September 24, 2020
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Professional businessman making a heart with his fingers image.

Professional businessman making a heart with his fingers image.

In a time of increased competition and uncertainty, standing out is more important than ever.

Of course there’s plenty of B2B marketing that stands out, but what kind performs? Is it ads, content marketing, SEO, social, ABM or influence?

At TopRank Marketing we make it our business to deliver on and exceed expectations for content experiences that will inspire customers through influencer marketing. But what does award-winning B2B influencer marketing look like?  How can you infuse your own campaigns with the type of powerful elements that combine to deliver stellar marketing performance?

To help answer those questions, let’s take a look at two highly-successful efforts from our clients LinkedIn and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) to find out what common elements both campaigns share to make for decidedly uncommon success.

Award Winning B2B Influencer Marketing in Action

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We were thrilled that the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) B2 Awards awarded TopRank Marketing its silver winner in the social media category, for our work with LinkedIn in the successful “LinkedIn’s Social-First Approach to Engaging Influencers & Audiences Alike” campaign, and that the 2020 Content Marketing Awards has selected TopRank Marketing as a finalist in its best content marketing program in technology, for our work with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) in the successful “IT Vanguard Awards” campaign.

The ANA’s B2 Awards recognize the top performing B2B marketers with a unique focus on driving demonstrable business results, and in 2020 entrants submitted in 47 categories which have evolved to reflect the growing role of B2B marketing and rapid industry changes.

The 2020 Content Marketing Awards recognize and award the best content marketing projects, agencies and marketers in the industry each year, recognizing all aspects of content marketing, from strategy to distribution, from design to editorial, and is the leading international awards program for corporate content creation and distribution.

LinkedIn’s Social-First Approach to Engaging Influencers & Audiences Alike

LinkedIn Case Study Image

The average daily time that a user spends on social media is approximately 153 minutes (Statista). And, with 706+ million registered users (63 million of which are in decision-making positions), the LinkedIn platform presents a big opportunity for brands to engage their target audience. (LinkedIn).

But reaching and connecting with both marketers and sales professionals has become increasingly difficult due to the overload of information thrown at them each day. The brand LinkedIn also faced this challenge, even on their own platform.

So, in order to better reach these decision makers, LinkedIn Marketing and LinkedIn Sales Solutions set out to create a social-first campaign that would communicate authentically to then attract attention to specific LinkedIn Showcase Pages. Goals included:

  • Increase engagement and continue to humanize LinkedIn as a brand by partnering with well respected industry experts to share real-life struggles, stories and obstacles with a focused audience.
  • Drive new audiences to the targeted Showcase Pages via the influencer’s audiences (that were not already following or engaging with the LinkedIn brand).
  • Continue to nurture and grow relationships with the influencers themselves as part of an ongoing influencer program.
  • Engage the audience in-channel (versus sending to alternate content off platform).

LinkedIn Campaign Insights & Strategy

LinkedIn Image

To create and optimize this social-first influencer content campaign, specific insights and strategies were leveraged:

  • High-level audit of the LinkedIn Marketing and Sales Showcase pages to identify the most engaging content based on:
    • Content Length
    • Topic
    • Visuals
    • Featured Influencers
    • Best Publishing Time/Day
  • Identification of best-fit target influencers based on:
    • Audience Relevance
    • Participation Likelihood
    • Best Stories
    • Relevance and/or admiration of target audience
  • Research into appropriate hashtags for the campaign.

Based on these insights a campaign approach was created, including:

  • A messaging/post formula including:
    • Context at the beginning of each post
    • Tagging the contributing influencer
    • Showcasing their story/insights
    • Utilizing hashtags
    • Compelling visuals
  •      Activation of influencers when posts went live.

Influencer Content Campaign Concept

In order to better reach an overloaded audience, we focused on the idea of partnering with influencers to make professional networking more personal vs. more traditional “best practices” content that fills most professionals’ social feeds.

Instead, relevant influencers we asked to share real-life stories based on 3 key questions:

  • Describe a defining moment in your career and how it shaped you as a marketer or sales professional.
  • What is one thing not on your LinkedIn profile that people should know about you?
  • Who is one rising star in your field that you’d like to recognize? What makes them amazing?

By shifting from purely professional content to a combination of professional and personal, LinkedIn was able to better connect with the audience around their own professional opportunities and provide them a platform to engage directly with experts they respect.

B2B Social Influencer Campaign Results

Results for this influencer marketing and social media program exceeded all target goals. Below is a breakdown of the results:


  • 239% above reaction benchmark
  • 348% above comment benchmark
  • 150% above shares benchmark
  • 100% influencer activation around the campaign


  • 247% above reaction averages/goal
  • 215% above comment averages
  • 400% above shares averages
  • 100% influencer activation around the campaign

Influencer Metrics

  • 14 influencers activated (leading to 75+ over time)
  • 228 total social posts (excludes LinkedIn data)
  • 853 engagements (excludes LinkedIn data)
  • 5.84M estimated reach (excludes LinkedIn data)

LinkedIn Social Influencer Campaign Insights

The goal of this campaign was to drive authentic engagement, on platform, between LinkedIn and their customers. With over 706 million registered users including 63 million in decision-making positions, LinkedIn Marketing and LinkedIn Sales created a powerful and successful social-first campaign leveraging LinkedIn Showcase Pages by connecting with content on both a personal and professional level.

LinkedIn Looks at What’s Next in Marketing Content Together

“At LinkedIn, we’ve worked with the TopRank Marketing team for about two to three years now, and what I really like about working with TopRank is they really, truly come to the table as collaborative partners,” Judy Tian, marketing manager at LinkedIn observed.

“I’ve worked with a number of agencies where in marketing, I’m asking for deliverable A and they just give me deliverable A. But what’s great about TopRank is they also think about B, C, and D and really try to push my thinking of what’s next,” Judy added.

“I think in marketing you are only as good as the creativity of your team and your ideas. The more voices that we bring to the table and the more proactiveness and willingness of everyone contributing ideas, the better off your marketing campaigns will be, and for us at LinkedIn, TopRank has truly become an extension of our own marketing team,” Judy explained.

TopRank Marketing & Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Not Afraid To Innovate: The IT Vanguards Awards Program

Alcatel Screen Shot

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE), a 100-year-old business technology company, decided it was time to raise the stakes in sales funnel management. While ALE had hundreds of contacts, the company was not achieving the desired traction with their current methods.

Their big idea was a recognition program for IT network and IT enterprise communications leaders. By celebrating industry leaders, ALE hoped to forge stronger relationships with clients and prospects — and build a more robust contact list.

But how could ALE make sure that this seed of an idea produced the desired fruit — not only in its inaugural year but in years to come? The company looked to TopRank Marketing to help them create an innovative program, unlike anything that had been done before.

TopRank Marketing provided end-to-end support for the initiative, collaborating with ALE on branding the IT Vanguards program, and then executing a strategic marketing plan which included influencer engagement, press releases, LinkedIn Pulse content, emails, and blogs.

The IT Vanguards website doubled as a way to collect nominations and celebrate the winners. Once the winners were announced, the IT Vanguards website was populated with the honorees’ top leadership advice. These insights positioned both the winners and ALE as thought-leaders while also providing meaningful value long after the close of the program.

All milestones — from announcing the program to celebrating the winners — were promoted using a strategic blend of content marketing, influencer marketing, and social media. The content was amplified on social channels through paid ads as well as posts by ALE employees, program judges, honorees of the IT Vanguards program, and relevant third-party organizations and industry associations.

Results of the IT Vanguards Program

By all definitions, the IT Vanguards program was a resounding success. With more than 50 quality, relevant nominations, the IT Vanguards program was an effective means to identify and celebrate the best IT network and IT enterprise communications leaders.

The program also excelled as a way to generate brand awareness and engagement. There were nearly 14,000 combined landing page views during ten weeks of contest promotion. On social channels, the program boasted 100% engagement from program judges and honorees through activities such as direct conversations with the ALE and TopRank Marketing teams, social sharing, and internal sharing.

The program also spurred third-party recognition of the honorees’ prestigious achievement, including press releases and special ceremonies held by the honorees’ local governments, school boards, and companies. These activities further heightened the credibility of the IT Vanguards program and the market leadership position of ALE.

Lastly, the IT Vanguards program delivered in terms of business development. Using the IT Vanguards program to celebrate the IT network and IT enterprise communications leaders, ALE generated opportunities for meaningful conversations with prospects. The company attributes three million in the pipeline to the campaign.

We’re honored…

…to win the ANA B2 Awards silver award for our combined efforts with LinkedIn — an especially strong campaign as we outlined above, and to be named a finalist at the 2020 Content Marketing Awards in the best content marketing program in technology category for our joint efforts with ALE.

Get Your Own Award-Winning Results From TopRank Marketing

TopRank Marketing, the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in Forrester’s “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America” report, delivers award-winning work to clients including LinkedIn, AT&T, Adobe, SAP, Dell, 3M, and others. Contact us today to discover how we can help create award-winning marketing for you.

For additional new case studies and to learn more about B2B influencer marketing trends, best practices and predictions for the future, be sure to access the all new 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, which features insights from hundreds of marketers surveyed as well as expert analysis by the TopRank Marketing team and contributions from top B2B influencer marketing professionals from SAP, LinkedIn, AT&T Business, Adobe, Traackr, IBM, Dell, Cherwell Software, and more.

B2B Influencer Marketing Report Preview

The post What Does Award-Winning B2B Influencer Marketing Look Like? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.