Archiv für den Monat: März 2021


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International Psychosocial Organisation (Ipso) is a humanitarian not-for-profit organization based in Germany and Afghanistan specializing in mental health and psychosocial support services, and sociocultural dialog to promote peace and social cohesion.

Ipso provides free access to psychosocial counseling for people living in conflict zones in Syria, Afghanistan, Jordan, and Ukraine. The organization also offers its services to refugees in Germany and those who were expatriated from Germany back to Afghanistan.

Startling Brands partnered with Ipso in 2020 to deliver a full-scale rebranding solution that enabled Ipso to expand its reach.

Startling Brands


Always Have A Backup: Why B2B Marketers Must Be Prepared

Hard drive platter in clean room in engineer's hand image.

Hard drive platter in clean room in engineer's hand image.

Are you ready for World Backup Day?

For World Backup Day we want to explore the importance of backing up not only your business‘ data, but why B2B marketers should always have a backup plan B — and preferably also a plan C and D — at the ready.

Don’t be an April Fool. Be prepared. Back up your files on March 31st,” the World Backup Day website admonishes for the annual day celebrating the importance of backups, which falls just ahead of April Fool’s Day.

I remember the first backup I made 37 years ago, when I decided that my heavily-modified BASIC code for the 300-baud computer bulletin board system (BBS) I operated needed to be safely duplicated, in case anything ever happened to the single copy in existence. On that day in 1984 I had to borrow a second Commodore 1541 5.25″ floppy disk drive to backup my BBS program and the data my callers left in the form of public and private text messages — the precursor to modern email.

I still vividly recall the sense of reassurance I felt having completed that first backup — my data safeguarded at least to the extent that I was able to achieve at the time. I still have those two floppies, and about a decade ago I successfully used a piece of hardware to hook up my old disk drive to my modern computer, while a utility copied the disks into a format that present day Commodore 64 emulator programs can read. Those old files then became a part of my regular backup scheme.

Let’s take a look at both smart data backup strategies and why, as B2B marketers, we should always be prepared for the unexpected — and not just when it comes to potential data loss.

Successful B2B Marketers Use Sound Backup Practices

A sound backup practice is fundamental to the success of any business, especially to today’s technology firms that operate almost entirely in the digital realm, creating mountains of potentially irreplaceable data.

Relying solely on the type of cloud-based syncing provided by Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox or countless others is scarcely better than having no backup plan whatsoever in place, as these services typically only offer file synchronization meant for convenience when hopping from one computer or device to another, while a dedicated stand-alone backup program exists solely to protect your data and provide a perfectly restored copy in the event of any number of unforeseen data emergencies.

Similarly, relying too heavily on hard drives using Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) technology can also offer a false sense of protection, as the system is not meant to be a data backup measure, but simply a data redundancy solution.

What are some of the elements of a robust data backup strategy?

Let’s examine some of the options.

Cloud, Offline, Offsite, Multiple Copies & More

In the digital realm, a smart data backup plan involves keeping multiple copies of your information in several locations and on a number of different media formats, with a goal of ensuring that even multiple failures can’t delete your priceless data for good.

Even if the backing up of your data is handled by a specialized team within your company, in today’s world that is more remote oriented than ever, many B2B marketers are working from several computers and devices — oftentimes not even located at a centralized office location — which means that we all need a backup strategy that can protect both our professional and personal files.

Important and sometimes overlooked factors of a trustworthy data backup plan are:

  • It Needs To Be As Automatic As Possible
  • It Needs To Incorporate Regular Restoration Testing

If backup software is installed on all of your computers, that’s not enough, as it should be set up to automatically perform backup operations on a regular basis. In the earlier days of personal computing — the nearly forgotten term we used for the novel and unusual practice of having a computer entirely for home use — backups typically couldn’t be run automatically, and were instead only done when time was available and when we happened to remember.

Today’s backup programs make it relatively easy to schedule regular backups, which can also be encrypted for an added measure of security, especially when the resulting backup archive files are stored in the cloud.

Detailing a thorough data backup strategy is beyond the scope of this article, however here are several resources to help guide those looking to set up or improve their existing backup plan on this World Backup Day:

If we’ve already successfully implemented a sound data backup strategy, are there lessons we can apply to our professional and personal lives?

Stay Ahead Of The Marketing Game By Having Plans B, C, & D At The Ready

As important as data backup contingencies are, it makes sense to apply similar strategies to our professional and personal lives, to ensure that when a change of plans inevitably happens, we’ve got the situation covered with backup plans thought out ahead of time.

Unforeseen circumstances are minimized when you’ve taken the time to plan for a wide array of likely — and unlikely — scenarios, and often what sets the best B2B marketers apart is the thorough approach they’ve taken to planning for many varying situations.

As with data backups, smart planning in marketing involves finding solutions to potential roadblocks — whether it’s choosing who will fill in for you should you be on sick leave during an important meeting, or having a plan B and C in place for any number of typical business issues that arise.

The human form of the cloud’s data backup is knowing who is able to be your own backup when you can’t be there in person.

We don’t yet have automatic methods to transfer our individual knowledge from one person to another, however each of us can help others in our organizations by documenting important workflows and procedures.

[bctt tweet=““Often what sets the best B2B marketers apart is the thorough approach they’ve taken to planning ahead for many varying situations, including having plans B, C and D at the ready.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis“ username=“toprank“]

Plan Ahead & Avoid Plan 9 From Outer Space Snafus


Don’t just wing it when agendas go awry, or your efforts will start to look like the low-budget special effects in the cult classic film Plan 9 From Outer Space, as savvy clients and associates can tell the difference between dealing with a professional who has a solid plan B in place and one offering only a toy flying saucer dangling from fishing line.

This World Backup Day, as you reexamine your data backup plans, also take time to think about what you can do to help share your unique knowledge with key people in your firm and industry.

Ready to take your own marketing to the next level? Contact us today and see why firms including Adobe, LinkedIn, SAP, 3M, Dell, Oracle and many more have chosen TopRank Marketing.

The post Always Have A Backup: Why B2B Marketers Must Be Prepared appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Case study: Schneider Electric’s digital transformation through centralized search

Schneider Electric US CTR per month

30-second summary:

  • Digital transformation affords businesses opportunities to make genuine connections with customers through personalized marketing experiences.
  • Digital buyer behavior is changing, with increased consumer expectations for digital-only interactions and reduced tolerance for traditional sales tactics like cold-calling.
  • Paid search is a fast-growing channel that warrants a data-driven approach to strategy and execution.
  • Evan Kent, VP Integrated Marketing at Schneider Electric, and Kimberly Dutcher, SEM Manager at Merkle share their collaborative approach to a paid search strategy redesign that continues to drive positive business results.

There’s no more denying that digital transformation is here. It’s on the mind of every business leader, changing how businesses employ digital technologies and organize their business models to create more value for their brand. In the marketing space, digital transformation affords businesses countless opportunities to make a genuine connection with customers through personalized marketing experiences. By designing business organization, strategy, and technology around digital transformation, brands can ultimately deliver customer experiences that are contextually relevant and personally informed.

Schneider Electric and its paid search partner of five years, Merkle, tackled the digital transformation challenge head-on in 2019. They engaged in a more purposeful way than ever before to redesign the brand’s approach to paid search marketing in an effort to align with the business’s overall digital transformation initiatives.

Diving into digital transformation

Schneider Electric’s purpose is to empower everyone to make the most of their energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. As the global specialist in energy management and automation, it is the business’s mission to be a digital partner for sustainability and efficiency. To support this mission, the Schneider Electric team recognized an immediate need to redesign their search marketing program to improve the quality of traffic driven to the website.

With recent changes in digital buying behavior, the Schneider Electric team quickly recognized that overall search volume was outpacing their investment. The market was growing, yet Schneider Electric’s investment was shrinking. The brand’s soft voice in the market was compounded by a siloed approach to marketing investment. Paid search programs were defined by available investment from business units (BUs) versus starting with the available search volume and then defining an investment need. This resulted in campaigns that were under-funded, chasing search volume that simply did not exist, and a general lack of evergreen brand paid search.

The Schneider Electric team decided it was time for a change. To resolve its in-house challenges, the business created a team of dedicated search specialists to work side-by-side with its digital agency, Merkle. These specialists are the link between deep knowledge of Schneider Electric’s audiences and account optimization. The Schneider Electric paid search team made an intentional shift from creating and running reactive paid search campaigns to proactive market and industry-based planning. Their search mission changed to focus on traffic, landing pages, and the basic need to answer the questions searchers have.

Unifying digital transformation with paid search

Having worked with Schneider Electric for five years on paid search, the Merkle SEM team had valuable historical information on the business and its paid search trends. This data was invaluable to proposing a consolidated, centrally budgeted paid search account structure for the US. The restructure evolved Schneider Electric’s US paid search program from 14 paid search accounts and 22 budgets for seven BUs to one account with one budget. This drove considerable performance improvements and allowed for a robust test-and-learn environment.

The account redesign was also an opportunity for the unified paid search team across Schneider Electric and Merkle to lay the groundwork for future paid search marketing expansion and success. For the first time, the teams were able to take a big-picture, data-driven, strategic approach to the channel that gave all parties the information they needed to drive big results for the business, rather than driving localized results for individual BUs.

Key levers for successful transformation

1. Keywords

In creating a transformed US paid search account aligned to Schneider Electric’s business goals of driving the right search traffic to the right pages on the site, the unified paid search team wasn’t starting from square one. Years of historical data and analysis helped guide the teams on which keywords were historically the best performing. In the case of this paid search digital transformation, a keyword audit was a critical piece to start with, ensuring the team was focused on the right keywords for the brand and its critical products and solutions. Click-through rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) were the team’s primary key performance indicators (KPIs), given the strong historical data in the engine and the wide breadth of optimization levers that could help improve those metrics in the early stages of account optimization.

2. URLs

The unified paid search team took a two-pronged initial approach to their paid search final URL selection. First, the team worked to identify whether they had assigned the most relevant URLs for the keywords. Boosting quality score was a critical KPI, as the quality score is a major factor in how often and how high your ads show on the search engine results page (SERP). Second, the Schneider Electric paid search team translated the quality score for the Schneider Electric web team to improve overall page quality and user experience on the site. It is these types of cross-channel collaborations that are necessary to drive continued marketing success; the business’s digital transformation can’t be successful without it.

3. Efficiency metrics and results

Continual monitoring and optimization of the team’s high-level KPIs, CTR, and CPC is what ultimately drove success for the business. Over the course of 2020, the paid search team drove a 137 percent year-over-year increase in CTR through keyword audits, URL audits, ongoing performance optimizations, and flexible allocation of budget to the most efficient keywords. Collaboration with the Schneider Electric site analytics team was critical for measurement as well, with bounce rate and site engagement becoming key user experience measurement metrics.

Continually evolving paid search with digital transformation

In 2020, the first year of the transformation, the paid search team was focused on the basics:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • Where on the site would they land?
  • Do we have the answer to the searcher’s question?
  • Are we bidding on the right keywords?
  • Is there an existing search volume? How much investment do we need?
  • How long should a program run? How do we integrate other media functions to optimize the buy?
  • Do we have the best ad copy?

Designing this customer-first approach took time and optimization is an iterative process, but the results have been exponential:

  • Lower cost per click
  • More traffic to the site
  • Searchers go deeper into the site

Now that the paid search team has a solid foundation, the door is open for experimenting with new and more advanced search techniques to further optimize audiences, bidding strategies, and cross-sell opportunities. With the right traffic coming to the site, the team can focus on monetizing that traffic by driving and measuring site engagement, leads, and contribution to revenue. Paid search is no longer a guessing game – data-driven and statistical techniques are used to optimize investment.

With a number of 2021 paid search marketing trends emerging, especially around automation in the industry, the Schneider Electric and Merkle paid search team is excited to dig into what opportunities exist for further expansion of their marketing efforts. B2B advertisers are changing the way they play the search marketing game in 2021, and those who innovate early and often are the ones who rise to the challenge, and, ultimately, capitalize on the opportunity.

Evan Kent is VP Integrated Marketing at Schneider Electric and Kimberly Dutcher is SEM Manager at Merkle.

The post Case study: Schneider Electric’s digital transformation through centralized search appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


Creating B2B Podcasts That Rise Above The Noise

B2B Podcasts Recorder Image

B2B Podcasts Recorder ImageIt’s never impressive to hear someone say they have a podcast. Making a podcast is easy! I have one that’s nearly a decade old and 400 episodes strong.

The hard part is getting people to listen. My personal podcast has maybe 200 monthly listeners and brings in just enough in donations to pay for our web host. And at that, we have 198 more listeners than a lot of podcasts out there.

The barrier to entry is low… but if you’re a B2B brand looking to engage with potential buyers, you’re going to want to aim higher.

How do you make a B2B podcast that actually gets listened to? One that inspires people to subscribe and tell their friends about it?

It’s simple:

1) Use everything you know about content marketing to create and promote it, and

2) Make sure it’s polished, professional, unique and engaging

So simple!

Here’s how to make a B2B podcast that rises above the noise.

B2B Podcasting Tips for Creation, Promotion and Beyond

It’s tempting to jump into podcasting the easy way: Interview some employees and executives, record to an MP3, and post away. But creating a successful business podcast requires more strategy and production than your average hobbyist would do.

#1: Create a Content Strategy

You wouldn’t write a single blog post without doing research and strategizing (right? Don’t tell me if you would). And that’s to say nothing of an entire series of blog posts that takes hours of time to write and edit. Finding the right subject matter and understanding your audience are fundamental, foundational layers for content marketing.

The same due diligence that marketers do for content should apply to podcasting. Before you record a single word, you should know:

  • Who your audience is. How can you personalize your content to appeal to the job title, experience level, vertical and personal experience of that audience?
  • What your audience wants to know. Use tools like SEMrush, Answer the Public, and BuzzSumo to see what people are searching for and what terms they’re using to search for it.
  • What burning questions you can answer. Your sales and customer service teams can be key for this one. Find out where deals are getting stuck for sales, and what frequently asked questions your customer service folks are encountering.

At the end of all that research, you should have a good idea of the topics to put in your podcast editorial calendar. As a bonus, when you create content around your podcast (more on that later), it will have all these keywords and topic clusters already built in.

#2: Plan for Promotion

Promoting a new podcast can be a substantial challenge. There are thousands of podcasts out there, and very little in the way of standardized search or SEO opportunities within the major podcast directories. You can start by making sure your podcast is listed on Google Podcasts, to show up in regular searches, but a lot of podcast promotion happens outside of the podcast itself.

Cross-promotion is one way for your podcast to find listeners. Reach out to other podcasts in a similar niche and offer to swap guest spots to promote each other. Remember, podcasting is not a zero sum game; people who listen to one podcast are more likely, not less, to listen to more.

Creating content around your podcast can boost visibility, too. Make each episode into a blog post with key takeaways and a full transcript. And, of course, include the podcast links in your social media and newsletter posts.

Paid advertising is an essential component, too. You can advertise on podcasts with a similar audience, sponsor social media posts, and even experiment with paid search.

Finally, don’t forget to market the podcast to your employees, too. Podcast directories use early listenership as a signal to make your podcast more visible. If you’re at an enterprise with thousands of employees, it should be easy to get enough critical mass to earn that extra boost.

[bctt tweet=““Remember, podcasting is not a zero sum game; people who listen to one podcast are more likely, not less, to listen to more.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites“ username=“toprank“]

#3: Make It Professional

Plenty of podcasts — including some extremely popular ones — are completely DIY. The exquisite Welcome to Nightvale, for example, started with one $80 microphone and free recording software. But for B2B, you’re not competing against those passion projects — your audience is likely used to professionally-packaged programs like All Things Considered and Radiolab.

To make sure your podcast sounds professional, start with a modest investment in recording equipment. You don’t need a $1,500 microphone to record a podcast, but you do need something better than the built-in mic on a laptop. A couple of good-quality microphones and a simple mixing board should get you going for less than $500.

If you plan to do remote interviews of guests, a tool like Zencastr can help you capture high-quality audio that’s not dependent on the speed of your internet connection.

Instead of high-end audio equipment, save your budget for outsourcing post-production. Let a professional edit out the umms and ahhs, mitigate background noise, and properly level your audio.

#4: Keep It Interesting

Now let’s talk about the final touches that make a podcast engaging for your audience. This is where a little extra effort can really elevate the final product.

First and foremost: EDIT. Editing is a gift that you give to your audience. It’s easy to have a 2-hour conversation with an influencer or executive, mix it down and upload it. But how much more powerful would a 20-30 minute highlight reel be? Judicious, merciless editing is a key component of a polished podcast.

[bctt tweet=““It’s easy to have a 2-hour conversation, mix it down and upload it. But how much more powerful would a 20-30 minute highlight reel be? Judicious, merciless editing is a key component of a polished podcast.” — Joshua Nite @NiteWrites“ username=“toprank“]

Even better, go beyond the simple interview format and think about a more topic-driven style. Rather than a single Q&A with one guest, capture audio from a few different experts on a topic (influencers, employees, customers) and weave them together with the help of an engaging host — more on that in a second. Listen to how it works in this episode of the SAP Tech Unknown podcast*:

Did you notice the sound effects and music cues in that episode? If not, it’s worth a listen — you’ll hear everything from squawking seagulls to tractors and roosters. All of those sounds were created in post-production — but they all serve to bring the listener further into the narrative.

Another key ingredient that you’ll hear in the podcast above is finding a charismatic, professional-sounding host. The right host can liven up potentially dull material, put your guests at ease, and steer conversations to interesting new places. Now, I’m not saying you need to hire a voiceover artist to be the host — in fact, you’re better off with an industry expert or someone in your organization. But make sure they have the gift of gab (Shoutout to the inimitable Tamara McCleary).

Please Cast Responsibly

The barrier for entry to podcasting is low — but the barrier to creating a B2B podcast that people will listen to is a little higher. The first step is to make sure your podcast will have relevant, interesting, unique content for your audience. Then it’s important to strategize your creation and promotion plan to help your podcast find an audience. Finally, it’s taking the steps to make sure your podcast is edited and produced to be a lean, no-filler, immersive experience.

Need help creating a memorable B2B podcast? Let’s talk.

*SAP Is a TopRank Marketing client

The post Creating B2B Podcasts That Rise Above The Noise appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Vier Wände

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Don’t call it a revolution. It’s a behutsame Evolution. Das #Kundenmagazin der DeWAG hat ein Facelift bekommen. Neues Layout, neuer Umgang mit Schrift und Bild: Zeitgemäßes #Grafikdesign kombiniert mit nachhaltigen Inhalten und Mehrwert.

In der Flut an Kundenmagazinen geht man leicht unter. Die Publikation der DeWAG GmbH, ein deutschlandweit tätiger Immobilieninvestor und Assetmanager, benötigte daher eine Frischzellenkur für den nötigen Auftrieb. Nach kurzer Konzeptions- und Moodboard-Phase war die Richtung klar und der Weg frei für eine Anpassung, die den Kern des Magazins beibehalten und trotzdem hohen gestalterischen Ansprüchen standhalten sollte. Nicht nur der Umgang mit Schrift, Farbe und Bildern wurde daher überarbeitet, sondern auch die Qualität der Bildauswahl kritisch hinterfragt und schließlich stark optimiert.

Benjamin Hanus