with me here.

Yes we are distracted:

  • We check our phones more than 200 times per day
  • The average office worker (poor schmuck) spends 3 hours per day distracted by non-work activities
  • 25% of teenagers report forgetting important details about their friends and family
  • 7% of people forget their own birthdays from time to time (at least I’m not alone)
  • Most people check their email 30 times every hour

But we’re consuming more information than ever before. The average person today consumer more information in a DAY than the average person did 500 years ago in their entire lifetime and the average person 50 years ago did in one month.

Information gets consumed and leads to progress and that leads to more information. This loop has played out since the beginning of human evolution.

The Content Marketing Imperative

So what does all this mean for content marketing? For marketing? For business?

One of my very first public speeches was titled the Battle for Customer Attention and ironically it included an image of a goldfish. Not one representing short attention spans. But one that sticks out.

How do we best stick out in a crowded world of marketing content:

  1. Create the content people actually want
  2. Tell stories that reach and engage new buyers
  3. Use research and thought leadership instead of promotion and banner ads no one wants
  4. Publish as often as you can, content that is as helpful as you can
  5. Tell personal stories of your triumphs and failures (like I did in my book Mean People Suck)
  6. Measure the ROI of what works and then test new ideas
  7. Have the courage to fight for doing good work you can be proud of

If you’re trying to stand out from the crowd and grow your business, check out our SEO blog writing services or set up a free consultation with our team!  

26 Cheat Sheets Every Successful Digital Marketer Needs

By Michael Brenner on November 17, 2022

woman cheating a test to represent digital marketing cheat sheets

It’s not easy being a digital marketer today. There are so many trends to stay on top of. You need to know and do everything from content strategy to writing and editing, SEO, social media marketing, Paid, analytics and so much more. Just as you think you’ve finally mastered a channel, all the rules change.

So how do you stay on top of it all?

You’ve come to the right place. Here’s an updated list of nifty digital marketing cheat sheets that will help you execute various activities to perfection. Every one of them is borrowed from expert sources who’re experienced or have built the best tools for the topic that we talk about.

(I’ve developed my own cheat sheet for content marketing ROI — because that’s the biggest challenge I hear from marketers today. And also created a MASTER cheat sheet for you with no registration required – linked at the bottom of this article.)

So, without further ado, let’s dive into this list — I’m sure it will make your life easier and help you get the results you want from your digital marketing efforts!

The Periodic Table of Content Marketing

Content marketing is arguably the most important component of digital marketing. This periodic table of Content Marketing from Econsultancy highlights the eight areas that are key to your content marketing success. You’ll find everything from content marketing goals to content formats, types, topics, and metrics, organized in a visually appealing way, so you can deliver great content your customers will love.

periodic table digital marketing cheat sheet Copywriting Awesomeness 101

Creating compelling content is no easy job. This list from Copyhackers covers 101 writing Dos and Don’ts to help you write great content that engages and converts.

20-Step Checklist for How To Write The Perfect Blog Post

How do you create perfect blog posts that will get your audience’s attention and stand out from the sea of content out there on the web? This infographic gives you the blueprint for writing a great blog post, everything from the headline to intro, main copy, visual elements and social sharing.

perfect blog post digital marketing cheat sheet

The same article also includes an infographic on the anatomy of a perfect blog post.

 

The Ultimate List Of Blog Post Ideas

Blogging is the heart of your content marketing strategy. Blogs drive traffic to your website and allow you to make a connection with visitors. Being able to continually come up with ideas for your blogs, however, can sometimes be a challenge.

This comprehensive infographic shares over 50 content topics and types that will surely fire up your inspiration today and help you create quality, valuable content to keep your audience coming back for more.

Content Distribution Strategies for Blogs of All Sizes

Creating valuable content is only half the battle. If you can’t get your content in front of your target audience, you’re not going to get the traffic and conversions you’d like to see from your blogging efforts. This checklist from Buffer shares 11 effective strategies they’ve learned from content promotion experts to help you get your content out there and make sure it is seen by as many of your target customers as possible.

The Ideal Length of Content

Wondering what the optimal length is for your social media, web content, headlines, and meta data? Sum All and Buffer pulled together this amazing infographic that summarizes the ideal length for your tweets, Facebook posts, and more.

Blogger Outreach Checklist

Want to connect with blog editors and thought leaders to pitch a guest post or ask for help in promoting your content? Explore this blogger outreach checklist to help you research, target, and reach out to individuals with whom you want to work.

blogger outreach digital marketing template

Everything You Need to Be a Social Media Rock Star

Are you using social media but not really seeing the ROI you expected? Maybe you aren’t sure what platform is best for your brand or are inconsistent in posting.

This handy post shows you everything you need to know about image sizing for your social media profiles, keyboard shortcuts, best days and time of day to post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram, to help you get the most out of your social media marketing efforts.

social media posting optimization template

Visuals are central to social media posts, so images warrant a special mention here. It’s hard to keep up with all the sizes and specs for each channel. Plus, they often change! Check out this handy infographic that provides all the information you need on sizes for each platform.

Instagram image size cheat sheet

Step-By-Step Guide to Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is now a key aspect of digital marketing, especially for brands. Influencers are replacing brand ambassadors as the face, voice, and advocates of the brand. This post will help you define your influencers, reach out to them, and work with them to connect better with your customers.

The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Checklist

This eBook-like cheat sheet walks through all the key components of a successful inbound marketing campaign and how you can go about accomplishing each, everything from blogging to social media, lead generation, email marketing, marketing automation and analytics.

While you’re at it, there is also this infographic from HubSpot that provides a quick refresher on the inbound process, from traffic to conversions.

SEO Site Audit Checklist

Taking on a site audit is a huge task; Annie Cushing has made it manageable with her comprehensive site audit checklist. The Google sheet covers every imaginable category of SEO and every little task within.

site audit checklist

The Ultimate SEO Checklist Infographic

This infographic from SEO & Digital Marketing agency LeapFroggr is a must-have for any digital marketer’s toolbox. It includes practical SEO tips and best practices you can implement, everything from market and competitor research to on-page and off-page SEO, to ensure your great content and websites are getting searched and seen by your target audience.

 

SEO Cheat Sheet for Web Developers

While targeted at web developers, this cheat sheet from Moz is great for SEO newbies and experts alike, because it includes all the SEO best practices you need to keep your sites search-friendly, including HTML elements, social metadata, URL and hyperlinking tips.

moz seo cheat sheet

SEO Best Practices for Blog Posts

Totally new to SEO but want to optimize your blogs for SEO and search ranking right away? This infographic offers six important SEO best practices you can implement today, with a checklist you can hang to your wall as a quick reference for future blog posts you’re creating.

An infographic displaying an on-page SEO blog checklist.

The Complete List of SEO Ranking Factors

Well, if you had the full list of ranking signals Google uses, you wouldn’t be reading this post. There is a lot of debate among SEO experts on various ranking factors that Google may or may not reward or penalize, the characteristics of these factors, and the weight that Google assigns them. Here’s one compilation from Backlinko — but take it with a pinch of salt and do your own research.

Google Algorithm Update History

With Google constantly updating their algorithms — they make over 3,000 changes a year — it’s hard to stay up-to-date with it all. It’s critical for SEOs to know when major changes are happening to the Google algorithm so that they can examine changes in rankings, traffic, and search visibility.

Luckily, Moz has chronicled all notable Google updates since 2000 for easy reference.

Local SEO Checklist

Local SEO is the new yellow pages – the best way to reach customers in your city or neighborhood, right when they need you. This local SEO checklist outlines the best practices for you to get more local customers via search engines.

Creating the Ultimate Landing Page

Landing pages are critical to your digital marketing strategy. They are built to attract and convert leads, so making sure they are optimized to do just this is vital.

Here’s an infographic that outlines the best practices of landing pages, and explains constituent elements like headlines, introductions, USPs, credentials, FAQs, and CTAs in detail.

Don’t think your landing pages are delivering the results you want to see? Here’s a checklist from Klientboost and a list of questions from Unbounce you can use to make sure you’re not missing any of the key elements that will help you build a remarkable landing page that converts.

The Complete Conversion Rate Optimization Checklist

How do you make sure your web pages are attracting and converting your target audience?

Take a look at this conversion rate optimization checklist with details on how to choose KPIs and A/B testing.

The Complete List of Google Ad Extensions

When you use paid search marketing, then you need to make sure your money is working to give customers more visible ways to connect with you. You can boost your Google Ads performance by adding ad extensions that simply help you grab more SERP space without increasing your spend.

Retargeting 101

Retargeting/remarketing is one of the most effective ways to bring back customers and increase sales by chasing them (subtly) across the web. However, you need a checklist for re-marketing to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.

Anatomy of an Effective Marketing Email

Email marketing is the best way to generate and nurture your leads. In fact, it has frequently proved to be the marketing channel with the highest ROI. Email gives you an opportunity to connect directly with your customers at a time of your choosing, with carefully selected, personalized messaging.

If your email marketing isn’t generating the results you want, it’s time to dissect what you’re doing. Optimize your marketing emails with these conversion-focused elements.

Google Analytics Metrics and Dimensions

If you’re new to Google Analytics or need a refresher, here’s a great cheat sheet that provides a comprehensive overview of all the Google Analytics metrics and dimensions you’ll want to be tracking to measure and improve the ways customers engage and interact with your website.

Universal Analytics Cheat Sheet

Simplify the world of Universal Analytics with this nifty cheat sheet that covers generalities, method and field reference, and limits and quotas in the new improved Google Analytics.

Website Usability Checklist

The usability of your site matters just as much as your message. Google too places extra importance on UX for search visibility. Be sure that you are using best practices and discover how to overcome challenges with this usability checklist infographic.

Website Launch Checklist

Launching a website is both exciting and stressful. You need to take care of everything from proofreading your copy to performance testing after the launch (or relaunch). Make sure you don’t forget any details with this website launch checklist.

When it comes to a website launch, even the best experts miss out on little things, so here’s another checklist. And here’s yet another, just in case, you know!

A Master Sheet to Sum It All Up

If you’ve made it this far, here’s a special treat for you… A MASTER CHEAT SHEET with a most of the checklists above, ready to use — just make a copy for yourself and get on with your campaigns!

What other cheat sheets and resources do you use to improve your digital marketing efforts? Please share your ideas in the comments!

Are you interested in reaching and converting new customers for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help.

11 Digital Marketing Trends to Grow Your Business Today

By Michael Brenner on November 16, 2022

digital marketing trends

Marketers have been forced into survival mode to keep their businesses afloat, leaning into digital marketing trends and seeking other untapped potential.

The businesses finding the most success today, despite the turbulence, are the ones willing to remain flexible, make change rapidly and get creative. Despite the turmoil, many businesses remain optimistic.

73% of CMOs interviewed in a recent Gartner study predict the pandemic’s negative ramifications on our society will be short-lived.

More than half expect that performance will get back to normal within the next year. Over a third believe the virus will have a significant positive impact on their businesses in the future.

No one knows for sure whether these predictions are correct. However, we know that COVID-19 has forced the world to make significant shifts in business and marketing.

Digital has become the supreme leader in the marketing world. It now accounts for about 80% of all marketing channel budgets. We expect that number will only increase in 2023.

Businesses are adapting quickly to remain relevant. Those that don’t will soon fall behind their future-focused competitors or get kicked out of the game completely.

We’ve compiled 11 crucial digital marketing trends for your businesses to follow as we step into 2023.

Quick Takeaways:

  • COVID-19 has forced the world to make some major shifts.
  • The need for connection, personalization, and outstanding customer experiences will play into every facet of B2B and B2C marketing in 2023.
  • Brand strategy, customer loyalty, and innovative technology are paramount.
  • Businesses must prove themselves consistent, trustworthy, empathetic, authentic, and courageous.
  • Companies should position themselves as thought leaders to build trust and loyalty with target audiences.

Top Digital Marketing Trends for This Year

If you can successfully execute the following b2b marketing strategies, you’ll outshine your competitors, build lasting connections with customers, and win more leads and sales in 2023.

1. Authentic Human Connection

Connecting with real humans is essential in today’s digital world. As COVID-19 forces us to stay home and keep social distance, we crave human interaction. Unable to spend quality time with friends, family, and colleagues in person, we’re turning to technology to bridge the gap.

According to Deloitte’s Global Marketing Trends report, people seek more human-centric businesses and leave the companies that don’t value authentic connection. More than 70% of those surveyed said they appreciate digital innovations that have deepened their relationships with others during the pandemic.

“When organizations design their digital future for efficiency, rather than human connection, a debt accrues, and this debt can manifest in biased results, lack of inclusivity, and feelings of social isolation.”

Marketers should capitalize on the opportunity to develop real relationships with customers. You can start by rethinking your company values, mission, and operations. Start with your value system, which drives your business. When your values align with your clients’ – connecting with their emotions and aligning with their actions – you’ll form deeper connections.

A chart that shows a customer's connection to a brand directly increases brand loyalty, referrals and repeat business.

Bringing human values to the forefront of your business marketing efforts will equip you to address client and consumer needs effectively and authentically. You can build powerful connections and profound loyalty by:

  • Viewing your organization as a “human entity”
  • Identifying your clients’ core values
  • Mirroring those values in your businesses

2. Personalization

Personalization will arguably be the most crucial trend in the future of marketing. Building marketing and advertising campaigns that target individuals rather than the masses can hugely impact your leads, conversions, and sales.

  • 92% of consumers agree that every interaction with a brand matters and the entire customer experience should be excellent.
  • Personalized emails get much higher open rates.
  • Customization produces brand loyalty.
  • 90% of U.S. consumers find marketing personalization appealing.
  • The top way to personalize customer experiences is through email campaigns.

Connectedness to a brand is key in many consumer decisions - trust, brand alignment and understanding should all be considered in your digital marketing strategy.

3. Thought Leadership

2020 was traumatic in various ways for many of us. So much “normality” has spiraled out of control that it’s challenging to know where to turn for helpful advice, truth, direction, and empathy.

Nevertheless, people are searching for answers – primarily online. They’re looking for healthy and stable leaders they can trust to point them in the right direction to make a purchase, form a partnership or find a service.

This creates an opportunity for thought leaders. By 1) proving yourself as a credible expert in your industry and 2) fitting the emotional and societal needs of your clients, you can build trust and loyalty. Here are some ideas:

  • Prove you understand your clients’ needs by empathizing with them. They will learn to trust you so you can show them the best way forward.
  • Provide educational content through video marketing, pillar pages, podcasts, and blogging to gain traction and build authority online.
  • Keep content current.
  • Connect with followers on a personal level.
  • Provide enormous value by staying on the cutting edge in your industry.
  • Show respect and prove you’re looking out for your audience’s best interests at all times.
  • Remain adaptable. Evolve with your audience. Reframe your point of view as market conditions change.

Follow Google’s E-A-T criteria as you create your content. Doing so will assure search engines that your information is correct, reliable, and authoritative to improve your rankings.

One of the most effective ways to turn your C-suite members into thought leaders is to start a podcast. 62% of U.S. consumers listened to podcasts in 2022, up from 57% in 2021. It doesn’t require as much equipment or production as video, and it’s a way to have meaningful conversations and share your knowledge with your target audience.

4. Video Marketing and Sales

Mobile video consumption increases by 100% every year. 78% of people watch online videos weekly, and 55% watch daily. 54% want more video content moving forward.

A chart showing that the importance of a strong video marketing strategy continues to rise as the years pass

99% of marketers say they already use video marketing, and 88% want to devote more money to video campaigns in the future. That’s no surprise considering that viewers retain 95% of a message communicated via video.

Again, human connection plays a role in video marketing’s surging popularity. Video can help you connect with customers in a more personal way than other forms of content marketing.

Whether you’re creating targeted ads or sales videos, sharing a presentation, or inviting clients to create testimonial videos for your business, you can reach people in a more humanized way with video marketing and sales.

5. Optimizing for Search Intent

According to Alexa, “Search intent is the reason behind a searcher’s query on search engines.” It’s the searcher’s objective – what they’re trying to accomplish. Most people search online to learn about something, take action, or find something.

Optimizing for search intent will be an essential content marketing and SEO strategy in 2023. Your goal is to provide solutions to problems through relevant content. As a result, you will:

  • Boost brand awareness
  • Drive conversions
  • Retain customers
  • Remain relevant to your target audience

There are four primary types of search intent:

  • Informational: Users enter a query and expect a straightforward answer fast.
  • Navigational: Searchers look for “directions” to a website or landing page.
  • Commercial investigation: Searchers conduct as much research as possible to make highly informed purchasing decisions.
  • Transactional: The user intends to make a purchase.

Satisfy your users by giving them what they want, when and where they want it.

6. Innovative Partnerships

Forming innovative partnerships with other businesses is another way to amplify the customer experience. By partnering with a company that performs a complimentary service, you’ll offer more value to your clients.

Let’s say you own an email marketing software company. Your clients are primarily small business owners. Partnering with a social media marketing business to create a new product that integrates social media and email services can make your offer more attractive.

Maybe you agree to promote another business that agrees to promote your business in return. Your customers will appreciate your openness. If you’re already respected, they’ll trust your recommendation and appreciate the help. You’ll build more trust with them. Cross promoting will also get your brand in front of more people and build your reputation.

7. Agile Marketing

For businesses to remain successful today, agility isn’t optional. Investing in agile marketing strategies during a worldwide pandemic and other events outside of our control is crucial.

Unlike past recessions, where businesses would retrench and wait out the storm, modern enterprises have shifted primarily to digital channels. They’ve upped their online game to replace their physical presence. They’ve had to pivot rapidly to remain relevant and adapt to changing buyer needs.

For your business to remain agile, you must understand your audience’s current needs and anticipate future conversations. Here are some tips:

  • Develop a unified view of your customers to create holistic, personalized experiences to lead each individual through the buyer’s journey.
  • Leverage social media to personally engage your audience.
  • Swiftly develop and deploy new offers.
  • Integrate predictive technologies (machine learning and AI) to anticipate consumer behaviors.
  • Bring in the C-suite team early to share insights before designing channel strategies.

8. Featured Snippets

Position zero is gaining more traction now than ever. In the past, content marketers could claim both the featured snippet and a SERP entry. Now, Google’s changed the game. Position zero has become position #1. In other words, it counts as one of the 10 Google search results. You can no longer double-dip.

Search results for "what is a featured snippet?" show the value of including content marketing in your digital marketing mix in order to rank for #1 on Google.

Rarely (but sometimes), Google will turn up a double snippet. When it does, only eight traditional organic listings will remain on the page. Still, grabbing the featured snippet position for key terms related to your business can increase your brand recognition and send more traffic to your website.

9. Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing remains a hot trend for B2B companies. By targeting high-value accounts and individual decision-makers with highly personalized campaigns, you can land large deals. With ABM, the stakes are high. But your ROI potential is higher than any other type of marketing.

Tell your prospects exactly how you plan to solve an impending departmental problem. Consider using strategic marketing tactics like retargeting campaigns, programmatic displays, customized videos, and social media. If you’re successful, you could land and expand target accounts and develop stronger relationships and loyalty with your ideal clients.

A chart showing 4 types of ABM in a digital marketing mix - 1:1 ABM, ABM Lite, Programmatic ABM and Bolt-on ABM

10. Email

Email is one of the most personal and inexpensive forms of communication available for marketers.

Effective email marketing will help your business:

  • Build relationships
  • Nurture leads
  • Lead contacts down the buyer’s journey
  • Convert leads into customers
  • Boost sales
  • Expand your audience
  • Segment lists to target different demographics with customized messaging
  • Engage current and potential customers
  • Conduct various tests to improve metrics
  • Set up workflows and email automation

Recipients open over 60% of emails on mobile devices. Make sure your emails are responsive – just like your website.

Most businesses don’t email their segmented lists enough. Emailing too much is rarely the problem. Experiment with different send times, frequency, and list segments to learn what strategies best engage your audience in 2023.

11. Brand Storytelling

Brand storytelling is nothing new, but it remains one of the most crucial trends to your business’s ongoing success. 33% of CMOs say their brand strategy is their most important strategic capability. Every brand has a story to tell.

Brand storytelling allows you to connect with others on a deeper level. It lets your personality shine. The more authentic and vulnerable you can be, the better. Brand stories help businesses connect powerfully with other companies and consumers.

To develop your brand story, ask the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • Why do you exist?
  • Who are you here to help?
  • What makes you different?
  • How did you get where you are today?
  • What do you provide others?
  • How do you define success?

Narration is one of the best ways to evoke raw emotions in people. It allows people to use their imaginations. It enables you to get creative with your marketing.

Capture your audience’s attention and leave them with something unforgettable when you tell your brand story. It will empower you to build real relationships and long-term loyalty, stand out from competitors, and build an engaged community.

“Brand storytelling is a great way to get your point across, differentiate your brand, and work out new ideas. Today, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur or leader, you also have to be a storyteller.”
– Richard Branson

Does Your Business Need Help in Implementing Digital Marketing Tactics?

With content marketing, you can drive qualified traffic to your website and engage new visitors. Build your brand story and online presence for tremendous success in the new year. Establish yourself as a thought leader and build trust with customers with quality, consistent content production.

MIG is a digital marketing agency and a thought leader. We’d love to help you grow your business successfully by developing superbly written, keyword-rich articles to help your company climb the SERPs as quickly as possible.

Learn about our Content Builder Services. We’ll help you create all the content you need to win customers and boost sales.

Where Should I Consider Posting My Video Content?

By Michael Brenner on November 16, 2022

Post Video Content

A picture speaks a thousand words – but video content marketing attracts and engages users even better. One study found that visitors spend 88% more time on a website with video.

If you’re a switched-on marketer, that’s one statistic you cannot afford to ignore.

Video has long been touted as one of the biggest things in marketing. It enables businesses and brands to project their personality, to showcase the very human team behind the logo, and to build a genuine connection.

It’s an opportunity to highlight the features of a product, to explain how something works in a quick, visual, easily-digestible chunk of marketing gold.

Critically, video content marketing blurs the line between entertainment and outright advertising. In short, video is convenient, video is valuable, and video is fun.

You already know all this. Perhaps you’ve already dabbled in video creation. Now, it’s about bridging the gap between the videos saved on your hard drive, or stored on your YouTube channel, and the lead-generating strategy you are attempting to execute.

Many brands have loads of videos. They just don’t know how to maximize them for impact on search and social. So the questions I want to answer today:

  1. Where should we post our video content?
  2. How to promote my YouTube videos?
  3. How to promote videos on LinkedIn?

Before we jump into it, here are a few quick takeaways:

  • Video content marketing involves creating and distributing branded video with the goal of converting users.
  • Businesses have access to many video hosting platforms beyond YouTube, many with unique offerings.
  • Web pages with video are favored in search engine results, so you want to add more video to your site.
  • Your video content marketing efforts will be amplified if you follow these best practices for publishing and promoting them.

What Is Video Content Marketing?

Video content marketing involves the creation and distribution of valuable, branded video content to a target audience, with the goal of raising awareness and engaging and converting leads.

Much the same as typical content marketing, video content marketing is a marketing approach that aims to fulfill buyer needs, answer their questions, and, ultimately, drive more business.

It’s about figuring out how video can be integrated into each stage of the buying process and that every channel you brand is active on. The content must be useful, valuable, and entertaining – you want your audience to engage with you again, to take the next step.

Video content marketing is strategic. It’s more than sporadically producing and publishing disconnected videos across random channels on an inconsistent schedule. Successful video marketing involves research, planning, and optimization.

But Why Video?

Video is a unique medium that lends itself fantastically to established content marketing strategies. Here are some of the stand-out features of video that make it relevant to today’s consumer:

  • Video is easy to digest. Most of us scroll through our phones for, on average, 3.3 hours a day. Video stands out because it’s quick and requires no effort to consume.
  • Video is entertaining. Watching someone demonstrate how a manual coffee grinder works, for example, provides greater entertainment value than, say, a text-based step-by-step guide or manual.
  • Video is engaging. There’s a reason why more than half of people watch video online on a daily basis – it’s valuable and fun, two traits that lead to impressive engagement levels.
  • Video is highly accessible. It can be published across all social media platforms, as well as embedded into web pages.

How to Create Videos that Convert

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula that’ll ensure your video content attracts, engages, and converts an audience. It all depends on the nature of your business and the unique aspirations, needs, and pain points of your customers.

Before you begin the creation process, you’ll want to set a specific goal. This goal will influence the types of videos you create and where those videos are shared. Keep the following in mind when goal setting:

  • Be specific. Determine whether you want to generate awareness, gather new leads, or convert qualified leads into customers, as examples.
  • Define the measurables. How will you determine the success of your campaign? Identify key metrics, such as views, engagements, or conversion rate.
  • Consider the timing. Establishing a realistic deadline is critical to your marketing efforts. Keep possible obstacles and risks in mind and be sure to pivot your expectations accordingly.
  • Identify your audience. Use demographic, behavioral, and customer journey metrics to identify the target audience of your campaign.
  • Complementary assets. Will you need blog posts and social media updates to go alongside your video? Be sure to include these in your plan of action.

With goals established, you can determine the types of videos that’ll best assist you in achieving those goals. Video types include:

  • Product videos that showcase features and functionalities
  • Animations that are short, engaging, and playful
  • Educational videos that highlight your industry expertise and authority
  • Video emails that add a new dimension to your eDMs
  • Testimonial videos that provide all-important social proof
  • Slideshow-style videos that are quick to put together, cost-effective, and ideal for educational content

Goals are set. Video type is identified. Now, it’s time to create. Here are a few tips to guide you toward excellent video content:

  • Prioritize quality. Poor-quality video doesn’t send the right message. Instead, invest in proper camera equipment and editing software (or hire someone).
  • Show your personality (if it matches your brand). If you or a team member is getting in front of the camera, let your quirks show. People want to connect with people – not businesses.
  • Speak slowly and add captions. If you talk too fast, it’s likely that your message will get lost. Also, keep in mind that many people watch video with the sound off – captions are essential.
  • Brand your videos. Be sure the look and feel of your video content aligns with your brand.
  • Add a call to action. If a viewer wants to learn more or take the next step, make it easy for them with a clear, visual CTA.

The Top Video Content Marketing Platforms

The videos you create and the strategy behind them are important, but so, too, is where those videos are published.

When comparing video hosting sites, keep an eye out for the following features:

  • An intuitive interface
  • Compatibility with mobile devices
  • Compatibility with all types of players and browsers
  • Analytics tools to measure the performance of your videos
  • The ability to embed your videos on websites
  • Search engine optimization tools

9 Video Content Marketing Platforms You Should Know About

Where should you publish your video content? Most of us little folks just use YouTube. But if you are looking for a more elegant solution, here are nine video platforms to explore:

1. YouTube

YouTube is well-known, popular, and has significant existing viewership. YouTube is free and allows creators to earn money via its ad-supported monetization program. YouTube is usually the default choice for businesses, and this isn’t such a bad thing – videos hosted on YouTube are given priority in Google search results. And it is easy to promote them.

Which may be part of the problem. You don’t want to send all your traffic to YouTube so THEY can advertise to YOUR audience. You want to bring those people to your website. Which is why we wrote this article in the first place. (Don’t worry, you can jump to how to promote your YouTube video.)

2. Vimeo

Vimeo began just like YouTube – as a basic video-sharing platform. Today, its functionalities enable businesses to collaborate with team members, customize video players, and access marketing features like analytics. If collaboration is a top priority, Vimeo might be the right choice.

3. Wistia

Wistia focuses on delivering marketing features that assist businesses in tracking their video’s performance, enabling them to optimize their campaigns to generate the highest possible return on investment. One of the platform’s flagship features is the Turnstile email collector, which allows you to collect viewers’ email addresses right from your video.

Wistia also has great resources about videos on their platform. Their article on how to use video content marketing to increase SEO traffic is golden! And I love this video about shooting video from your iPhone.

4. Vidyard

Vidyard’s selling points are its ease-of-use and excellent customer service. The Vidyard team is happy to work with you to help you create and publish high-quality content.

5. Brightcove

Brightcove offers basic customization that enables you to brand your videos consistently. You can add your business’s name, logo, colors, and more. These details can be saved and used again and again, ensuring all of your content across a campaign has the same look and feel.

6. Hippo Video

Hippo Video is unique in that it allows you to send personalized videos to your audience in bulk. You can add an individual’s name, email, and more – and then send out to as many customers or prospects as you like in one swoop.

7. Spotlightr

For highly detailed analytics that shed light on your video’s progress and your viewers’ demographics and behaviors, Spotlightr (formerly, vooPlayer) is an excellent choice. The platform offers reports based on a whole host of variables, including play rate, completion, viewer location, engagement, and more.

8. SproutVideo

SproutVideo helps you create basic websites – or landing pages – around your hosted video content. These websites can then be used to showcase a portfolio, share tutorials, or even provide video instructions to your team members.

9. Uscreen

Uscreen has a system in place that allows you to make money off of your videos without exposing your audience to ads. You do have to pay a flat monthly fee, however.

Video Content Marketing Best Practices

Getting the most out of your video content marketing involves following current best practices. Here are several to keep front-of-mind when embarking on your next campaign.

Add Video to More Web Pages

Videos make it easy for pages to stand out from other search results, as Google often displays a thumbnail beside pages that contain video. So, add more video to your website, including your home page, blog posts, product pages, and so on.

Self-Hosted vs. YouTube Embedding

When publishing video on your website or blog, should you host it yourself or upload it to YouTube and then embed it? Two factors are clear:

  • Having a relevant video on your page is better for SEO than not having one.
  • But YouTube embeds give viewers an opportunity to move away from your site to YouTube.

Video Should Be Published to YouTube And Your Website

Google favors pages with lots of text, images, and videos over a single YouTube post. That being said, YouTube is the second-largest search engine with a massive audience. It’s not a matter of publishing your video on your website or YouTube but a matter of posting it to both.

How to Promote YouTube Videos to Take Advantage of Search and Social

The video below is an intro to this article on how to promote YouTube videos on your website and on LinkedIn in order to maximize organic search traffic and social engagement on LinkedIn with your video content.

You don’t want to send all your traffic to YouTube! What you want is to unlist your YouTube videos, create SEO-optimized blog posts for each video, and embed the unlisted YouTube video in your blog post.

So your schedule goes something like this:

  1. Film the video and edit it.
  2. Create a transcript and blog post while you final edit the video.
  3. Upload the video to YouTube as “unlisted” and embed it into the blog post.
  4. Publish the blog article with the video embed.
  5. Upload the video directly to LinkedIn with your text.
  6. Add a link to blog post with video embedded in a LinkedIn comment, maybe tag some people and hasthags.

Voila: maximized video for search and social.

Link YouTube Videos to Your Website

If you click on that video and go to YouTube, you’ll see a brief description and a link back to this article.

So add a link to your site in the YouTube (or other video-sharing platform’s) description box.

Use Inline Embed

Google indexes popover embeds less often than it indexes inline embeds, so inline should always be the default. Popover may have a place, but it should be the exception. It’s also worth noting that on pages with more than one video, Google will usually only index the first video.

Never Direct a Social Post to an Off-Site Video

Do not add a link to a YouTube video or any other video hosting platform on social media, as this only complicates the customer journey. Instead, upload the video natively to the social network and link back to a relevant page on your brand’s website.

LinkedIn is especially favoring native video these days. That’s why you want to create another loop. Just as we linked from the YouTube video to the blog post, we want to link from the LinkedIn video post to the blog post.

So in order to maximize social engagement with video content marketing on LinkedIn, upload the same video you uploaded to YouTube natively to LinkedIn. Type in some of the blog post text.

Then, add a link to the blog post in a comment.

Add Captions to Videos

Captions and transcriptions can help with SEO across major video hosting platforms. It’s essential to ensure these captions are accurate, as auto-generated text often misses industry-specific jargon and key terms that your target audience could be searching for.

I’m bad at doing this. So I didn’t caption my video for this post. But I have a guy who is really good at this for clients!

Use Keywords in Video Descriptions

While the primary CTA link should sit above the fold in a YouTube description, the description should continue for about 250 words. Be sure to include as many relevant keywords as possible throughout the description and in the video’s title.

I used “promote YouTube video” in the title of the video, and “video content marketing” and “SEO-optimized blog posts”  in the description.

Ready For Content Marketing?

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today – and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

The MIG Content Writing Process: Quality Content at Scale

By Erin McShea on November 15, 2022

business man whispering the writing process secret in another mans ear

We talk to lots of potential clients who ask: Why can’t we just create content ourselves?

The truth is that most clients can create great content. They know their business, their industry, their customer — and many are pretty talented writers, too. We’ve often browsed potential client websites and found they’ve already published some awesome blog posts full of insight.

Why, then, would they want to hire Marketing Insider Group?

Well, because writing a great piece isn’t enough. To gain traction with Google’s algorithms (and thus gain visibility with your target audiences), you need to create great content every week — multiple times per week, really — all while ensuring  you cover the right topics, optimize every article for search, and track your KPIs.

We do all of that for our clients, and our writers are at the center of it all, delivering smart content at scale without ever sacrificing quality. Every piece is built uniquely for the individual client company with their own customers in mind, designed to drive more traffic, leads, conversions, and sales.

In this article, we’re going to share the secret sauce — how our writers create so much content and make sure it really hits the mark. Whether you’re thinking about taking the leap to outsource your content creation (and wondering how it’s done) or looking to improve your own internal content writing process, this guide has the step-by-step instructions you need.

Quick Takeaways

  • Templates and outlines help fight procrastination and make the content writing process approachable — especially when you’ve got multiple projects in queue.
  • Read all top-ranked existing content on your keyword to get a sense of how to differentiate yours.
  • It’s best to get your ideas out first. Write the article first and save the editing for when it’s done.
  • Publishing platforms like WordPress help with SEO assessment and make final editing easier.

The MIG Content Writing Process: 5 Steps to Success

Step 1: Create Your Outlines

Start with templates

When you’ve got a lot of writing projects in the queue, wrapping your brain around them can be the first, most intimidating step. It’s the one that often leads writers and marketing teams to procrastinate about content creation — when there’s just so much to write, where do you start?

At Marketing Insider Group, our writers start with templates and outlines to make this part of the process more approachable. We use Google Docs as our platform, and here’s how it works:

  • Every client gets their own folder for drafts in progress
  • Those folders are kept together in one big “drafts” folder (each writer has a separate one for their client set)
  • Within that folder is also a template document (pictured below) that you simply copy for each new article, move to the right client folder, and add the title and keywords

MIG's article draft template.

This way, rather than opening up a new document and facing the dreaded blank page and blinking cursor, you know you just have to copy your template and add the basics. Then you’ve technically started your article!

Download Marketing Insider Group’s Article Draft Template

Build your outlines

Next, it’s time to build an outline. To create an article that climbs the Google rankings, you need to know what already exists on the first search engine results page (SERP) for your keywords — and how you can make your version even better.

That requires actually reading the existing content and using it to outline your article. Here’s how we do it:

  • Perform a Google search for both your target keyword and your article title
  • Open every first-page result in a new tab (many will overlap across keyword and title)
  • Speed-read every article. Slow down for the best ones (which aren’t necessarily the highest-ranked ones)
  • As you read the existing content for your keyword, note important information and insights

Your tabs will look a little crazy at this point — opening 10-15 tabs in one window makes it crowded. That said, reading all of the top-ranked content on your keyword at one time gives you the clearest overarching sense of what needs to be covered in your own article.

Pro tip: When you’re reviewing existing content, click over to the “Images” tab on the SERP, where you’ll often find images with great statistics to include in your article. These may also lead you to more quality articles that may not have been on the first SERP.

After you’ve read the existing content for a keyword, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how you should structure your article. Take the notes you’ve recorded while you read and clean them up to create a fully fleshed-out article outline. Here’s where you want to be sure you add in your unique expertise and insight, too.

Step 2: Make a Plan

When you’ve got a handful of articles you’re preparing to write over a certain period of time, our recommendation is to fill your templates and complete your outlines for every article on your list — before you start doing any writing.

Here’s why: Time management is a key part of being able to deliver high-volume content while maintaining great quality. When you template and outline your content all at once, you can gain a sense of which articles may take more or less time, or which ones are just more approachable for you as the writer.

At Marketing Insider Group, our writers complete their outlines and then list the articles in the order in which they plan to write them. Then, build this list out into an actual schedule you can follow for getting all of the writing done.

This doesn’t need to be set in stone, but you should try to follow it as much as possible. Making a schedule and sticking to it will make you more productive over time, and for many writers it helps increase their bandwidth so they can take on additional projects (either articles for clients or passion projects of their own).

Step 3: Write (and Don’t Stop!)

By this step, you should have your templates and outlines completed as well as your project order and schedule for execution. Now the good stuff — it’s time to write!

Open the outline for your first article and pull up the existing content (yes, all of it from those first-page SERPs) so you can reference it as needed.

The biggest piece of advice from Marketing Insider Group writers: Write and write only. Leave the editing and much of the research for after you’re done.

For example: if you’re making a great point based on your knowledge and research, but need a stat to back it up, don’t stop to look up the stat in the moment. Keep your writing flow going by putting a quick “Insert Stat Here” note and highlight or bold it so you can go back later. Same thing goes for supporting images.

Similarly, resist the urge to edit while you’re writing if you can. It’s easy to spend upwards of an hour trying to get a single paragraph exactly right, when you could just keep writing and go back to it with a fresh brain later.

When you’re revisiting your article as the editor and not the writer (more on that next), you’ll find it much easier to make things read just as you want them to. For now, it’s all about getting the ideas on the page.

Step 4: Edit and Perfect

Once you finish your first draft, you can go back and polish things up. Start by looking up and adding any statistics, links, and images to support your content. Then revisit any parts of the article that need reworking or heavy edits. Finally, re-read the entire article to make sure it’s free of spelling and grammar errors.

Step 5: Add Internal Links and Optimize

Finally, optimize your article for SEO. Start with internal linking — it’s best to include 4-6 internal links to other content you’ve created throughout the article. When you do this consistently, you create a compounding effect that drives traffic and lifts rankings for your entire content library.

Once you’ve finished linking, check your article for other important SEO points, like keyword usage and sentence length. If you’re publishing on a platform like WordPress, drop the article there for an automated SEO assessment to make final edits easier.

Over to You

Writing takes time — no doubt about — but there are ways to do it at scale while keeping the quality excellent. Our writers at Marketing Insider Group have become pros at this over the years for companies of all sizes and every industry.

If you’re ready to level up your content strategy, check out our SEO Blog Writing Service or schedule a quick consultation to learn more about how we can help!

mna on a cliff with binoculars looking ahead to the next generation of marketing

Fall in New England brings many things. Colorful fall foliage, changes in temperatures, rowers on the Charles River, and of course Halloween.  For close to 20 years, for me that’s also meant the Momentum ITSMA Marketing Vision event.

As a long-time ITSMA partner I have been privileged to attend the event in-person which showcases a plethora of B2B marketing experts, expert insights and points of view, and cutting edge and innovative research.  Like everything else in our world, the global pandemic threw a monkey wrench at in-person events. Marketing Vision was no different and two years of virtual events showcased how to bring a community together on-line and deliver significant value and interaction virtually.

momentum marketing festival 2022

Marketing Vision 2022 was back in Cambridge MA as an in-person event. As we say in the Boston area “wicked awesome”!  Though webinars and virtual events provide great access to content, and have evolved to offer increased interaction, nothing beats an in-person event for networking, face to face interaction with the experts, and both formal and ad-hoc discussions. Marketing Vision 2022 delivered on all fronts.

I discussed the major themes and learnings from a year ago in “ITSMA Marketing Vision 2021: My Top 10 “Insanely Great” Ah Hah Moments for Marketing Leaders”.  The late Steve Jobs provided the inspiration for “insanely great” and David Letterman’s classic “Top Ten” lists provided the format.  My “ah hah” moments (some call them epiphanies) centered around Account Based Marketing (ABM), Marketing Technology (MarTech), Thought Leadership, as well as key concepts such as sales enablement, executive engagement, and insights and intelligence, and more.

Looking back one year later, my top-ten list aged well and all are still highly relevant and critical for B2B marketing.  Marketing Vision 2022 featured the theme of “The Year of Enablement”.  Though I captured “sales enablement” in my 2021 list there was a broader theme this year of “marketing enablement” —  skills development in the context of the “great resignation”, and an unprecedented need to attract and retain talent and upskill valued marketing employees.

Throughout the event, from a pre-conference workshop on Thought Leadership to keynotes and breakouts/workshops, I was struck by one over-arching concept: next-generation convergence.  The speakers and content addressed what clearly feels like the next generation of B2B marketing.

Marketing has earned a seat at the table, sales and marketing alignment is key to being a leader, we have the most robust marketing playbook ever, and an ever-expanding and maturing portfolio of Marketing Technology (MarTech) to bring this to fruition.  Marketing’s time is here to lead the way in this exciting journey!

However, I was also struck by a sense of DeJa’Vu.

A generation or so ago there was a concept of the “super marketer” – a B2B marketer had to be able to cover literally everything, from branding, content, execution, and at the time, emerging marketing analytics and what now looks like rather primitive MarTech.  Then the pendulum swung towards specialization, and the need to find individual centers of expertise, away from being a generalist.  We then saw the rise of “Modern Marketing” and with it the need for specific competencies, increased skills, and specific focus areas.

Just as the marketing funnel/waterfall evolved from a single tactic/individual to an account and a buying center team – so has B2B marketing.  The team is the epicenter of marketing excellence driven by customer centricity.

customer centricity shown by a collage of images from the event

Many of these focus areas and disciplines have converged to form the next generation of B2B marketing.  It’s not about the individual “super marketer” but the “super marketing team” and collaboration, cross-functional competencies, and enabling marketing to have an inventory of the required competency across this extended team.

Marketing has always been a team sport (that’s not changed) and collaboration has never been more important. While the CMO is still the “coach”, their playbook and plans need to align and converge across multiple focus areas and achieve both synergy and alignment.   Classic “orchestration as an art form”. The marketing toolkit has never been as rich and robust, but with that brings unprecedented complexity and a plethora of options.

So, no top-ten lists this year.  But like the “The Journey to Modern Marketing: 10 Best Practices for the Modern Marketer“ from a previous generation, it’s about what a B2B marketing team and their CMO and marketing leadership needs to focus upon, with an eye on it all converging and achieving new-found synergies.  The marketing equivalent of the “Theory of Everything”? Time will tell.

For this year, a focus on five key recommendations:

  • Drive Increased Marketing Maturity and Transformation in your Organization, on your Team, and Individually:  No one wants to be a laggard.  Everyone wants to be a leader.  That’s fundamental to human psychology and face it – no marketing organization develops marketing plans and makes investments to be just “average”.  Increased maturity delivers greater value and an enhanced customer experience (CX):
    • Momentum ITSMA research shows that 85 percent of buyers see an improvement in marketing’s overall value and with-it consistency across delivery, value-added content, personalization, and delivery.
    • Likewise, the content executives “crave” must deliver insights to make better decisions, drive informed business planning, and keep abreast of trends.  The latest CBX research is truly an affirmation of this role for marketing.
    • Customers spend on average 13 hours per week consuming external content – it needs to communicate value, provide guidance and recommendations, and their preference is multimedia over read content.
    • And we need to have a mix of digital and in-person in a curated orchestration that is a hybrid on- and off-line experience.
  • Build the Next-Generation Marketing Platform with Account-based Marketing (ABM), Thought Leadership, Data and Marketing Analytics, and Insights and Intelligence as key elements and Guiding Key Principles: I was struck by how an older technology tagline “The network is the computer” (Sun Microsystems) had been replaced by a newer concept “The platform is the solution” while recently working in financial services.  Scott Brinker, a past Marketing Vision speaker, has championed the rise of the MarTech platform; although point MarTech solutions continue to grow, the real business value is the platform.  B2B marketing is no different.  Just as MarTech has evolved, think of these as specific competencies to invest in, a combination of data and solutions, supported by a platform solution, and strive for as much synergy and efficiency of effort across these key areas.  They include:
    • Leveraging ABM for targeted campaigns and both a customer-first/centric approach and account marketing becoming a prerequisite for successful B2B marketing and creating increased value with existing customers
    • Driving engagement across the buyers’ journey with Thought Leadership, and offer innovation and business value with innovative content buyers want to see (not what you can provide) with an outside-in focus
    • Measuring what matters with Marketing Analytics based upon the best data your organization can provide, on an integrated platform based upon best-of-breed MarTech solutions that meets the varied needs of your marketers and sales teams, and delivering true Insights and Intelligence.

Yes – with true alignment of sales and marketing providing data- and insights-driven marketing and decision-making.  It’s hard work but it pays off. And despite the significant acceleration of digital transformation during the pandemic, there’s significant work to do.

High performers (organizations being effective in marketing achieving goals) have a strong lead in digital transformation and are now optimizing the value of their MarTech investments.  This speaks to the confluence of marketing maturity, digital transformation, and moving beyond point solutions to integrated next-generation marketing solutions providing insights and orchestration across these key areas.

  • Invest in Outside-In and Persona-Based Content and Messaging – and double-down on Thought Leadership: Although it was described in different ways by various speakers at the event, being customer-focused was a consistent theme across Marketing Vision 2022:
    • Momentum ITSMA research shows that the top business priority of leaders is to improve the overall customer experience and increase loyalty, up from last year.  No matter what your buyers’ journey model is, content is key across all stages, with an orchestrated, curated customer experience (CX).
    • Customers know what content they need: strategic, evidence-based with supporting research/data, innovation and best practices, and real-world, practical examples.  People are consuming more content over time, and more likely to partner with an organization providing content they like.
    • In a crowded market, well-designed content stands out, creativity translates into perceptions of quality, and that equates to a greater proclivity to share it.  The majority do not want to be sold to, and poorly designed and written and jargon- and acronym-filled content that is not based upon research is an inhibiter. Sufficed to say that’s driven by an outside-in, external and strategic view of the world, not what you or your organization thinks.
    • Buyer Personas based upon a solid understanding of the customer are a requirement and not an option, and with that the ability to deliver personalization, and greater success with account-specific, targeted marketing.
  • Focus on Enablement and Skills Development of the Marketing Team:  Improving talent acquisition, development, and retention is now a top-three priority according to Momentum ITSMA research.  While some organizations might have a Chief Learning Officer or similar leadership function focused specifically on Marketing, the majority do not.  It’s no coincidence that the theme of Marketing Vision 2022 was the “year of enablement”:
    • Speakers not only showcased the data of the unprecedented “great resignation” underway, but the importance of people resources in the classic people, business, and technology equation for success.
    • Not surprisingly, people are most important, followed by technology and processes (the latter allowing both flexibility and enabling business agility).  Data and leadership round out these requirements.
    • Marketing Enablement – the equivalent to Sales Enablement, focused upon marketing and enabling success within roles with MarTech and processes – requires organizations to focus more. A majority (54 percent) of the organization surveyed in Momentum ITSMA research do not have resources in place responsible for Marketing Enablement; only one-third, 37 percent, do, and they are most likely to report into the Marketing Operations or CMO function/office.
    • And, not surprisingly, high-performing organizations have a greater focus on talent management and are more adept at acquiring, developing, and retaining their marketing talent.
  • Build a Community of Interest, develop a Consistent and Human Voice, and with it – Fans: The global pandemic showcased was how virtual events and communities filled the need for human interaction that in-person events have provided — and as Marketing Vision 2022 showcased, can once again.
    • Digital transformation has enabled a hybrid marketing experience and Momentum ITSMA research showcases the need for both.  Several speakers noted there’s absolutely no such thing as over communication – just make it focused, targeted, and increasingly, personalized. This is critical to the top-level need for marketing to improve the customer experience (CX) and drive loyalty.
    • Storytelling and human connections are key to showcase empathy and building a genuine, lasting customer connection.  The keynote by David Meerman Scott “New Rules of B2B Marketing to Build More Fans” showcased the importance of building fans and with it a “fanocracy” in a community of common interests fueled by passion and enthusiasm.
    • Scott’s discussion of “Newsjacking” was fascinating and the way to “own” a narrative in the market by getting in early was both enlightening and great prescriptive communications advice.
    • Momentum ITSMA is its own “case study” here as the Growth Hub is a community of B2B marketing practice with curated access to research, expertise, and more building upon the quarter-century legacy of ITSMA with an innovative, fresh approach.

tweet about closing thoughts form momentum marketing event,

At the end of Marketing Vision 2022 Rob Leavitt went around the room and asked for closing thoughts.  I shared this notion of next-generation and convergence and said it’s an exciting time to be in marketing.  The comment that marketing had “survived the pandemic storm”, showcased tremendous agility and innovation, and had both the confidence and proven results to lead the way was a very positive note to end on.

As I’ve done for years at Marketing Vision events, I provided real-time “event ambassadorship” and tweeted during the keynotes, sessions, and workshops. The result is curated into several “tweetdeck collections”.   “Great storytelling” was a red thread at Marketing Vision 2022, and this is a great tool to enable it. I broke this year’s Momentum ITSMA Marketing Vision conference tweet coverage into two parts:

As always, I cannot wait for next year and Momentum ITSMA Marketing Vision 2023. I imagine Alisha Lyndon, Dave Munn and the folks at Momentum ITSMA are already envisioning a great event to build upon this year and build upon their research agenda, client interactions, and projects.  Be sure to visit Marketing Vision and see you all next year!

Join him online: TwitterFacebookLinked-In