Seven Influencer Marketing Trends for 2018

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Another training video just revealed by the Fanatics Media YouTube channel. Very likely 1 of the most important suppliers of free information  on the web.

Seven Influencer Marketing Trends for 2018

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Liza Koshy Dominates Celebrities in Apple Ads

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Latest online video created by the Fanatics Media YouTube channel. Almost certainly one of the most knowledgeable creators of video lessons  on-line.

Liza Koshy Dominates Celebrities in Apple Ads

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REVIEWED: Casey Neistat’s Star Wars Parody Video

Site content new & views.

One additional training video just launched from the Fanatics Media YouTube channel. In my opinion one of the most reliable providers of video clips  on the Internet.

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How Content Marketing Drives Sales Throughout the Buyers’ Journey

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This next was in fact provided by the Curata Blog. I look ahead to reading any one of their training posts because they are really interesting. I’m guessing you’ll get something out of it.

I work with a lot of content marketers in a lot of different organizations. While the businesses and messages are different, they all want to know the same thing: what is content marketing’s impact on sales?

My answer is that content marketing’s influence permeates all aspects of the sales process throughout the buyers’ journey, though it may not always be obvious.

With so much information available online, buyers are spending more time researching and becoming more informed before any conversation with a salesperson. Experts disagree on how much of the buying process occurs before a sales touch (some studies estimate between 50% and 70%), but they do agree that interactions with sales are still a hugely important influencer during the buying process.

This means that before a lead ever speaks to a sales rep, he or she has likely engaged with content on one of your channels. Your prospect has likely taken a visit to your website, read an email, seen your posts on social media, heard a presentation at an event, or experienced any number of your available channels.

Sometimes a lead will discover and access content on their own; other times sales will direct a lead’s attention to relevant content. Content marketing and sales shouldn’t operate as completely separate spheres. They work in tandem to attract relevant leads and helps those leads arrive at a purchasing decision.

To help attract, convert, and retain customers at every stage of the sales funnel, you should align your content strategy to the buyer’s journey, from discovery and consideration through evaluation and decision–and beyond.

Content Marketing Buyers’ Journey: Discovery

Content Marketing Buyers’ Journey: Discovery

The companies that utilize content marketing the most are high-consideration products or services with longer sales cycles. Discovery to purchase isn’t meant to take place within a few minutes or even a few days. But providing great content opportunities where the prospect can engage more deeply sets the stage for a consultative sales process.

Let’s start where your prospect starts–with discovery. If a prospect’s first interaction is with your website, it is likely that they got there via search. And if they started via search, they are beginning with a specific intention, such as looking for a solution to a problem or more information about a specific issue. The intent at this stage is informational and is often self-directed, that is, without the intervention of the demand gen or sales teams.

The company blog is often the first digital touchpoint for search traffic. Therefore, content on this dynamic area of your website should be highly targeted, relevant, and timely. A blog should primarily seek to educate, inspire, and help. Essentially, it’s a relationship building channel and its purpose is to lay the groundwork for future conversations that will lead to revenue.

A heavy-handed approach (read: lots of self-serving sales messages, aggressive retargeting, or too many annoying popups) can be counterproductive on your blog. A prospect can be easily turned-off because they feel “pushed” to take action instead of “pulled.”

Additionally, social media content is also a prevalent discovery channel. More specifically, amplification by macro or micro peers and influencers can be a very effective first line of interest. The “discovery” of your brand comes with the context or even the endorsement of someone they know.

Content Marketing Buyers’ Journey: Consideration

Content Marketing Buyers’ Journey: Consideration

Once a prospect understands who you are and what you’re about, they’ll begin to explore how you might help them solve a problem. For example, when reading Curata’s blog, any visitor would instantly know that we play in the content marketing space because we cover topics related to those issues and opportunities. But to get more specific about what we do, we’d have to lead them to content that communicates how we help our customers.

At this point, prospects are typically engaging with content (not sales) to understand the basics of what your company can do for them. Once your prospect has consumed this content, sales can more readily have next-level conversations when they get leads on the phone. Used this way, content marketing is helping to create a more efficient sales funnel. However, that comes with a big if; success at this step can only come if the content effectively communicates who the company is, why they exist, and what they have to offer.

Most B2B companies have a “Solutions” area of their website. But often this messaging can be overly complex or not differentiated enough for a prospect to get a clear understanding of what a company actually does. If sales has to spend a precious call clarifying basic concepts and clearing up misconceptions, that’s wasted time and goodwill that could have been spent guiding a lead further down the buyer’s journey.

Great consideration content doesn’t begin and end with your “solutions” section, however. Having strong “leave behind” sales enablement content that a sales team can utilize in their follow-ups reinforces the key messages that a sales rep may introduce during a discovery call or a demo. This kind of content helps your company frame the sales discussion even if no one from your team is in the room. Imagine that content–be it a link, video, or even a guide–being shared by a potential customer with his or her boss and peers.  

Content Marketing Buyers’ Journey: Evaluation

Content Marketing Buyers’ Journey: Evaluation

The line between consideration content and evaluation content can sometimes be a bit fuzzy. My rule of thumb is that during the consideration phase, a lead or opportunity is seeking to understand what your company does and which problems you solve. During the evaluation stage, they are seeking to understand how well your solution might work for them.

There’s a lot of variation amongst B2B companies in terms of how much evaluation content they should make publicly available, i.e., what can be published on their website versus what is exclusively in sales enablement materials. Some companies don’t like to make too much publicly available because of competitive or intellectual property issues. Regardless of where this information lives, evaluation content is crucial not just for making the sale, but in setting expectations for your post-sale relationship.

Evaluation content needs to be specific and clear to avoid misconceptions. Though these materials should be well-designed and well-written (like everything else you do), substance over style rules the day in this instance. Some examples of evaluation content might be descriptions of integrations, competitive comparisons, and case studies.

A note about case studies: often companies think of case studies and testimonials interchangeably. I think there are some important differences. A testimonial is essentially an endorsement of your company by someone in a specific role at a specific company. Often testimonials are on your website where someone in the consideration stage can see a person like them having success with your product. Testimonials are short and sweet.

A case study, by contrast, should be much, much more specific. Good case studies detail what the company did, how they did it, the role your solution played, and what the outcomes were. True case studies are intended for the evaluation and/or decision making stages.

Third Party Content

Content Marketing Buyers' Journey: Third Party Content

When it comes to evaluation stage, another opportunity to consider is where the prospect is sourcing their information. A company website may be a primary source, but it’s certainly not the only one. Review sites, long part of the ecommerce world, have begun to make a big impact in B2B. G2Crowd, TrustRadius, and GetApp are just a few examples of peer-to-peer review sites that your prospects may check to get the unvarnished truth. And, of course, expert review sources such as Forrester’s Wave Report or Gartner’s Magic Quadrant can help buyers verify any preconceptions or claims.

Being proactive about the content that appears on those sites is a great way to build positive consensus on your product. Asking successful customers to leave reviews and addressing negative ones can help you manage your company’s reputation. Developing relationships with the big consulting houses is certainly a long-term strategy, but can one that can certainly payoff.

Content Marketing Buyers’ Journey: Decision

Content Marketing Buyers’ Journey: Decision

In the decision stage, victory is close, but it is far from certain. The buyer is now seeking to understand if the cost of your product or service is worth the price. They need to have a reasonable expectation of what their gain will be and what is included in their costs. The price of the product is just one factor. They also need to understand their internal costs for launching, integrating, and maintaining your product.

A healthy relationship with your customer success organization can help you create content that answers these questions and supports the decision phase. This content helps the buyer understand what resources they will have access to and what they can expect post-sale.

For example, resources that describe training and adoption plans, educational tools, peer-to-peer networks, and even technical implementation will give the buyer confidence that this isn’t your company’s first rodeo. Planning templates that outline the steps your primary buyer will have to take can be especially helpful.

Content Marketing Buyers’ Journey: Retention

Content Marketing Buyers’ Journey: Retention

After the sale closes, many marketers forget about customer retention. But content marketing can play a big role in supporting customer retention, too. If your company continues to provide information and resources that speak deeply to the needs and interests of your customers, it will keep that relationship strong and support the value they get out of your product or service. Building trust isn’t a one-time activity; it is continuous.

Though the focus tends to be at the top of the funnel, content marketing is influential at every stage of the customer relationship. Your content is more than what you put on your website; it’s present in every interaction your company has with your customers.

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Content Crush Nov. 17: SEO Strategies and the Revenge of the Creatives

Site content tutorials.

One more post put out from the Curata Blog. Most likely one of the leading generators of training on the Internet.

revenge of the creatives

A roundup of this week’s best content marketing content for content marketers. 

1. Discover Hidden Backlink Opportunities

This post from the Portent blog is a great how-to resource for discovering great backlink building or co-marketing opportunities hidden in your Google Analytics

You should know the channels that drive tons of leads…While that’s great information, your boss will probably also know what’s obviously working. What we want are traffic sources that are unsung heroes in your marketing mix.

See Also: Content Marketing Moneyball: The Secret Strategy to Data-Driven Content Success

2. Content Gap Analysis

Before you finalize your 2018 content plan, it’s crucial to do a content gap analysis first according to a recent post on Search Engine Journal. (Plus, we think our Content Marketing Platform is pretty handy tool for helping you do just that.)

It doesn’t matter how many visitors you drive to your website if you don’t have the right content and user experience in place to optimize for conversion. This is why it’s essential to not only conduct a website gap analysis but a full content audit.

See Also: How to Conduct a Content Audit

3. Podcasting’s ‘Super Listeners’

This post from the Knight Foundation could be a masterclass in persona research. The most engaged podcast listeners prefer their content to be asynchronous, mobile, and niche. And they’ll also tell you about it—super listeners are big boosters of the podcasts they love.

This active audience is incredibly mobile: 93% say they listen to podcasts via smartphone, with 84% indicating that is their primary means of listening to podcasts.

See Also: A Content Marketer’s Guide to Podcasting

4. Audience-Centric Content Strategy

The folks over at Moz recommend creating a content strategy that starts with customer pain points and your unique value proposition and then layers a keyword strategy over that framework

Moving away from a keyword-first-driven content strategy and into an audience-centric one will put you in a better place for creating SEO content that converts. Don’t get me wrong — there’s still an important place for keyword research. But it belongs later in the process, after you’ve performed a deep dive into your audience and your own brand expertise.

See Also: SEO Survival Guide

5. It’s Time for Creative to Retake Center Stage

This post from Marketing Land is specific to the advertising industry but has learnings for us content marketers as well. In a sea of digital noise, focus on creating highly relevant, highly useful experiences that are a pleasure for your audience. More isn’t necessarily better; better is better.

But somewhere along the line, the problem of how to distribute the message became more important than the message itself. Creative now takes a back seat to the media plan.

See Also: The Two Best Secrets to Writing Brain-Craving Content

 

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Content Marketing Conferences: The Ultimate List

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The following article was submitted by the Curata Blog. They generally generate subject material of the best quality consequently are among my current must-follow blogs. I’m guessing you’ll find it helpful.

2018 Content Marketing Conferences

Marketers are just as in love with the permanent distraction machine—the Internet—as anyone else. (Probably more.) The availability of webinars, virtual events, social media discussions, Slack, and Google Hangouts is terrific. But when we step away from our screens, we still gain a lot of value from good old-fashioned in-person interactions at an event. As attendees, we get to build our networks, learn about our peers’ innovations, and find great new solutions to bring back to our organizations. As sponsors, meeting prospects and customers face-to-face is invaluable for creating strong relationships. And everyone gets a chance to have a little fun while they’re at it! That said, we’re still very cautious about where we allocate our time for in-person content marketing conferences.

2018 Content Marketing Conferences

To help decide, we’ve created a list of content marketing conferences and events featuring the date, location, estimated number of attendees, conference owner and broad category each falls in. These are all important factors for assessing the value of an event, so it’ll be an invaluable resource as you plan your conference schedule for 2018. This list was updated as of November 16, 2017.

When available, we’ve included where to keep track of the event on Twitter, even if you aren’t able to attend.

chevronYou might also be looking to write previews or recaps about these events. Be sure to download Curata’s editorial calendar template to align all content with your upcoming schedule.

Feedback Welcome

If you think we’ve missed an event, or if you’d like to add insight into your experience with one of these events, please do so below in the comments section. All dates are in the format: month/day/year.

Conference Date Location Est. #of Attendees Conference Owner Where to Keep Track on Twitter Category
Affiliate Summit West 2018 1/7 to 1/9/18 Las Vegas, NV 6000+ AffiliateSummit @AffiliateSummit Lead Generation
Social Media Strategies Summit 2/6 to 2/8/18 San Francisco, CA GSMI @GSMIOnline, #SMSsummit Social Media
B2B Marketing Exchange 2/19 to 2/21/18 Scottsdale, AZ 800+ Demand Gen Report @B2BMX, #B2BMX B2B Marketing
Digital Summit Phoenix 2/21 to 2/122/18 Phoenix, AZ Digital Summit @DigSumPHX Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing Innovation Summit New York 2/27 to 2/28/18 New York, NY 150+ Innovation Enterprise @iegroup, #DigiMarketing Digital Marketing
Social Media Marketing World 2/28 to 3/2/18 San Diego, CA 3000 Social Media Examiner @smexaminer, #SMMW18 Social Media
SiriusDecisions Summit Canada 2018 3/1/18 Toronto, ON SiriusDecisions @SiriusDecisions, #SDSummit B2B Sales, B2B Marketing
LeadsCon Las Vegas 3/5 to 3/7/18 Las Vegas, NV 2,800+ Access Intelligence @leadscon, #LeadsCon Lead Generation
C3 2018 3/7 to 3/8/18 New York, NY 750+ Conductor @Conductor Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, SEO
Intelligent Content Conference 3/20 to 3/22/18 Las Vegas, NV 400 Content Marketing Institute @intelcontent, #intelcontent Content Marketing, Technology
searchlove 3/26 to 3/27/18 San Diego, CA Disilled @distilled, #SearchLove Search
TOPO Summit 3/20 to 3/21/18 San Francisco, CA 1500+ TOPO @topohq, #toposummit B2B Sales, B2B Marketing
ConversionXL Live 2018 3/28 to 3/30/18 San Antonio, TX ~600 ConversionXL @conversionxl Growth Marketing
Social Media Strategies Summit April 2018 Chicago, IL GSMI @GSMIOnline, #SMSsummit Social Media
Content Marketing Conference 4/2 to 4/4/18 Boston, MA 300+ WriterAccess @cmca2z, #CMC18 Content Marketing
Forrester’s Forum for Consumer Marketing 4/5 to 4/6/18 New York, NY 500+ Forrester @forrester Consumer Marketing
Marketing United 4/9 to 4/11/18 Nashville, TN 1000+ Emma @emmaemail. #MarketingUnited Marketing
Modern Customer Experience 4/10- 4/12/18 Chicago, IL 4000+ Oracle @Oracle, #ModernCX Customer Experience
DIGIMARCON Cruise 4/22 to 4/29/18 At Sea Search Experiences @digimarcon, #DIGIMARCON Digital Marketing
MarTech 4/23 to 4/25/18 San Jose, CA 2,200+ Chief Marketing Technologist @MarTechConf, #MarTech Technology
The Marketing Nation Summit 2018 4/29 to 5/2/18 San Francisco, CA 6000+ Marketo @marketo, #MKTGNATION Digital Marketing
SiriusDecisions Summit 2018 5/8 to 5/11/18 Las Vegas, NV 3,000+ SiriusDecisions @SiriusDecisions, #SDSummit B2B Sales, B2B Marketing
Digital Growth Unleashed 5/16 to 5/17/18 Las Vegas, NV 1,000+ Rising Media, Ltd. & SiteTuners @ConversionConf, #DGU18 Digital Marketing
Confab Central 5/21 to 5/23/18 Minneapolis, MN 650+ Confab @ConfabEvents, #ConfabMN Content Marketing
The Marketing Forum USA (Spring) 6/3 to 6/5/18 Ponte Verda, FL Richmond Events @MKTForum, #MKTForum Digital Marketing
eMetrics Las Vegas 6/4 to 6/7/18 Las Vegas, NV Rising Media @emetrics, #eMetrics Marketing Analytics
Smart Social London 6/5/18 London, UK 200+ Spredfast @Spredfast, #SmartSocialLDN Social Media
DIGIMARCON West 6/13 to 6/14/18 Santa Monica, CA Digimarcon @digimarcon, #DIGIMARCON Digital Marketing
AMPlify 6/12 to 6/13/18 Boston, MA 150 GaggleAMP @GaggleAMP, #amplifysocial Social Media, Digital Marketing
ICON 6/20 to 6/22/18 Scottsdale, AZ InfusionSoft @Infusionsoft, #ICON18 Sales and Marketing Automation
Digital Publishing Innovation Summit 7/11 to 7/12/18 New York, NY The Innovation Enterprise @IE_Digital, #DigiPub Publishing
Mozcon 2018 7/9 to 7/11/18 Seattle, WA 1,400 Moz @Moz, #MozCon Digital Marketing, SEO
INBOUND 2018 9/4 to 9/7/18 Boston, MA 19,000+ Hubspot @Hubspot, #INBOUND18 Content Marketing, Digital Marketing
Content Marketing World 9/4 to 9/7/18 Clevland, OH 4000+ Content Marketing Institute @CMIContent, #CMWorld Content Marketing
Digital Marketing Innovation Summit San Francisco 9/12 – 9/13/18 San Francisco, CA 150+ Innovation Enterprise @iegroup, #DigiMarketing Digital Marketing
The Marketing Forum USA (Fall) 9/9 to 9/11/18 Carlsbad, CA Richmond Events @MKTForum, #MKTForum Digital Marketing
Brand ManageCamp 9/25 to 9/26/18 Las Vegas, NV 400-500 ManageCamp @BrandManageCamp, #BMCvegas Marketing
MarTech 10/1 to 10/3/18 Boston, MA 2,200+ Chief Marketing Technologist @MarTechConf, #MarTech Technology
LeadsCon’s Connect2Convert 10/3 to 10/4/18 Boston, MA Access Intelligence @leadscon, #LeadsCon Digital Marketing
SiriusDecisions Summit Europe 2018 10/3 to 10/4/18 London, UK SiriusDecisions @SiriusDecisions, #SDSummit B2B Sales, B2B Marketing
AMA Marketing Week Live 10/3 to 10/5/18 Las Vegas, NV AMA @AMA_Marketing Digital Marketing
LavaCon 10/21 to 10/24/18 New Orleans, LA Lavacon @LavaCon, #LavaCon Content Marketing
Forrester’s Forum for Consumer Marketing 10/25 to 10/26/18 Austin, TX 400+ Forrester @forrester B2B Marketing
Smart Social Summit 11/5 to 11/7/18 Austin, TX Spredfast @Spredfast, #SFSummit Social Media
SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange 11/7 to 11/9/2018 New Orleans, LA SiriusDecisions @SiriusDecisions, #SDTechX Technology
MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum 11/13 to 11/16/18 San Francisco, CA 900+ MarketingProfs @marketingprofs #MPB2B B2B Marketing
Con Con November 2018 San Francisco, CA 350 The Hustle @Hustle_Says Content Marketing, Growth Marketing
Growth Marketing Conference December 2018 San Francisco, CA Startup Socials @growthtactics Growth Marketing
Forbes CMO Summit December 2018 Dana Point, CA Forbes @Forbes, #ForbesCMOSummit CMO
DX Summit TBA Chicago, IL CMSwire @thedxsummit, #DXS17 Technology
Information Development World 2018 TBA Menlo Park, CA The Content Wrangler @InfoDevWorld Content Marketing, Technology

Are you unable to attend one of these content marketing conferences, but still looking for content marketing advice? Download Curata’s free eBook The Content Marketing Pyramid. It features a comprehensive framework to help develop and execute an effective content marketing strategy.

pyramid-middle-cta

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