Latest Marketing News

Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s Bot Detox Fallout, Google’s Mobile Thumbs-Up, & Millennial’s Top Social IQ Factors

Fri, 20 Jul 2018 10:30:16 +0000

Report: Google’s mobile search results now show image thumbnails 45% of the time Mobile Google users see image thumbnails in nearly half the search results shown, according to new report data. Should marketers consider placing greater importance on thumb images? Search Engine Land Twitter’s bot purge welcomed by agency execs Twitter recently deleted millions of [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s Bot Detox Fallout, Google’s Mobile Thumbs-Up, & Millennial’s Top Social IQ Factors appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game

Wed, 18 Jul 2018 10:35:10 +0000

How Facebook Stories Will Change Social Media Marketing

How Facebook Stories Will Change Social Media Marketing

“You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount.”

This scathing remark, delivered by actor Jesse Eisenberg while portraying Mark Zuckerberg amidst a heated deposition in the 2010 film The Social Network, has a certain pertinence today with regards to the company Zuckerberg founded back in 2004.

As Facebook’s news feed algorithm becomes increasingly restricting for brands and publishers, many of us are finding it difficult to capture even the minimum amount of our audience’s attention on the platform.

The search for elusive reach on the world’s largest social media channel has led some marketers to explore Facebook Groups as a way to stay visible with users. But it appears the more critical frontier may be Facebook Stories, a feature that is rapidly on the rise and — according to the company’s own top execs — represents the future of connection on Facebook.

[bctt tweet="#FacebookStories — according to the company’s own top execs — represents the future of connection on #Facebook. #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

A Primer on Facebook Stories

The Social Network, referenced earlier, is a biographical drama depicting the inception of Facebook and the power struggles that took place. The film was extremely well received, earning eight Oscar nominations and winning three: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing.

Certain people portrayed in the movie have criticized its inaccuracies (it wasn’t exactly kind to Mr. Zuckerberg, as the opening quote in this post illustrates), and writer Aaron Sorkin doesn’t deny playing loose with the facts.

“I don't want my fidelity to be to the truth,” he told New York Magazine. “I want it to be to storytelling.”

A reputed screenwriter, Sorkin understands the power of stories, which have an ability to hook and captivate audiences in a way few other styles of communication can hope to match. This dynamic is undoubtedly driving the growth of “Stories” — series of images and videos played in succession, perfectly suited for mobile screens — across all social media platforms.

This chart via Block Party’s report, Beyond the News Feed: Why Stories Are Becoming the New Face of Social Media, visualizes the unmistakable trend well:

Facebook Stories Usage Trend

Interestingly, Snapchat — which largely sparked the popularity of this format when its “My Story” feature launched in 2014 — has remained stagnant while other players have gained fast traction. You can definitely count Facebook among them.

Originally rolled out on mobile in 2017, Facebook Stories made their way to desktop earlier this year and the feature now boasts 150 million daily active users. Like the versions on Instagram and Snapchat, this content is ephemeral — Facebook Stories and all of their comments disappear after 24 hours. But the convention itself is here to stay.

“We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in feeds as the most common way that people share across all social apps,” said Zuckerberg (the real one, not the Eisenberg character) during a fourth-quarter earnings conference call.

This sentiment is shared by Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, who laid out a more specific and imminent timeline at the company’s annual conference in early May:

The increase in the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.

Needless to say, this is a story marketers need to be tracking.

The Other Side of the Story

Okay, so we know that Stories are quickly becoming a mainstream method for sharing content on social media, and we know that Facebook is making a firm commitment to the format. What does all this mean to us as marketers?

Add to Your Facebook Story

This is definitely a tool that companies can use, if they are so inclined. You have the ability to post them from your brand page, and (at least for now) it may increase your content’s odds of getting noticed. Relatively speaking, this feature isn’t being used all that much, and Facebook’s clear emphasis on growing it means that Stories are carving prime real estate above the news feed.

Some view this as the next great social media marketing opportunity on the platform. Earlier this year, Bud Torcom wrote in a piece at Forbes that Facebook Stories are “like California’s mines and creeks before the 1849 gold rush.” He sees this format transforming campaigns through experimentation, experiential marketing, influencer integration, and visual pizzazz.

Michelle Cyca sees similar potential, as she wrote on the HootSuite blog, calling Stories “a way to reconnect with users who aren’t seeing your content in their Newsfeed the same way” and calling out examples of campaigns that drove lifts in awareness by incorporating the tactic.

The idea of added organic reach is enticing (if fleeting, knowing that the onset of ads will turn this — like all Facebook marketing initiatives — into a pay-to-play space), but what really intrigues me about Stories is the almost infinite grounds for creativity.

[caption id="attachment_24532" align="alignnone" width="600"]Facebook Stories Examples Facebook Stories Examples from ModCloth and Mashable.[/caption]

It’s a very cool method for visual storytelling. It’s a low-barrier entry point for social video (no one is expecting premium production quality on these). And it presents an accessible avenue for toying with emerging technologies — most notably, augmented reality, which is being strongly integrated into Facebook Stories in another step down the road Snapchat has paved.

[bctt tweet="The idea of added organic reach is enticing, but what really intrigues me about #FacebookStories is the almost infinite grounds for creativity. - @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

Where Does the Story Go Next?

“You don't even know what the thing is yet. How big it can get, how far it can go. This is no time to take your chips down.”

This advice — delivered to Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg by Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker in The Social Network — referred to Zuck’s budding Facebook venture, but could just as easily apply to any social media marketer eyeing Stories as a way to connect with their audience.

The downside is minimal. What have you got to lose? A little time and effort, perhaps. The possible benefits are extensive however. These include:

  • Prioritized placement on user feeds
  • Engaging bite-sized video content
  • Powerful visual storytelling for brands
  • Ability to experiment with new content styles and emerging tech like AR
  • Gaining familiarity with a format that could well represent the future of social marketing

More than anything, though, Facebook Stories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount.

[bctt tweet="#FacebookStories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount. - @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

And since brands generally aren’t tapping into this functionality as of yet, early adopters can jump ahead of the curve and beat their competition to the punch. If there’s one primary takeaway from Facebook’s story (as reflected in The Social Network), it’s the tremendous business value in being first. Just ask the Winklevoss twins.

At TopRank Marketing, we’re all about helping companies tell their stories through a wide variety of digital channels and tactics. Give us a shout if you’d like to hear more.

What are you thoughts on the future of Facebook stories? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing?

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 10:38:29 +0000

Quality in Content Marketing

Quality in Content Marketing

Have you heard the good news about quality content? It’s the latest innovation that’s sweeping the nation. It’s going to revolutionize your content marketing efforts. If your current strategy is to crank out crappy content, then quality content is going to blow your KPIs away!

Okay, sarcasm aside: Every content marketer knows their content needs to be good to be effective. We call it “quality,” or “value,” or “usefulness.” But all of these traits can vary widely depending on your audience. For example, conventional wisdom might say that 500-word blog posts don’t connect with readers. But that word count may be just the right length for the people you want to reach.

So, when we get into the specifics, quality is relative and highly subjective. But it’s possible to define quality content marketing in a more universal way:

Quality content demonstrates to your audience that you are listening to them.

It’s that simple. Well, one step further:

Quality content demonstrates that you’re listening and you care.

We often think about what action we want readers to take. That’s a valid question; in fact, it’s the foundation of content marketing strategy. But for quality content we need to consider the flip side: How will the reader’s life be better after reading this content? Or, to really boil it down: What’s in it for them?

That’s the essence of quality content. And here’s how you can make sure your content passes the test. First, at the broadest level, there are two minimum requirements for quality:

All Content Marketing Should Be ...

#1: Hyper-Relevant

We talk a lot about best answer content at TopRank Marketing, content that:

  • Serves a proven search need
  • Addresses a customer’s burning questions
  • Is substantial and comprehensive

Basically, it means that you’re putting in time and effort into researching your audience, what they need and how they’re searching for it. Then you’re crafting content that acknowledges that search and makes a genuine attempt to give them exactly what they’re looking for.

#2: Non-Promotional

It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. Quality content has to be non-promotional. Now, some brands take this advice to heart, but create content that’s still promotional, just with a thin veneer of solving a problem. They’ll publish a “10 Ways to Be Better at X,” but each way just leads to their solution. That’s a cheat.

Real customer-centered content gives away valuable information that people can use even if they never buy from you.  For example, here’s Quicksprout’s “Advanced Guide to Content Marketing.” It’s massive. It’s ungated. Only a tiny fraction of it is related to the solutions they sell.

Advanced Guide to Content Marketing Example

Of course, your content mix should include some bottom-of-funnel content that will show how your brand solves a problem. But the majority of your content should focus on the reader.

[bctt tweet="It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

So, quality content demonstrates to your reader that you’re listening and care about them. It does this by being hyper-relevant and non-promotional. It’s a good working definition, but still a little vague. Here are five ways you can approach content to guarantee quality:

Five Ways to Create Quality Content

#1: Tell a Story

Humans are storytelling animals. We're wired to process narratives, to get pleasure from a good tale and retain the information within it. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. Tell a story that shows your reader you understand what their world is like. Tell a story that shows you understand what they wish their world was like. Even better, make them (or someone very much like them) the star of the story.

[bctt tweet="We're wired to process narratives. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Read: Be Honest Like Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling

#2: Show Vulnerability

One of the quickest ways to make an emotional connection is to reveal your own shortcomings. Everyone has moments of failure; they’re what makes us human. Use your brand’s failings, and the lessons learned from them, to connect with the reader and help them improve.

The Buffer team is great at the kind of honest, meaningful discussion I’m talking about here. Their “5 Times We Failed at Diversity Big Time (and How We Fixed It)” is a good starting example.

Buffer Quality Content Example

#3: Help Them Look Smart at Work

What do most working people have in common, regardless of industry, function or seniority level? We all want to look good in front of our boss. If you are the boss, you want to look good in front of shareholders. Everyone can benefit from a little competitive edge, a tip or a trick or a bit of wisdom they can pull out at the next meeting.

#4: Help Make Their Job Easier

Another thing all working people have in common is that we would prefer to not work so hard. Anything that can help us get the job done quicker, with less effort, without sacrificing quality, is incredibly valuable. Keep that idea in mind when writing checklists, tools and tips, or how-to posts. It’s not just “here’s how you do this,” it’s “here’s how you do this better, regardless of your current skill level.”

#5: Help Them Improve Themselves

Your audience’s lives are bigger than their interaction with your brand. They’re bigger than the pain points your brand has the expertise to solve. If you can reach out to the broader sphere of their life experience, you can bring quality in new and unexpected ways.

This piece from LinkedIn's* Jason Miller, “How to Survive a Mid-Career Crisis in Marketing,” is a stellar example. It’s a guide that’s not really about marketing at all; it’s about finding your true voice and pursuing passion. Bonus: Notice that the piece tells a story and shows vulnerability, too.

LinkedIn Quality Content Example

Quality Is Job One

Have you ever said to anyone, “I consumed some quality content the other day?” I sincerely hope not. Instead, you likely said, “I saw the greatest article,” or “Check out this cool video.” When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise.

That’s the only type of content we should be in the business of making. Not just because it gets better results — it does, but that’s only part of the equation. When we create quality content, that means the work we do is useful, valuable, and meaningful. Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time doing otherwise.

[bctt tweet="When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Create content that connects. Check out these 10 powerful lessons in resonance from some of the industry's top marketing minds.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Google’s New Ad Tools, Facebook’s Snoozefest, and LinkedIn’s QR Code Refresh

Fri, 13 Jul 2018 10:30:18 +0000

Google leans more on algorithms for ads as critics highlight risks Google has unveiled a slew of new ad-buying tools that incorporate machine learning, and expanded availability of a utility for running the best text-based search result ads. What will the new ad tools announced Tuesday offer for digital marketers? Reuters Facebook Adds Keyword ‘Snooze’ [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Google’s New Ad Tools, Facebook’s Snoozefest, and LinkedIn’s QR Code Refresh appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

CMWorld Interview: Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy Shares How Story First Marketing Drives Success

Wed, 11 Jul 2018 10:30:21 +0000

While digging through data and market research, it can be easy to get lost in the numbers. But when assessing these insights, what really matters is the stories they tell. This is a key point of emphasis for Gartner, and specifically its Smarter with Gartner content platform, which adds context and substance to trends surfaced [...]

The post CMWorld Interview: Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy Shares How Story First Marketing Drives Success appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

The Power of Social Media Polls: The Drill-Down on 3 Platforms + 5 General Best Practices

Mon, 09 Jul 2018 10:31:29 +0000

The Power of Social Media Polls for Marketing

The Power of Social Media Polls for Marketing

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to 2007.

The world was a different place. Rihanna’s “Umbrella” (ella, ella) dominated the Billboard Charts. Scorsese’s masterpiece The Departed won Best Picture. Facebook was only a year removed from opening its membership to the general public, and Twitter was a fledgling startup, still looking to gain traction.

But even then, online polls were already emerging as an intriguing tool for digital marketers. On this blog, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden penned a post about the relatively nascent tactic, which could be utilized through a modest WordPress plugin.

“If you want to know what your users are thinking,” Lee wrote. “Just ask them.”

It’s a simple premise, and one that hasn’t changed over the past decade, although the tools at our disposal have evolved considerably. Today, audience polls are integrated features on most major social media networks.

As marketers seek new ways to drive engagement and gather data, the allure of social media polls is obvious.

Let’s take a look at how polls work on each platform, what kind of value they can provide, and how to get the most out of them.

The Polling Details

Twitter Polls

Users on Twitter could informally run polls in the platform’s early days — by manually tracking responses, hashtags, or retweets — but the official Twitter polls feature was launched in 2015. This made it easy to create sleek, interactive, customized polls with two (and later up to four) options.

Lee frequently runs polls like this one on Twitter to gauge the opinions of his followers on various subjects:

Lee Odden Poll Example

What Makes Twitter Polls Engaging

Staying in line with the overall appeal of Twitter, polls are extremely easy to participate in — one quick click of the mouse or tap of the mobile screen.

How to Get Twitter Polls Right

Knowing that the platform is built around quick-scrolling and bite-sized content, you’ll want to to ensure these polls are light on text, and eye-catching. Maybe include a couple of emojis, like HootSuite does here:

Hootsuite Poll Example

Instagram Polls

In 2017, Instagram rolled out its own polling convention, which became a part of its Stories feature. Instagram polls are added in the form of interactive stickers with two options that you can drag-and-drop on visual content you’ve created.

As is the nature of the platform, polls will usually pertain to the content of the post in question. (“Which color shirt do you like better?” or – in the example below via the company’s official announcement post – “Which donut should I eat?”)

Example of Instagram Stories Poll

(*Extremely Homer Simpson voice* Mmm, donuts…)

What Makes Instagram Polls Engaging

This is an excellent avenue for quickly gathering feedback around something people can see right in front of them. And you’ll have many options for making them stand out aesthetically.

How to Get Instagram Polls Right

If you have a sizable and engaged Instagram following, you could enlist your audience to help guide a decision (a la M&Ms). Customers might be more attached to what you’re doing if they feel like they played even a small part in directing it.

You may also try using polls for more general topics or market research – Instagram does have an enormous and active user base, after all – but the way it’s set up doesn’t lend itself to such applications as well as the other platforms mentioned here.

Facebook Polls

Very shortly after polls were introduced for Instagram last year, parent company Facebook released its own version for members and page administrators. Like Instagram, it only offers two response fields (presently), but does have some nice features like the ability to include images and gifs. Businesses might consider trying out more robust third-party apps Polls for Pages.

Example of Facebook Polls

What Makes Facebook Polls Engaging

Driving engagement on Facebook, as a publisher, has become very challenging. You likely know this already. Polls can be helpful in this regard.

A study by BuzzSumo found that questions rank as the most engaging types of posts on Facebook. Partially because of this, Neil Patel has argued that “a well-designed Facebook poll is one of the most powerful Facebook marketing tools today’s social media marketers have available to them.”

How to Get Facebook Polls Right

You’re competing with content from friends and family members in highly personalized feeds, so you’ll want a poll that stands out and bears considerable relevance to your audience. Take advantage of the ability to use images or moving graphics for voting options.

While polls can be more impactful than a standard text-based update, your organic reach will still be somewhat limited by Facebook’s suppressive algorithm unless you really catch some viral traction or pay to boost the post.

What About Other Platforms?

As of now, these are the only three social networks with built-in polls. LinkedIn used to have a Group polls feature, but retired it in 2014 (much to the chagrin of B2B marketers). Snapchat and Pinterest have never offered polls.

Best Practices for Social Media Polls

In the sections above we mentioned some distinctions and pointers specific to each platform. But at a higher level, here are a few recommendations for marketers looking to use social media polls.

#1 - Pique Your Audience’s Interest

One thing I really like about the poll features on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is the immediate incentive factor for participants. Voting on a poll allows you to instantly see real-time results. I know there have been plenty of times where I’ve come across one on my feed and clicked because I was very curious to see what the general consensus was.

Keep this irresistibility factor in mind as you create poll questions and response options.

#2 - Use Polls as a Springboard for Content

Let’s be honest: this isn’t exactly a scientific survey method, and the data obtained through social media polls isn’t going to be substantial enough to draw serious conclusions. However, you can still leverage the results in interesting ways.

In May, Search Engine Journal ran the following Twitter poll:

SEJ Poll Example

Then, they used the results (and responses) for an article on the topic. It was, transparently, just a sampling of feedback from random followers, but still made for a good read. Using the poll question as the post title also happens to be a savvy SEO move in this case, since it’s exactly the query a business owner might type into Google.

You can also simply poll your audience to ask earnestly what kind of content they want from you, as Slack* did here:

Slack Poll Example

#3 - Choose a Fitting Platform for Each Poll

Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. Make sure your polls align with them. Instagram and Facebook will only work for A/B type questions, which can be limiting. Twitter provides more of a multi-choice format but you can’t incorporate images or video into the voting options. And of course, each channel has its own distinct audience profile.   

#4 - Think Strategically

In many cases, the objective for a running a poll will simply be to attract attention and boost engagement. Nothing wrong with that. But you can also think bigger and tie it to other goals. For example, you could run a Facebook poll with a trivia question, prompting voters to visit your website and find the answer.

Think big and, when possible, tie your poll to a larger strategy.

#5 - Follow Up on Results

Granted, it doesn’t take a ton of effort to vote in a social media poll, but users are still taking an action and you should make it worth their while in some way. One method is to create content around the tabulations, as mentioned earlier.

But even following up with later posts remarking on the results, or inviting further thoughts, will show that it you’re not just tossing out throwaway questions for the heck of it. It will signal that you’re genuinely engaged with what your audience has to say and that you want to hear more.

What’s Your Poll Position?

Now that you know a little more about social media polls and how they work on each platform, where do you stand? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Let us know below (and, hey, we’d love it if you gave us a follow on Twitter while you’re at it).

TopRank Marketing Social Poll

Interested in finding other ways to increase your social media reach and engagement? Check out these recent posts from our blog:

Disclosure: Slack is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post The Power of Social Media Polls: The Drill-Down on 3 Platforms + 5 General Best Practices appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Google’s Marketing Platform Partners, LinkedIn’s Translations, & Facebook’s Instant Articles Subscription Results

Fri, 06 Jul 2018 10:30:06 +0000

LinkedIn Adds Translation Services In Over 60 Languages

[one-sixth-first][/one-sixth-first][one-sixth][/one-sixth][one-sixth][/one-sixth][one-sixth][/one-sixth][one-sixth][/one-sixth][one-sixth][/one-sixth]

LinkedIn Adds Translation Services In Over 60 Languages

Google announces Google Marketing Platform Partners program
Google has been busy consolidating and refreshing its marketing partner offerings, with individuals, companies, and sales partners on its new approved-training list, combining Google Analytics Certified Partners and DoubleClick Certified Marketing Partners. MarTech Today

[embed]https://youtu.be/la8PrRl7bVw[/embed]

Facebook trials subscription tool to appease Instant Article publishers
On the heels of Facebook's recent subscription Groups announcement, could the news that the social media giant is also testing subscription-based Instant Article signal a shift that digital marketers will need to adjust to? The Drum

Forrester issues first Wave report on Experience Optimization
"The Forrester Wave: Experience Optimization Platforms" report examining the continued consolidation of online testing, behavioral targeting, and recommendation practices in experience optimization, with Adobe garnering top marks. MarTech Today

Facebook starts showing all ads a Page is running
Facebook has introduced a new Info & Ads dashboard that shows all ads run including those on Instagram, Messenger, and partner networks, a move that may simplify certain tasks for some digital marketers. Marketing Land

Unveiling Translations in the LinkedIn Feed: Keep in Touch with Your Global Community
LinkedIn's new “See Translation” feature brings post translation in 60 languages to the service's users, offering interesting audience reach expansion to digital marketers. LinkedIn (client)

Instagram Rolls Out Video Chat, New Camera Effects And Topic Channels
Instagram has released several new features including video messaging, new camera effects, and topic channels on Explore, for users of its Android and iOS apps. How can digital marketers best use the new features? Forbes

July 6, 2018 Artificial Intelligence Statistics Image

Dove introduces a mark indicating its ad images are free of digital manipulation
Unilever's Dove has put out a branding mark meant to signify that an advertising image is free of digital manipulation. Will the move represent a shift the use of such marks in the greater digital marketing universe? AdAge

B2B marketers are ‘generally unclear’ of what AI means, according to research
With 32% of marketers not confident in their knowledge of AI, and 54% only somewhat confident, greater understanding could be a worthwhile goal among B2B marketers. The Drum

Why publishers are ditching viral clips for long-form video series
Some publishers have found greater success with video series than with traditional clips aiming solely for viral popularity. What could a shift to episodic video publishing mean for marketers? Axios

Teens, YouTube and the rise of the micro-influencers
70% of teen YouTube audiences are more likely to be influenced by YouTubers, recent survey data shows. How can savvy marketers utilize these findings in campaigns targeting teens? The Drum

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Tom Fishburne Brand Positioning Cartoon

A lighthearted look at brand positioning, by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

1990, meet 2018: How far does 20MHz of Macintosh IIsi power go today? — Ars Technica

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Pubcon Pro 2018 Featured Speaker: Lee Odden — Pubcon
  • Lee Odden — IDMA 2018: Celebrating the best in the industry — Exchange4Media
  • Lee Odden — It takes a Village — Digital Doughnut
  • TopRank Blog — My 10 Biggest Mistakes in 10 Years as an Entrepreneur — Medium

What are your top content marketing news items this week?

Thank you for joining us, and we hope you'll return next week for another round-up of the latest digital marketing news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don't miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

The post Digital Marketing News: Google’s Marketing Platform Partners, LinkedIn’s Translations, & Facebook’s Instant Articles Subscription Results appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Becoming a Better Marketer by Embracing Your Passions Outside the Office

Wed, 04 Jul 2018 10:33:57 +0000

How Our After-Hours Passions Elevate Us as Marketers

How Our After-Hours Passions Elevate Us as Marketers

In the first post I ever wrote for the TopRank Marketing Blog, I reflected on the marketing lessons I’d picked up through my baseball blogging hobby. Helping build an online community at Twins Daily has instilled many important fundamentals that, I feel, make me better at my day job.

I’m always fascinated by this interplay. We spend so much of our time each week alongside our coworkers, but are often unaware of the interests and side hustles that drive them outside of the office. Those very passions can be such integral parts of who we are and how we operate.

More recently, this has been a topic of focus for our friends at LinkedIn*. In April, Jason Miller wrote a piece about following your dreams while staying committed to your career, and in June, Sean Callahan profiled a LinkedIn marketer who moonlights as a DJ.

The subject of Sean’s piece was Ish Verduzco (aka DJ Ishh), who says that spinning the turntables on weekends has helped him learn how to get in tune with online audiences as a social media marketer. Incidentally, Jason and Sean themselves are great examples of this dynamic — Jason is a rock-and-roll photographer whose creativity and energy infuse the content he produces, while Sean is the author of several children’s books with a knack for conveying information clearly and understandably.

These posts from LinkedIn inspired me to learn more about my own colleagues here at the TopRank Marketing office, and how their outside hobbies or passions help shape them professionally. So I asked around:

What activities occupy your time when you’re not at the office, and how do they help make you a more clever, curious, and courageous marketer?

Hopefully their answers will inspire other marketers to fully embrace their own passions, and think about ways in which their personal pursuits can fuel their professional success — or vice versa.

The After-Hours Passions that Elevate Our Team Members' Marketing Skills

Improving Through Improv

Josh NiteJosh Nite, Senior Content Marketing Manager

His jokes and puns are cherished staples during the workday, and Josh puts his sharp wit to good use after it ends by participating in improv shows and competitions. He believes that these comedy performances make him a better marketer for two primary reasons.

“First, they force me to carefully consider words, how they have an effect on people, how powerful they can be. Second, they're performed live in front of an audience, so I can see whether or not I'm making a connection. It really helps me have a mental image of the reader in mind when I'm writing content.”

Making a Habit of Being Helpful

Debbie Friez, Influencer Marketing Strategist

Debbie is very active at her church, Spirit Garage, where she applies her professional skills to help out with marketing functions.

“I serve on the marketing committee, so that has me looking for new ideas,” she says. “I subscribe to a few newsletters and I’m active in Social Media Shepherds, a group of church communicators.”

In turn, Debbie’s community work through church and other endeavors — she picks up garbage at local parks on Earth Day, participates in a book club, and serves cotton candy during street festivals, for example — helps her develop rock-solid relationships with influencers and clients.

Finding Focus on the Fairway

Anne Leuman, Content Strategist

As someone who regularly covers SEO-related topics on the TopRank Marketing Blog, Anne understands the importance of links (she recently wrote about examples of link-worthy content). And on the weekend, she likes to unwind by hitting the links.

“My No. 1 hobby outside of work is golf,” Anne says. “Golf, believe it or not, requires a great amount of imagination. If you can see a shot, you can make the shot. Playing the sport allows me to hone my imagination skills, leading to more creativity and well-thought-out content strategy.”

She also adds that the sport’s individualistic nature helps her focus on self-improvement. Bolstering your score on the golf course is all about looking inward and making the right personal tweaks, which is also true of content creation.

“Similar to working on my golf game,” she starts. “I'll take lessons, ask for advice, or spend hours writing each day to ensure I'm above par.”  

Managing to Make a Difference

Elizabeth Williams, Account Manager

As a mother raising two young children of mixed race, Elizabeth feels strongly about doing her part to create a more accepting and fair environment for individuals of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

“As a marketer sometimes it’s hard to see that direct impact on ‘making a the world a better place’ in your day-to-day. But, it’s something I crave. Having that reason behind what we do inspires us to keep going when we're feeling frustrated or overloaded.”

She continues: “My ‘making the world a better place’ is working toward MLK's dream — for a world where people will not be judged by the color of their skin. In my family, we experience racism nearly every time we're in public, whether it’s big or small.”

And so she commits much of her energy outside of work to advocating for the cause of social justice. A marketer’s understanding of how to engage and influence proves helpful in this regard.

“I love applying my knowledge of digital marketing to my activist communications,” she says.

Making Creativity is the Name of the Game

Patrick Pineda, Motion Designer

If you watched any of the awesome 8-bit videos he whipped up for our Content Marketing Combos series, you might peg Patrick as an avid video game enthusiast. But his real passion is for tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and World of Darkness.

Earlier this year, he collaborated with Anne to create a blog post around content marketing lessons from the realm of D&D, such as the value of originality, the pitfalls of corralling an audience, and the importance of customization — something that is incredibly important and top-of-mind for marketers today.

“The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick noted.

The Rabid Researcher

Lane EllisLane Ellis, Social & Content Marketing Manager

Working remotely from northern Minnesota, Lane conducts plenty of helpful research for the team at TopRank Marketing, and his proclivities in this area are deeply ingrained.

“Since 1994 I've been doing family history research, including several years as one of Duluth's few professional genealogists, which has taught me many research-related lessons that I try to apply to my social media and marketing career,” he explains.

As someone who was using the internet for research before many of us were using it at all, he’s very adept at quickly finding what he’s looking for.

Harnessing Healthy Results Like a Boss

Lee OddenLee Odden, CEO

Employees at TopRank Marketing are accustomed to the occasional week or two where Lee isn’t in the office, given the amount of traveling he does for speaking engagements around the world, but recently we’ve noticed that we’re seeing less of him — literally. The agency cofounder has been on a major health kick over the past several months, and the impact has been visibly evident in his physique.

“I've found diet, cardio and other exercise have direct correlations to goal-setting, discipline, quality of effort, time management, and optimization of marketing performance,” Lee explains.

In particular, he’s sees parallels in the ways success is measured for fitness and marketing. In neither case should vanity be the name of the game.

“I found it interesting not to focus on weight loss, but clothing size, energy level, and quality of life improvements since those are the real goals,” he says. “I think there are lessons there as a marketer in measuring performance. Views, shares and impressions are like sugary candy metrics that give spikes of endorphins, but don't really reflect the real goals of leads, deals, and revenue.”

What Drives You?

At TopRank Marketing, we’re lucky to have a team with diverse interests and hobbies. Working with these folks on a daily basis, it’s easy to see they are keeping their marketing skills sharp through after-hours activities, even if that’s not necessarily the inherent rationale.

Meanwhile, staying busy and focused on other things outside of work helps us stay refreshed and rejuvenated once we arrive each morning. So, I ask you, too: What passions outside of work make you better at your job?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Becoming a Better Marketer by Embracing Your Passions Outside the Office appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

How to Rally Around ROI & Prioritize Your Digital Marketing Efforts in the Face of Budget Cuts

Mon, 02 Jul 2018 10:17:37 +0000

Prioritizing After Marketing Budget Cuts

Prioritizing After Marketing Budget Cuts

Ask any marketer if they’ve ever had to contend with the shrinking or deep cutting of their budgets, odds are you’ll get a deep sigh and a “more than once” response.

Organizations are always looking for efficiencies and ways to tighten their financial belt, and marketing departments are among the first to be placed on the chopping block because it all comes down to ROI—something many modern marketers find hard to prove

In fact, according to a recent report from Demand Gen Report and BrightFunnel, 58% of B2B organizations surveyed said their current ability to measure and analyze marketing performance “needs improvement” or worse.

So, if you’re staring down a budget reduction, don’t panic. This is the time to evaluate and prioritize your efforts so you can revamp your integrated digital marketing strategy to include a tactical mix that will not only refocus your strategy to reach your objectives, but also improve how you measure and achieve ROI.

[bctt tweet="If you’re staring down a #marketing budget reduction, don’t panic. This is the time evaluate, prioritize, and focus. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Here are four key actions you’ll want to take:

#1 - Evaluate your existing data against your goals.

While it may seem obvious, the first step is to evaluate how you’re performing against your objectives; what’s working and what’s not. However, you can’t rely solely on high-level or vanity metrics like overall traffic. In order to really dig into what’s working, you need to map each of your tactics and/or channels to closed business—and total revenue numbers if you can.

Not only will this help you focus on where to revamp and hone your strategy, but also put you in a better position to consistently measure as you move forward. So, when the next budget cut comes along, you can better prove the ROI of your marketing activities and make a stronger case for keeping your budget.

#2 - Narrow your targeting.

Every marketer knows that understanding your audience is key to developing and executing a strategy with impact. But audience characteristics, preferences, and habits—as well as the market you operate within—can change overtime. As a result, you may be wasting precious marketing dollars on the “wrong” people. So, it’s time to redefine and zero-in on who your ideal customer or buyer is and who are most likely to convert.

With the budget and resources you do have, it may be worth investing time and money in a survey or analysis of your existing client or prospects to better understand their preferences and pain points.

This will not only give you a clearer picture of what channels or tactics are working—but which may have the most potential based on who your customer is, where they’re interacting with your brand or other brands, what they’re interested in, and what moves them to a conversation.

[bctt tweet="If you're facing #marketing budget cuts, it may be worth using the resources you do have to analyze your customers and prospects to hone in on their needs, preferences, and paint points. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#3 - Place safe bets if your data is limited.

Effective measurement is a problem that’s plagued marketers for years. As a result, you may not have all the data to inform your decision making. In this case, we’d suggest making some “safe marketing bets” based on tried-and-true tactics.

For example, email marketing. Email marketing is perhaps the oldest digital marketing tactic around, but still one of the most effective. Not only does it deliver helpful information to your clients and prospects, when segmented and constructed correctly, it helps nurture them toward the sale. In fact, three-quarters of companies say email offers “good” or “excellent” ROI.

In addition, SEO and content marketing are consistently rated by marketers as top channels with the best ROI.

That said, be careful not to stake your success on simply following what’s “always” worked. The safe bets you place should be a temporary strategic solution as you work to get better measurement and data practices in place so you can continuously optimize your strategy.

#4 - Invest in efficiency.

Efficiency isn't about doing more in less time, but rather making the most of your time by doing the right things. As the old saying goes: Work smarter, not harder. From our perspective, there’s three core investments to consider:

1. Technology

Whether you want to optimize your workflow or automate time-consuming processes, investing in the right technology for your needs can make a major positive impact on efficiency.

2. Training

Your marketing spend is likely not the only item that took a hit. You may have also needed to cut internal resources. As a result, investing in training for the team you do have is a good play—whether you want someone to expand their skill set or level up his or her existing skills—to help your team work more efficiently and ultimately drive more ROI with less.

3. An agency partnership

Oftentimes, partnering with an agency can help you stretch your budget for maximum ROI. Rather than solely relying on your in-house team for expertise, execution, and strategy—an agency can be a robust extension. You get access to an entire team of digital marketing experts, made up of individuals with a range of skill sets—and often at a lower cost than having the equivalent depth of knowledge as internal hires.

[bctt tweet="Efficiency isn't about doing more in less time, but rather making the most of your time by doing the right things. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Focus on the Opportunity, Not the Loss

Budget cuts are no fun. But they’re not the end of the world. After all, we marketers can be scrappy—and we live to innovate.

So, use recent or near future cuts to redefine your marketing strategy from both a tactical and measurement standpoint, and work to put better measurement in place. Hopefully, this will not only help you avoid bumps in momentum as you deal with less financial resources, but also help you get better ROI data so you can defend against future cuts.  

How can you prove the value of your content marketing efforts to your CMO? Check out our three steps to proving content marketing ROI.

The post How to Rally Around ROI & Prioritize Your Digital Marketing Efforts in the Face of Budget Cuts appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Facebook’s Subscription Groups & Brand Collabs Manager, New URL Tools at Google, & Employee Advocacy Study

Fri, 29 Jun 2018 10:30:33 +0000

Facebook tests ‘subscription Groups’ that charge for exclusive content Facebook has begun testing subscription-based Groups among a select array of users, which now allow Group managers to charge monthly for exclusive content, and which will open up new possibilities to digital marketers when rolled out to all users. TechCrunch Google Search Console URL Inspector Tool [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Facebook’s Subscription Groups & Brand Collabs Manager, New URL Tools at Google, & Employee Advocacy Study appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

CMWorld Interview: Path to 1M Monthly Readers Has No Shortcuts, Says J.P. Medved

Wed, 27 Jun 2018 10:30:31 +0000

In her introduction to The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing, Content Marketing Institute’s Cathy McPhillips draws several commonalities between content marketing and video games: the interactivity, the trial-and-error learnings, the camradery. But, while many marketers have their own personal “cheat codes” that help them gain an edge, there are no true hacks in content. Certain [...]

The post CMWorld Interview: Path to 1M Monthly Readers Has No Shortcuts, Says J.P. Medved appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

5 Powerful Types (And Examples) of Link-Worthy Content

Mon, 25 Jun 2018 10:28:18 +0000

How to Create Link-Worthy Content

How to Create Link-Worthy Content

Since the inception of the search engine, marketers have spent an obscene amount of time optimizing their content and strategy for search. And while the old days of keyword stuffing and other black-hat SEO tactics are behind (most marketers), there's two constants that remain the same for driving organic search results: The importance of good content and getting credible links to that good content.

In fact, Google’s former Search Quality Senior Strategist and current Partner Development Manager, Andre Lippattsev, made it official in a recent interview stating that content and backlinks were the top two ranking factors in Google’s elusive algorithm.

As a result, there’s little doubt that we marketers must create something irresistible for searchers and search engines if we want to score good results.

via GIPHY

To help you create link-worthy content that has the potential to generate credible referrals and backlinks, and give organic visibility a boost, here are five types of content worthy of consideration.

#1 - Original Research

Marketers are always looking for credible facts, statistics, and insights to not only understand more about their industry and keep up on trends, but also bolster their own content. As a result, original research can be an incredibly powerful and link-attracting piece of content.

For example, the Content Marketing Institute’s State of B2B Content Marketing Annual Report is a something we often reference and link to in our own blog posts.

CMI's 2018 B2B Content Marketing Report

With statistics that highlight common content marketing trends, patterns, and pain points for B2B marketers, their report helps us learn more about our industry, but also reinforce our some of our own marketing philosophies and present the facts. As a result, CMI’s 2018 report has over 2,000 inbound links.

018 B2B Content Marketing Report Inbound Link Results

Source: Moz Link Explorer

Conducting your own industry research, however, is a time- and resource-intensive task. We know this first-hand from our own experience working with DivvyHQ to create our 2018 Content Planning Survey.

To make sure that you’re putting together accurate, quality research, there are some guidelines you’ll want to follow. For instance, you’ll want to get a large enough sample size for your survey or study to ensure that your findings represent your industry accurately—you don’t want to collect only a few responses from people you know.

In addition, avoid open-ended questions when conducting research as you’ll want to make sure that your findings are quantitative. And as with any content you create, make sure you have a robust amplification plan in place to drive awareness.

In the end, if you’re able to put together fresh, useful research, your audience will find value and insight, and sources who cite your research will be compelled to link to your report, increasing your number of inbound links and (hopefully) rankings.

#2 - Infographics

Original research isn’t the only thing readers and sources rely on to find new, relevant insights that help them tell their stories. As a visual, engaging way to digest a lot of information at once, infographics are another type of linkable asset that resonates with readers and sources alike.

Loaded with quotes, graphics, statistics, and more, infographics house plenty of information without overwhelming your audience. Packed with helpful insights, it’s no wonder that other sites will link to a beautiful infographic over a text-heavy white paper.

For example, GetVoIP, a cloud communications advisory, created an infographic on “How To Get More Energy At Work.” The infographic resulted in 66 inbound links and was also picked up by Entrepreneur.com.

GetVoIP Infographic

If you’ve already done some original research as suggested above, creating an infographic is a great way to promote or get some additional life out of your research report. However, infographics can also be curated from credible sources representing statistics, quotes, and data in new, visual ways.

To create infographics that readers and sources alike will appreciate, look at your existing content for repurposing opportunities. For example, you could take one of your top-performing, stat-packed blog posts and turn it into an infographic for an easy win. Or, find credible sources with data points that support the tips or takeaways you want to share and turn them into fun graphics. And of course, make sure the data and facts included are highly relevant to your target audience, and you have an amplification plan in place.

#3 - Online Tools & Resources

The two previous types of link-worthy content focus heavily on earning links through data. However, data isn’t the only link-worthy type of content. Inbound links are also earned by providing helpful tools and resources to your readers. The more “bookmark-able” resources you can produce, the more links you have the opportunity to capture.

What kind of tools or resources are we talking about?

Check out HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generator as an example below. While there isn’t a lot of visible content on the page, there is a lot of value in the tool itself as it can help solve a big pain point among their target audience: writer’s block.

HubSpot Ideas Generator Tool

And the results of providing something so useful are substantial with the tool generating over 12,000 inbound links and 200 ranking keywords.

Linking Results from HubSpot's Blog Idea Generator Tool

Source: Moz Link Explorer

Besides an idea generator, you could also create a calculator, calendar, or even just a listicle of helpful tools and resources. As an example, our own blog post featuring over 100 Search Engine Marketing Resources is one of our most linked-to pages with 3,114 inbound links.

#4 - Rankings

Rankings are also helpful, link-worthy types of content. People want to know who the best people are to follow on LinkedIn, what tools are best for employee advocacy, or what the top tactics are for generating leads. And creating a ranking is one of the ways you can offer those recommendations.

Content that shares valuable, must-know information is what earns the most links, and rankings definitely tick that box. Plus, the individuals or brands featured on your list are also likely to share and link to your ranking in order to promote their accomplishment. In fact, Great Place to Work published their annual list of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For and received over 350 inbound links in just under six months.

Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For 2018

When creating your own rankings, make sure you have a set process or methodology. There needs to be a clear rationale behind your choices. This shows your readers and potential link sources how you reached your ranking decisions, adding to the credibility of your list. And again, make sure you have an amplification plan in place before launch.

#5 - Guides & Tutorials

Another type of resource that gets a lot of attention from other sources on the web are guides and tutorials. As the “one-stop shop” for everything you need to know on a given subject or task, guides and tutorials are helpful links for others to add to their content. For example, Blockgeeks, a blockchain training and education platform, created an in-depth guide on Bitcoin containing over 2,800 words.

Bitcoin Tutorial Example

The power page has resulted in over 800 inbound links and 180 ranking keywords for Blockgeeks.

Linking Results From the What Is Bitcoin Guide

Source: Moz Link Explorer

To build those in-depth content opportunities, use tools like SEMrush.com to identify relevant variations of a keyword you would like to target. For example, if you want to cover the topic “document management,” the Keyword Magic Tool will give you a list of all of the related long-tail and question keyword variations to tackle in your guide like “document management software,” “what is document management,” “how does document management work,” and “why document management is important.”

Those keyword variations should then serve as the outline for your guide, ensuring that you cover all of the relevant questions and topics your audience and sources might like to learn about. And while it’s already been said in this piece, I’ll say it again: make sure you have an amplification plan beyond SEO to drive awareness, engagement, and clicks.

Give Them Something to “Link About”

Searchers and search engines are on the hunt for quality, insightful content to answer questions, bolster their research, and share with their audiences. By strategically creating guides, resources, research reports, or infographics, you can serve up useful, insightful, and link-worthy content that leaves them thinking:

via GIPHY

Just remember to keep quality and usefulness top of mind when creating your content. As our own CEO, Lee Odden, says:

No matter how many tactics you find here and elsewhere, there simply is no substitute for creating content that others may find useful.

[bctt tweet="No matter how many tactics you find here and elsewhere, there simply is no substitute for creating content that others may find useful. - @leeodden" username="toprank"]

Earning backlinks is one of the most important factors when it comes to improving your organic search rankings. Have a highly competitive word you want to rank for? Check out our guide on how to rank for competitive keywords.

The post 5 Powerful Types (And Examples) of Link-Worthy Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Instagram Adds Hour-Long Videos With IGTV, Weeding Out Influencers Who Buy Followers, & Mobile’s Vast Growth

Fri, 22 Jun 2018 10:30:24 +0000

With IGTV, Instagram Takes Aim at YouTube Instagram has added the ability to upload videos up to an hour long, with the launch of its new IGTV feature, offering digital marketers a much bigger video canvas. Instagram also announced that it has broken through the one billion user barrier. Wired Unilever stops working with digital [...]

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CMWorld Interview: Thinking Inside the (Answer) Box with Courtney Cox

Thu, 21 Jun 2018 10:30:18 +0000

In a digital marketing career that has spanned numerous roles, often with a heavy focus on SEO, Courtney Cox has watched plenty of trends come and go. But like many of us, she’s convinced that answer boxes (or “featured snippets,” or “position zero,” as you will) hold the key to search success going forward. Not [...]

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Creating Content Connections: 10 Lessons in Resonance from Content Marketing Pros

Wed, 20 Jun 2018 10:21:43 +0000

Lessons in Content Marketing

Lessons in Content Marketing

Spot on.

via GIPHY

Exactly.

via GIPHY

Truth.

via GIPHY

Accurate.

via GIPHY

Yaaaaaaaaaas!

via GIPHY

It’s hard to contain the excited, “uh huh” head nodding when you read, watch, or listen to a piece of content that really hits home … strikes the right chord … illuminates something deep inside your soul.

And for us marketers, these moments should remind us of an important digital marketing truth:

Creating content that resonates is key to building rapport, credibility, and trust with our audience, and, ultimately, driving marketing results.

When a piece of content connects with a customer or buyer, it makes them feel like you get it, that you understand their point of view or struggle—and that you may be worth paying attention to.

In my time at TopRank Marketing, I’ve had the pleasure of reading, watching, listening, and talking to some of our industry’s brightest minds as they share insights or tips that really resonated with me as a content writer and strategist—teaching me and reminding me of the importance of resonance in the content we create and how we share it with our audience.

Below I share some of those lessons that you can hopefully use to create more meaningful connections across channels with your content.

#1 - Comedy creates some of the most intimate connections.

Tim Washer of CiscoAs part of our Behind the Marketing Curtain series, I was lucky enough to speak with Tim Washer, a comedy and marketing genius as well as Cisco’s Creative Director of SP Marketing.

As he shared his story and his perspective on comedy in marketing, his lesson in resonance was quite simple: Comedy demonstrates empathy—and empathy creates connection.

Let’s face it, a lot of true comedy comes from pain. So, when we can come out and touch on a customer pain point, we show them that we understand their point of view. When we do something that is self-deprecating, when we look vulnerable, and when we let our guard down a little bit that’s when we make a connection.

These days, there’s so little content out there that truly connects with people. … So much of marketing is telling people how great we are. But with comedy—especially in the form of video—we can show them that we’re not always going to tell you how great we are. And if you can make someone laugh, that is the most intimate connection you can make.

Marketers need to let their guard down if we want our customers and buyers to do the same—and you can do this “on brand.” Good comedy is certainly an art; you don’t just throw “something funny” at your audience. Use your audience and their pain points as your guide to thoughtfully create content that will connect and make them giggle.

Read my full interview with Tim.

Follow Tim on Twitter or LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet="If you can make someone laugh, that is the most intimate connection you can make. - @timwasher #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - If you want to connect with your audience, be dedicated to helping them learn.

Mina SeetharamanA common goal for many brands want to build thought leadership by creating authoritative, credible content. But pushing your amazing product or service is not how you get there, as Mina Seetharaman, Executive Vice President and Global Managing Director of Content and Marketing Solutions for The Economist Group, told us in our interactive, supercharge your digital marketing infographic.

Thought leadership is about solving, not selling. People wake up thinking about their problems, not your product. In our research, Thought Leadership Disrupted, only 28% of marketers cited helping their audience become more knowledgeable as a primary objective. True thought leaders don’t push product, they understand their audience and share ideas to help them tackle issues.

People are constantly searching for answers to their burning questions and resources that will help them learn and find ways to solve their problems. When you make it a point to be the best answer for their inquiry, you have the opportunity to make a real impact.

Find more tips for supercharging your digital marketing.

Follow Mina on Twitter or LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet="True thought leaders don’t push product, they understand their audience and share ideas to help them tackle issues. - @minaseeth #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#3 - Less is often more.

2017 marked my first trip to one of the industry’s biggest events: Content Marketing World.

While there, I attended the incomparable Ann Handley’s session. There she revealed five “radiant” writing secrets inspired by the classic novel Charlotte’s Web.

The MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer’s session was designed to help content writers become more thoughtful in how they approach content and make an impact on their audience. Ann challenged us all to:

Think of how Charlotte was able to save a life with just [a few] words. How can we use our words more intentionally? How can we make a difference?

It’s certainly no secret that we’re living in a world of content abundance. But if we want to create content that really resonates and makes our audience feel something, we need to remember that less is often more.

Read more from Ann’s session.

Follow Ann on Twitter or LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet="Less is more in writing. How can we use our words more intentionally? How can we make a difference? - @annhandley @MarketingProfs #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#4 - When it comes to social content, don’t let your personal brand get in the way of your brand’s message.

Beverly Jackson Once again, our Behind the Marketing Curtain series gave me the honor of speaking with social, content, and customer experience wiz Beverly Jackson, now Vice President of Social Portfolio Strategy for MGM Resorts International.

When asked about a bad social media habit marketers needed to drop, her immediate response was: Too much self-promotion that gets in the way of a brand’s story:

The great thing about social media is that it allows brands to create one-on-one relationships with their customers and prospects—not the marketers. And the bottom line is: marketers should never get in the way of that relationship.

Your brand needs to own the relationship with the audience if you want to make an impact. Of course, you should do what you can do evangelize your brand, but don’t confuse your audience by using your brand and its content to propel your profile. It can backfire.

Read my full interview with Beverly.

Follow Beverly on Twitter or LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet="#SocialMedia allows brands to create one-on-one relationships with their customers and prospects. Marketers should never get in the way of that.  - @bevjack #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#5 - Don’t settle for crappy content—your audience (and search engines) certainly won’t.

Josh NiteIn the fall of 2017, my talented colleague Joshua Nite made his speaking debut at a local bloggers’ event. During his presentation, he declared that it was time to flip the script on how we craft content.

With search engines getting smarter and our audience being more self-directed in research than ever, Joshua said making the switch from SEO-driven content to content-driven SEO is the key to resonating with both readers and robots.

There’s never been a better opportunity to write great content that people actually want to read and that will get seen in search results. So, go forth and be awesome. And please, please—don’t settle for writing crappy content.

While seasoned marketers may say “duh” to this little reminder, I’d wager we all have room for improvement here. So here it is: We can’t settle. We need to innovate. We need to be thoughtful. And above all, we need to create content that our audience will actually enjoy reading.

Read more from Josh’s presentation.

Follow Josh on Twitter or LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet="Go forth and be awesome. But please, please—don’t settle for writing crappy content. - @NiteWrites #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#6 - Your audience is already telling you how to connect with them.

Another pro I had the pleasure of interviewing for the Behind the Marketing Curtain series was author, customer experience and social media expert, and marketing veteran Dan Gingiss, now the Vice President, Strategic Group for Persado.

While much of our conversation focused on social customer care, Dan said something simple—and perhaps even obvious—but it’s a good lesson nonetheless:

Always be listening. People will generally tell you everything you need to know about your business—what’s working, what needs fixing, and what could be your next big hit. Marketers need to embrace the feedback, including compliments, questions, and complaints.

From social media comments to customer surveys to inquiries or sales calls, brand or company has access to direct feedback from their ideal customers or buyers. They’re giving you an opening to make a connection. Use it to create content that answers their burning questions, quells their top concerns, or empathizes in a way that sparks agreement and head nodding.

Read my full interview with Dan.

Follow Dan on Twitter or LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet="Always be listening. People will generally tell you everything you need to know about your business. - @dgingiss #LessonsInResonance #SociaMedia" username="toprank"]

#7 - “Story” is everything—and influencers can be compelling characters.

Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAPMy most recent interview introduced me to Ursula Ringham, SAP’s Head of Global Influencer Marketing. As we chatted, a constant reference point was what she called her “love of story”—something that’s guided her throughout her career and something all marketers need to reinvest in. And influencers can help.

In marketing, story is everything. But in order to tell a compelling story, you have to be immersed. Bring empathy and understanding, bring purpose, and bring insight—the latter of which influencers can certainly help with.

At a time when content is absolutely everywhere—and consumer trust is diminishing—marketers and brands need to be in the business of storytelling if you  want your content to resonate, inspire, and build trustful connections with our audience. You need to commit. You need to be thoughtful. And you need to consider who (e.g. internal or external thought leaders, current customers, prospects, employees) can help you tell that story.

Read my full interview with Ursula.

Follow Ursula on Twitter or LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet="In marketing, story is everything. But in order to tell a compelling story, you have to be immersed. - @ursularingham" username="toprank"]

#8 - Invite your audience to be part of the content creation process.

Dave CharestWhen most modern marketers think of content co-creation, they likely think of partnering with industry thought leaders. Of course, this is a method we at TopRank Marketing absolutely believe in.

But one co-creation opportunity marketers may not take advantage of, is partnering with your audience, as Dave Charest, Director of Content Marketing for Constant Contact, shared in Content Marketing Institute and TopRank Marketing’s “The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing” eBook.

When it comes to content creation, far too often content is created in a meeting room with a bunch of marketers without any thought for the day-to-day reality of the person consuming it. BIG mistake.

Level up your approach by creating content in partnership with members of your target audience. By including your audience in the creation process you’ll better understand what you need to create and how you need to create it. You’ll no longer be working in a vacuum and your content will better resonate with those you’re trying to reach.

There may be no better way to ensure a direct connect with your audience than asking them to be apart of your content process. From social media polls and other UGC to spotlight interviews or guest posts, there’s a range of ways you can include your target audience in the content creation process.

Follow Dave on Twitter or LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet="By including your audience in the content creation process you’ll better understand what you need to create and how you need to create it. @DaveCharest #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#9 - Marketing integration is a must to deliver the best answer.

Lee OddenAs a digital marketing industry veteran, perhaps one of TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden’s most famous lines is: “Be the best answer for your audience wherever and whenever they’re searching.”

When you become the best answer, you become sticky for your readers—and integration is key to achieving best-answer status. This quote sums it up well:

With content marketing so popular among brands and content high in demand from customers, why are many B2B marketers so challenged to stand out and be effective? One reason is that the inherent pressure to produce can result in content that does not resonate. ...

The best content isn’t really that great unless it can be found, consumed, and acted upon by buyers. That is why an effective content marketing program is customer-centric and incorporates data from SEO, insights about format and topics from social media, topical relevance of content from buyer persona research, and awareness of what effect media and influencers can have on buyers’ research and purchasing decisions.

Read more from Lee on the importance of being the best answer in B2B marketing.

Follow Lee on Twitter or LinkedIn.

[bctt tweet="The best content isn’t really that great unless it can be found, consumed, and acted upon by buyers. - @leeodden #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#10 - Resonance is rooted in long-held content marketing best practices.

Joe PulizziNo marketer has been untouched by the teachings of Joe “The Godfather of Content Marketing” Pulizzi. As someone who was relatively green in digital marketing when I joined TopRank Marketing back in 2015, Joe and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI)—along with my in-house team—were incredible resources as I learned the ropes.

One of the first pieces I read featuring Joe’s insights was from a session we covered at Social Media Marketing World back in 2014. His message was simple, but it’s something we all need a little reminding of from time to time:

If we only talk about ourselves, we’ll never reach customers.

Content marketing evolved out of the need to meet our audience where and when our audience is searching—and at whatever point they may be in the buying cycle. And ensuring that we’re answering their questions and educating them—not just pushing our product or saying how great we are—is a basic yet still-relevant best practice we should never lose sight of if we want to connect with our audience.

[bctt tweet="If we only talk about ourselves, we’ll never reach customers. - @JoePulizzi #LessonsInResonance #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Follow Joe on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Go Forth to Create and Resonate

Another incredible marketing mind, Jay Acunzo, recently shared this go-to, “classic content marketing combo” tip. And it pretty much sums everything up:

Prioritize resonance over reach, and the latter (everything else you seek do do as a marketer) gets far easier.

Audiences want to connect with brands and companies that “get it.” So, give your audience great content. Give them guidance. Give them insight. Give them answers. And give them resonance.

Ready to create content that resonates? Take a cue from TopRank Marketing Nick Nelson and Honest Abe. Read our post on how to build trustful connections through storytelling.

Disclosure: SAP and Content Marketing Institute are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post Creating Content Connections: 10 Lessons in Resonance from Content Marketing Pros appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Beyond the Hype Cycle: It’s Time to Redefine Influencer Marketing

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 10:00:16 +0000

It's Time to Redefine Influencer Marketing

It's Time to Redefine Influencer Marketing

Every marketer should consider getting a tattoo of Gartner’s Hype Cycle, as a reminder to keep us from chasing shiny objects.

The Hype Cycle goes like this:

  1. A new hotness emerges. It could be new technology, a new strategy or tactic, some new thing.
  2. There are wild predictions about how the thing will revolutionize the world.
  3. People scramble to get on board with the thing before they even understand it.
  4. The new thing doesn’t measure up to elevated expectations.
  5. People get disillusioned with the thing and decide it’s worthless.
  6. People actually learn how the thing works, get sophisticated in using it.
  7. The thing turns out to be pretty awesome and is used productively.

Marketers are just as susceptible to the hype machine as anyone else is. More so, even. Think of content marketing: We went from “content is king” to “content shock” in just a few years, and we’re just now hitting the plateau of productivity.

Now it’s influencer marketing’s turn to ride the downhill slope to the trough of disillusionment. It’s inevitable. We started with high expectations, a ton of hype, and a lot of investment before people really knew what worked.

Now the backlash is hitting. The latest Sprout Social Index is particularly sobering. Only 46% of marketers are using influencer marketing. Only 19% said they had the budget for an influencer program. And on the consumer side, people say they’re more likely to take a friend’s recommendation on social media than take an influencer’s word for it.

In other words: The party’s over. Now the real work begins. It’s time to redefine influencer marketing, get more sophisticated, and get productive. Here’s how to get out of the trough:

#1 - Redefining Influence

In the B2C world (and even in the B2B realm), influence and celebrity are often treated as synonyms. Whether it’s Rhianna or Matthew McConaughey or Pewdiepie, it’s people who have audiences in the millions. There’s some differentiation for relevancy — this YouTuber does makeup tutorials, that one is a gamer — but it’s mostly a numbers game. It’s paying people with huge followings to throw some attention at your brand.

As Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing for SAP*, told us in a recent interview on social and influencer marketing:

"People often think that influencer marketing is all about celebrities hawking a product. It’s truly not about that—especially in the B2B realm. It’s about highlighting experts who have real experience on the business challenges a brand’s audience faces."

To become more sophisticated, you need to rethink what it means to be influential. Sure, a mega-star with a huge following is great — if they are relevant to your specific target audience and if their participation doesn’t break the bank.

However, you can get amazing results working with influencers like:

  • Thought leaders in the industry with a small but prestigious network
  • Experts with radical new ideas who are poised to become thought leaders
  • Subject matter experts within your own company
  • Prospective customers from influential brands you want to work with
  • Employees who will advocate for your brand given direction and material

That last one is crucial. Inspiring your internal influencers can give your content a massive boost in reach — LinkedIn* estimates that the average employee has a network 10x bigger than the brand’s social reach. Sprout says, in the key findings of their report:

“Social marketers in 2018 see the value in employee advocacy as a cost-effective, scalable alternative to influencer marketing.”

I would say “addition” rather than “alternative,” but it’s definitely an undervalued tactic.

Our experience is that a combination of industry and internal influencers can yield the most effective results. SAP Success Factors incorporated industry influencers, internal subject matter experts, partners and clients on a program that exceeded the lead generation goal by 272% with a 66% conversion rate.

The bottom line is, when evaluating influencers, look beyond their follower count. Their industry reputation, group affiliations, and level of engagement are all indicators influence, too. And don’t forget to include your customers, prospects, and employees in your potential influencer pool.

[bctt tweet="When evaluating influencers, look beyond their follower count. Their industry reputation, group affiliations, & level of engagement are all indicators influence, too. - @NiteWrites #RedefiningInfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Redefining Compensation

The rising cost of influencer marketing is another factor that has led to the trough of disillusionment. The majority of influencer marketing, especially in B2C, has been exclusively transactional. Big brands swept up top-tier influencers, the payments kept getting bigger for smaller results, and eventually the bubble had to burst.

To reach the plateau of productivity, that compensation model must change. At TopRank Marketing, we focus on building relationships with influencers and invite them to co-create with us. While there are instances in which financial compensation is part of the partnership, most often the compensation is the same both for our client and the influencer:

  • A cool, valuable asset to share
  • Cross-promotion to each other’s audiences
  • Boost to thought leadership
  • Access to a community of thought leaders

The relationship model is far more sustainable than a transactional-only approach. Again, if there is an influencer who prefers a transaction, and is of high value to the client, we’re not opposed to financial compensation. But these cases should be the exception, not the norm.

#3 - Redefining Measurement

Proving ROI is a crucial part of making your influencer marketing more sophisticated. Without the ability to show what your influencers have accomplished for the brand, it’s hard to sell management on continued investment.

It all starts with measurable goals and KPIs that hold your influencer marketing to the same standards as every other tactic you use. Tracking performance against those goals is the next step. We all have access to the tools and tech for this kind of measurement. We just need to use them more effectively to show how influencers are effective throughout the entire buyer’s journey.

Right now, marketers tend to focus on the top of funnel metrics, because they’re easy to measure: Social reach, influencer participation, engagements, likes, comments.

You need to get more granular than just those raw engagement numbers. You need to get from engagement to action. When you’re ready to amplify, give each influencer a custom URL to share. Then you can measure which influencers are actually inspiring people to leave social media and check out the asset you’ve created. From there, you can measure how those clicks convert to a lead capture, and track the lead through your pipeline.

[bctt tweet="We all have access to the tools & tech for better measurement of #influencermarketing #ROI. We just need to use them more effectively. - @NiteWrites #RedefiningInfluencerMarketing" username="toprank"]

Redefining Influencer Marketing

It’s time for influencer marketing to graduate from the Hype Cycle and become a trusted part of your integrated marketing strategy. To get to the plateau of productivity, we must discard what doesn’t work, keep what does, and refine our approach for continued improvement.

It starts with reconsidering just what influence means and who has it. Once you find your true influencers, it’s about developing relationships and building communities, rather than ever-more-expensive transactions. Finally, it requires making your measurement as sophisticated as it is for the rest of your marketing tactics.

We have found that influencer marketing beyond the Hype Cycle is an indispensable part of our marketing mix. The proof is in the pie: Read how our Easy-As-Pie Guide to Content Planning drove a 500% increase in leads for client DivvyHQ.

*Disclosure: SAP and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post Beyond the Hype Cycle: It’s Time to Redefine Influencer Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Behavior & Analytics Studies, Facebook’s A/B Testing, & LinkedIn’s Carousel Ads

Fri, 15 Jun 2018 10:30:17 +0000

Perceived Influence Marketing Charts Graph

Perceived Influence Marketing Charts Graph

As Concerns Grow Over Internet Privacy, Most Say Search & Social Have Too Much Power
How Internet users perceive the influence a variety of popular online platforms have over their lives was among the subjects examined in a sizable new joint report by Ipsos, the Internet Society, and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, offering some surprising insight for digital marketers. Marketing Charts

Facebook Experiments with A/B Testing for Page Posts
Facebook has been trying out A/B testing of Facebook Page posts, a feature that if rolled out in earnest could eventually have significant implications for digital marketers. Social Media Today

CMOs Say Digital Marketing Is Most Effective: Nielsen Study
Accurately measuring digital marketing advertising spending’s return on investment remains a challenge, while the overall effectiveness of digital ad spend has grown, according to a fascinating new Nielsen study of chief marketing officers. Broadcasting & Cable

Snapchat Rolls Out Option to 'Unsend' Messages, New eCommerce Tools
Snapchat has added several e-commerce tools including an in-app ticket purchase solution, branded augmented-reality games, and has given its users the option to unsend messages. Social Media Today

People Are Changing the Way They Use Social Media
Trust of various social media platforms and how Internet users’ self-censorship has changed since 2013 are among the observations presented in the results of a broad new study conducted by The Atlantic. The Atlantic

Facebook launches tool to let users rate advertisers’ customer service
Facebook has added a feedback tool that lets users rate and review advertisers’ customer service, feedback the company says will help it find and even ban sellers with poor ratings. Marketing Land

2018 June 15 Statistics Image

Google's about-face on GDPR consent tool is monster win for ad-tech companies
Google reversed its General Data Protection Regulation course recently, allowing publishers to work with an unlimited number of vendors, presenting new opportunities for advertising technology firms. AdAge

LinkedIn rolls out Sponsored Content carousel ads that can include up to 10 customized, swipeable cards
LinkedIn (client) has rolled out a variety of new ad types and more performance metrics for marketers, with its Sponsored Content carousel ads that allow up to 10 custom images. Marketing Land

Report: Facebook is Primary Referrer For Lifestyle Content, Google Search Dominates Rest
What people care about and where they look for relevant answers online are among the marketing-related insights revealed in a recent report from Web analytics firm Parse.ly. Facebook was many users’ go-to source for answers for lifestyle content, while Google was the top source for all other content types. MediaPost

Survey: 87% of mobile marketers see success with location targeting
Location targeting is widely-used and has performed well in the mobile marketing realm, helping increase conversion rates and how well marketers understand their audiences, according to new report data. Marketing Land

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Short-Termism Cartoon

A lighthearted look at marketing short-termism, by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

‘The weird one wins’: MailChimp’s CMO on the company’s off-the-wall advertising — The Drum

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Why Content Marketing is Good for B2B Companies — Atomic Reach
  • Lee Odden — Top 2018 Influencers That Might Inspire Your Inner Marketer — Whatagraph
  • Lee Odden — Better than Bonuses: 4 Motivators that Matter More than Money — Workfront
  • Anne Leuman — What’s Trending: Marketing GOOOOOAAAALS! — LinkedIn (client)

Thanks for visiting, and please join us next week for a new selection of the latest digital marketing news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don't miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

The post Digital Marketing News: Behavior & Analytics Studies, Facebook’s A/B Testing, & LinkedIn’s Carousel Ads appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

CMWorld Interview: Peter Krmpotic on Optimizing the Content Supply Chain

Thu, 14 Jun 2018 10:30:23 +0000

Content personalization is no longer a dream that marketers have for leveling up engagement with their audience, it’s become an essential combo for winning the content marketing game. Need proof? According to a study from Marketo, 79% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized. And Salesforce estimates that by 2020 51% of consumers will expect that companies will anticipate their needs and make suggestions, before contact.

But how can enterprise brands scale personalization efforts in a way that is efficient and effective?

Peter Krmpotic, Group Product Manager at Adobe, has focused heavily throughout his career on scaling personalization. He alo references the content supply chain (which is a framework for viewing content production, management and scalability) as a granular way to break down different structural elements and make them more manageable.

Applying personalization to an entire content marketing operation, especially at the enterprise level, might feel overwhelming. But applying it individually to different aspects of the process, piece by piece? This feels more feasible.

Peter will be joining other high-scoring content marketing experts at 2018’s Content Marketing World in Cleveland, OH this September. In anticipation of this awesome event, we sat down with Peter for the first interview in our series leading up to the event and asked him more about his role at Adobe, the importance of content personalization and the impact of technology on personalization.  

What does your role as Group Product Manager at Adobe entail? What are your main areas of focus and key priorities?

At Adobe, I focus on content marketing, digital asset management, and personalization at scale.

Throughout my career, I’ve developed a passion for customers, their use cases and building scalable software for them.

Specifically, my interests include next-generation technologies, evolving organizational structures, and industry best practices.

You’re a big believer in the importance of personalization. Where do you see the biggest opportunities for content marketers to improve in this regard?

First and foremost, personalization is a group effort which cuts across all functions of the content supply chain: strategy, planning, creation, assembly, and delivery.

Establishing and aligning these functions with each other is the first block in a strong foundation.

What we are doing here is leveraging the centuries-old concept of "divide and conquer," where we break personalization down into manageable stages.

Once everything is in place, the biggest opportunity lies in providing relevant data that is actionable at each of the content supply chain functions.

While we all talk a lot about data-informed and data-driven content marketing, I still see addressing this data gap as the biggest opportunity by far.

Which prevalent pitfalls are preventing content from connecting with its audience, from your view?

We have the people, the data, and the tools to create engaging content at scale, yet we often jumpstart the process of creating content without the required thoughtfulness on the initial critical steps.

It is essential to be clear which audiences we are targeting and subsequently to define clear goals for the message we are creating.

To this day, most brands need to improve at this stage, otherwise the best content marketer in the world cannot create an effective piece of engaging content.

Developing scalable ways to create and personalize content has been a key area of emphasis in your career. How can marketers think differently about scaling for efficiency and impact?

Similar to what I said earlier of “divide and conquer,” break the problem into manageable pieces and thus build a content supply chain.

Then, optimize each piece of the supply chain as opposed to trying to improve the whole thing all at once.

Where do you see the biggest influences of technologies like machine learning and automation in the world of content?

Currently, many mundane tasks, such as gathering and analyzing data or making sure content is optimized for each channel, take up a lot of time and effort in content marketing, preventing us from doing what matters most.

Things that take weeks and months will gradually be performed in the background.

By eliminating these mundane tasks, the human capacity for creativity and intuition will be magnified and reach new levels that were unimaginable before.

Which aspects of marketing SaaS products and services could and should be instilled for pros in other verticals?

Marketing software has received the kind of attention and focus that very few verticals have ever received, and as a result, we now benefit from a variety of software options that is unparalleled. This has led to a lot of AI being developed for marketing first that will be deployed in other verticals later.

A result of this fierce competition is that marketing software tends to be the more flexible and user friendly than others, adapting to a multitude of use cases, which has set new standards across all verticals.

Lastly, even though software in general does not integrate well with each other, given its variety and busy ecosystem, marketing software has trail-blazed integration best practices, which other verticals will benefit from.

Looking back, is there a particular moment or juncture in your career that you view as transformative? What takeaways could other marketers learn and apply?

Joining Adobe was truly transformative, because it allowed me to engage with customers across the entire breadth and depth of digital marketing, as well as with colleagues across different products and solutions who are truly world-class at what they do.

My recommended takeaway is to look beyond your current scope of work — which is not necessarily easy — and to figure out ways to connect with people who can help you understand adjacent functions and disciplines.

Seeing the entire picture will help you with solving your current challenges in ways that you could not have imagined before.

Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2018?

I’m looking forward to quite a few sessions, but here are 5 sessions I am particularly excited about:

  • Joe Pulizzi’s keynote on Tuesday. I am sure I am not the only one interested to hear his take on the industry and where it is headed.
  • Then Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy and her workshop on their branded content platform, Smarter With Gartner, which I am a big fan of.
  • Michael Brenner’s workshop on how to create a documented content marketing strategy, which I know a lot of brands struggle with.
  • And then two sessions that talk about leveraging data during content creation: Morgan Molnar and Brad Sanzenbacher on Wednesday, and Katie Pennell on Thursday.

Ready Player One

Big thanks to Peter for his enlightening insights. His final takeaway — “Seeing the entire picture will help you with solving your current challenges in ways that you could not have imagined before” — is at the heart of Content Marketing World, which will bring together a diverse set of voices and perspectives to broaden your view of this exciting yet challenging frontier.

Tap into some of the unique expertise offered by CMWorld speakers by checking out the Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing below:

 

The post CMWorld Interview: Peter Krmpotic on Optimizing the Content Supply Chain appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Ready Player One: Top CMWorld Speakers Dish Go-To Classic Content Marketing Combos

Wed, 13 Jun 2018 10:30:53 +0000

Over the years, content marketing has made incredible strides. What used to be considered more 8-Bit tactics such as print and articles, have evolved into more immersive tactics like interactive and video which truly brings audiences into the “game”. And while the days of 2D 8-bit side scroller content may be gone, that doesn’t mean [...]

The post Ready Player One: Top CMWorld Speakers Dish Go-To Classic Content Marketing Combos appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

The Question on Many Marketers’ Minds: Should My Brand Start a Facebook Group?

Mon, 11 Jun 2018 10:21:22 +0000

Should My Brand Start a Facebook Group

Should My Brand Start a Facebook Group

Despite its recent bubble of controversy, marketers still view Facebook as the prime destination for social media marketing.

The newly released Sprout Social Index 2018 reaffirms this, with 97% of social marketers saying they use the platform.

However, while almost everyone is incorporating Facebook into their strategies, not so many express confidence that it’s making the desired impact. Last month’s 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report showed only 49% reporting a belief that their Facebook marketing is effective.

With algorithmic changes deprioritizing publisher content on Facebook feeds, and thus suppressing organic reach for brands, marketers are feeling the crunch. As I wrote here recently, “Facebook’s gargantuan active user base is impossible to ignore. We just need to get creative in finding ways to connect with people there.”

One creative solution that marketers are increasingly turning to is Facebook groups.

Are they worth your time and effort? Let’s explore.

Why are Facebook Groups Gaining Steam?

Much like influencer marketing, Facebook groups present an opportunity to regain diminished reach by embracing the platform’s heightened focus on user-generated content.

According to the Sprout Social Index, social marketers point to increasing community engagement as their No. 2 biggest goal, right behind boosting brand awareness. Facebook groups are very much in line with this objective. They are mini-communities, where members are empowered to speak up and (in many cases) can engage directly with company reps, in addition to one another.

Although groups have long been available as a feature on Facebook, the brand-driven “Facebook Groups for Pages” were just rolled out last year. You can find a helpful primer on setting one up here, via Social Media Examiner.

What differentiates a Facebook page from a Facebook group, you might ask? AdWeek frames it as such:

“Pages (are) for pushing key marketing messages and product information, as well as an outlet for customer support. Groups is a dedicated space for more in-depth, meaningful conversations and relationships between a brand and its fans.”

Another attractive element of Facebook groups is the added analytical depth through Group Insights, which provides information about trends and usage patterns in your membership.

With growing emphases on engagement, authenticity, and community-building, it’s easy to see the appeal of Facebook groups as a marketing asset. And some are tapping into it very well. One notable example is Peloton, the cycling fitness company whose closed members group boasts an extremely active ecosystem of more than 92,000 members.

But not everyone is finding traction on this front.

[bctt tweet="With growing emphases on engagement, authenticity, & community-building, it’s easy to see the appeal of #FacebookGroups as a #marketing asset. And some are tapping into it very well. But not everyone is finding traction. - @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

What’s Holding Back Brands on Facebook Groups?

Although the potential benefits are clear, the path to achieving them is a bit murky. For every success case like Peloton (which had the advantage of a three-year head start thanks to a preexisting member-driven community), there seem to be several examples of companies spinning their wheels in frustration.

While Peloton has hit its stride with groups, another popular fitness brand is searching for a second wind. As Digiday explained in May regarding Fitbit’s exploration of the tactic:

"The company created 12 different groups geared toward major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. Each group has around 200 members, but that’s a far cry from the 2.4 million followers of Fitbit’s Facebook page. Fitbit’s group for fitness-focused San Francisco had only 11 posts in the past 30 days."

The problem is that around 200 million groups exist on Facebook, making it difficult to gain visibility, especially for new creations. To assist with this, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced earlier this year the integration of a Groups tab intended to “make groups a more central part of the Facebook experience.”

“In addition to the new tab,” TechCrunch notes, “the company is launching a new Groups plugin that admins and developers can add to their websites and emails that solicits people to join their Facebook group.”

Some marketers have understandably been reluctant to dive into this functionality over concerns that Facebook will change gears and renew its focus six months from now, but I believe it’s safe to say — based on the social network’s clear commitment to elevating active participation and “meaningful communities” — that groups are going to be a mainstay feature going forward.

Should My Company Start a Facebook Group?

In assessing whether a Facebook group is worth launching for your B2B or B2C business, we recommend asking yourself these questions:

#1 - Are community conversations relating to my product or service useful?

If community is core to your offering, then Facebook groups are most likely going to be a fit. But you don’t want to force it. The most resonant groups bring users together over a shared passion where they can transfer knowledge, stories, and ideas. For instance, the highly popular Instant Pot Facebook group has become a destination for owners of the electric cooker to troubleshoot and post their own recipes.

“You’re only going to get those super-users and superfans,” says Meg McDougall, Social Media Strategist at TopRank Marketing. “If you have that audience, it’s a great opportunity. But you’re not going to build it out of nowhere.”

[bctt tweet="When it comes to #Facebook groups, you're only going to get super-users & superfans. If you have that audience, it's a great opportunity. But you're not going to build it out of nowhere. - @megnificent #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Do we have the bandwidth to run a group and grow it?

Don’t underestimate the commitment that running an active Facebook group can require. In order to get going, and especially to sustain, groups need attention and administration. You may want to have a content producer or community manager specifically designated for this task.

Also, be ready to have employees promote your group in various ways, such as mentioning it in content and including it in email signatures.

#3 - Is it truly going to be a value-oriented interaction hub, or simply another vehicle for brand promotion?

“If your brand starts a Facebook group, think of yourself as a facilitator rather than a marketer or blogger,” suggests Emily Gaudette in her post at Contently. “You’ll lose the group if you only promote your own work.”

This is pretty much a cardinal rule of content marketing in general, but especially important in these kinds of community-fueled endeavors. Oftentimes, the brand play should be very subtle, and customers will hopefully start associating your product or service with the topic because it’s where they go to talk about it and find good info.

The Bottom Line on Facebook Groups for Marketers

Without question, Facebook groups are more worthy of our attention than they were a year ago at this time. Dwindling organic reach for company pages on the platform, along with a strong commitment from corporate leadership to grow the feature, make this an intriguing frontier.

But as things stand, these spaces are really more about fostering and evolving engagement within your customer base as opposed to rapidly growing that base. And given the time and effort required to get it right, some brands might not find the payoff worthwhile.

In other words, don’t give in to groupthink.

“Look at what your end goal is for social,” McDougall urges. “If it’s reaching a ton of people, expanding your audience, and getting impressions, groups probably aren’t the best route. If it’s targeted interactions and deeper engagement, they can be really helpful.”

For more guidance on social media marketing that meets your objectives in a fast-changing environment, check out some of our recent write-ups on the subject:

The post The Question on Many Marketers’ Minds: Should My Brand Start a Facebook Group? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Business owners who take advantage of social video marketing can create a tremendous amount of brand buzz as long as videos are high quality and enjoyable to watch. Learning how to produce video ads and promote them in social networks...

Facebook Email Test

09 Jan 2013 21:24:39 Z

There is a lot of talk about the Facebook email test which was unveiled the end of December 2012. The experiment is aimed at generating new revenue for the popular social networking group by assessing a $1 fee to send...

Roofer Facebook Business Fanpage

04 Dec 2012 06:48:43 Z

Will Your Roofing Business SurviveThe Death of Traditional Marketing?Amazingly Simple "PROVEN SYSTEM" To Dominate Your Local Market...


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