Digital Marketing News: 15 Reasons for Brand Advocacy, Email Priorities and Google TV Ads

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15 Reasons Why Brand Advocacy is the Bedrock of Your Business [Infographic]
Although brand advocates are important for brand marketing – with referrals, user generated content, and positive online reviews being just a few of the benefits of brand advocacy, this infographic shows over 80% of companies are not using advocates in their marketing strategy, and 58% don’t even know who their advocates are. Social Media Today

The Email Priorities of Brand and Agency Marketers in 2017
MarketingProfs reports: “Some 30% of brand marketers say personalization is one of the top three areas of email marketing they really need to focus on in 2017, up from 22% last year; 28% say they need to focus on automated campaigns, 25% on segmentation, and 24% on measurement/analytics.” MarketingProfs

Google Sees Another Chance to Get Programmatic TV Right
In a bid reminiscent of their 2012 attempt at TV advertising, Google has again invested in offering TV ads for programmatic buying that marketers can choose as part of their digital video ad buys through their ad tech platform. Will this turn out better than their last attempt? Time will tell. Ad Age

Goodbye, Like button
Pinterest announced in a press release: “After doing a bunch of research with Pinners, we found Pinterest is easier to understand when we remove the Like button altogether.” This will not affect the functionality of the Save button, and other Likes will be retained in a new board called “Your Pinterest Likes”. Pinterest

Mobile Captures More Than Half Of All U.S. Internet Advertising Revenue For The First Time Ever, Total Digital Ad Spend Hits a Landmark $72.5 Billion in 2016
IAB reports: “Mobile advertising accounted for more than half (51%) of the record-breaking $72.5 billion spent by advertisers last year […] The total represents a 22 percent increase, up from $59.6 billion in 2015. Mobile experienced a 77 percent upswing from $20.7 billion the previous year, hitting $36.6 billion in 2016.” IAB

New: LinkedIn Launches Matched Audiences
LinkedIn is launching Matched Audiences, allowing marketers to utilize website retargeting, account targeting and contact targeting. These new tools will be available for all of LinkedIn’s ad platforms. Will this help LinkedIn ads beat out Facebook for B2B advertisers looking for more targeting? Search Engine Journal

eMarketer Releases New Programmatic Advertising Estimates
Despite controversy around programmatic advertising in recent marketing headlines, eMarketer found that nearly four of every five digital display ad dollars in the US will go to programmatic advertising this year. eMarketer

Facebook Is Testing Video Cover Images for Pages
Facebook has confirmed that they’re testing giving Pages the ability to upload videos as cover images, as you can see if you look at the Narcos Facebook page. It’s unconfirmed if and when this update will roll out network-wide. AdWeek

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more top digital marketing news! If you have something to share, sound off in the comments or Tweet it to us @toprank.

The post Digital Marketing News: 15 Reasons for Brand Advocacy, Email Priorities and Google TV Ads appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

April 28th 2017 Online Marketing

Digital Marketing News: Productive Content Teams, Google Shopping & Snap to Store

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30 Habits of Highly Productive Content Teams [Infographic]
A successful content team needs to work together well, despite several moving parts. What gets them there are the habits they create, like looking everywhere for content ideas and consistently handling ad-hoc content requests. Content Marketing Institute

Google is trying to turn Image Search into a shopping tool
Google is seemingly turning its image search into a shopping tool — a new feature called style ideas shows users looking for fashion merchandise what the items they select would look like with other items for sale. recode

Snapchat will tell brands how many people saw their ads, then visited their stores, restaurants
Snapchat is allowing brands to see whether the amount of people who have seen their ads translates into in-store visits. They can do this by determining when a user is using Snapchat in a store location, whether or not they’ve seen the respective ad. Marketing Land

The Most In-Demand Marketing Skills in 2017
What are the most in-demand skills for a marketer to have in 2017? Recent research shows that digital marketing, creative services and marketing operations are the top skills in terms of function. MarketingProfs

If Ads Run Next to Offensive Content, This Programmatic Platform Gives Brands Their Money Back
AdWeek reports: While brand-safety concerns on YouTube in recent weeks have given automated ad buying a black eye, MediaMath today announced a measure to make its clients feel better protected. The programmatic player is refunding brands if their ads, per a press release, “run on previously determined unsafe inventory” with a system dubbed Curated Market.” AdWeek

Local Search and Online Reviews Survey 2017
A recent study shows the importance of authentic online reviews — since 50% of consumers always look at reviews, and 70% of consumers read reviews throughout the buying cycle. ReviewTrackers

Instagram Adds ‘Collections’ to Help Organize Ideas on the Platform
Social Media Today reports: “Instagram’s adding a new option for users to save posts they like into collections so they can easily access them at a later stage. Collections are effectively an extension of the ‘Save’ tab, and may prove a useful addition for those who use the platform for shopping or planning purchases, an area which Instagram is working to build upon.” Social Media Today

Study: Pre-Roll Ads Are Least Intrusive With Best Recall
A new study shows that consumers find pre-roll ads less intrusive than other forms of advertising, and they also have the best recall on mobile devices and on desktop. MediaPost

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more top digital marketing news. If you’re dying for more in the meantime, follow @toprank or sound off in the comments.

The post Digital Marketing News: Productive Content Teams, Google Shopping & Snap to Store appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

April 21st 2017 Online Marketing

Content Planning for the Win: 10 Expert Tips to Keep Your Audience Engaged Again & Again

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Blank space: Great when it’s a Taylor Swift song (or a nifty 20’s-style cover of same), not awesome when it’s on your editorial calendar. You want to publish with a steady cadence to keep your audience satisfied. But you know that filler won’t do—it’s got to be quality and quantity.

Great content is no accident. It requires careful planning to provide the value and variety your audience craves. At TopRank Marketing, we create content for dozens of clients. That’s a lot of blank space to fill. But when it’s over, we know the high was worth the pain (sorry, now I have Taylor Swift stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Hopefully you do, too).

Here’s how to create a content plan that’s designed to excel.

#1: Start with Goals

“There is no content strategy without measurement strategy. Before embarking on a content initiative, irrespective of medium or platform, it’s important to know what you want to achieve.” Rebecca Lieb, Principal, Conglomotron LLC

The goal of content marketing is to compel your audience to take action. Without the action, you’re missing the “marketing” half of the equation. So don’t start with what you want your audience to know. Start with what you want them to do.

The desired action could be signing up for your blog, downloading a gated asset, attending a webinar, scheduling a demo, or just sharing your content on social media. Whatever you decide, make sure each piece of content is connected to a measurable result.

#2: Let Your Audience Guide Topic Selection

“The reason we struggle with content marketing is because we haven’t started with ‘Why?’ Customers don’t care about your vanity metrics. Ask them, ‘How can I help?’” Kristina Halvorson, CEO and Founder, Brain Traffic

At TopRank Marketing we have a name for the type of content that gets results: Best Answer Content. The word key word is “answer,” as in “a response to a question.” You’re not starting a conversation about your brand, you’re continuing a conversation about what concerns your audience.

Listen to the questions your audience is asking through search engine queries, emails to your sales department, forums like Quora, and tools like BuzzSumo and Bloomberry.

#3: Hit the Whole Funnel

“Your top of the funnel content must be intellectually divorced from your product but emotionally wed to it.” Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing, InsightSquared

Lower-funnel content is designed to lead directly to revenue. So it’s the type of content upper management likes—meaning it’s the type that helps justify your budget. It makes sense that marketers tend to focus on the lower funnel and go light on the upper stages.

The problem with that approach is that most of your traffic and interest is in earlier stages. If you don’t fill the top of the funnel you won’t have anyone left to read your awesome lower-funnel content. It’s important to find a content balance, with a variety of content across all stages of the funnel. The quantity of content in each stage should look like a funnel, too. Think lots of content in the upper stages, less (but more in-depth) content at the bottom.

#4: Change up the Content Type

“Just as anyone would quickly tire of eating from the same food group day after day, your customers and prospects can grow tired of the same type of content again and again.” Jason Miller, Global Content & Social Marketing Leader, LinkedIn Marketing EMEA

I don’t envy the folks at Buzzfeed. They came up with a winning content formula and now they’re stuck with it. Pity the writer who has to come up with yet another “28 Hilarious Things Dogs Did This Passover (You Won’t Believe #24)!” As the world has moved on from clickbait-y listicles, the site has struggled to reinvent itself.

Keep your content fresh, and fill holes in your editorial calendar, by changing up the content type. Save room for those easy-to-write, sharable listicles, sure. But balance them with thought leadership pieces that firmly establish your brand’s point of view. Add how-to articles that are 100% utility. You can even round up useful content from other sources and curate for your audience.

#5: Look for “Turkey Slices”

“I use a Thanksgiving analogy…You cook up this giant bird to serve up on one glorious occasion and then proceed to slice and dice this thing for weeks on end. If you are like most families you are going to be repurposing this bird as leftovers for quite some time, creating everything from sandwiches, to soups, and more. Your content marketing strategy can be thought of in the same way.” Rebecca Lieb

At LinkedIn Marketing Solutions*, they have a lovely mixed metaphor to describe their content strategy. It starts with a “Big Rock,” a hefty piece of gated content that includes visuals, influencer interviews, and in-depth discussion on a single topic (like their Sophisticated Marketer’s series).

They use the Big Rock to create “turkey slices,” blog posts that repurpose a small part of the content. Turkey slices help fill in your editorial calendar, and each one can serve to promote the Big Rock. A big enough Big Rock can keep your blog supplied with turkey slices for six months or more. Just don’t ask why the rocks are made of turkey.

#6: Have a Little Fun

“For those of you who think comedy won’t work for your brand, ask yourself: Will it work for your customers?” Tim Washer, Creative Director, Cisco

When you have plenty of thought leadership and useful, practical content, it’s okay to let loose every once in a while. Generally, people like to be entertained and like to laugh. Even decision makers at Fortune 500 companies have been known to appreciate the occasional chuckle. So there’s no excuse for not experimenting with a little comedy, as long as you stay consistent with your brand voice.

Ease into the idea of humorous content with an April Fool’s Day post—it’s the one day even the most staid of institutions can crack wise. If you get a good response, try a funny, light post once a month or so. Still not convinced humor would work for your industry? Look, if financial services marketers can enjoy a silly post, your audience likely will, too.

#7: Sprinkle in Interactive Content

“By its very nature, interactive content engages participants in an activity: answering questions, making choices, exploring scenarios. It’s a great way to capture attention right from the start. Individuals have to think and respond; they can’t just snooze through it.” Scott Brinker, ion interactive Co-Founder & CTO

I’m starting to get really excited at the potential of interactive content. It takes less than an hour to make a quiz that looks professionally designed, can be embedded on your blog, and provides detailed analytics on the back end. You can create a poll or a survey even more quickly.

Your chief competitor for your audience’s attention is not other content—it’s everything else in the world. We’re asking people to stop whatever else they were doing, ignore every other source of distraction, and engage. Interactive content makes it far easier to earn that level of attention.

#8: Leverage Internal Experts

“If you want to cultivate regular contributors to your content, create an editorial committee and invite key producers to join. Staffers will feel a greater sense of ownership and engagement in the content marketing program. They’ll also feel greater responsibility to produce quality content on time.” Michael Tevlin, Freelance Copywriter & Story Expert

“Authenticity” and “transparency” are marketing buzzwords that have almost, but not quite, lost their meaning through repetition. But there’s a reason we keep talking about these two concepts: Consumers want to hear the authentic voices of the people behind your brand. They know the purest expression of your brand’s values comes from your brand’s employees.

Cultivate these voices by asking internal experts across the organization to contribute to your content. As with external influencers (more about them in a moment), start with a small request. For example, if you’re writing a how-to guide, ask someone in a relevant department to contribute a quote or two. Next time, ask for a full interview.

Before you know it, you’ll have a team of regular contributors, filling your calendar with diverse voices across your organization.

#9: Co-Create with Influencers

“The future is not about marketing to influencers; it’s about marketing with them. Treating influencers as an extension of your company, rather than a distribution channel, will result in a more impactful experience for influencers and consumers alike.” Emily Garvey, Group Account Director, SVP

At TopRank Marketing, we have our own unique take on influencer marketing. It’s not about paying Snapchat stars thousands of dollars to pose with a product. Rather, it’s about building relationships with people who are genuinely influential to a relevant audience, and aligned with your brand’s goals and values.

You can start building relationships without even making contact with an influencer. For example, you can create a post that includes already-published quotes from influencers. Like, say, this post. Let your influencers know that you featured their expertise. Then nurture the relationship by helping to promote their content. Eventually, you can start co-creating content with the influencer, building in their contributions from the ground up. As with internal experts, start with an interview and go from there.

#10: Start a Dialog

“Twenty-five percent of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user generated content and thirty-four percent of bloggers post opinions about products and brands.” Erik Qualman, Keynote Speaker & CEO, Equalman

Still stuck with a few blank spaces in your calendar? Let your audience fill them in for you. User-generated content helps foster community, builds enthusiasm for your offering, lets customers see real-world examples of what your company can do, and a host of other benefits.

The best way to encourage user-generated content is, simply, to ask for it. Ask for reviews, product photos, customer stories. Run a contest and recognize the best submissions.

Even better, ask your most valued clients if you can feature them—they will very likely jump at the chance. You get a compelling testimonial, they get extra visibility.

Fill in the Blanks

A blank content calendar can be daunting. But don’t fill it in with random acts of content. Start with your goals in mind, then match them with the topics your audience most wants to hear about. Plan for a good variety of content types and formats to keep things fresh, and make sure to fill the top of your funnel as well as engage the lower part.

And if you need help creating great content that inspires action, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ve got a long list of satisfied customers. But we’ve got a blank space…and we’ll write your name.


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Content Planning for the Win: 10 Expert Tips to Keep Your Audience Engaged Again & Again | http://www.toprankblog.com

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April 12th 2017 Online Marketing

Digital Marketing News: Traditional vs. Programmatic, Twitter Lite & LinkedIn Lead Gen

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Traditional vs. Programmatic Media Buying [Infographic]
Programmatic media buying is all over the digital marketing sphere. What are the key differences between programmatic and traditional media buying? This infographic lays them out side by side. MarketingProfs

Introducing Twitter Lite
To combat slower mobile networks, expensive data usage and a lack of mobile storage experienced by some users, Twitter has launched Twitter Lite. The new offering is a mobile web experience that minimizes data usage and takes up less than 1MB of space. Twitter

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms Streamline the Lead-Generation Process
LinkedIn (client) has enabled lead gen forms to help advertisers provide a seamless, in-app experience for their sponsored content on mobile devices. The form is easily filled out with a prospect’s LinkedIn info, and after conversion they’re sent to a customized thank you page in the app guiding them to their next step. AdWeek

Google Analytics remarketing lists go cross-device May 15
Google has announced they’ll be rolling out logged-in user based retargeting across devices, first announced in September, on May 15th of this year. This will allow advertisers to serve more relevant ads to their customers, meeting them where they are. Marketing Land

Did J.P. Morgan Chase Just Start a Digital Advertising Revolution?
Chase recently reduced the amount of sites on which they buy ad space programmatically from 40,000 to 5,000 – essentially white listing specific media sites that show content which is more aligned to their customer base. Will this start a trend in the industry? Ad Age

Twitter @Replies Are No Longer Counted in Your 140 Characters – Here’s How it Works
The time has finally come! Twitter @ replies, after nearly a year, are finally not being counted in the overall 140-character count of each Tweet. Now you can finally have all 140 characters of your reply — use them wisely. Social Media Today

Google Introduces Verified Customer Reviews, Retires Trusted Stores Program
Search Engine Journal reports: “Google is retiring its Trusted Stores program while introducing a brand new way to gain customers’ confidence — verified customer reviews .. The key difference between the two review types are that ‘Customer Reviews’ are verified to have been left by customers who have legitimately made a purchase from the business’s website.” Search Engine Journal

What were your top digital marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with digital marketing news. Have something to share? Sound off in the comments to Tweet to @toprank.


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April 7th 2017 Online Marketing

Top Tips for Making the First 30 Days in Your New Content Role Really Count

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For me, starting a new job is always a steady mix of overwhelming excitement and sheer terror. I think about all of the things that I am going to accomplish (very quickly of course) and then at some point realize that the comfort of knowing the in’s and out’s of my previous job, are now gone.

As someone that has worked in numerous marketing and content roles throughout my career, I’ve learned some easy (and some very tough) lessons. In the end, I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter how much I think I know walking in on my first day, it’s how I take advantage of the training and onboarding available that has the biggest impact. 

For my fellow content marketers, I’d like to help you rock your next transition. If you want to not only survive but thrive in a new content role, take note of the tips below. 

#1 – Be Open & Ready to Learn

When starting a new content position, be open to learning from your teammates  In addition to learning  new approaches to content marketing, you’ll also need to absorb the preferences and processes that exist within the organization. There will always be time for you to share your knowledge and impact process. But start by being a sponge and absorb everything there is to know.

As tough as it can be, you may also want to take things slow. If possible, give yourself some extra time to complete content planning or execution tasks so that you can double or triple check your work and to ensure it’s on the right track.

#2 – Ask Questions

Don’t be shy. It’s your JOB to understand everything there is to know about the brand’s content. Your new team may not be aware of knowledge gaps or items they didn’t explain fully. So take the opportunity in the moment to ask important questions.

Another good tactic is to interview key stakeholders within the organization. This will help you get a good view of expectations from multiple perspectives.

#3 – Familiarize Yourself with the Content

Even before you start your new position, spend some time getting up to speed on some of the most recent content that your new organization has published.

Understanding the current content approach will give you a good idea of the voice, tone and content types that the company distributes.

#4 – Job Shadow Other Content Team Members

One of the opportunities that we offer at our agency is to shadow other team members. Especially if someone has been there awhile, they’ll have some great tips for how to approach the content creation  and they may even provide some helpful insights that will help you become efficient in your new role.

It’s also a great idea to shadow team members in positions that are different than yours within the marketing department. A well-rounded view of how the different marketing practices integrate are essential for creating content success.

#5 – Complete A Content Audit

If it doesn’t already exist, run an audit of the existing brand content. An audit will help you determine:

  • Where content gaps and opportunities may lay
  • Which content types and topics typically perform best
  • Potential content repurposing opportunities

#6 – Get Trained on Technology (and Fast)

Even though our jobs as marketers have gotten more complex over the years, the technology that we have our fingertips can help us stay organized and create efficiencies. Ask your team what tools are available currently and set up formal or informal trainings to get up to speed on available platforms as quickly as possible.

You’ll find that you will often save time and headaches by using the technology provided. Sometimes at brands large and small, the tech may not have caught up to needs. Start by familiarizing yourself with current technology but feel free to recommend additional tools for consideration that you have used previously.

#7 – Roll Up Your Sleeves & Jump in

Once you’ve gotten your feet wet and have an understanding of the current state of content at your new company, it’s time to dig in. Utilize the combination of what you’ve learned since you started and what you already knew to guide your approach.

Looking For a New Content Role?

If you’re on the hunt for a new position, we’d love to chat! TopRank Marketing has a current opening for a rockstar Content Marketing Manager to join our team. If that role doesn’t sound like a fit for you, take a moment to review the other open positions on our careers page.


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April 6th 2017 Online Marketing

The 5 W’s (and an H) That Guide Your Content Marketing Strategy

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Journalists make excellent content marketers. It’s not just because they’re used to writing clean, compelling copy. Or that, given the state of the modern news industry, there’s a wide talent pool for marketing departments to choose from.

No, journalists make great marketers because they have finely-developed instincts for chasing down a story. They know how to collect the facts thy need to make a full report. They ask the right questions and make sure they get a straight answer, before they write a single line.

Couldn’t your content marketing use a little journalistic edge? Not just for the copy, but for your entire strategy?

When reporters are researching a story, they go through the Five W’s: Who, What, When, Where, Why & How (Yes, I know that’s five w’s and one h. This is the country that brought us the three R’s: reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic).

You can use these six big questions to guide your content marketing strategy. Use them in your research to make sure when people see your content, they’ll want to read all about it.

#1: Who is my audience?

This question is the fundamental building block of your content marketing strategy. The more specific your answer is, the more effective your content can be. That means identifying everyone involved in a purchase decision for your solution. Research what their needs and motivations are, what information will be helpful to them, and what they need to know before they make a purchase decision.

Start to answer this question by building personas, abstracts of your ideal customer. These useful fictions are informed by interviewing your customers, potential customers, and even those who opted for another brand’s solution.

Remember that one crucial aspect of knowing your audience is knowing who isn’t your audience. Then you can tailor content to select your audience and exclude those who aren’t the right fit. The end result can be a more qualified audience and livelier content with a strong point of view.

#2: What is my audience looking for?

First, we can easily answer what your audience is likely not looking for: talking points about why your brand or solution is great. That’s the topic most brands want to publish content about, sure. But that type of content is the least appealing to the majority of your potential audience.

Find out what your audience wants and needs by researching keywords and queries. Search engine queries are direct expressions of what is most important to your audience.  As Dan Blumenthal put it: “Content marketing is what web searchers are looking for.” If your content doesn’t match the need, it’s not content marketing. It’s just filler.

There are a ton of great tools to help you with that research. My favorite new one is Bloomberry, from the fine folks at BuzzSumo. Ahrefs Content Explorer, and BuzzSumo can all help you find out what kind of content is already resonating with your audience, too.

#3: When should I publish?

This question is less about finding the right time of day, or right day of the week, to publish to your blog or promote on social media. That part of the equation is unique for every audience, and you’ll need to do some experimenting to nail it down.

The important part of the “when” is to publish consistently. Establish a steady cadence, whether it’s daily, weekly, or even monthly. Set a schedule that enables you to only publish quality content. Better to have a hugely valuable weekly digest than a daily shallow post.

#4: Where should I publish and promote?

Even a year ago, this was a simple question. Publish on your blog, promote on the social media channels your audience uses. But now there are convincing arguments to be made for publishing directly on other platforms than your home site. For example, a long-form post on LinkedIn is likely to load faster on mobile, be easier for your audience to read and share, and will provide detailed analytics on who is engaging with the content.

Many marketers are finding it makes sense to post content natively to LinkedIn, Medium, even Facebook, rather than trying to drive traffic back to a blog post. Just make sure your CTA leads to a next step on your site.

#5: Why Should My Audience Do What I Want them to Do?

We’ve discussed what your audience wants—high-quality content that helps them solve a problem. But what you want is a conversion that leads to revenue. Answering this question helps you bridge the divide between the two. Why should your audience take the action you want them to take?

Your audience will feel inspired to do what you want them to do if:

  1. The next step is clearly stated. Now is not the time to be shy.
  2. The next step is logical and incremental. Don’t propose on the first date.
  3. The next step is How many obstacles are you throwing between your customer and a conversion?
  4. The next step deepens the relationship.

#6: How will I measure success?

A solid content marketing strategy works backwards from measurable goals. Don’t lead with content and add the metrics in later. You should know what each campaign is intended to accomplish, expressed in a quantifiable way.

That goes for top-of-funnel campaigns, too. Even if your goal is raising awareness, find the metric. In that case it could be an increase in branded searches, increased traffic to your site, or adding followers on social media. Just make sure you have a plan to lead that top-of-funnel interest towards further conversion.

This Just In…

Asking the right questions—and researching the right answers—is the difference between investigative journalism and fake news. For marketers it’s the difference between random acts of content and strategic content marketing. So take some time to learn your audience and determine when, how, and where you will reach them. Let the five W’s and one H help lead your marketing team to ROI.

To take your content marketing efforts to the next level, learn how to document your content marketing strategy.


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April 5th 2017 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: The Age of Mobile, Cheetos Snackware & Twitter Expands Pre-Roll

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Why Creativity Matters More in the Age of Mobile [Infographic]
Based on Facebook’s new ‘Why Creativity Matters in the Age of Mobile’ report, this infographic shows four big shifts that are driving the way that we consume media, including that consumption is no longer linear, our visual-first evolution and more. Social Media Today

Goodbye Forever, Orange Fingers — Eating Cheetos Could Get an Epic Upgrade
Cheetos and Betabrand are coming together to solve a long-time snack crisis — Cheeto fingers. The mix of brilliant understanding of the user experience from a product standpoint, and creativity in finding a resolution involving user-interaction, is an inspiration for marketers everywhere. Inc.

Expanding Pre-Roll Ads to Periscope Video
Twitter is expanding their pre-roll ads as their video viewership continues to grow. The platform is now giving publishers the opportunity to monetize content while allowing brands to advertise against that content with pre-roll ads on Periscope. Twitter

Mobile now accounts for nearly 70% of digital media time [comScore]
comScore recently released a report that shows 70% of digital media time is spent on mobile, with less than one third being consumed on desktop devices. 60% of that mobile time is spent within ads. However, while less than one third of digital time is spent on desktop, 80% of ad dollars are being spent there. Marketing Land

Introducing Pinterest Propel for successful advertising
Pinterest has announced a new program called Pinterest Propel to help train soon-to-be Pinterest advertisers from agencies and brands alike. In order to qualify for the benefits, like 30-day one-on-one phone support, advertisers must be prepared to spend $100/day or more on Pinterest ads. Pinterest

More Ways to Share with the Facebook Camera
On Tuesday, Facebook rolled out two new ways to share photos and videos: a new Snapchat-esque in-app camera that allows users to add effects and dynamic objects to their photos, and they’ve added Facebook stories to the main Facebook app. Facebook

Google AdWords Rolls Out 3 Important Upgrades to Dynamic Search Ads
Google AdWords has released three new improvements to Dynamic Search Ads. These changes include page feeds that allow advertisers to specify exact URLs within DSAs, expanded text ads and showing more relevant ads by default. Search Engine Journal

What Consumers Really Think About YouTube’s Offensive Content Problem and Its Advertisers
AdWeek recently commissioned a survey of 502 consumer respondents to show what they really think of the ongoing controversy of advertiser’s content being shown prior to offensive content: “the questionnaire shows that enough people (36 percent) view ads as endorsements by brands to cause concern among marketers. At the same time, 55.1 percent of survey participants said their opinion didn’t change about such brands.” AdWeek

What were your top news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more top online marketing news. Have something to add? Share your thoughts in the comments to Tweet to @toprank.

The post Online Marketing News: The Age of Mobile, Cheetos Snackware & Twitter Expands Pre-Roll appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

March 31st 2017 Online Marketing

Rule the Room: 5 Tips for Facilitating Meetings that Generate Results

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The work world is simultaneously in love and hate with meetings – from congratulatory mugs for surviving ‘another meeting that could have been an email’ to the mandatory ‘check-in’ meetings that seem to plague event the tightest of calendars. It is generally accepted that meetings are necessary for effective work to be done. However, not all meetings lend themselves toward empowering productivity. What’s an organization to do?

It all comes down to planning. There’s a specific formula that needs to be followed in order to push attendees toward action. The outline described below is tried and true. In fact, it has saved many of my own meetings from the pits of meeting despair. If you have a plan, focus on the actions required to carry it out and clarify tasks along the way, you’ll be on the road to great results in no time. Better yet, this framework can help you empower your team to become more effective, focused and productive.

#1 – Come Prepared

Always prepare for your meetings, whether they’re internal, with a client or with a vendor. To maintain control of the room, you must be prepared to address any and all topics that may come up. First, determine what the outcome of the meeting needs to be, and assemble those items into a list of actionable talking points. Next, determine what information needs to support that list of talking points. For example, if you’re meeting to discuss next year’s marketing budget, come prepared with the results of this year’s marketing efforts, recommendations for improvement and spend allocation, and a few discussion points to keep the room engaged.

This level of preparation prior to the meeting can help you gain valuable insights into next steps as well as build your credibility within the group of meeting attendees. If you put in the work ahead of time, there is much more time for discussion and decision making in session.

#2 – Set Your Agenda

Great meetings begin with an agenda. Using the talking points described in step one, make a list of topics to be covered and a key to describe who will lead that particular discussion. Creating your agenda before the meeting allows you to determine the length of time needed and will set the tone for the people involved.

Each agenda item should be action oriented, ‘review and approve design mock up’ vs ‘design mock up’, for example, to clarify the expected outcome of each discussion. At the beginning of the meeting, review the agenda with all attendees and ask if there is anything else to add. This ensures all necessary topics are covered prior to the meeting coming to a close.

#3 – Discourage Multi-Tasking

It may seem counter-intuitive, but multi-tasking is a notorious productivity killer. The focus of all attendees is required to produce and efficient and effective meeting. Ask those attending in person to close their computers. Ask remote attendees to avoid checking email or other distractions. Ask questions that encourage interaction. The person facilitating the meeting should take notes as needed. The larger the meeting, the more opportunities for distractions, so don’t hesitate to politely rein in a wayward discussion when needed.

If closing computers isn’t possible, set your expectations right out of the gate. A simple statement like ‘For the next 30 minutes, I want us all to put our full attention toward solving this problem. Let’s focus on the task at hand and avoid multi-tasking so we can really make this meeting count.’ This will give all in attendance a shared sense of purpose and set a tone of collaboration and results-oriented problem solving right away.

#4 – Document Action Items

When you take meeting notes, be sure to document any action items that may arise. Make sure you are clear on the action needed, and then reiterate to the team after the action is discussed. For example, in a discussion about SEO, the idea of an analytics audit may come up. When it does, document the task, ‘conduct analytics audit’, and the person assigned, ‘analytics specialist’, then repeat to the room, ‘OK – I’m taking an action for our analytics specialist to conduct an analytics audit.’

When the meeting comes to a close, always end with a summary of actions. For example, you could say something like ‘Great, thanks for your time today team. I want to take a minute to run through our post meeting actions and answer any additional questions. For my team, the actions are to conduct an analytics audit…’ This gives the attendees their final marching orders on the way out the door, clarifies expectations for all involved and inspires immediate action once the meeting wraps up.

#5 – Send a Post-Meeting Summary

When the meeting concludes, always send a post-meeting summary to those who have attended. This email serves as a reminder of discussion topics as well as a documented assignment of tasks for the team involved. It’s often helpful to reference the same post-meeting email when preparing the agenda for your next meeting to keep progress moving forward.

Following this formula helps drive meetings toward an action-oriented conclusion.

Ensuring all attendees are aware of the purpose of the meeting, the desired outcome and the follow up tasks will provide a helpful framework for the meetings to follow. What are your tried and true meeting tips? Share them in the comments or Tweet to @toprank.


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March 30th 2017 Online Marketing

The Next Evolution of Influencer Marketing: 4 Key Insights And What They Mean

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We marketers love to chase shiny objects. It’s part of the constant drive to experiment, optimize, and improve. Any new tactic that looks promising is going to attract our attention.

During his presentation last week at Social Media Marketing World, Lee Odden offered proof of just how shiny influencer marketing is: It can potentially return $9.60 for every dollar invested. Campaigns that include influencers have shown a 10x increase in conversion rates. And those customers who convert stick around–influencer campaigns tend to achieve a 37% increase in retention.

Clearly, influencer marketing deserves the buzz it’s been getting. But most marketers are just getting started. There’s plenty of activity, but not much strategy. It takes a concentrated, strategic, sustained effort to fully realize the benefits.

Earlier this year, Toprank Marketing released Influencer 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing. Lee offered four key insights from the report, and what each means for marketers looking to take their influencer marketing to the next level.

What Is Influence? What Is Influencer Marketing?

Before we get into insights and best practices, it’s important to define terms. Lee defines influence like this:


Influence is the ability to effect action. Fans, friends, and followers are meaningless unless the…
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That definition alone should change the way you approach influencer marketing. It’s not about chasing the most famous person…it’s about the person who best can move their audience.

Here’s how Lee defines influencer marketing:

“Influencer marketing develops relationships with internal and industry experts with active networks to co-create content that helps drive mutual value and measurable business goals.

There’s a lot to unpack in that sentence. First, influencer marketing means developing relationships, not isolated pieces of content or campaigns. Second, look for influencers in your company as well as outside of it. Third, you’re looking to create mutual value, value beyond compensation. Finally, influencer marketing can and should serve measurable business goals.

What Not to Do for Effective Influencer Marketing

Based on the definition above, avoid the following five missteps to greatly increase your effectiveness:

  1. One-Off Campaigns: Don’t activate influencers, have them contribute, then abandon them and start all over next time. Aim for sustainable relationships.
  2. Focusing on Celebrities: They may have a huge audience, but celebrities are hard to reach, expensive to activate, and their audience may not be the most relevant for you.
  3. Using Influencer Marketing for Ads Only: Our agency co-creates content with influencers–eBooks, blog posts, video. This type of content lets influencers go beyond endorsing your product or service to create something of real value.
  4. Only Doing Pay-to-Play: We’re not saying “never pay influencers.” But when you’re building relationships and co-creating cool stuff, you can have genuine mutual value without exchanging cash.
  5. Only Measuring Social Metrics: You can measure the business value of influencer marketing, not just engagement and brand lift. Start your program with these goals in mind and build tracking in.

Four Key Influencer Marketing Insights (And What to Do with Them)

Influence 2.0 draws on the expertise of noted industry analyst Brian Solis, as well as over 100 experts from brands like Microsoft, Adobe, and SAP. Lee dove deep into the data to present these insights and the best practices they suggest.

Insight #1: Influencer Marketing Is Underfunded

On average, companies have just 10% of their marketing budget allocated to influencer marketing. Half of the companies analyzed are investing less than $100,000 per year–which is a small slice of the pie for enterprise-level organizations.

As interest in influencer marketing grows, however, the budgets are starting to grow. 55% plan on spending more money in the coming year. 70% of companies who already have an influencer marketing platform in place plan to increase their budgets.

What to Do: It’s important to understand the opportunity for return on investment, Lee said. Think of what it will cost to implement a program versus the cost of losing access to the top influencers in your industry when the competition gets their first.

Think about implementing programs, not projects. Long-term relationships create the most value for your spend.

Insight #2: B2B is behind B2C

Fifty-five percent of B2C companies have an ongoing and integrated influencer marketing program. Only 15% of B2B marketers could say the same. Overall, 49% of B2B marketers say they’re still in the experimentation phase.

What to do: B2B influencer marketing is a different animal than B2C. You’re not likely to get ahead by paying Youtube stars to pose with your cloud-based network solution.

Start by engaging expert help to research the market, identify influencers, and develop a plan tied to ROI.

It also makes sense to invest in technology. It’s hard to start a sustainable program with a spreadsheet. Influencer marketing platforms can help you identify, qualify, and engage with influencers, as well as help with measurement and optimization.

To kick off your program, start by activating your clients. Start with people who already advocate for your company, invite them to co-create content, and scale up the content that performs best.

Insight 3: The Top Influencer Marketing Goals

Brand advocacy and awareness were at the top of respondents’ minds, with 94% and 92% respectively saying these were the top goals. 88% said reaching new audience was a top goal as well.

Sales conversion and lead generation were still in the top ten, but trailed with 74% and 67%. These results demonstrate that any marketers aren’t aware of influencer marketing’s potential for lower-funnel goals.

What to Do: Keep ROI-proving business goals in mind when designing your program. Make sure to align brand and influencer goals, too–when you have alignment with influencers, it’s easier to inspire organic participation.

Insight #4: Areas Most Impacted by Influencer Marketing

When we asked in which areas has influencer marketing made the biggest difference for marketers, 80% of respondents said content marketing, and 75% said social media marketing. These two are definitely the biggest opportunities; in fact, Lee said companies who aren’t using influencers in these areas are at a disadvantage.

What to Do: Social media and content marketing are the baseline. Beyond that, make your program more sophisticated by integrating it across the organization. Look for internal influencers in your marketing, PR, customer success, community management, and HR departments. Externally, look to industry thought leaders, your own customers, and journalists to round out your program.

Three Levels of Influencer Engagement

It’s easy to get started with influencer marketing. From the first stage, you can gradually grow your efforts to a sustained long-term program built on strong relationships. Lee identified three levels of influencer engagement. These are additive, not exclusive–we currently use all three at TopRank Marketing.

  1. Microcontent: Short-form content used as a “seasoning” for brand-created content. Think quotes, tips, and insights from influencers added to your brand assets. Microcontent can include influencer outreach or simply be curated from external sources.
  2. Campaigns: A campaign includes longer-form contributions directly from the influencer, like an interview for an eBook. You’re asking the influencer to co-create content, which you can repurpose–eBook to blog post to social media images with quotes, for example.
  3. Community: The ultimate goal for a sustainable program is a dedicated group of influencers that contribute a variety of short and long form content for brand communications. These are people who have relationships with your brand and your people, who co-create content motivated by shared goals to realize mutual value.

Everyone Is Influential

As Lee says, everyone is influential about something. Regardless of your industry, it’s high time to find and activate the people who can make a difference with your audience. Make an investment, make a commitment, and start building relationships that can lead to a long-lasting program.

For the full report from TopRank Marketing, Traackr, and Altimeter Group, read Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing.


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March 27th 2017 Online Marketing

Aw, Snap: Everything You Need to Know about Snapchat for Business #SMMW17

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“Social media evolution is inevitable. All you can do is evolve along with it.” – @carlosgil83
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Snapchat is a platform seemingly designed to confuse people of a certain age. Let’s say those of us who were high school age or older when Bill Clinton was president. If you’re in that demographic, you probably didn’t immediately “get” Snapchat’s minimalist UI and self-destructing messages.

Even if you’re one of the hip kids snapping away at home, it can be hard to see the business value of the platform.

But among the emoji and the rainbow vomiting there’s a huge potential audience. Brands with the right content and strategy are already enjoying success. If your target audience matches the platform’s demographics, it’s time to dive in.

At his Social Media Marketing World session, BMC’s Head of Global Social Media Carlos Gil made a compelling case for Snapchat as a marketing tool, and offered tactics for engaging on the platform.

Who’s on Snapchat

There are over 300 million monthly users on Snapchat. The vast majority are between 18 and 34 years old. 77% are over 18, and 24% are in the 25-34 bracket.

It’s a much smaller audience than, say, Facebook, but it’s a major player for millennials. 41% of all millennials in the United States are on the platform.

If your audience includes millennials and Gen Z, Snapchat is most likely a good fit for your business. If you’re hitting an older demographic, Carlos says, that doesn’t automatically count you out. It’s still worth doing a little research to see if your particular Gen X or Boomer audience is on the platform. Even B2B businesses can find an audience on Snapchat.

Brands Are Seeing Amazing Success on Snapchat

Carlos didn’t pull any punches in his assessment of the platform’s potential: One of his slides read simply “Snapchat is a legit marketing channel.”

Take Gatorade’s Super Bowl lens, for example. The lens added football-style eyeblack to people’s faces and simulate the celebratory Gatorade dousing at the end of the game. More people saw Gatorade’s branded lens than saw the Super Bowl itself–and for a fraction of the cost of a 30-second ad.

How to Build a Following on Snapchat

It takes work and engaging, fun content to get people to follow your brand, Carlos says. If you’re just starting out, it makes sense to experiment with geofilters first. People don’t have to follow your brand to see geofilters–they pop up based on location. Use geofilters to build brand presence, reach local users, even amplify tradeshow presence and community events.

To build your audience, start by leveraging your existing social media channels. Make sure your Twitter and Facebook followers can easily connect on Snapchat from their preferred platform. You can also run Facebook and Instagram ads that are targeted at Snapchat users. Just add “likes Snapchat” to your targeting criteria before running a campaign, and use creative that includes your Snapcode and handle.

Influencer content is huge on Snapchat as well. After you have started building a following, look to influencers in your vertical to co-create content and do channel takeovers.

Content that Engages on Snapchat

Unlike every other channel, Snapchat users want quality content that is fun, creative, and/or educational.

Okay, like every other channel, Snapchat content should be fun, creative, and/or educational. The difference is Snapchat is more informal and a whole lot shorter–you’re looking to build stories that are 2-3 minutes long, and each segment is just 10 seconds.

Carlos suggests keeping it extra real: Use the platform to go behind the scenes, feature the employees that make your business work, highlight your corporate culture. If you have a physical product to sell, think product story, not sales pitch.

Carlos used Nike as an example. If they’re launching a new shoe line, their Story will show people playing basketball in the shoes, not someone highlighting the shoe’s selling points.

Most importantly, keep your content fresh and updated often. Stories only last 24 hours, so constant refreshing is vital to keeping your audience entertained.

Keys to Converting from Snapchat

According to Carlos, marketing on Snapchat isn’t all about brand awareness fun and games. It’s definitely possible to inspire action and track results. Here are Carlos’ top tips for conversion and measurement:

  • Keep stories brief and include a very direct CTA
  • Offer followers exclusive VIP offers and flash sales
  • Use tracking URLs for every link out of Snapchat

It’s All Snappening

If your target audience includes millennials and Gen Zers, Snapchat is worth exploring. Start with the best practices you use for all of your social content creation–keep it authentic, entertaining, and educational. Then embrace the unique qualities of the platform. Go for informal, person-to-person content that humanizes your brand. Take your audience behind the scenes, let them meet your people and see what you’re about.

As Carlos says, “The key word in social media is ‘social.’” That’s true on every social media platform, but even more so on Snapchat.

Is your business using Snapchat? What questions do you still have about the platform? Let me know in the comments.


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March 25th 2017 Online Marketing