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B2B marketing interview with Jessica Levenson
B2B Marketing Q&A: Jessica Levenson on When to Introduce SEO, Good Content Marketing, Women in STEAM and More

In B2B Marketing: Tomorrow’s Best Practices Today, we feature expert interviews about the state of B2B Marketing and what the future holds. In this post, I interview Jessica Levenson, VP of Search & Engagement at TechTarget.

Tell us about yourself?

TechTarget logo

Currently, I’m VP of Search & Engagement at TechTarget where I lead a team of SEOs and Social Media Managers.

I oversee full-cycle SEO and social media strategies for a portfolio of sites that drive over 200M visits annually and drive over 70% of its traffic organically.

I am also the co-founder of the Women in Business group at TechTarget which is directly in support of my passionate commitment to feminism, women in STEM, and inclusivity.

Note: follow Jessica on Twitter (@guerillagirl).

Prior to my role at TechTarget, I owned SEO and social media at UBM and managed a portfolio of P&G and pharma brands as part of Catalyst/GroupM. I kicked off my career in web development and design as part of the Engineering department at EMC.

I’m a New England native who happily resides in Massachusetts with my husband and three children.

I’m also a public speaker and have spoken on The Folio Show, ESC Boston, Maine Startup & Create Week, ASBPE Boston Boot Camp, and MA Conference for Women.

Tell us about your background in B2B marketing?

Like a lot of folks in the SEO world, I didn’t go to school for marketing or have a linear career path.

I went to school for computer science and mathematics, learned more about web dev on the job as an intern than in college, and later, as a full time employee at EMC.

From there, I held multiple combo web design/dev gigs until I realized that what I really enjoyed was business strategy and SEO the most. It’s a bit of a natural progression in that there isn’t a purpose to a business website nor content that isn’t actually discoverable.

What’s a best practice that B2B marketers should move on from?

The shotgun spray of many pieces of content.

In addition to differentiating their content from what is already in the results, B2B marketers really need to be focused on developing and publishing well-written, intent matched content that is comprehensive and solution minded.

The shotgun approach of a litany of disconnected posts and articles doesn’t work. Users desire a positive user experience that includes finding the answers they need in a well-structured, comprehensive piece of content and those pieces of content are what ends up ranking well in Google.

Tell us a best practice of tomorrow that B2B marketers should be doing today?

We should all already be doing this, but working with influencers or subject matter experts (SME) beyond article or post form.

I see a lot of B2B sourcing of experts for quotes in articles, but what about engaging with them on social media? We’re not in a print world only any longer and there are so many ways to engage.

If you’re sitting down for an interview with an influencer or SME in your space, isn’t that a great time to make a video, podcast, AND building out an effective social media strategy that takes advantage of their followers, too?

I see a lot of potential truncated by not building in these plans from the start of the content plan and being stuck with a transcribed conversation only.

Think of all of the repurposing that can be done with a little proactive planning.

What’s one thing B2B marketers are NOT thinking about in SEO, but should be?

Two things, actually.

It is far easier to fit SEO into any project from initial brainstorming sessions than it is to try to shoehorn it in later. SEO should be introduced at the very beginning of ANY strategic conversation.

I still see and am involved in frequent conversations about sites, designs, messaging, etc., that never include SEO. Ultimately, it doesn’t get considered until someone is asking, “Hey, where’s the traffic?”

Secondly, intent matters.

Don’t become blinded by your internal lingo and assume that your interpretation or “marketingese” translates to the query language of the searcher. That is a great way to for your content strategy, site, and goals to become hamstrung by myopic language.

Where are B2B marketers excelling in demand generation?

Content marketing that gives away content for free and creates brand awareness and loyalty.

Frankly, I think one of the best examples I’ve ever seen is the Moz Whiteboard Friday series. Not only does it offer incredible access to industry talent in a multi-format, easy-to-follow manner, it solves problems for content creators, marketers, and business owners alike. It also ties directly into their product offerings, which is the bridge to conversion.

If the viewers aren’t already subscribed, they’re likely going to want to trial the platform. Wisely, they also use the posts as a conversion opportunity for their Mozcon event where the same leaders are speaking in-person.

Note: Rich Schwerin agrees! In a post on what brands are doing well on Twitter, Rich also cited Moz and their Whiteboard Friday videos.

Tell us about your involvement in supporting Women in STEAM?

Women and girls in STEAM are a core focus of mine for a couple of reasons.

It became patently clear in my first year of college that there weren’t many women in tech because there weren’t many in my classes, there also weren’t many in the Engineering department I interned in, and there weren’t many women mentors for me when I entered the workforce full-time.

In fact, the atmosphere was an incredibly “bro” culture and looking back, it’s shocking what was tolerated.

As I advanced in Corporate America and had children of my I own, I made a deliberate choice to be visible not only to younger women in the workplace, but also to girls in school. Girls need to see themselves in technology through other women or we will risk losing them.

Did you know that “Only 4% of female students interested in pursuing STEM were encouraged to do so by a mentor?” (source: Million Women Mentors.)

I’ve spearheaded a Career Day partnership with STEMatch at TechTarget that brought in sixth grade students from Dorchester to get exposure to hands-on STEM workshops with our employees.

Recently, Jessica represented TechTarget at an American Heart Association event for Women in STEM:

I’ve spoken on panels about women in tech and the challenges of exposure, retention, and attrition. I’ve also co-founded a Women in Business group at TechTarget with the goal of fostering, mentoring, and advancing women in our company.

And I attend every Career Day in my kids’ schools so that the kids in my community hopefully see women in STEM, but through that, themselves.

Coincidentally, I tweeted with Jessica recently when she went in to visit her son’s middle school classroom:

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Written by Dennis Shiao
Dennis Shiao
Dennis is an independent marketing consultant who works with brands on content marketing, product marketing and social media marketing. Dennis curates an email newsletter called Content Corner and publishes marketing-related content on Medium. You can find Dennis on Twitter, @dshiao.

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