After a recent industry news post about whether or not marketing is an art or a science, we wondered if the trick to a successful B2B marketing campaign is to think of marketing as a blend between the two.
We asked some of our favorite digital marketing experts their thoughts on how creativity has influenced their campaigns and what they have done to make B2B marketing more engaging with their audience.
We asked our expert panel the following questions that cover how to use creativity to make B2B more exciting:
- Has branding impacted your campaign engagement? How?
- Have you used “out of the box” creative tactics (quizzes, games, memes) to make b2b campaigns more exciting?
- What creative content campaigns have worked for you in the past?
- What are some tactics for working well with designers, writers, and the creative people behind campaigns?
- How do you brainstorm ideas for more engaging campaigns?
Has the creative side of your business, like your branding, impacted your campaign engagement? How?
All our experts agreed that good branding and a professional presence goes a long way in making your content both easy to read and appealing to users.
JORDAN KASTELER, SEO Consultant: We’ve adjusted page templates and increased word count to watch our page engagement go through the roof. Where once nobody was clicking, mouse hovering, or scrolling they now were actively engaged in the content, and time spent on the site increased heavily.
AKVILE DeFAZIO, Digital Marketing Specialist, and PPC Consultant at Akvertise: It most certainly has. If you stand out as a brand with your creative assets such as copy, images, and videos, have an interesting personality that exudes excitement about your industry, your customers, and your offerings, it attracts others in your target audience to engage and potentially convert. Pay attention to the things that intrigue you personally and apply those in ways that are relevant to your brand and audience.
Have you used “out of the box” creative tactics (quizzes, games, memes) to make B2B campaigns more exciting?
All our experts mentioned social media in their answers, asserting that even though it’s B2B, social media should still have a place in your marketing strategy. Experiment with different media types and ways for users to interact with you online.
JORDAN: Not recently, but in the past quizzes have been viral hits on social media. They’ve received lots of links, social shares, and engagement due to such. Memes don’t seem to have the steam they once had, especially since Facebook cracked down on them, but they’re still a popular choice if you’re on platforms like Tumblr or Reddit.
ANNALEA CROWE, Marketing Manager at Firesnap: We recently launched a marketing ROI calculator to target some long-tail keyword terms. Now that we have the calculator built, we’re creating multiple campaigns around this with a blog post series, social advertising, videos, and so much more.
TODD LEBO, Partner & CMO at Ascend2: What creative content campaign ideas have worked for you in the past? Research is a very compelling content for B2B marketers. We’ve worked to make the topics interesting and practical to marketers. We find that when you add “how-to” information to the research, it’s a powerful combination. Give readers the data/facts and provide them “what to do” to give them direction. And above all, make it short and practical. Remember, less is more.
MINDY WEINSTEIN, Founder and President at Market MindShift: We have found that you can still have fun with b2b campaigns. We have had good luck with memes and even GIFs. Humor goes a long way on social media, even within b2b industries.
What creative content campaign ideas have worked for you in the past?
Our expert panel recommended infographics, evergreen list content, partnerships with related industry partners, social media, and hot topic discussion questions as ways to use creativity in B2B campaigns.
JORDAN: Infographics. People love to link to and share them. Not loved by all though. Personally, I don’t like engaging with them as most people inaccurately use them for story telling rather than visualizing data.
ANNALEA: Right now, we’re focused on building cross-promotional partnerships with our current partners and searching for new partners. I’ve seen major successes with cross-promotional partnerships where we’ve collaborated on syndicated content, sponsored email newsletters, co-hosted events, and created new content based on our own data studies.
For example, I partnered with Fatherly for their study on the top businesses offering paternity leave. Not only did we gain huge press exposure, but we built new partnerships with other brands like Google and Etsy that also participated in building the content and data.
AKVILE: Using social media for B2B is often underutilized. While B2B companies seem to be shying away from social channels such as Instagram, it gives my clients an advantage as it’s not yet saturated. Instagram allows you to exercise your creativity through captivating visual marketing.
Show professional grade creative assets of locations such as offices, events, plants, or on the go, where your products and services are being used. Look at what e-commerce brands you admire are doing with their photos and videos and see how you can apply that to your goals, brand, and audience. Think beyond your product or service. Visual content is highly impactful and will help your brand stand out among your competitors.
CASEY MARKEE, SEO CONSULTANT: Evergreen linkbait-type “list” content still works extremely well for my clients. A good example of this as a long-term strategy can be seen on the personal injury law firm The Reeves Law Group (EDITOR NOTE: here’s an example for reference: Amazing Facts about Perry Mason). Regular publication of this content type has resulted in an 115% year-over-year increase in daily traffic to the blog.
MINDY: We have posted slightly controversial topics on social media that killed it in terms of engagement. We will pose a question without taking a side to generate the conversation.
What are some tactics for working well with designers, writers, and the creative people behind campaigns?
Teamwork and communication were stressed by all our experts. Make sure your team is all on the same page while also letting them fully utilize their creativity and talents.
ANNALEA: We work with an awesome team of designers. We use TeamWork as our tool to share our creative briefs and deadlines. Once the design is created, we use Concept Board as our tool to collaborate on edits.
AKVILE: When collaborating as a team, it is important to be mindful of others talents and skill sets and allow involved parties of your group to express their vision based on your marketing needs. Be clear and concise in describing your campaign goals and articulate the look and feel you would like to convey to your target audience.
Allow the creatives to utilize their areas of expertise in complementing your marketing strategy. Once they are created, openly discuss the deliverables and adjust as needed. Be the expert in your area and allow others to be in theirs, so your campaign comes to life in a cohesive manner.
CASEY: I find that setting clear goals and expectations (including a drop-dead publication timeline), up-front, is very effective. I also highly recommend the use of an integrated team workflow tool like Slack, to coordinate deliverables, review copy, and provide real-time revisions and feedback.
TODD: Allow creative people to be creative. Don’t box them in with your ideas. Instead, give creative people the goal of the campaign and how success will be measured – and allow them to be creative to meet the goal.
MINDY: Organization! You have to have set deadlines that everyone is aware of. A project management platform definitely helps. Plus, information such as branding, messaging, etc. needs to be shared with everyone.
How do you brainstorm ideas for more engaging campaigns?
Everyone mentioned either tools or looking at your own data to get those creative juices flowing. By using external tools in combination with analysis of company data patterns, you can learn what your target audience is most interested in.
ANNALEA: My background is in SEO so I always come back to a place of data. I let the data drive my campaigns.
AKVILE: One brainstorming exercise that I enjoy utilizing on occasion is taking a look at what other brands I appreciate are doing, especially ones who provide a different product or service offerings from my client and are not competing in the same space. It’s an exciting way that often inspires other campaign ideas and while some things don’t translate over well, others do, and very well so.
CASEY: Good brainstorming is all about the tools. In particular, I use three regularly, including The Portent Content Idea Generator (great for generating content “hooks); Answer the Public (a keyword tool that surfaces Q&A content from Google); and Google Trends (a real-time tool to see what content topics are trending worldwide).
TODD: Look outside your industry and try to apply what others are doing to you. Sometimes we get so focused on what our competitors are doing, we miss innovation from other sources. [You can also] talk to industry experts and get their opinion.
Look at your metrics to see what is engaging your audience. If video is engaging your audience, are there different video formats you can test? Can you add additional engagement features to your existing video formats? When something is working, double-down on it.
MINDY: I like to see what’s trending and what the target audience is asking in order to form ideas. Right now, my favorite tools are Buzzsumo and Answer The Public.
Thank you to our amazing marketing experts! If you want to learn more about making your campaigns more vibrant, I also wrote about using content marketing for “boring” B2B industries in the past.