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13 Ways B2B Influencer Marketing Offers Brands an Ideal Alternative to the Benefits of Physical Events

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Table of graphs and charts with hands pointing at statistics image.

Table of graphs and charts with hands pointing at statistics image.

B2B influencer marketing is an ideal way for brands to drive digital conversations during the global health crisis, and we have 13 ways influencers can virtually deliver many of the benefits that have been lost due to postponed or cancelled real-world events.

With 45 percent of consumers spending more time on social media and 95 percent spending more time on in-home media consumption according to a recent GlobalWebIndex survey, now is an ideal time for brands to drive digital conversations using influencer marketing.

Another recent survey found that 92 percent of marketers believe putting on successful virtual events will be important or critical in the coming months.

Some brands have already chosen to postpone or cancel their events all the way through the middle of 2021, including major players Facebook and Microsoft.

Physical events typically offer a well-rounded array of benefits to everyone involved, from the organizers to attendees, exhibitors, partners, sponsors, speakers, and more.

Some of the traditional benefits of real-world events include:

  • Boosting Brand Awareness
  • Gaining New Audiences & Clients
  • Forging New Business Relationships
  • Building Highly Targeted Leads
  • Researching Competitors
  • Education
  • Creating Lasting Impressions
  • Networking
  • Advertising & Sponsorship Opportunities
  • Providing Giveaway & Contest Opportunities
  • Saving Time with All-In-One Conference Experiences
  • Accessing Key People
  • Testing New Products & Services
  • Connecting with Attendees

As brands look to utilize virtual events it can be daunting to find relevant substitutes for all of these benefits that real-world events provide, and many have been asking themselves “How can I replace these key real-world event benefits?

Luckily, B2B influencers can readily provide strong alternative benefits that don’t require physical events, and we’ll look at what they can offer for each of the traditional event advantages.

How B2B Influencers Bring Back the Benefits of Physical Events

How can influencer marketing help B2B brands create new virtual versions of the kinds of experiences that they’ve typically gained from traditional real-world events that are now cancelled or postponed?

“By collaborating with influencers on educational, entertaining and interactive online content, B2B brands can satisfy the hunger buyers have for credible content experiences that engage and inspire,” Lee Odden, chief executive and co-founder of TopRank Marketing noted.

B2B influencers helping co-create and promote these types of engaging content experiences can be particularly powerful now, as consumers are forced to seek out inspiration in a virtual world to replace what they typically gain through attending real-world events.

In substituting virtual for real-world, our client Adobe’s annual Summit conference chose to explore a “choose your own adventure”-style virtual session selection experience — a type of content especially promotable using influencers.

“We decided the best way to do the storytelling was to allow a lot of user choice and not keep them captive,” Alex Amado, vice president of experience marketing at Adobe*, recently told Adweek.

“We felt ‘choose your own adventure’ was the best way for the audience to get more value out of it. When you’re online there are distractions, so we had to play to the situation as best we could,” Alex added.

Uniting influencers with customers and media should now be a key marketing focus for brands, according to public relations and marketing consultancy Edelman.

“Digital marketing provides unique opportunities for cross-promotion in partnership with customers, vertical media and influencers,” Edelman’s Joe Kingsbury and Ben Laws recently noted in “Beyond Conferences: How B2B Marketers Should Approach a Covid-19 World.”

[bctt tweet=”“By collaborating with influencers on educational, entertaining and interactive online content, B2B brands can satisfy the hunger buyers have for credible content experiences that engage and inspire.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

B2B Influencers Help Gain New Audiences & Clients

86 percent of marketers in charge of ad spend allocation said that they either might or definitely would use social media influencer marketing during the health crisis, topping a list of marketing strategies in a recent IZEA survey.

IZEA Chart

Tom Treanor, global head of marketing at our client Arm Treasure Data, sees strong opportunities for influencers as brands look to replace the benefits of real-world events.

“With in-person events on hold indefinitely, marketers have lost one major channel,” Tom noted.

“Events are a place to connect face-to-face with potential buyers, to share thought leadership and to gain visibility in their target markets. With that channel gone for now, it’s an important time to look at other available — and often under-utilized — channels, including influencer marketing,” Tom added.

“Working with influencers is a potentially valuable channel for many companies. Why? Because influencers are tapped into the current mood and interests of their audience. Their insights can help you craft your messaging to better resonate with your customers. More importantly, influencers are able to provide your company with additional reach into the influencers audiences,” Tom said.

“Lastly, influencers are able to work with your company to co-create content or to develop content on behalf of your brand. So, consider how you work with influencers in areas such as podcasts, webinars, live-streams, eBooks, blogs and social content. Are there ways that your marketing can be improved with the help of well-connected industry influencers?” Tom concluded.

Tom was one of our “50 Top B2B Marketing Influencers, Experts and Speakers,” and was featured in our Break Free B2B  video interview series, exploring B2B marketing personalization.

Among the top ways companies will need to pivot in order to embrace B2B marketing in a post-real-world event environment is influencer marketing, according to author and technology advisor Bernard Marr.

“Digital is likely to be the clear winner here, and companies — including ones that may not so much as had a Facebook page before – will need to move into social marketing, content marketing, SEO and influencer-led campaigns,” Bernard wrote recent in the Forbes piece “Why Companies Turn To Digital Marketing To Survive COVID-19.”

[bctt tweet=”“Consider how you work with influencers in areas such as podcasts, webinars, live-streams, ebooks, blogs and social content. Are there ways that your marketing can be improved with the help of industry influencers?” @RtMixMktg” username=”toprank”]

B2B Influencers Help Promote New Products & Services

With the real-world events B2B brands normally attend cancelled or postponed, what roles can influencer marketing play in providing virtual alternatives to physical exhibition booths and traditional in-person product demonstrations?

“Influencer marketing’s importance went up when in-person events were canceled,” Debbie Friez, influencer marketing strategist at TopRank Marketing, said.

“Brands are fighting for attendee’s attention and time, and finding influencers are there to help to spread the news on their personal platforms about the virtual events,” Debbie explained.

“Plus, brands still need independent thought leaders for keynotes, moderators and panelists for their virtual events. We are finding influencers have been using virtual media for years, and can easily adapt to the changing landscape with both ideas and the know-how to use alternative presentation channels,” Debbie added.

During this global shift to a digital-first customer experience, marketers who incorporate empathy into their efforts are especially well-poised to deliver successful virtual experiences.

“Data-driven empathy is essential for personalization across customer and employee journeys,” Brian Solis, global innovation evangelist at Salesforce recently noted.

“There’s no going back to the world we once knew, the only way to get to the next normal is by plowing straight through disruption,” Solis added.

[bctt tweet=”“Influencer marketing’s importance went up when in-person events were canceled.” @dfriez” username=”toprank”]

B2B Influencers Bridge the Media Coverage Gap

What roles can influencer marketing play in providing virtual alternatives to the media coverage and product announcements typically gained from traditional physical events?

“B2B brands continue to impress me with how agile they’ve been with their marketing in the swiftly changing landscape,” Elizabeth Williams, TopRank Marketing account manager shared.

“Marketers are being ultra-cognizant of their messaging, publishing cadences, and ensuring their POVs and messaging on COVID-19 — or lack thereof — are aligned with their brand values. Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to bridge the gap between what once was our 2020 marketing plan and what we now need to achieve,” Elizabeth said.

“We can show our audiences we are tuned into their world by creating virtual experiences that inspire. And, what better way to do that than featuring credible industry experts and thought leader influencers?” Elizabeth added.

“Influencer-driven content can lead the conversation through live panels, webinars, podcasts and larger virtual events. Or, influencers can add a refreshing seasoning of the latest insights or advice on the changing marketplace. Think blogs, LinkedIn* articles, interactive assets, videos and social content,” Elizabeth suggested.

“Regardless of what tactics suit your business needs and objectives, I’d encourage every B2B marketer to step back and reflect on whether influencer marketing is a fit to take their content to the next level in today’s extra noisy virtual world,” Elizabeth concluded.

[bctt tweet=”Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to bridge the gap between what once was our 2020 marketing plan and what we now need to achieve.” @ElizabethW1057″ username=”toprank”]

Boosting Brand Awareness With B2B Influencers

What additional roles can influencer marketing play in driving virtual brand conversations and boosting brand awareness?

Now is a great time for B2B brands to utilize relevant industry influencers who can successfully drive virtual conversations that expand brand exposure and help with lead generation, as our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis explained.

“Partnering with influencers is more important now than it ever has been. Targeting the right influencer communities can be the best way to expand virtual event attendance and reach into a broader audience — who may not have planned to travel to your live event or conference,” Susan noted.

“If marketers focus on bringing true subject matter expertise to their audience — especially in partnership with influencers — I predict that virtual events will actually grow to be even better than live events for reaching and building positive awareness with an audience,” Susan added.

Industry writer Katie Sehl recently suggested in a HootSuite article about the rise of virtual events that influencers take advantage of the social stories format, including hosting influencer takeovers — another way that influencers can drive brand conversations.

“Speakers often double as influencers — so provide them with the details they need to become event ambassadors,” Katie noted, highlighting the strength of influencers when it comes to digitally replacing some of the key benefits of real-world events.

HubSpot’s Caroline Forsey encouraged organizations adjusting to virtual events to implement “breakout sessions led by influencers and experts,” another way influencers can help brands replace some of their former real-world event momentum with online efforts.

[bctt tweet=”Partnering with influencers is more important now than it ever has been. Targeting the right influencer communities can be the best way to expand virtual event attendance and reach into a broader audience.” @smisukanis” username=”toprank”]

Begin Or Expand Your B2B Influencer Marketing Program

As we’ve seen, successful B2B influencer marketing has much to offer for brands seeking to replace the benefits of real-world events while they’re on hiatus due to the global health crisis.

Implementing a successful program takes time, effort, and dedicated strategy, which leads many brands to use a top B2B influencer marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing, which was the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in Forrester’s “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America” report.

[bctt tweet=”Successful B2B influencer relationships take time to build and require time to maintain.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

Whether you work with a top B2B influencer marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing or utilize your own team, now is an ideal time to reach B2B influencers and work together to drive digital brand conversations.

Finally, as we all navigate the uncharted marketing waters of the global health crisis, here are several additional resources to help keep your B2B influencer marketing efforts safely afloat:

* Note: Adobe and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post 13 Ways B2B Influencer Marketing Offers Brands an Ideal Alternative to the Benefits of Physical Events appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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5 Ways to Analyze Your Instagram Marketing

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Do you know how well your Instagram marketing is really performing? Your Instagram business profile provides you access to valuable metrics that can help you understand what’s working. In this article, you’ll discover five ways to analyze the performance of your Instagram business profile. Why Instagram Business Profile Insights Matter Instagram is a powerful tool […]

The post 5 Ways to Analyze Your Instagram Marketing appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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6 Ways to Get More Organic Traffic, Without Ranking Your Website

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Posted by ryanwashere

A few years ago, I wrote a post here that caught some attention in the community.

I argued Google appears to be ranking websites heavily based on searcher intent — this is more true now than ever.

In fact, it might be algorithmically impossible to get your website on top of the SERPs.

If you find your website in this position, don’t give up on SEO!

The point of “Search Engine Optimization” is to get organic exposure through search engines — it doesn’t necessarily have to be your website.

We can leverage the ranking authority of other websites pass organic referral traffic to our sites.

I’m going to give 6 times when you should NOT rank your website.

Prefer to watch / listen? I outlined all these points as a part of a recent keynote:

1. When the keywords are just TOO competitive

We’ve all been there: trying to rank a website with no authority for highly competitive keywords.

These keywords are competitive because they’re valuable so we can’t give up on them.

Here’s a few workarounds I’ve used in the past.

Tactic 1: Offer to sponsor the content

Ardent sells a product that “decarboxylates” cannabis for medicinal users.

There’s a ton of challenges selling this product, mostly because patients don’t know what “decarboxylation” means.

So, naturally, ranking for the keyword “what is decarboxylation” is a critical step in their customer’s path to conversion. Problem is, that keyword is dominated by authoritative, niche relevant sites.

While Ardent should still build and optimize content around the subject, it might take years to rank.

When you’re trying to build a business, that’s not good enough.

We decided to reach out to those authoritative sites offering to “sponsor” one of their posts.

In this case, it worked exceptionally well — we negotiated a monthly rate ($250) to tag content with a CTA and link back to Ardent’s site.

Granted, this doesn’t work in every niche. If you operate in one of those spaces, there’s another option.

Tactic 2: Guest post on their site

Guest writing for Moz in 2015 put my agency on the map.

Publishing on powerful sites quickly expands your reach and lends credibility to your brand (good links, too).

More importantly, it gives you instant ranking power for competitive keywords.

As co-owner of an SEO agency, it would be amazing to rank in Google for “SEO services,” right?


Even with an authoritative site, it’s difficult to rank your site for the search “SEO service” nationally. You can leverage the authority of industry sites to rank for these competitive searches.

The post I wrote for Moz back in 2015 ranks for some very competitive keywords (admittedly, this was unintentional).

This post continues to drive free leads, in perpetuity.


When we know a client has to get visibility for a given keyword but the SERPs won’t budge, our agency builds guest posting into our client’s content strategies.

It’s an effective tactic that can deliver big results when executed properly.

2. When you can hijack “brand alternative” keywords

When you’re competing for SERP visibility with a large brand, SEO is an uphill battle.

Let’s look at a couple tactics if you find yourself in this situation.

Tactic #1: How to compete against HubSpot

HubSpot is a giant on the internet — they dominate the SERPs.

Being that large can have drawbacks, including people searching Google “HubSpot alternatives.” If you’re a competitor, you can’t afford to miss out on these keywords.

“Listicle” style articles dominate for these keywords, as they provide the best “type” of result for a searcher with that intent.

It’s ranking on top for a lot of valuable keywords to competitors.

As a competitor, you’ll want to see if you can get included in this post (and others). By contacting the author with a pitch, we can create an organic opportunity for ourselves.

This pitch generally has a low success. The author needs to feel motivated to add you to the article. Your pitch needs to contain a value proposition that can move them to action.

A few tips:

  • Find the author’s social profiles and add them. Then retweet, share, and like their content to give them a boost
  • Offer to share the article with your social profiles or email list if they include you in it
  • Offer to write the section for inclusion to save them time

While success rate isn’t great, the payoff is worth the effort.

Tactic #2: Taking advantage of store closures

Teavana is an international tea retailer with millions of advocates (over 200k searches per month in Google).

Just a few months ago, Starbucks decided to close all Teavana stores. With news of Teavana shutting down, fans of the brand would inevitably search for “Teavana replacements” to find a new company to buy similar tea from.

Teami is a small tea brand that sells a number of SKUs very similar to what Teavana. Getting in front of those searches would provide tremendous value to their business.

At that moment, we could do two things:

  1. Try to rank a page on Teami’s for “Teavana replacement”
  2. Get it listed on an authority website in a roundup with other alternatives

If you ask many SEO experts what to do, they’d probably go for the first option. But we went with the second option – getting it listed in a roundup post.

If we ranked Teami as a Teavana replacement — which we could do — people will check the site and know that we sell tea, but they won’t take it seriously because they don’t trust us yet that we are a good Teavana replacement.

How to pull it off for your business

Find a writer who writes about these topics on authoritative sites. You may need to search for broader keywords and see articles from authority magazine-like websites.

Check the author of the article, find their contact info, and send them a pitch.

We were able to get our client (Teami Blends) listed as the number-two spot in the article, providing a ton of referral traffic to the website.

3. When you want to rank for “best” keywords

When someone is using “best” keywords (i.e. best gyms in NYC), the SERPs are telling us the searcher doesn’t want to visit a gym’s website.

The SERPs are dominated by “roundup” articles from media sources — these are a far better result to satisfy the searcher’s intent.

That doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from “best keywords.” Let’s look at a few tactics.

Tactic #1: Capture searchers looking for “best” keywords

Let’s say you come to Miami for a long weekend.

You’ll likely search for “best coffee shops in Miami” to get a feel for where to dine while here.

If you own a coffee shop in Miami, that’s a difficult keyword to rank for – the SERPs are stacked against you.

A few years back we worked with a Miami-based coffee shop chain, Dr Smood, who faced this exact challenge.

Trying to jam their website in the SERPs would be a waste of resources. Instead, we focused on getting featured in press outlets for “best of Miami” articles.

local PR for links

How can you do it?

Find existing articles (ranking for your target “best of” keywords) and pitch for inclusion. You can offer incentives like free meals, discounts, etc. in exchange for inclusion.

You’ll also want to pitch journalists for future inclusion in articles. Scan your target publication for relevant journalists and send an opening pitch:

Hey [NAME],

My name is [YOUR NAME]. Our agency manages the marketing for [CLIENT].

We’ve got a new menu that we think would be a great fit for your column. We’d love to host you in our Wynwood location to sample the tasting menu.

If interested, please let me know a date / time that works for you!

We pitched dozens of journalists on local publications for Dr Smood.

author info

It resulted in a handful of high-impact features.

local PR for links

Work with food service businesses? I have more creative marketing tips for restaurants here.

Tactic #2: If you have a SaaS / training company

Let’s say you work for an online training company that helps agencies improve their processes and service output.

There’s hundreds of articles reviewing “best SEO training” that would be a killer feature for your business.

Getting featured here isn’t as hard as you might think — you just have to understand how to write value propositions into your pitch.

Part of that is taking the time to review your prospect and determine what might interest them:

  • Helping get traffic to their site?
  • Discounts / free access to your product?
  • Paying them…?

Here’s a few I came up with when pitching on behalf of The Blueprint Training.

Hey [NAME],

My name is [YOUR NAME]…nice to meet you.

I’ll get to the point – I just read your article on “Best SEO Trainings” on the [BLOG NAME] blog. I recently launched a deep SEO training and I’d love consideration to be included.

I recently launched a platform called The Blueprint Training – I think its a perfect fit for your article.

Now, I realize how much work it is to go back in and edit an article, so I’m willing to do all of the following:

– Write the section for you, in the same format as on the site

– Promote the article via my Twitter account (I get GREAT engagement)
– Give you complimentary access to the platform to see the quality for yourself

Let me know what you think and if there’s anything else I can do for you.

Enjoy your weekend!

If you can understand value propositioning, you’ll have a lot of success with this tactic.

4. When you need to spread your local footprint

Piggybacking off the previous example, when performing keyword research we found Google displayed completely different SERPs for keywords that all classified what Dr Smood offered.

  • Miami organic cafe
  • Miami coffee shop
  • Miami juice bar

The algorithm is telling us each of these keywords is different — it would be extremely difficult to rank the client’s website for all three.

However, we can use other owned properties to go after the additional keywords in conjunction with our website.

Properties like Yelp allow you to edit titles and optimize your listing just like you would your website.

We can essentially perform “on page” SEO for these properties and get them to rank for valuable keyword searches.

The structure we took with Dr Smood was as follows:

When doing this for your business, be sure to identify all the keyword opportunities available and pay attention to how the SERPs react for each.

Understand which citation pages (Yelp, MenuPages, etc) you have available to rank instead your website for local searches and optimize them as you would your website.

5. When you need to boost e-commerce sales

The SERPs for e-commerce stores are brutally competitive. Not only do you have to compete with massive brands / retailers, but also sites like Amazon and Etsy.

Look, I get it — selling on Amazon isn’t that simple. There’s a ton of regulations and fees that come with the platform.

But these regulations are what’s keeping a lot of larger brands from selling there, aka, there’s an opportunity there.

Amazon accounts for 40% of online retail in the US (and growing rapidly). Not only can you get your Amazon to rank in Google searches, but 90% of sales on the platform come from internal Amazon searches.

In other words, Amazon is its own marketing engine.

While you might take a haircut on your initial sales, you can use Amazon as a customer acquisition channel and optimize the lifetime value to recoup your lost upfront sales.

Here’s how we did it for a small e-commerce client.

Tactic: Radha Beauty Oil

Radha Beauty sells a range of natural oils for skin, hair and general health. Our keyword research found that Amazon listings dominated most of their target keywords.

With clients like this we make sure to track SERP result type, to properly understand what Google wants to rank for target keywords.

Specifically, Amazon listings had the following SERP share:

  • First result = 27.3%
  • Second result = 40.9%
  • Third result = 35.9%

Fortunately, this client was already selling on Amazon. Unfortunately, they had a limited budget. We didn’t have the hours in our retainer to optimize both their e-commerce store and their Amazon store.

This data gave us the firepower to have a conversation with the client that our time would drive more revenue optimizing their Amazon store over their e-commerce platform.

We focused our efforts optimizing their Amazon listings just like we would an e-commerce store:

  • Amazon product titles
  • Amazon descriptions
  • Generating reviews from past customers
  • Building links to Amazon store pages

The results were overwhelmingly positive.

If you’re a newer e-commerce brand, an Amazon store gives you the opportunity to outrank giants like Ulta in Google.

6. When the SERPs call for video

Predator Nutrition is an e-commerce site that sells health and fitness supplements. They have their own private label products, but they’re mainly a retailer (meaning they sell other brands as well).

While performing keyword research for them, we found a ton of search volume around people looking for reviews of products they sold.


The SERPs clearly show that searchers prefer to watch videos for “review” searches.

There are a couple ways you can capture these searches:

  1. Create videos for your YouTube channel reviewing products
  2. Find and pay an influencer to review products for you

I prefer method #2, as reviews on third-party channels rank better — especially if you’re targeting YouTubers with a large following.

Not only are you adding more branded content in the SERPs, but you’re getting your products reviewed for targeted audiences.

Final thoughts…

This industry tends to romanticize SEO as a traffic source.

Don’t get me wrong, I love how passionate our community is, but… we have to stop.

We’re trying to build businesses. We can’t fall in love with a single source of traffic (and turn our backs to others).

The internet is constantly changing. We need to adapt along with it.

What do you think?

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5 Ways to Measure Your Instagram Marketing Results

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Do you need a better way to report on your Instagram marketing results? Are you looking for ways to measure your Instagram posts and stories? In this article, you’ll learn how to combine data from Instagram Insights and other third-party tools to get a complete picture of your Instagram marketing activities. #1: Compare Your Instagram […]

The post 5 Ways to Measure Your Instagram Marketing Results appeared first on Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner.

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3 ways to deal with conflict more productively

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Sometimes, a conflict requires you to solve an internal conflict. This trainer gives advice on 3 productive tips to do so.

When you think of conflict, what comes to mind? Is it something that you try to avoid? Something you dread? Do you associate it with words like ‘somebody gets hurt’ or ‘fighting’?

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There are dozens of ways to rank cities. Here’s what they all get wrong

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More than 30 livability indexes rank cities on a range of factors, such as weather, green space, and walkability. But these rankings can have unintended consequences.

Every year, the world’s most “liveable” cities are celebrated, in city rankings published by Mercer, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and Monocle Magazine. Global institutions including UN Habitat and the OECD are also joining consultancies, media organisations and think tanks, in the quest to compare living standards and well-being in cities. At the last count, there were more than 30 urban livability indexes produced worldwide, and more than 500 measures and benchmarks comparing cities.

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