Latest Marketing News

Digital Marketing News: YouTube Beats Facebook, Twitter Verify for All, Gen Z Bailing on Social

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 10:13:58 +0000

Social Networking Platforms’ User Demographics Update 2018 –  The most widely-used social media platform in the US isn’t Facebook. It’s YouTube. This new report from Pew Research explores data from the top social networking platforms for 2018 including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp. MarketingCharts Forrester Says Only 15% of B-to-B Marketers Are [...]

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B2B Podcasting: What, Why and How

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 10:30:11 +0000

The What, Why & How of B2B Podcasting

The What, Why & How of B2B Podcasting

Okay, B2B marketers, time for a pop quiz:

  1. Which content marketing tactic can hold an audience’s attention for a half hour or more at a time?
  2. Which tactic inspires an audience to subscribe to your content and make a regular appointment to consume it?
  3. Which tactic can help boost thought leadership, raise awareness and engage influencers in your industry?
  4. Which tactic is in the title of this blog post?

The answer, of course, is podcasting. These long-form audio programs first emerged in the early 2000s. Back then, they were a niche format for hobbyists and tech nerds (like me). But the rise of the smartphone brought podcasts to the masses. Now, there are hundreds of hours of programming available on every conceivable subject, in every genre from true crime to horror to musical.  But we haven’t hit content shock for podcasts it’s still a growing market.

If your brand is looking to boost thought leadership and reach a new audience, now is the perfect time to add a podcast to your content marketing mix. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

What Is a Podcast, Anyway?

There’s a wide variety of types of podcast out there, so it can seem tricky to find a definition that covers everything. Some are live interviews or panel discussions; some are fully scripted and produced audio plays; some are cryptic monologues about a bizarre southwestern town.  But they all share two attributes:

  1. There are multiple recordings for each title, and
  2. They’re organized in an RSS feed you can subscribe to.

Whatever genre the audio is, whatever platforms it’s available on, as long as you have multiple recordings brought together by an RSS feed, you have a podcast.

Why Should B2B Content Marketers Care about Podcasts?

The way that people consume podcasts make them an ideal channel for your high-quality content. People tend to listen while working out, driving, cooking dinner — in other words, podcasts fill sizable chunks of otherwise idle time. You wouldn’t expect someone to read your white paper or eBook during their morning commute, but they might settle in with your latest episode.

The demographics for podcast listeners are attractive for B2B marketers, too. Edison Research’s Podcast Consumer 2017 report found that:

  • 24% of people ages 18-54 listen to podcasts monthly
  • Podcast listeners are almost evenly split between men and women
  • Podcast listeners tend to be affluent, educated consumers
  • In the 25-54 demographic, monthly listening has grown year over year for the past four years

In other words, your target audience is likely spending a significant amount of time listening to podcasts already. And those who already listen to at least one podcast are likely to be on the lookout for more.

What Marketing Goals Can a B2B Podcast Serve?

Podcasts work best for the attract and engage phases of the customer journey. You can use your podcast to build brand awareness and establish thought leadership in your industry. Thoughtful, valuable content can help your brand stand out from the competition, and encourage listeners to build a relationship with the brand.

The most successful B2B podcasts tend to be in the Q&A or panel discussion style. Hosts can welcome new guests each week to share their insight. This type of format is perfect for influencer marketing: You can boost your internal subject matter experts, form relationships with influencers in the industry, even feature your potential prospects.

The Dell Luminaries* podcast is a great example of thought leadership B2B podcasting. Each episode features a guest with useful and often fascinating — thoughts to share with the audience. Some guests are internal experts at Dell, while others are influential entrepreneurs and executives from across the tech industry.

Dell Luminaries Podcast

Since podcasts have a low barrier of entry, they’re a good way to reach a niche audience, too. SAP’s recently-launched Customer Support Podcast * is a worthy example. Each episode features quotes from a wide array of influencers, internal and external.

SAP Customer Support Podcast

These podcasts succeed because they do what all great content does: deliver valuable information to a specific audience in an entertaining format.

How Do I Get Started?

It’s never been easier to launch a podcast. There are dozens of free and low-priced tools available to streamline every part of production, from recording to amplification. Here’s a quick rundown.

#1: Recording

To start recording, all you really need is a laptop and a decent-quality USB microphone. We get professional-sounding results with a Blue Yeti. For my personal podcast, I use an MXL 770. Either are more than adequate to get you started. Later you can invest in a whole sound studio’s worth of mixing boards, microphones, and accessories if you like, but start simple.

If you plan to interview guests on the show, likely you will be recording remotely over Skype, Google Hangout, or another VOIP. Don’t try to record your guest’s audio through your computer speakers or phone; have them create their own recording on their end, then edit the conversation together. We've been experimenting with Zencastr, which handles recording and VOIP coordination automatically, and have been pleased with the results.

For recording software, Audacity is still the best entry-level program. It’s free, has a host of useful features, and you don’t have to be a sound engineer to get great audio.

#2: Syndication

Once your audio is recorded and edited, you need a place to host the file, and an RSS feed to submit to podcast directories.  You can host the files locally and create your own RSS feed in raw html, but there are plenty of free-to-cheap platforms that can handle the grunt work. Most use an uploading interface similar to publishing on WordPress. So if you know how to upload a blog, you can create a podcast feed.

We have had good results with both Libsyn and Podbean. Both have free options and inexpensive paid plans with a few added features, and both provide stats that can help you track listenership.

Most importantly, they both will walk you through the process of listing your podcast on various directories: Google Play, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and more. That’s a crucial step in making sure your podcast is available on your audience’s preferred listening platform.

#3: Amplification

Once your podcast is published, there are a few easy ways to get the word out and start building your audience. First, activate your existing blog audience: Post a blog post for each episode with the audio embedded (Libsyn and Podbean both enable live-streaming embedded audio). Include an optimized title and meta description and a transcript or SEO-optimized introduction. And, of course, make sure to include a call to action to subscribe!

If your podcast includes influencers, create social media assets for them to share, including messaging and custom images. Share the podcast on your social channels as well, making sure to tag your influencers.

Cast Your Pods to the Wind

Podcasts are a rare type of content marketing: Interest in them is steadily growing, people go out of their way to seek out new content, and they’re relatively cheap and easy to produce. B2B marketers are constantly challenged to deliver the right content to people in the right format to earn their attention. If your target audience has a morning commute, a workout schedule, or other quiet time to fill, your podcast may be just what they’re waiting for.

Try these 10 marketing podcasts to make your own free time more productive.

*Dell and SAP are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post B2B Podcasting: What, Why and How appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

4 Integrated Content Marketing Insights From the Trenches of Online Dating

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 10:30:06 +0000

Left. Left. Left. Right. Left. No, this is not an army drill. These are the swiping habits I’ve picked up from my time online dating. Done in a split second, I can swipe faster than most people can snap their fingers. If you’ve ever dabbled with dating apps or online dating, you know that these [...]

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Digital Marketing News: International Women’s Day, Google Warning, Facebook Tops YouTube

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 11:00:21 +0000

McDonald’s Flipped Its Famed Golden Arches for International Women’s Day – McDonald’s made a major play to celebrate International Women’s Day this year, taking its famed golden arches and turning them upside down across social media and at an owner-operated location in Lynwood, Calif. The effort is getting both kudos and criticism as a marketing ploy. Of [...]

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Content Marketers, This Is Not a Drill: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report

Wed, 07 Mar 2018 11:30:32 +0000

Content Marketing Takeaways from BuzzSumo's Content Trends Report


Content marketers, there is a content marketing emergency happening right now. This is not a drill. Please gather your belongings and exit the building in an orderly fashion. Go to your predetermined meeting spots to verify that your co-workers are safe, and start making a plan for the future.

I’m not naturally an alarmist. But there’s blood in the water. And smoke on the water. And fire in the sky. BuzzSumo just published their Content Trends for 2018 and the results aren’t pretty. After analyzing 100 million pieces of content for social sharing, social traffic referrals, and backlinks, the team has one clear takeaway: What most content marketers are doing is no longer working.

"The key takeaway from our research is that it is much harder to drive referral traffic from social networks than it used to be. Social sharing has halved over the last three years and organic reach has fallen, particularly on Facebook," BuzzSumo's Steve Rayson told us. "To be in the top 5 percent of shared content you needed just 343 shares in 2017. At the same time, content competition continues to increase with an ever increasing number of articles being published each week."

So, do we assume crash position and wait for the inevitable?

Heck no! Content marketing isn’t dying; it’s evolving. We can evolve our tactics and strategy to recapture our audience’s attention. Those who hear the alarm and take action will thrive, while those who keep snoozing will go down with the ship. As Rayson told us:

"The lesson for content marketers is that you must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social and expect people to find it."

[bctt tweet="You must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social & expect people to find it. - @steverayson #ContentMarketingTrends" username="toprank"]

Here’s our look at some key findings from the report, and what smart marketers will do about them.

5 Content Marketing Alarm Bells

#1 - Shares Are on the Decline

The Alarm: The median number of shares on content has declined by half since 2015. There has also been a sharp decline in viral posts with hundreds of thousands of shares, and in the effectiveness of “clickbait”-style content.

What You Can Do:. Instead of going after huge share counts, we should focus on getting shares from — you guessed it — influencers who have a relevant audience! Influencer marketing makes sure your content gets in front of the right people, and more than 8 of them at a time. Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts.

[bctt tweet="Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Facebook Is Just Not that Into You

The Alarm: Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but organic reach on Facebook has dramatically diminished in the past year and a half. Facebook shows no sign of reversing the trend, either. Quite the opposite; their stated goal is to have fewer (unpaid) brand messages in people’s crowded news feeds.

What You Can Do: First, start thinking of Facebook as a pay-to-play platform and adjust budget and expectations accordingly. This is also a good time to evaluate how much of your audience is actually on Facebook and actively engaging with content. The report also shows that LinkedIn* likes and shares are up more than 60% from last year — which means LinkedIn may be a better place to focus your attention.

#3 - Search Beats Social for Traffic Referrals

The Alarm: At the end of 2015, Facebook referral traffic finally rose above Google referral traffic. But Facebook’s dominance was short-lived. Now, Facebook is steadily trending down as Google continues to rise.

Graph showing social media shares versus google traffic

What happened? Google continued to get smarter about serving up relevant content, as Facebook continued to choke organic traffic from brands.

What You Can Do: The amplification model of “post on social media and ask people to click through” has been obsolete for a while now. Instead, focus on building your search equity with "best answer content" that is optimized for human beings. The more your content captures attention — page views, time on page, low bounce rate — the more search engines will serve you up at the top of the SERPs.

#4 - Backlinks Are Hard to Earn

The Alarm: As we refocus attention on search over social, we have to consider backlinks. Links to your site from reputable 3rd-party sources can be a significant ranking factor. Unfortunately, most content earns zero backlinks — 70% have no third-party links.

What You Can Do: The majority of content that attracts backlinks is high-quality research or reference content from authoritative sources. Work on building your library of stellar content, optimize it for SEO, and you can begin earning backlinks. In the meantime, your great content will help with search visibility even without the linkbuilding.

#5 - There’s More Content and Fewer People Reading It

The Alarm: Here’s the heart of the matter, the alarm bell to end all alarm bells. Content creation continues to climb, while content consumption declines. We have reached peak content. These two graphs, of content created versus pageviews on, say it all:

Graph showing number of wordpress posts increasing over time

Graph showing decline in views on WordPress

Notice while the volume of content rises, pageviews peaked somewhere around March of last year and are steadily declining.

What You Can Do: There are three ways you can combat content shock:

  1. Publish higher-value content at a slower cadence. Take time to deliver authoritative research or reference works rather than lighter, more shallow content.
  2. Repurpose content that drove pageviews in the past. Combine shorter posts into one big post, refresh the stats and links, and re-publish. Get the maximum equity from your existing content before you create new stuff.
  3. Capture your audience. When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. That way, you have a built-in audience not dependent on social media algorithms or search engine whims. And given how email marketing is still going gangbusters, you have a much better channel for reaching them.

[bctt tweet="When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Sound the All Clear

The way people consume content is constantly changing. Your content marketing tactics should be just as flexible. As the BuzzSumo report shows, the marketers who hang onto obsolete methods are losing audience now, and will continue to lose over time.

Interestingly, the “new” most effective tactics are those that have been steadily working the whole time, while some of us went chasing shiny objects: Create high-quality, best-answer content, leverage influencers for amplification & credibility, capture your audience and serve them engaging emails.

Need help creating best-answer content? We’re here for you.  

*LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions is a TopRank Marketing client

The post Content Marketers, This Is Not a Drill: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Lee Odden Demystifies the Confluence Equation to Help Marketers Get Better Results

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 11:30:31 +0000

Influencer marketing is not a new concept. Public relations professionals, journalists and forward-thinking marketers have been executing some form of influencer marketing for decades. While that may be the case, times have changed. The expectation for influencer content marketing has evolved, which means consumers have higher expectations and the influencers themselves are more particular about [...]

The post Lee Odden Demystifies the Confluence Equation to Help Marketers Get Better Results appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Top Marketing News: Content Marketing Trends, Google Checks Your Speed & YouTube Live-Streaming Updates

Fri, 02 Mar 2018 11:30:42 +0000

Content Trends 2018: BuzzSumo Research Report
A new report for BuzzSumo shows that social sharing is down 50% year-over-year, LinkedIn is becoming a leader in social engagement and more. BuzzSumo

YouTube Adds New Live-Streaming Tools, Including Monetization Options. Social Media Today
YouTube recently added automatic english language subtitles for live-streaming videos, along with the ability to replay live-streamed videos and chat simultaneously and more.  Social Media Today

Google Releases Mobile Scorecard & Impact Calculator Tools To Illustrate Importance Of Mobile Page Speed
Google continues to reinforce the importance of mobile page speed. The search engine recently released tools to help website admins and marketers alike better understand why speed matters on mobile.  Search Engine Land

We Regret to Inform You That Vero Is Bad [Updated]
Although Vero was supposed to be the better Instagram, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in light of functionality issues that have come to the surface. Gizmodo

Making your first AMP Story: Google’s answer to Snapchat and Instagram
Google recently announced AMP Stories, a new format similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories, implemented via a new accelerated mobile pages (AMP) component. Search Engine Land

Marketing and IT Departments Need to Get In Sync to Best Capitalize on Mobile Technology
According to recent research from Adobe, technologies like augmented reality , virtual reality and artificial intelligence are poised to help accelerate the mobile evolution. AdWeek

Google Confirms “Edge Cases” When Content Theft Can Cause Negative Effects
Search Engine Journal reports: “Google has updated the search results pages by adding breadcrumbs to the top of the page. The breadcrumbs are triggered by informational search queries and are accompanied by images.” Search Engine Journal

Media Buyers: Snapchat Is Focused On Enabling Commerce In Ads
Look out Pinterest in Instagram -- Snapchat is making a play for eCommerce advertisers. According to Digiday: “Snapchat is working on developing new commerce units to bolster its e-commerce offering.” Digiday

Twitter's Rolling Out its New 'Bookmarks' Feature to All Users
Twitter announced that it’s rolling out its new ‘Bookmarks’ feature, which serve as an alternative to liking a Tweet you want to view later. Social Media Today

Facebook Rolls Out Job Posts To Become The Blue-collar Linkedin
Facebook is trying to compete with LinkedIn in the job market, and they’re starting with skilled workers. TechCrunch

GDPR Study Shows 65% Of Companies Unable To Comply
MediaPost reports: “Data Applications provider Solix Technologies released the results Tuesday of a survey outlining the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) readiness assessment, revealing that the majority of organizations are not prepared for May 2018 GDPR enforcement.”  MediaPost


On the Lighter Side:
Skippy Goes Smooth With Mark Ronson Soundtrack To Promote Its Creamy Peanut Butter - The Drum
Lacoste’s Iconic Crocodile Makes Room for 10 Endangered Species on Brand’s Polo Shirts - AdWeek

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:
TopRank Marketing Blog - The 50 Best Business & Marketing Blogs - Detailed
Steve Slater - Word of Mouth Marketing: How to Create a Strategy for Social Media Buzz & Skyrocket Referral Sales - BigCommerce
Rachel Miller and Lee Odden - Top Influencers to engage with ahead of the #SMMW18 conference - Onalytica
Lee Odden - Top 100 Digital Marketers 2018 - Brand24
Alex Rynne (LinkedIn) and Lee Odden - 7 Things Learned from Attending B2BMX - Cassie Ciopryna
Lee Odden - Humanizing Marketing —Takeaways from #B2BMX 2018 - Tabitha Adams
Cherwell Software - Cherwell Software wins the 2018 Killer Content Award! - Alison Munn

We'll be back next week with more digital marketing news! If you need more in the meantime, follow @TopRank on Twitter or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

The post Top Marketing News: Content Marketing Trends, Google Checks Your Speed & YouTube Live-Streaming Updates appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

7 Down & Dirty Ways Brands Can Collaborate with Fans to Create Amazing Content #SMMW18

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 20:23:39 +0000

“So much time and so little content to create.” – Said no one ever Let’s face it marketers, creating a quantity of quality content isn’t easy. Even more so, creating a quantity of quality content that your audience cares about is even more difficult. So, when you don’t have an unlimited budget or execution resources, [...]

The post 7 Down & Dirty Ways Brands Can Collaborate with Fans to Create Amazing Content #SMMW18 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

How to Succeed at B2B Content Marketing with More Credible Content

Wed, 28 Feb 2018 11:30:42 +0000

Creating Credible B2B Content

Creating Credible B2B Content

Ask any B2B marketer about their top digital marketing challenges and one of the first answers you’ll likely receive is: Getting in front of the right audience at the right time. In fact, Ytel’s 2018 State of B2B Marketing Communications survey revealed that 55% of respondents agreed that they have a hard time getting their message and content in front of their target audience.

Why is that? Well, there’s more content at buyers’ fingertips than ever before, search engines are getting in touch with their human sides, and organic visibility on social media is effectively extinct. But, let’s real talk for a minute, marketers—this is all old news. In today’s digital marketing landscape, creating meaningful connections with your audience on any channel really comes down to trust and credibility.

Consumers are increasingly numb to advertising and marketing messages—and they’re actively trying to avoid it all. Last year, PageFair reported that adblocking usage had grown by 30% globally. In addition, Facebook’s recent decision to de-emphasize brand content was in response to users saying that posts from businesses, brands and media were crowding their News Feeds.

However, buyers are increasingly looking to those they know and those they think they know for insights, answers and recommendations. Multiple reports have shown that somewhere around 90% of consumers trust influencers or individuals over straight branded content. In addition, according to a recent report from CMI and SmartBrief, 40% of B2B decision-makers say that credibility trumps the source of the information.

This means B2B brands and marketers need to double-down on creating quality, credible content to drive marketing objectives and wins. But how? By infusing credible voices, perspectives and insights from influential sources—namely industry experts and thought leaders—into the content marketing game plan.

[bctt tweet="#B2B brands & marketers need to double-down on creating quality, #crediblecontent to drive #marketing objectives & wins." username="toprank"]

To highlight how creating more credible content with influencers can help your B2B brand get in front of interested buyers, create an engaging experience, and inspire action, take a look at these three examples from the TopRank Marketing playbook of successful client influencer content marketing programs.

Case Study #1 – Introhive: Reaching, engaging and inspiring a niche audience.

Introhive is a leading customer relationship management (CRM) solutions provider. Working across a variety of industries, Introhive aims to help their clients gain and effectively leverage customer intelligence in a way that can grow their business.

The Situation: The legal sector is one of Introhive’s focus industries. However, it’s an industry that’s been reluctant to adopt CRM technologies. Why? Oftentimes business development isn’t an established department within law practices, making it hard to justify investments in a “sales” technology. But law firms large and small have growth aspirations—and Introhive wanted to empower them to realize those opportunities.

Another challenge with attorneys and other legal professionals is that they often build their careers on evidence and witness testimony. Essentially, this industry is by nature hard to reach without offering credibility, authority and proof.

The Solution: With two unique challenges to overcome, our team knew that engaging other legal professionals to share their expertise and insights on business development, we could not only showcase the Introhive brand, but also needed to provide their audience with unique, relevant and trustworthy insights.

TopRank Marketing worked with the team at Introhive to develop an integrated influencer content program that began with a survey of legal community members. Conducting the survey helped facilitate building influencer relationships, while also collecting valuable data that could be used to further bolster campaign content. Other pieces of the integrated content marketing mix included an eBook—our anchor asset—blog posts, organic social amplification, paid social, and email.

Introhive Credible Content Case Study

The Results: For starters, we saw 15% more eBook downloads in the first month than the benchmark asset had in its lifetime. During the same time period, the accompanying blog content garnered over 600% more views compared to benchmarks for average blog content. Finally and without specifics available, the Introhive team reports that the program has delivered “medium to huge” marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Suffice it to say, this program leveraged credible content within influencers and research to generate substantial results. 

Read the full Introhive integrated influencer campaign case study.

Case Study #2 – Cherwell: Increasing brand visibility and thought leadership in a competitive space.

Cherwell Software is a leading IT service management (ITSM) company with a mission to help their customers leverage intuitive technology to enable better, faster and more affordable innovation.

The Situation: Since its inception a little over a decade ago, Cherwell has been rapidly gaining traction in the competitive ITSM space—but they’re still one of the newer kids on the block with other new competitors emerging rapidly. To continue their growth and fend off competition, Cherwell wanted to expand its marketing channels, increase brand awareness, engage industry thought leaders and—of course—eventually drive leads.

The Solution: Given Cherwell’s position in the competitive ITSM space, the team at TopRank Marketing worked to design an influencer content campaign that was highly-targeted to key the decision-makers they wanted to reach. How? We knew in order to stand out in news feeds and build near-instant credibility with our content, we needed to understand what influences the target audience the most.

To uncover the people, publications, and content topics and types that “moved” our audience the most, as well as where they spent time on social media, we designed a new research tool—the RITHM report. 

Using insights from the RITHM report to inform the content marketing approach, the resulting campaign included an eBook anchor asset, blog posts, an SEO-driven landing page, paid and organic social media.

Cherwell Credible Content Case Study

The Results: According to Alison Munn, Social Media and Digital Marketing Lead at Cherwell: “Not only did this program meet the defined goals and objectives, but the results and process exceeded my expectations!”

With this campaign responsible for 22% of new revenue for Cherwell in 2017, it was a recent winner of the B2B Marketing Exchange "Killer Content Award".

You can learn more about this program in the case study video below:


Case Study #3 – SAP SuccessFactors: Driving awareness and action by connecting to a specific audience pain point.

SAP SuccessFactors is a leading human capital management (HCM) suite that helps human resources (HR) professionals unleash the full potential of their workforce through transformation and engagement, and ultimately drive results across the business.

The Situation: For this niche human resources audience, employee wellness programs are part of the strategy to unleash the potential of their employees. However, the pain point for many organizations is finding a holistic solution in one place that also provides understanding of the true impact their efforts can have on the workplace. SAP wanted to drive awareness around their holistic solution, while also educating and engaging their audience.

The Solution: TopRank Marketing partnered with SAP SuccessFactors to craft an multi-pronged, influencer-driven content campaign that would not only raise awareness around their solution, but also provide their audience with credible, relevant, and actionable insights.

This campaign was anchored with an influencer eBook that featured insights from 10 top workplace culture, wellness, and technology experts, as well as internal experts from SAP SuccessFactors. In addition, other tactics such as a well-optimized landing page, social media promotion, and customized motion graphics were part of the mix.

SAP Credible Content Case Study Example

The Results: For downloads, we saw a  272% increase over SAP’s established benchmark. In addition, the accompanying landing page boasted a 68% conversion rate. Lastly, organic social promotion of the content—from the brand and influencers—drove 86% of overall views and 69% of overall conversions.

Read the full SAP SuccessFactors influencer-driven content campaign case study.

The Big B2B Takeaway for Credible Content

We’re in an era of a distrust and indifference to B2B marketing messages—which means if buyers don’t find your content credible and trustworthy, they’ll move on.

From skepticism to standing out in a crowded and more seasoned field, each of the aforementioned brands were living the trends and looking for a way to capture the attention of their audiences.

By cleverly leveraging influencers to create more credible and authoritative content and more trusted amplification, these brands were able to deliver their audiences with thoughtful opinions and diverse insights, bolster brand authority and make more meaningful connections with their audiences. But perhaps the most exciting campaign result was that building credibility led to audience activation—or conversions in other words.

To put it simply, with the right strategy, insights and influencer infusion, credible content can help brands win over your audience at every stage of the buyer journey.

[bctt tweet="With the right strategy, insights & influencer infusion, #crediblecontent can absolutely help brands win over your audience at every stage of the buyer journey. @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"]

Want to learn more creating more credible content? Check out our post on building credibility and authority with content marketing.

The post How to Succeed at B2B Content Marketing with More Credible Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

2018 – 50 Top Social Media Marketing Influencers

Mon, 26 Feb 2018 11:00:00 +0000

It’s that time of year again for the conference extravaganza known as Social Media Marketing World.  Each year I pull together a list of influential voices that are engaging on social networks around the topic social media marketing. My goal? To help showcase speakers for people in the industry to learn from and follow. Why are [...]

The post 2018 – 50 Top Social Media Marketing Influencers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Top Marketing News: Facebook Tests ‘Downvotes,’ Internet Rages at Google, Pandora Takes Aim

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 11:30:07 +0000

Six Essential Email Marketing Tips [Infographic]
Looking for email marketing success? This six tips can help you — and your emails — reach the right target. MarketingProfs

Google Brings the Popular Stories Format to AMP: Is It Worth Using?
Google announced a new story format for AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) this week. Google describes the new shiny thing as "a visual driven format for evolving news consumption on mobile." Econsultancy

Internet Rages After Google Removes 'View Image' Button, Bowing to Getty
Google removed the "view image" button this week in response to a recent lawsuit from Getty. This move has enraged the internet, but was done with hopes to encourage clicks through to the image's hosting website. Ars Technica

45% Of Marketers Cite Content & Experience Management As Top Priority In 2018
Econsultancy's Digital Trends 2018 report found that 45% of professionals surveyed cite content and experience management as their top priorities for this year, followed by the 32% that cited analytics. Econsultancy

Top Digital Advertising Trends
MediaPost compiled a research brief to show top digital advertising trends, including evidence that Google and Facebook owned 63% US digital market in 2017. Microsoft made strides, but remains a distant third place with just 4%. MediaPost

Google Announces Two Major Changes to Image Search
Google has announced two major changes to image search — including the previously reported removal of the "view image" button and the removal of the "search by image" button. Publishers are happy about these changes, Google search users aren't so thrilled. Search Engine Journal

Pandora Takes Aim At Spotify And IHeartRadio With Programmatic Audio Ads
AdAge reports: "Pandora said Tuesday that it will now offer its audio inventory programmatically through popular demand-side platforms such as MediaMath, The Trade Desk and AdsWizz." AdAge

Snapchat Gives Creators Access to Audience Analytics
Some select content creators on Snapchat are being given access to analytics and data about their audience, such as story views, engagement and demographics. This is only available to those who are part of Snapchat's Official Stories program. Search Engine Journal

B2B Demand Generation: Marketers' Favorite Tactics
Recent research from Demand Gen Report shows that email remains a top demand generation channel for both top and bottom funnel prospects. MarketingProfs

Facebook Is Testing A 'Downvote' Button
CNBC Reports: "Facebook is testing a 'downvote' button that lets users flag and hide comments they deem inappropriate. The social network clarified that it is not a 'dislike' button and the test is running for a small set of people in the U.S. only." CNBC

Google To Move More Sites To Mobile-First Index In Coming Weeks
Google plans on rolling more sites into the mobile-first index in the next several weeks. It's time to make sure your site is optimized for mobile if you haven't already — the time has finally come. Search Engine Land

On the Lighter Side
Red Stripe Says That, Whatever the Cost, It Will Buy a New Bobsled for Jamaica - AdWeek

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:

Steve Slater - Your M-Commerce Deep Dive: Data, Trends and What’s Next in the Mobile Retail Revenue World - Big Commerce
Lee Odden - Better Than Bonuses: 4 Motivators That Matter More Than Money - Workfront

We'll be back next week with more top digital marketing news! If you need more in the meantime, follow @toprank on Twitter or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

The post Top Marketing News: Facebook Tests ‘Downvotes,’ Internet Rages at Google, Pandora Takes Aim appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

In a World of Diminishing Trust, Data-Driven Marketers Can Turn the Tide

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 11:30:40 +0000

Trusting Hands

Trusting Hands

My first encounter with marketing data malpractice came at a young age. I wasn't old enough to understand what was going on at the time, but my dad loves to tell the story. As I've gotten older, the humor and timeless relevance of this anecdote have struck me more and more.

It was the mid-90s. We received a piece of mail at our house addressed to Lucy Nelson. It was a credit card offer from one of the industry's heavy hitters. Nothing out of the norm so far, right?

Here's the problem: Lucy was no longer alive.

And the bigger problem: Lucy was not a human. She was our dog.

As it turns out, my older brother had been cited by an officer at a nearby park many years earlier for walking Lucy without a leash. When asked to give a name, he stuttered out the Golden Retriever's, along with our family surname. Somehow "Lucy Nelson" ended up in a city database and the credit card company had plucked it out to add to its mailing list. Ultimately, this resulted in our dearly departed dog being pitched a deluxe platinum card.


Flash-forward 20-some years. It's a different world now. The rudimentary practice of collecting names and addresses from public databases seems so quaint in the Age of Big Data. Businesses and institutions now have the ability to gather comprehensive insights about people, both in aggregate and at an individual level.

For the general populace, this can feel unnerving. And unfortunately, almost everyone reading this has experienced some breach of trust when it comes to corporations or government and personal data.

But for marketers, the sheer volume of information now readily available presents a significant opportunity to take our profession to all new heights. By getting it right, we can help stem the tide of rising consumer wariness.

A World of Distrust

In 2017, for the first time since being introduced almost two decades ago, the Edelman Trust Barometer found a decline in consumer trust toward business, media, government, and NGOs to "do what is right." That's bad. And even worse: the organization's Trust Index didn't rebound in the 2018 study, released in January.

2018 Edelman Trust Barometer

"A World of Distrust," Edelman has dubbed it in 2018. And who can blame folks for losing faith? These days it can feel like the only major news story that isn't shrouded in doubt is when Equifax leaks the personal information of 150 million people.

In such an environment, it's hard to not to squirm when learning that your Amazon Alexa, and even your smartphone, is listening to you pretty much at all times.

While apprehension is understandable, these aren't people spying on us; they are robotic algorithms collecting data in efforts to understand us and better serve us.

As marketers, we can play a major role in showing people the benefits of a data-focused marketplace. Customers rightfully have high expectations of our ability to offer high-quality tailored experiences, and we need to follow through. It's an historic opportunity.

[bctt tweet="As marketers, we can play a major role in showing people the benefits of a data-focused marketplace. - @NickNelsonMN #CX #DataDrivenMarketing" username="toprank"]

Connecting the Dots

Our CEO Lee Odden recently wrote this in a blog about data creating better customer experiences: “One of the universal truths that we’ve operated under at TopRank Marketing,” he explained. “Is about the power of information specific to customers that are actively searching for solutions."

In that post, Lee wrote about his experience searching online for a portable battery charger and then being served ads for purple mattresses. That's the kind of thing that drives me crazy. As Lee notes: "The data is there. Customers are telling you what they want. The question is, how to connect those dots of data to understand and optimize customer experiences?"

The consequences of missing the mark are very real. A few years ago LoyaltyOne conducted a survey of 2,000 U.S. and Canadian customers on the subjects of data collection and privacy. Among the findings: only 35% were accepting of retailers using cookies to track their online behavior and just 27% were cool with location-based offers.

How much less widespread resistance might we be seeing against these tactics if they were being utilized more effectively?  

[bctt tweet="The data is there. Customers are telling you what they want. The question is, how to connect those dots of data to understand & optimize customer experiences? - @leeodden #CX #DataDrivenMarketing" username="toprank"]

The Data-Driven Marketer’s Imperative

The stakes are high. We need to piece the puzzle together correctly. If marketers and advertisers can start consistently delivering the sort of customized content and recommendations that data empower us to provide, it'll go a long way toward restoring customer faith.

We should be using this information to optimize, not traumatize!

Among the biggest areas for improvement I can see, from the perspective of both a marketer and customer:

  • Cut down on data fragmentation and organizational silos. This issue is abundantly common and extremely damaging. The "garbage in, garbage out" adage will never cease to be true. Make the necessary investments to unify your data and enhance the customer journey from attract to engage to convert and every step in between.
  • Be more transparent. Location-based tracking and other oft-used practices would be much less irksome if they didn't feel so sneaky. Inform customers when you're gathering info and why. Commit to opt-in policies wherever possible.
  • Follow the principles of the "virtuous cycle." LoyaltyOne CEO Bryan Pearson suggests that building trust is tantamount to developing face-to-face relationships. "In the beginning, we share a little. Then, once we show that we can be responsible with what the customer has shared, he or she will reveal a little more. And gradually the relationship deepens. This crawl-walk-run approach to sharing information is a sensible way for us to proceed in data collection and use. After all, as long as customer information is used to enhance the customer experience, taking small steps along the way can lead to big things."

Data has come a long way since the days of sending credit card offers to dead dogs. Marketers, let's make sure every campaign we create is reflecting this progress.

[bctt tweet="We should be using the data & information we have to optimize, not traumatize. - @NickNelsonMN #DataDrivenMarketing #CX" username="toprank"]

How can you build more trust with your audience? A more thoughtful approach to content marketing can help. Learn several ways to build credibility and trust with content.

The post In a World of Diminishing Trust, Data-Driven Marketers Can Turn the Tide appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

This Changes Everything: How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing

Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:30:16 +0000

How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing

How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing

Will artificial intelligence (AI) put marketers out of work?

It’s a question I’m seeing a lot lately, and to me, it’s a strange one. It’s like if everyone 150 years ago was asking: “Will the tractor put farmers out of work?” Of course, John Deere didn’t put farmers out of business; better tools just made them more efficient and better able to scale.

Granted, the tractor did reduce the demand for horses and farmhands. So, no, AI will not put you out of work…as long as your work is creative, innovative and intelligent. If all of your daily work can be done by a machine, eventually it will be.

To be the farmer rather than the horse, you need to understand what AI can do to augment and scale your efforts, not replace them. Here’s what AI can do to improve your digital marketing efforts right now.

#1: Artificial Intelligence and SEO

If there’s one area of digital marketing that is most affected by AI right now, it’s SEO. Machine learning is directly affecting site visibility right now, and its influence will only increase in the future.

A machine learning algorithm called RankBrain (link to Backlinko’s incredibly useful guide) is currently Google’s third most important ranking signal. In the past, Google’s developers monitored search results and tweaked algorithms to better suit search needs. SEO experts then tried to reverse-engineer each algorithm change to better position their content.

With RankBrain in the driver’s seat, though, no human being will know why content is ranked up or down. The algorithm will continuously be testing and refining settings based on user behavior.

This switch means some traditional SEO activities, like keyword lists and backlinks, will decline in importance. The ranking signals that will matter most will be those related to user activity:

  • Time on page
  • Bounce rate
  • Pogo sticking
  • Scroll depth

Any indicator that shows how a user found your content valuable is now an SEO indicator. SEO experts and content creators will need to work more closely together to ensure content meets a specific search need, addresses a specific audience, and is compelling to read.

That’s not to say technical SEO is dead, but it is evolving. SEO experts should focus on structuring data, applying schema, implementing AMP, and optimizing for voice search. What do these tasks have in common? They’re all candidates for automation. SEO experts of the future will be feeding data into their own AI and using it to apply these ranking factors to content at scale.

[bctt tweet="#SEO experts of the future will be feeding data into their own #AI & using it to apply ranking factors to content at scale. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#2: Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots

Chatbots are AI-driven programs that interact with users in a natural-language environment. These programs are rapidly becoming a major area of interest for marketers, as an increasing amount of social media traffic takes place on private messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Buffer’s annual social media report found that there are more people on the top four messaging apps than on the top four social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn). That’s an engagement opportunity that’s hard to ignore. And, of course, chatbots can live on your brand’s homepage, answering questions and providing support.

Most digital marketers see chatbots as a way to provide personalized customer service at scale – which is tangentially related to marketing, but not directly a marketing function. However, chatbots can also help guide users through a customer journey to a sale.

A lot of the chatter (no pun intended) around chatbots is how to make them indistinguishable from interacting with a human. Marketers seem to care a great deal about this issue, but I would argue customers don’t. Customers want their questions to be understood and quickly answered; it doesn’t matter if it’s Robby the Robot or Robby the Call Center Rep who has the answers.

Marketers can make use of chatbots themselves, too. There are a growing number of smart assistants available that can aggregate and report on data in real-time, through Slack and other private messaging services.

[bctt tweet="Customers want their questions to be understood and quickly answered; it doesn’t matter if it’s Robby the Robot or Robby the Call Center Rep who has the answers. - @NiteWrites on #AI in #DigitalMarketing" username="toprank"]

#3: Artificial Intelligence and Content Marketing

If you’re a content creator, talking about AI and content marketing likely makes you feel the cold fingers of obsolescence tighten around your throat. Gartner says by the end of the year, 20% of business content will be authored by machines. AI is already being used for everything from white papers to earning reports. It’s enough to make you feel like a horse watching the farmer start up his tractor.

Should you be worried about your job? Neigh. For one, AI right now isn’t quite ready to draft content with personality and a strong hook for the reader. Since SEO is increasingly about the reader’s experience, that means human-crafted content will win out for the foreseeable future. And even when AI can write convincingly like a human, it will still need creative input from humans.

So think like a farmer: Use AI to take care of repetitive, mindless tasks like metadata tagging and adding recommended content to blog posts. And use it to deliver personalized content at scale. AI can use data from your site’s visitors to dynamically customize and display the content you create.

As the content creator, part of your new AI-enhanced job will be to look at how your audience can be segmented by behavior, and draft modular content that the AI can put together based on user behavior.

[bctt tweet="Marketers, think like a farmer: Use #AI to take care of repetitive, mindless tasks like metadata tagging & adding recommended content to blog posts. And use it to deliver personalized #content at scale. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#4: Artificial Intelligence and Email Marketing

Email marketing remains one of the most effective forms of marketing out there. Sixty-one percent of consumers enjoy receiving weekly promotional emails. Which may explain why email marketing has higher conversion rates than social media and search combined.

AI is making email marketing even better, both for you and your customer. Personalization at scale is every marketer’s dream – and AI makes it possible. AI can use data to create personalized emails to every one of your subscribers, based on their previous interactions with the brand. It can customize based on what content they’ve consumed, what’s on their wish list, what pages they have spent the most time on, and more. For example, if one user always visits links to product pages in your email, but another skips those links and goes straight for content, the AI can send different messaging with the most relevant links for each user.

AI is also making drip campaigns more sophisticated. Instead of one or two triggers and a few customized emails, you can use “If/Then” statements to customize emails for dozens of different triggers. Rather than, “send an email in two weeks,” or “send another if they opened the last one,” you could say, “if they visited three product pages, send an email with a link to a related blog post and recommended products other people have purchased.”

[bctt tweet="When it comes to #EmailMarketing, personalization at scale is every marketer’s dream & #AI makes it possible. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#5: Artificial Intelligence Influencers to Follow

As AI continues to evolve, one thing’s for sure: None of us know as much about it as we should (myself included). These four influencers are among the select few who really have a handle on AI’s potential to transform marketing.

1. Chris Penn, VP of Marketing Technology, SHIFT Communications

Chris Penn of SHIIFT Communications

Chris is a futurist, a keynote speaker, and AI visionary. His presentation at Content Marketing World last year alternately energized and scared the pants off me.

Blog - LinkedIn - Twitter

2. Paul Roetzer, Founder, Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute (MAII)

Paul Roetzer of Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute

Through the MAII, Paul aims to do for AI what Joe Pulizzi did for content marketing: Provide resources to educate people on how to use AI in marketing, and develop the standards to make AI a useful strategic tool.

Blog - LinkedIn - Twitter

3. Magnus Unemyr, Marketing Automation & AI Consultant

Magnus Unemyr - Marketing Automation & AI Consultant

Magnus has turned out a ton of high-quality content on marketing automation and AI in the past few years. He publishes daily newsletters available through his blog and Twitter feed, and has written a series of books on e-commerce and online marketing.

Blog - LinkedIn - Twitter

I, for One, Welcome Our New Robot Overlords

Will AI put marketers out of a job? Not if you think like a farmer with a shiny new tractor. It’s a tool, not a replacement – a multi-use tool that will eliminate drudgework and help you reach your audience more easily and with more compelling, personalized content.

The rise of AI in marketing is one of the top trends in 2018. Find out what other digital marketing trends deserve your attention in 2018 and into the future.

The post This Changes Everything: How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Alignment Challenges, Instagram’s ‘Collection’ & Amp for Email

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:30:29 +0000

The Top Three Reasons Sales and Marketing Alignment Is Off [Infographic]
Communication, broken processes and disconnected metrics are the top three reasons that sales and marketing alignment is off. Is it an issue of focus, priorities, or something else? MarketingProfs

Instagram Gives Brands New Way to Sell In 'Collection' Ads
Instagram launched "collection" ads, which allow users to shop and purchase directly through the Instagram platform. AdAge

Google Announces Amp For Email – Delivering Accelerated Mobile Pages Experiences To Your Inbox
The new spec is available today through the Gmail Developer Preview, with support in Gmail slated for later this year. MarketingLand

Instagram Tests Its Version Of The Retweet But Thru Stories
Instagram has begun testing a new feature that would allow users to share public posts from other profiles to their own followers through the Stories feature. MarketingLand

Nielsen Creates New Metric to Measure the Effectiveness of Product Integrations
Nielsen is launching a new metric that may help marketers and publishers standardize brand mentions across platforms, like TV, short-form video and subscription-video-on-demand services. AdWeek

Google Launches New Look For ‘People Also Search For’ Search Refinements
Go to a search result, click on a listing, and then click back to the search results page on Google to trigger this on Google desktop search. Search Engine Land

Breaking Up With Facebook: Users Confess They're Spending Less Time
Mark Zuckerberg says recent changes have reduced the amount of time users spend on Facebook by 50 million hours each day, but those changes aren't the only reasons, according to users. USA Today

How Facebook Is Changing the Way It Reports Organic Reach for Page Posts
A redesign of Page Insights began rolling out this week for iOS and Android, along with a more accurate way for page admins to determine the effectiveness of their organic posts. AdWeek

New Research: Account-Based Marketing Trends: Top Channels, Priorities, and Challenges
New research indicates that the top challenges and priorities for account based marketing are the same – aligning sales and marketing, attributing marketing efforts to revenue and scoring and targeting ideal accounts. MarketingProfs

Snapchat Is Opening Up Its Marketing Platform to All Ad-Tech Players and Agencies
Snapchat is opening up their API to allow companies more access to their ad buying platform, and potentially more data. AdWeek

Google Sets Deadline for HTTPS and Warns Publishers to Upgrade Soon
If you haven’t made the switch on your site from http to https, it’s time to get started. Google has set a deadline of July 2018, after which Chrome will begin warning users explicitly if a site is insecure. Search Engine Journal

Statistics on Personalized Content

On the Lighter Side:
Google Launches 2018 Winter Olympics Features Across Search Results - Search Engine Journal
McDonald’s Absurdly Lavish ‘Bling Mac’ Ring Could Be Yours, If You Love It Enough - AdWeek
Over 150 New Emojis to Be Released on iPhone and Android This Year - Independent

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:
Rachel Miller & Lee Odden - Top 100 Social Media and Marketing Influencers - Digital Scouting
Lee Odden -  37 Digital Marketing Conference Speakers Who Will Inspire Your Marketing Programs - Outbrain
Lee Odden - Who Were The Top CMO Influencers Of 2017?  - Forbes
Lee Odden - 16 Digital Rockstars you Need to Follow - neilmchugh

We'll be back next week with more digital marketing news! In the meantime, quench your digital marketing thirst by checking out TopRank Marketing on YouTube and Twitter!

The post Digital Marketing News: Alignment Challenges, Instagram’s ‘Collection’ & Amp for Email appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

5 Productivity Hacks to Bring Content Creation From Failing to Flying High

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 11:00:50 +0000

Hot Air Balloons

Hot Air Balloons

Let’s just get this out of the way: I don’t know anything about hacking. I’ve never hacked anything in my life, unless you’re describing my golf swing, or you count using a Game Genie to cheat at Sega Genesis back in the early ‘90s.

In general, I find terms like “life hacks” and “growth hacking” to be… well, hackneyed.

But you know what? Blog titles that include “hacks” — or other strong and compelling descriptors such as “surprising” or “critical” — have a greater tendency to gain viral traction. Sometimes a simple data point like that can be the springboard you need to uncover inspiration.

Which brings us to the purpose of today’s post.

Here at TopRank Marketing, we have an insanely talented Content Team. Legitimately some of the best writers and strategic thinkers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working alongside. But even these awesome pros are not immune to the occasional creative rut or swoon in productivity. It comes with the territory.

Recently the team came together to discuss some of our personal methods for overcoming content creation slumps and getting back on track when we’re dragging. I figured I would share some of the most salient pointers to come out of that meeting here, so other marketers can benefit and maybe adopt a few of them during their own periods of stagnation.

Hacks, insider tips, pearls of eternal wisdom — whatever attention-grabbing name you’d like to apply, I just hope you find these practical tips helpful in enhancing your productivity and elevating your content marketing success. (And feel free to comment with your own if you have tricks that work for you.)

#1 - Embrace the 5-Second Rule

The 5-Second Rule Book CoverLast year, Mel Robbins published a book called “The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage.” The premise behind this guide to conquering self-doubt and procrastination is rooted in psychology.

Basically, the crux is that because our brains are wired to avoid risk, we are innately predisposed to abandon many ideas and plans almost as quickly as they arrive.

Robbins challenges us to overcome this inclination by forcing ourselves to take some sort of action to move an idea forward within five seconds of the thought crossing our consciousness. It can be small and it doesn’t always have to lead anywhere. But it’s all about getting past your initial misgivings and, in some way, turning an idea from concept into reality.

So, next time the notion of a blog angle passes through your head, take the step to jot down a note, or even a loose outline. When you’re struck with the spark for a content campaign, but not quite sure about it, discuss it with a colleague or at least record a quick voice memo on your phone.

Basically, stop saying “later” and start saying “now.” By following this approach, you’ll find yourself with a whole lot more to work with, and it might just be that a passing fancy you’d have otherwise pushed out of mind turns into something great.

[bctt tweet="Stop saying “later” and start saying “now” when an idea crosses your mind. - @NickNelsonMN #ContentCreation #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Start with Your Conclusion

A classic writing tip from fledgling novelists is to draft the ending of a story first, and then work your way up to it. This same advice can be aptly applied to any content writer who is struggling to get a piece off the ground.

When I’m sitting down to write something new, I frequently find that getting started is the toughest part. You need a strong, compelling introduction, and in many cases can’t proceed until you’ve got one worked out. Another issue can be that once you’ve surpassed that initial hurdle, you start wandering and get sidetracked from the main points you’re trying to make.

Writing your conclusion before anything else can remedy both of these issues. Since it’s always smart to have the beginning and ending of a post tie together, you might find the pathway to your intro by taking this approach. And as you progress through the drafting process, you’ll always know exactly what the end destination is.

#3 - Keep a List of Recent, Authoritative Statistics

Sometimes, statistics can provide the backing we need to substantiate a point. But finding the right one isn’t always a quick or easy task. Getting bogged down in research is often one of the primary culprits in waning productivity.

If you have a team of writers on hand — particularly ones who cover similar topics or niches — it can be helpful to create a central doc with up-to-date stats from trusted sources, such as respected media publications or verified research organizations. Trim off older items as they lose relevance, and continually add in new ones. You’ll want to be careful to avoid the trap where everyone on your staff starts using the same numbers and sources over and over again, but in general I find this practice to be a strong productivity-booster and time-saver.

#4 - Dig Into Data

Stats are not only able to contextualize and reinforce a case we’re trying to make, but they can also illuminate a case worth making in the first place, or provide direction on how to proceed. For example, the insight I mentioned earlier about “hacks” being a clickable blog post title made me wonder: “What ‘hacks’ do I actually know? What kinds of hidden pointers could I surface that might actually be useful to our audience of smart marketers?”

Revelations can be found in insights about particular types of content that resonate within your industry (articles and studies about trends are good sources), or a conclusion drawn from your own Google Analytics (“Wow, look at how well posts about Topic X have performed!”).

Data points are stories waiting to be told, and they are almost infinitely abundant in every industry and vertical.

[bctt tweet="Data points are stories waiting to be told. Dig into them to find inspiration & overcome #ContentCreation slumps. - @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

#5 - Reckon with Writer’s Block

It can be tough to get unstuck when you hit a wall in content creation. There’ve been countless instances where I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit wordsmithing one particular sentence, or figuring the best way to transition from one idea to the next.

In these cases, it never hurts to move on to something else for a while and then circle back later. You can leave yourself a placeholder, as simple as [XXXXX] or more referential like [something about hacking and Game Genie]. This enables you to accomplish other stuff and return with a fresh mind.

Painful as it may be, you should even consider simply getting something down on the page in these moments, even if you don’t think it’s good. A 2012 article in Psychology Today on the subject of overcoming writer’s block argued that this can be necessary to achieve that frequently elusive “flow.”

“Here’s the truth about writing (or any other form of self-expression): If you can’t accept the bad, you can’t get to the good,” wrote Barry Michels. “It’s as if the flow is pure, clean water trapped behind dirty, disgusting sewage. If you can’t welcome the sewage and let it flow through you, you’ll never be able to get to the pure stuff.”

Such a lovely metaphor, isn’t it?

Put Your Content in Flight

Ready to see how high your content can fly? Try incorporating these tips into your routine and see if they can help give your productivity a lift:

  • Challenge yourself to take action on every content creation idea as soon as it strikes you.
  • Try breaking your routine by writing the conclusion to your next post before anything else, and see if it helps make your process more efficient.
  • Create a centralized doc with your most-used sources of stats and insights, then share it with your team and encourage them to add.
  • Analyze data trends from your own past content as well as the industry at large to identify hot topics for your audience.
  • Alter your writing approach to overcome writer’s block.

Otherwise, if you’re interested in learning more about how we do content marketing at TopRank Marketing, check out our services page or reach out and give us a shout. We’re all about driving growth, without any hacking required.

The post 5 Productivity Hacks to Bring Content Creation From Failing to Flying High appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

9 Upcoming Events to Learn All About Content and Influencer Marketing

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:15:47 +0000

According to a new study from eMarketer, in 2018 nearly nine in 10 business-to-business (B2B) companies in the US will use digital content marketing. At the same time, influencer marketing has become one of the hottest topics in the marketing world: The L2 from Gartner reports that over 70% of brands used influencers in their 2017 [...]

The post 9 Upcoming Events to Learn All About Content and Influencer Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Social Media Trends, What CMOs Search For & Mobile Ads Soar

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 11:30:25 +0000

Social Media Trends to Put Into Practice in 2018 [Infographic]
What should social media marketers focus on in 2018? This infographic shows several trends, like social media ROI, mobile growth and trust. Social Media Today

Search, Paid And SEO, Rank Higher As CMOs Seek New Agency Partners
What do CMOs look for in agency partners? A new report shows that while advertising and direct marketing remain on the top of the list, SEO and SEM are moving to toward the top in leaps and bounds. MediaPost

Mobile Ads To Soar In 2018, Especially In Local Media
MediaPost reports: “Social media ad revenue from mobile (not including tablets) now represents just over 70% of total social ad spending - and will grow to 80% by 2022, per BIA/Kelsey.” MediaPost

Google Analytics Introduces New ‘Audiences’ Report
Google Analytics has released a new report called “Audiences,” which is located, appropriately under the “audiences” category within the Google Analytics dashboard. To use this report, make sure to configure audiences in your account. Search Engine Journal

Google Officially Announces the New Google Search Console is Available for Everyone
Great news for Google Search Console users: the new version (in beta) is now available to everyone. You can still toggle between the old and new views if needed. Changes include consolidated error reporting and better export usability. Search Engine Land

Twitter Extends Full Tweet Archive to Developers
ZDNet reports: “Twitter announced it's giving developers access to the full archive of its history - all the way back to the first tweet in 2006. Until Thursday, full access to Twitter's history was only available to enterprise API customers.” ZDNet

Instagram’s Carousel Ad Format is Coming to Instagram Stories
Instagram announced recently that they’re bringing their Carousel Ads into stories, allowing for more than one piece of media. Advertisers can now use 1-3 pieces of media (photos or videos) in this new format. TechCrunch

The State of Chatbots in 2018: Top Benefits and Challenges
Consumers are saying that the benefits of chatbots include 24-hour customer service, along with getting instant responses. However, 43% of those surveyed said a potential blocker to using chatbots would be their preference for a live assistant. MarketingProfs

Amazon Wins the Superbowl (of Ads)
According to USA Today, Amazon’s “Alexa” spots beat out the NFL’s “Dirty Dancing”-themed ads during this year’s Super Bowl. USA Today

US Social Users Head to YouTube, Facebook to Watch Videos
Marketers can no longer afford to ignore video advertising. Why? eMarketer is predicting that video ad spending in the US alone will reach $15.42 billion this year, and will grow to $22.18 billion by 2021. eMarketer

Intel Made Smarts Glasses That Look Normal
Apparently, The Verge recently got an exclusive sneak peek at Intel’s new smart glasses Vaunt, which uses retinal projection to put a display in your eyeball. The best part? The glasses actually look like “normal” glasses. The Verge

Digital Ad Buyers Say Google Search, Facebook Deliver the Best ROI
A December 2017 survey of U.S. senior ad buyers by financial services firm Cowen and Company showed Google search was held in the “highest esteem” when it came to ROI. Nearly half of respondents named the platform as offering the highest ROI. Meanwhile, Facebook ranked second, named by 30% of those polled. eMarketer

Snapchat Slips in Features Like Fonts and Do Not Disturb Amidst Redesign
Snapchat appears to be following in Facebook’s “Time Well Spent” steps. The latest? Snapchat is offering a way to mute specific people without formally blocking them, according to TechCrunch. In addition, the major redesign that’s slowly rolling out comes with ways to jazz up your Snaps with colorful text styles and multiple captions. TechCrunch

Best & Worst Super Bowl 2018 Commercials
While the world knows the Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl champions, which brands took the gold for best commercials? And which ones can be crowned as the worst? Billboard’s picks for the best include the Doritos & Mountain Dew combo, and Amazon. Billboard

On the Lighter Side:

Pepsi CEO Says It’s Targeting Women With Doritos That Are Cleaner and Less Crunchy. Apparently, ladies need quiet snacks that don't make a mess. At least, that seems to be Pepsi’s belief. As AdWeek reported: “In an interview with Freakonomics, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi said that while women ‘would love’ to lick their fingers and pour Doritos chip crumbs into their mouths, they ‘don’t like to crunch too loudly in public’ and ‘don’t like to pour the little broken pieces and the flavor into their mouth.’” AdWeek

TopRank Marketing (And Clients) In the News:
Debbie Friez - 2018 Social Media Marketing Tips From 23+ Marketing Experts - Hot in Social Media
Lee Odden - Top 20 Marketers that Influence CMOs - Forbes
Lee Odden, SAP & LinkedIn (clients) - Report: Understanding the B2B Content Marketing Landscape - eMarketer

The post Digital Marketing News: Social Media Trends, What CMOs Search For & Mobile Ads Soar appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Social Media Marketing Spotlight: U.S. Bank Rallies Local Allies for a Friendly, Engaging #MNNice #NiceOff

Wed, 07 Feb 2018 11:00:57 +0000

US Bank NiceOff

US Bank NiceOff

Roughly 120,000 visitors from 130 countries descended on the Twin Cities last week to take part in Super Bowl LII festivities hosted in downtown Minneapolis. To welcome visitors to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank—which just so happens to have its name on the stadium that hosted the big game—wanted to give visitors a taste of “what Minnesota is all about.”

For those of you who haven’t heard, Minnesota—where TopRank Marketing is proudly based—isn’t just known for its frigid winters and as the birthplace and residence of the late Prince Rogers Nelson. It’s also known for its “northern hospitality”—or as it’s affectionately called—Minnesota Nice.

With Minnesota Nice as their inspiration—and some great strategic thinking—U.S. Bank launched the #MnNice #NiceOff conversation and friendly competition on Twitter, inviting its followers and other local brands to try to “out-nice” each other by sharing acts of kindness that are Minnesota Nice signatures.

The result? A social media marketing campaign that was thoughtful, engaging, subtly brand-centric, and influencer-activated.

Starting the Conversation

While the conversation started with the single tweet below, the campaign was in the works for weeks.

US Bank Minnesota Nice Off

As it so happens, TopRank Marketing alumni and current U.S. Bank Social Media Campaign Manager, Jason Schober, was part of the action. And he was gracious enough to give us an inside look.

“We really wanted to evoke some engagement and brand activation within the community of people that would be participating in the activities leading up to and at the big game,” Schober told us.

Eventually, the Minnesota Nice-themed campaign strategy emerged as a winning idea. To get started, the team team laid out a strategy that would ensure FCC compliance by not mentioning financial products or services in communications, respect Super Bowl guidelines since U.S. Bank was not a direct sponsor, and make sure the campaign made sense for their brand identity and voice.

The campaign was in great shape, but U.S. Bank didn’t want to go at it alone. So, roughly a week before launch, they began to form partnerships with other local, well-known brands—including Target, Land O’ Lakes, Sun Country and 3M—to be part of the conversation. However, none of the partnering brands knew what others would be posting until it unfolded on launch day (Feb. 1), which kept the conversation real and spontaneous. Here’s a shot of the beginning of the conversation.

Target and US Bank Nice Off

For the work we do at TopRank Marketing, this move is directly tied to the power of influence in marketing. By partnering with influential brands, U.S. Bank was not only able to add credible voices to the conversation, but also extend their reach to these brands’ respective audiences. In addition, once the ball got rolling, other brands and individuals were given an organic opportunity to get in on the fun. Of course, many of the interactions cleverly intertwined a brand’s own marketing message. Here’s one of our favorites:

3M Minnesota Nice Off Tweet

Top the Tater Minnesota Nice Off Tweet

When it came to selecting the right hashtag to define the conversation, their approach was two-pronged, according to Jason.

“The original idea was #MinnesotaNiceOff,” he explained. “But for both tracking and engagement purposes, we decided to leverage two hashtags: #MnNice and #NiceOff. Reason being, we knew #MnNice was already being used and could open our conversation up to a broader audience, and #NiceOff would be something we could own and brand the conversation with.”

The Big Takeaway

A thoughtful, integrated social media marketing strategy is an absolute must. Start by looking at any compliance and trademark red tape, as well as how a campaign will integrate with and complement your brand. Then ask yourself: What other credible, influential voices can be added to elicit shared value?

Managing Engagement

There’s little doubt that trolls and disgruntled users are commonplace on social media these days, often trying to ruin the spirit of good conversation. And in today’s world of social media, hashtags are conversations. So, when it comes to branding your marketing message with a hashtag conversation starter, marketers need to prepare for the fact that they don’t necessarily own the content or the conversation.

For U.S. Bank, they knew the risks of starting the #MnNice #NiceOff conversation. But they also believed the campaign easily lent itself to passively putting trolls in their place. As you can see from the thread below, U.S. Bank made it a point to go full-out with the campaign theme when confronted with negativity.

US Bank's Repsonse to Nice Off Troll

“Our entire campaign was centered on Minnesota Nice,” Jason said. “The only appropriate response to these kinds of interactions was to be as overly polite as possible.”

The Big Takeaway

When it comes to anticipating trolls or negative responses, consider the worst-case scenario for your hashtag-branded campaign and build it into your overall strategy. As our own Joshua Nite recently wrote on the topic of proper hashtag usage, when creating your own hashtag, ask yourself:

  • Who are you talking to?
  • What are you trying to say?
  • How else could your hashtag be interpreted?
  • What other conversations might it start?

Keeping the Momentum Going

Once the tweeting began on launch day, Jason said his team was using Spredfast as a helpful tool to monitor, track, and respond in real-time. But once it became clear that the conversation was on the right track—barring input from trolls—the team decided to leverage Twitter Moments to turn the conversation into a storytelling space.

“This was already in the original plan because we wanted to continue to tell the story beyond the initial conversation,” Jason told us. “But we were waiting for the momentum to take over before creating the Moment.”

As for results, between Feb. 1 and Feb. 6, the Twitter Moment saw nearly 35,000 total opens, 31,247 unique opens, 448 likes, 155 shares, and a 8.48% completion rate.

The Big Takeaway

Whether it be a campaign or every-day usage, make sure you understand the full capabilities of any social media platform you’re engaging on. This will not only help you think more strategically about your messaging and interactions, but also help you provide more value for your audience. This is especially important in the age of decline (or extinction) for organic visibility on social platforms.

In addition, social media listening and management tools are often an investment that pays off—especially during campaigns. As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden has said: “Tools make reaching social media marketing goals possible.”

Shine the Social Media Spotlight on Your Brand

For brands and marketers of all industries, social media hashtag campaigns like this serves as a great example of running a smart, strategic, and integrated campaign.

By thinking strategically from start to finish—and inviting like-minded, influential brand voices to the table—U.S. Bank was able to not only capitalize on one of the biggest sporting events of the year, but also garner meaningful and organic interactions, engage in some friendly competition with other local brands being gracious Super Bowl hosts, and spotlight and activate their brand identity.

Want some more inspiration from brands on Twitter? Take a peek at both B2B and B2C brands mastering the art of social customer care on Twitter.

The post Social Media Marketing Spotlight: U.S. Bank Rallies Local Allies for a Friendly, Engaging #MNNice #NiceOff appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

9 Top Marketing Trends for 2018

Mon, 05 Feb 2018 12:15:25 +0000

There is no question that 2017 was an incredible year for marketing. What’s even better than a banner year is fresh optimism for the next. Predictions and trends for 2018 present even more opportunities for marketers that can see the signal amongst the noise. As we continue to grow, I’ve been researching what trends are [...]

The post 9 Top Marketing Trends for 2018 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: State of Social, Super Super Bowl Ads, Scheduled Posts on Instagram

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 11:00:00 +0000

The State of Social 2018 Report: Your Guide to Latest Social Media Marketing Research [New Data]. Buffer teamed up with Social Media Week to collect data from over 1,700 marketers and create a new report with insights ranging from huge opportunities with messaging apps to how successful marketers are measuring social media ROI. Buffer Blog(...)Read [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: State of Social, Super Super Bowl Ads, Scheduled Posts on Instagram appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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