For business marketers, boosting the findability and credibility of B2B content for digital first customers is more important than ever. But how?
Lucky for all B2B marketers, our CEO Lee Odden and the team at TopRank® Marketing have been working on solving this important marketing problem for many of the top B2B brands in the world. The result? Influence optimization can deliver both findability and the much needed credibility of content that today’s digital savvy B2B buyers demand and that’s exactly what Lee shared recently during the all-virtual Content Marketing Conference 2021 event.
If you missed the virtual conference, we’re going to take a look below at seven of the top insights from his powerful presentation.
Lee’s session, “How to Boost the Findability and Credibility of Your B2B Content with Influence Optimization,” explored influence optimization, activation and more, and sought to answer the question, “What good is being found in search if no one trusts what they find?”
Lee showed how to go beyond mere optimizing with keywords to collaborating with influential creators who can help boost the expertise, authoritativeness and trust of your B2B content.
What should marketers do? Should they keep doing what they’re doing? Should they cut budgets? Should they look at what the competition is doing? Or should they evaluate pivot and optimize?
Let’s answer these questions and more, and jump right in with seven top take-aways from Lee’s fascinating session.
1 — A Continuous State of Optimization
One of the things Lee appreciates about working in the SEO world for so long is this idea of continuous optimization.
We can always do better. We have to be nimble. We have to adjust quickly because that is the nature of the search engine marketing world. Customers are pulling themselves to solutions more than ever making SEO more important than ever. SEO, when you think about it, is just helping customers pull themselves to the content that brands are publishing on their own terms.
It’s not about being interrupted by advertising that no one trust or believes. It’s about making it easy for customers to do what they want to do, and that is to find the best answer and the best solution that they’re looking for.
What good is being found in search, if customers don’t trust what they find there? You may rank really high, but if you don’t have credibility, you’re actually delivering a poor customer experience.
2 — What Google’s E. A.T. Really Means
With SEO in today’s marketing world, you are what you E.A.T. Of course eat is an acronym for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. According to Google’s quality rater guidelines, it’s not just quality content — it’s the credibility of those who are offering the content — the websites publishing the content.
We must look at the credibility of the pages and how can we bring that expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness to a brand by partnering with people that buyers trust. 95 percent of B2B buyers say they prefer content that comes from industry influencers, or that includes industry influencer contributions to brand content.
What we want is to find that sweet spot, that best-answer sweet spot that comes from the intersection of findable and credible content.
A great thing about working with industry experts is that many of them are going to bring to the table media creation skills that maybe you don’t have, or don’t always have available to you in your own marketing department. On top of the ability to provide insight to content and media, they also bring an audience for you to promote that content to.
3 — Knowing Your Customer & Creating Buyer Profiles
Search keywords drive content topics, because of course we want to be found, so therefore we create content around what it is that people are searching for. But we also help identify the people that are most influential about content topics.
We’ve got to know our customer, and create an ideal customer buyer profile. What are the topics or keywords that are most important to them, that reflect the problems they’re trying to solve, the pain they have, the goals they have, and what are the influencer roles that are meaningful to that particular customer segment?
What are some examples of people who are influential to that customer? What are the content types that they prefer? What are the social platforms where they spend time on, and what are the media properties that they subscribe to?
These are all examples of the types of information that should be included in an ideal customer profile. It allows us to understand what to make, where to promote, and what to optimize.
A key part of that ideal customer profile is to identify ideal customer topics, meaning what are the ideas that are important to them, and what are the questions that they’re asking, relevant to your solution?
You can use tools like SEMrush’s keyword magic tool to identify the questions people are literally typing into Google, or you can use a tool like Brandwatch, that’s aggregating questions being asked on forums. In either case, you’re getting insights into the questions people are actually asking on the topics that you want to be found for, and these will you inform and optimize your content plan.
4 — Identifying People Influential Around Customer SEO Topics
Another key step is to identify the people who are influential around those SEO topics you’ve uncovered. You can use an enterprise tool like Traackr, which is basically a search engine for influencers. It also helps manage communications and provides special reporting capabilities specific to those influencers. You’ll want to find people based on data relevance, topical relevance and resonance, along with reach.
You’ll want to find an audience that can help you quantify and qualify who may be the right person for you to partner with on content, content creation, or content promotion, and also to align your search keywords with those influencers you’ve found at that stage in the buyer journey.
Obviously, if someone’s just becoming aware of a problem, they’re looking for different types of information than if they’re looking for a solution provider. So make sure that you map the right types of keywords that represent top of funnel, middle funnel, and bottom funnel with the influencers.
You may also want to take into account whether those influencers actually show up in Google as entities. Do they have a knowledge graph placement, which offers an extra kind of visibility.
These signals of credibility that the influencers bring to the table by proxy and by association, can help bring credibility to your brand.
5 — Influencer Activation & Engagement
Another important step is to create focused content and then activate the right influencers. Think about how you can best engage influencers to collaborate with on content.
You’ve got to make sure that you align the content types that your customers prefer with the content types that your influencers are best at creating. Then you can find out where you can best promote that content.
In some cases, maybe podcasts are a format that buyers and your corresponding influence both prefer. We can use a tool like SparkToro to find out which podcasts make the most sense for those topics for us to promote too.
Examine social platforms and the media where our buyers are paying attention, and create topic clusters for the best possible best-answer experiences.
What are the key best-answer topics at the center, and what are the supporting topics as well as related topics?
This is a very information-rich situation, and adding influencer contributions to various touch points here adds credibility to the content experience. Think about how you can optimize content and formats that customers actually want. Do they want infographics? Do they want video? Do they want something interactive, such as an online quiz?
By answering these key questions that buyers have, you can structure your topics for each of those content types in the most appropriate way.
Not everyone learns the same way. Not everyone wants to understand solutions in the same way. So give them what they want, give them what they need, and what a lot of folks need these days is to go deep on a topic.
6 — Power Pages, Repurposing & Amplification
Sometimes it can be ideal to create what’s called a power page, that is very specific about a topic. It’s optimized both for search and — especially — for humans, and it goes very deep. It offers related content or links to related content within. It includes third-party validation using expert quotes or contributions. It might even be interactive or engaging through the use of video or audio or images. We also have to make sure we include relevant calls to actions throughout.
Then to promote that content, we can keep in mind how we can best engage our influencers to promote this optimized content. We look at where is it that our influencers are spending time, and where do they best resonate with audiences online?
Those are the channels we want to partner with them on as far as promotion from a sequencing standpoint. When you’re launching something new, you don’t wait until the day of before you engage influencers to start promoting. You start to warm them up in advance, giving them some ideas, assets and resources so they can get them into the scheduling or sharing queue of whatever software that they use.
After launch day, there are things that you’ll want to do post-launch. We can start to look at repurposing, and from a long-term perspective, we want to develop relationships with these influencers and continue to promote related content as time goes on.
7 — Optimized Influencer Engagement
The last step is ongoing influencer engagement, which is an area where many companies are missing the point and really dropping the ball.
They’re only working with influencers when they need them for the campaign, but they’re not doing anything to keep their love alive.
So monitor these influencers, using a influencer tool or a social media monitoring tool for brand and keyword mentions, and continue to engage with them. They can drive additional advocacy and amplification for content that is related to what they’re influential about.
Provide them your topic clusters to guide their social shares, and when you’re working with them repurpose the quotes that they’ve given you in other forms of content after the campaign is over. That will show them that the love is still alive, and it also gives them visibility and also gives your repurposed content more credibility, and can also help connect influencers with each other.
It can all combine to create more loyalty for your brand.
If you’d like to talk with us directly about how to improve your own influencer, search, and content marketing performance as we have done for B2B brands ranging from Adobe to LinkedIn, please connect with us here.