[eBook] Influencer Engagement: 15 Ways to Fail & 25 Ways to WIN

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Influencer Engagement - 15 fails and 25 wins

Schadenfreude (n.): Pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.

Who doesn’t like watching a good fail? As long as the subject isn’t seriously injured, we can all enjoy a hearty laugh at the guy who slips on the banana peel, the woman who gets her shoe caught in a grate, or the kid getting bopped by the family cat. Even if you’re the one who fails, you know eventually it will be a funny story you can tell at parties.

While these minor pratfalls are all in good fun, failing at influencer engagement isn’t as entertaining. Instead of a few bruises and an amusing anecdote, an influencer outreach fail can end your campaign before it starts. And there are far more ways to fail than you might imagine.

But you don’t have to be a cautionary tale. There are more ways to win at influencer engagement than there are banana peels in your way. At TopRank Marketing, we create and manage influencer marketing programs for  some of today’s top B2B and B2C brands. We made the mistakes so you don’t have to. Over time, we have built a solid strategy for building lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with influencers.

To help you avoid being the object of other marketers’ schadenfreude, we created a new eBook, 15 Ways to Fail & 25 Ways to Win with Influencer Engagement. We asked some of our favorite marketing influencers how people have failed to build relationships with them in the past, then added advice based on our years of experience.

The result is a first-hand account of how to succeed in influencer marketing, with insight from both influencers and the marketers who excel at creating relationships with them.

influencer-fail-win-experts

Here are a few ways marketers failed to engage our influencers:

Reaching out cold: “I get requests from people I know really well every week. What makes you think I’ll make time to work with you if I’ve never interacted with you before? Take some time to comment on my posts, rate my podcast, review my book. I’ll return the favor in a heartbeat.” Andrew Davis, Founder, Monumental Shift Click to Tweet

Inappropriate asks: “As in asks for promoting your product (books, webinars, conferences, etc.) in exchange for affiliate revenue: Please DON’T.” Carlos Gil, Head of Global Social Media, BMC Software Click to Tweet

Asking too soon: “My pet peeve is when someone follows me on Twitter or Instagram and/or fans me on Facebook and immediately reaches out to me with a request to check out their business.” Kim Garst, Bestselling Author and Keynote Speaker Click to Tweet

Using the wrong communication channels: “Sending me a message about LinkedIn using Facebook.” Jason Miller, Group manager, Content Marketing & Social Media, LinkedIn Click to Tweet

Impersonal pitches: “When companies send out generic en masse pitches, like a robo-call, but via email. The personal touch can make or break an influencer’s decision to engage.” Chad Pollitt, Co-Founder & VP of Audience, Relevance Click to Tweet

Lack of credibility: “Competition for effective influencers’ time is high, so reaching out using a Gmail address and pointing to a little known brand hosted on a hyphenated domain with poor design isn’t going to motivate anyone to engage.” Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Marketing Click to Tweet

Lazy duplicated messages: “When you get that really interesting Tweet inviting you to take a look at something and then when you click through to it you also see that they have composed basically the same message to 579 other people on Twitter.” Jon Jantsch, Founder, Duct Tape Marketing Click to Tweet

Delegated, impersonal outreach: “Reach out to me directly yourself. Do NOT delegate this critical step to your marketing agency, PR professional, team member, assistant or intern. Do it yourself and make your note personal. If you want me to respond, I expect you to do the asking yourself.” Heidi Cohen, Chief Content Officer, Actionable Marketing Guide Click to Tweet

Asking without giving first: “Not greasing the skids. Influencers are most likely to add commentary if there is some kind of existing relationship. This means at least some kind of history where the person reaching out has already been sharing the influencer content.” Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute Click to Tweet

Being too salesy: “Asking for 30 minutes of my time to discuss a “partnership” – which actually means you want me to sell your stuff to my clients.” Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist, Marketing Interactions Click to Tweet

Asking them to sell for you: “Your influencer is there to help you increase the awareness, association and consideration of your brand in a certain space – not to shill for you.” Gerry Moran, Global Head of Social Media, Cognizant  Click to Tweet

Too much focus on the brand: “Don’t tell me your story, let me tell my story. ‘LESS fabrication, MORE facilitation’ = a boost to your Return on Relationship, #RonR” Ted Rubin, Social Marketing Strategist, Evangelist & Acting CMO, The Rubin Organization Click to Tweet

Placing too many demands on the influencer: “Set the tone and rules upfront. Influencers can’t be expected to take part in everything you do, so say that. Set the ground rules and expectations.” Bryan Kramer, President & CEO, PureMatter Brand Marketing & Interactive Click to Tweet

Spamming with automated messages: “Signing up for an app that spams your “top influencer” with automated messages is a sure path to a rocky relationship.” Glen Gilmore, Principal, Gilmore Business Network Click to Tweet

Failure to follow up: “Not following up with that blog post, eBook, or copy of the interview the influencer contributed to. Influencers are indeed interested in seeing the fruits of their labors.” Rebecca Lieb, Principal, Conglomotron LLC Click to Tweet

If you have a few scrapes and bruises from your past influencer marketing attempts, it’s time to be an example instead of a cautionary tale. Check out the SlideShare below for the tips you need to start winning:

Take these tips with you wherever you go: Download your copy of 15 Ways to fail & 25 Ways to Win with Influencer Engagement.

Learn Even More Influencer Marketing Wins at Social Media Marketing World

On April 19th, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden will be presenting the “Influencer Marketing Playbook: How to Identify, Qualify & Recruit Effective Influencers” at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. If you like what you saw here and want to learn even more from one of the top authorities on influencer marketing, be sure to check out Lee’s session details.

Disclosure: LinkedIn Marketing is a TopRank Marketing client. 


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[eBook] Influencer Engagement: 15 Ways to Fail & 25 Ways to WIN | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post [eBook] Influencer Engagement: 15 Ways to Fail & 25 Ways to WIN appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

March 31st 2016 Online Marketing

10 Simple Ways to Make Your WordPress Site Faster

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I’ve become obsessed with site speed over the last six months, systematically working through each of my sites to improve their speed. Supposed SEO benefits aside, the faster your site is, the better the user experience. And the better the user experience, the higher the conversion rate – sales, leads or newsletter subscribers; whatever a… Read More

The post 10 Simple Ways to Make Your WordPress Site Faster appeared first on Sugarrae.

March 26th 2016 blogging, Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Content Cocktails, Old School Email and 3D Printing in Space

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mixology-of-content-marketing
The Mixology of Content Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]
Content marketing is an art and a science, just like mixing a good cocktail. In this infographic, different types of content ‘cocktails’ are broken down into clear recipes for the marketing mixologist to follow. Each recipe also contains a measuring guide and a stat or helpful tip. My personal favorite is the White Paper Old Fashioned. Unbounce

This Study Shows Why Retailers Should Ramp Up Their Email Game for Millennials
Whether or not you agree that email is ‘old school’ aside, it is still one of the most effective digital marketing tactics in our collective tool kits. A new study from Epsilon shows that email is effective for Millennial shoppers in particular, with 43% saying they’ve been checking out retailers’ emails in the last 6 months. Millennial shoppers aren’t solely using social media to find what they’re looking for, this new research tells us that email needs to be in the mix. AdWeek

Majestic to print the internet in 3-D in outer space
You read that headline right. SEO toolkit Majestic is shooting for the stars in their newest venture: To 3D print the internet in space. What does that mean? The company is taking to the ISS to print a graphical representation of the internet in zero-gravity. Is this a marketing stunt? Most certainly. Is it awesome? Absolutely. Am I going to space next? Unfortunately, no. Search Engine Land

TrackMaven releases 2016 Social Media Inflation Index: Instagram growth is huge
TrackMaven just released a report stating that Instagram’s user base is growing by an incredible amount — 3 times the growth rate of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. What’s more, across all social networks, brands reportedly saw a 42% year over year increase in follower count. Of course, it’s not on brands to engage those new followers in meaningful ways, or they’ll see their engagement rates start to drop, as reported in last week’s round up. Marketing Land

Technology Marketers Hold Steady With Content Marketing [Exclusive Research]
According to a new study from Content Marketing Institute, technology marketers have seen an increase in effectiveness in nearly all tactics and paid content marketing methods this year. More technology marketers claim to have a documented content marketing strategy vs. last year at 36% compared to 33%. In person events were cited as a top content marketing tactic, and LinkedIn was rated as the top social media platform. Content Marketing Institute

Digital Marketing News marketing automation

Google is making a keyboard for the iPhone
Google is about to release a third-party keyboard for the iPhone that will use swiping, gesture based typing, and predictive text. According to The Verge, “The keyboard, which has been in circulation among employees for months, is designed to boost the number of Google searches on iOS. While the company all but holds a monopoly on the global search market, there’s evidence that mobile search is proving much less lucrative for Google than the desktop.” The Verge

Facebook launches Delivery Insights to help advertisers make better ads
Facebook is planning to roll out Delivery Insights in Ads Manager to help advertisers understand how their ads are performing. According to Facebook, the rollout will be happening globally in a few weeks. In the same announcement blog post, Facebook offered tips for improving ad deliverability and “a refresher on total bid value (which determines which ad wins the auction) as a kickoff of Facebook’s new education initiative to help advertisers better understand how the ad auction works.” Marketing Land

What were your top digital marketing news stories for the week?

I’ll be back next week with more top marketing news (and possibly even a fun teaser video!). Keep an eye on the TopRank Marketing blog for helpful marketing information or follow us on Twitter @toprank. Have something to share? Tweet it to me @Tiffani_Allen!

Infographic via Unbounce


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Online Marketing News: Content Cocktails, Old School Email and 3D Printing in Space | http://www.toprankblog.com

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March 25th 2016 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Jaw-Dropping Stats, Instagram’s New Algorithm and Google Boosts Mobile

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5 Jaw-Dropping Social Media Stats (in Infographics)
In 5 small infographics, author Justin Kerby summarizes facebook’s gigantic user base, the prevalence of employee advocacy programs, how auto-posting on Facebook leads to increased engagement, social media ad spend and how long we really spend watching videos online. I’ll give you a hint, it’s more than an hour. Social Media Today

Instagram Is Adding an Algorithm to Reorder Feeds Based on the Posts Users Like
Instagram announced this week that they are adding an algorithm that will reorder the photos users see in their feed. According to Instagram, the plans are “based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.” As expected, this change will roll out to a small group of users first and scale up, though the platform hasn’t confirmed a roll-out date. AdWeek

Google to boost mobile-friendly algorithm this May
Google announced that beginning in May, they’ll be boosting the effects of the mobile-friendly algorithm they launched around this time last year. The roll-out is said to be gradual, so the impact won’t be as major right out of the gate. According to search engine land, the reason for the slow roll is: “The mobile-friendly algorithm is a page-by-page signal, so it can take time for Google to assess each page, and that may be why it will be a gradual rollout. And depending on how fast Google crawls and indexes all of the pages on your site, the impact can be slow to show up.” Search Engine Land

Companies Planning To Boost Mobile Ad Spend 38% This Year (Report)
For years, digital marketing spend has been allocated more and more of your average marketer’s traditional advertising budget. The onset of mobile adverstising has contributed to this trend. A new report from Outsell states: “Mobile marketing ad spend should grow 38 percent this year; social ad spend is expected to rise by 15 percent.” That’s a big change in advertising budget, telling us that we’d be wise to pay attention when it comes to allocating our own marketing spend. SocialTimes

From the @toprank Twitter Community
thought leadership over brand message

Instagram Interactions Plummet in 2015 (Study)
According to SocialTimes: “Interactions with Instagram posts from a group of 10,000 profiles studied by social analytics provider Quintly plummeted over the course of 2015.” The study found that average interactions fell by 1.86 in 2015, from an average of 4.96 to an average of 3.10. This was attributed to an increase of crowding on the platform, citing an inverse relationship between follower count and interactions — the larger the following, the fewer the interactions. SocialTimes

Apple News quietly opens up to smaller content publishers
In a reported effort to build up content and interest, Apple News has opened up its platform to smaller publishers — thus competing in the same realm as Facebook’s Instant Articles and Google Amp. This access will open small publishers up to a large audience, over 40 million, and the opportunity to measure and monetize their content through iAd. MarketingLand

Marketers Still Eager to Increase Spending on Facebook and Google, Study Finds
According to a new study from AdAge and RBC Capital Markets: “A record 57% of marketers and agencies are allocating 20% or more of budgets to digital advertising, including 23% who earmark more than half of their spending for digital.” This information supports my previously mentioned observation that budgets are shifting from more traditional means to digital. Respondents also said that Google provided the best ROI, with Facebook, YouTube and Twitter following behind. Of the ’emerging’ platforms included in the survey, the top three for planned spend were Instagram (71%), Snapchat (45%) and Spotify (34%). AdAge

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend! I’ll be back next week with more online marketing news. Have something to share? Tweet me at @Tiffani_Allen or send it to @toprank using the hashtag #trnews!

Infographic via Social Media Today


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Online Marketing News: Jaw-Dropping Stats, Instagram’s New Algorithm and Google Boosts Mobile | http://www.toprankblog.com

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March 18th 2016 Online Marketing

Book Review & Interview: 3 Marketing Lessons From The Big Data-Driven Business

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Russell-Glass-and-Sean-Callahan-Book-Review

How many times have you made a purchase either online or in a store and found that you either received recommendations or coupons after your purchase that seemed to be exactly what you were looking for? That experience is one example of how companies are using big data to create a better experience and more effectively target buyers based on previous behaviors.

The sheer amount of trackable activity that exists today has begun to make data collection and analysis a much more manageable task, and the impact is in the numbers. Research has found that for a Fortune 1000 company, increasing data accessibility by just 10% has the potential to result in more than $65 million dollars in additional revenue.

To help companies understand how to use data more effectively, Russell Glass, Head of Marketing Products for LinkedIn and Sean Callahan, Senior Manager Content Marketing for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (client) collaborated to write a book titled The Big Data-Driven Business. This book focuses on ways that brands can utilize big data to win more customers, outshine the competition and increase company profits.

As marketers, our ability to collect, synthesize and make decisions based on data is a necessity to compete in today’s marketplace. To make that transition easier, I’ve included some of the biggest data related marketing lessons I drew from this book as well as an interview with authors Russell and Sean on  the opportunities with big data.

#1 – Data & The New Buyer’s Journey

Customer relationships used to involve enthusiastic handshakes, and wining and dining prospects to make a sale. Today’s self-directed buyers often make it through a vast majority of the sales process before even speaking with a company representative. Therein lies the challenge and opportunity for marketers to use data informed marketing to be the best answer for customers, wherever they are searching.

“By the time a B2B buyer reaches out to the salesperson, there is often little to be learned. The salesperson is perhaps there to negotiate some terms and take the order.”

Customers are now armed with a great deal of information that helps them decide which company or product is the best fit for their needs. By analyzing how prospects interact with emails, move through the company website and interact on social channels are all signals of what they’re searching for.

#2 –  How to Use Data to Learn More About Your Customers

You can hire the most talented marketing team in the world, but if you have a crap product, your chances of developing a strong customer base goes out the window. Think of some of the products you use most as a consumer. Those could include things like Spotify streaming radio, Amazon or Netflix. One thing each of these companies have in common is that they “listen” to what it is that you like, and adjust recommendations accordingly.

“Data-driven, customer-focused companies use the data they amass as a matter of their daily business processes to understand their customers–both individually and en masse–better with every single transaction.”

Digital marketers can take a similar approach by finding opportunities to interact with customers and prospects to learn what their priorities are, what they care about and what their biggest problems are that your solution can solve.

#3 – Always Use Data Responsibly

Sometimes the lines can seem fuzzy in terms of how exactly marketers can use the data collected about their customers and prospects. While certain information can help you better target customers, you have to avoid creating a sense that you are being intrusive or manipulative for the end user.

“The best companies are embracing complete transparency when it comes to consumers’ privacy concerns.”

It is the responsibility of brands to  use the information gathered to improved customer experience while still respecting their privacy and security. Ensure that you’re fully aware of all the regulations that exist around privacy and understand how this may impact how you use data collected about your customers.

Author Interview With Russell Glass & Sean Callahan

Russell Glass
Russell Glass
Head of B2B Marketing Products, LinkedIn

Why should marketers be looking through a lens of big data to influence their marketing strategy?
Customers and prospects are online, and the buyer’s journey has moved online in so many ways. Forrester Research estimated that as much of 90 percent of the buyer’s journey has taken place before a prospect reaches out to a salesperson. These prospects are researching online, consulting their peers on social media, reading reviews, and (we hope) visiting our websites. Marketing, via the data that these prospects create when they surf the Web, has tremendous insight into who these prospects are and how they’re behaving. This data gives the marketing department the best picture of who their customers should be and what they want. This is the path to becoming what all businesses should strive to be: data-driven and customer focused.

What is the low hanging fruit of data collection that most marketers aren’t taking advantage of?
I would say there are two critical areas of low hanging fruit. One is the internal customer data that marketers have spread throughout the company in various departments: sales, accounts receivable, customer service. This internal data, when consolidated and analyzed properly, can reveal to marketers what characteristics their best customers share. Using this data, marketers should be able to create a picture of what kinds of prospects they should be going after and build an account-based marketing approach to going after prospects who match the characteristics of their best customers. The second area of low-hanging fruit for marketers is website visitors and email/blog subscribers. By analyzing these prospects, who have raised their hand to show their interest in your company, marketers should be able to use data to target very effective and efficient messages to prospects who are already poised to move through the funnel.  

In your experience, how has your journey using data informed marketing helped you in your current role at LinkedIn?
The biggest way data has helped is better understanding what our members are doing on our site and especially within our feed. Knowing what members are doing and the kinds of information they are consuming enables my team to build products that are going to deliver the best results for customers who are trying to reach those members at the right time with the right message.  So it becomes a win-win: members get more valuable and relevant content, and marketers get better results for their dollars spent.

Sean Callahan
Sean Callahan
Senior Manager Content Marketing, LinkedIn

Now that three martini lunches are a thing of the past, how can marketers use big data to take the same hands-on approach with customers that are self directed on their journey?
In the book, Russ and I write about what the three-martini lunch was really about. Salespeople took out their prospects to entertain them, to give them information about the industry as a whole, and ultimately to begin talking about selling them specific products and services. Now that the three-martini lunch is largely a thing of the past (even though martinis themselves have made a comeback), the relationship-building is now taking place online via content marketing and lead nurturing. Marketers use their content to entertain their prospects, to talk about industry trends and make their companies thought leaders, and finally talking specifically about products and services.

It says in the book that, “Speed delivers customer satisfaction and customer satisfaction delivers more searches.” How can companies use big data to create a better, speedier experience for customers?
When Google was analyzing data on how visitors used their search engine, they found that speed was essential to retaining the interest of these visitors. They discovered that even a few tenths of a seconds difference in delivering search results caused users to abandon their searches at a higher rate – which meant that fewer paid search advertisements were served. So Google focused on delivering their search results fast, because that’s what customers wanted. And it’s why there are 10 search results delivered on page 1, rather than, say, 20. I think the lesson of Google’s experience with the speed of search results isn’t about speed in and of itself; it’s about using data to give customers what they want and delivering an excellent customer experience. It’s all about becoming a data-driven, customer-focused business.

In your experience, why is it so important for marketers to embrace marketing technology?
It goes back to the buyer’s journey. So much of the buyer’s journey takes place online, and you need technology as night-vision goggles to have insight into how your customers and prospects are behaving online. With this insight (driven by data, which is in turn discovered by technology), you can understand your customer better and be a better marketer.

Are You Making Data Informed Marketing Decisions?

The need for data informed marketing decisions to become “the best answer” for your customers will become increasingly more important over the next few years. Get a leg up on your competition by committing to incorporating more data-driven insights about your customers into your digital marketing strategy.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. |
Book Review & Interview: 3 Marketing Lessons From The Big Data-Driven Business | http://www.toprankblog.com

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March 17th 2016 Online Marketing

7 Ways Sales Emails Fail & 7 Ways to Win

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7-ways-to-win

Like you, my email inbox is filled with email marketing newsletters, requests for information, spammy emails that managed to make it through my filter and the urgent things I actually need to respond to. Each day as I watch the number of unread emails grow, it takes more and more convincing for me to open the emails that do not come from people I know.

In my role as the Director of Agency marketing for TopRank Marketing, I receive a steady influx of emails each day from sales reps at various companies trying to meet with me about how their solution will make me more effective at my job. Nine times out of ten, I have had no previous contact with these reps, nor have I signed up to receive emails from them.

As marketers we know that a good email marketing campaign will provide value to our audience and build credibility. So, why should sales emails be any different? If the average buyer gets over 100+ emails per day, opens 23% of them and clicks on just 2%, what can you do to make sure your emails don’t fall into the 77% of emails that end up in the inbox graveyard?

Examples of Bad Sales Emails I Have Actually Received

I’ve selected a few of the more mild yet still ineffective sales emails that I have received recently. The names and companies have been removed to provide anonymity. 

Email #1

Subject: quick question

Dear Ashley,

We have invented a technology that targets the WiFi in a household, on a 1:1 basis with 95% accuracy. This is possible because we have mapped the IP addresses of over 160 million households, most of the major colleges throughout the USA, hotels, airports, and more.

We are the only company in the world that has this technology. Would you have 15 minutes to chat?

Looking forward to hearing back!

Regards,
Name
Company
Phone

—————————–

Email #2

Subject: Quick Question 

Hey Ashley,

Have you considered building your team?

I’d like to share a quick idea with you that has helped our client with customer retention and acquisition.

Ashley, let’s schedule a quick 15 minute call so I can share the ideas with you. When works best for you?

All the best,
Name
Title
Phone Number
Physical Address

Email #2 Part 2

Subject: RE: Quick Question

Hey Ashley – I sent an email to you three days ago. I was wondering if you put any thoughts into growing your team?

Ashley, let’s schedule a quick 15 minute call. What day works for you?

All the best,
Name
Title
Phone Number
Physical Address

——————

Email #3

Subject: a few ways

Ashley – I have a few ways you can improve your growth strategy and operations over the next few months, while gaining better insight into your business.

Interested in a quick 5 minute chat later this week?

P.S.: I promise it’ll be more effective than your current strategy.

Name
Title
Company
Physical Address

———————-

The list could go on and on and on. While these aren’t the worst type of emails you could send or receive, they aren’t impactful and don’t garner a response. What is fundamentally wrong with these emails?

7 Ways Sales Emails Fail

#1 – They Are All Cold Emails
No effort was made to connect with via social networks or other means before sending out a cold email trying to convince the reciptient to give them money.


#2 – There Is No Personalization
These emails could have been sent to anyone. A little research about your prospects can go a long way.


#3 – There Is No Empathy For Pain Points
If someone is on an email list, they should have had access to the company website as well as the title of the person they are reaching out to. With this information, it should be fairly easy and quick to uncover what some of the challenges someone in that role experiences, or what it is that they actually do.


#4 – Some Are Borderline Insulting
Promising to deliver a better strategy than what is currently being executed current insults what it is that a prospect does as a professional. Plus that’s a very bold statement when you have no insight into the performance of the current solution.


#5 – There Is No Way to Find out More About the Company
In order to test the legitimacy of some of these emails, it would have been nice if they would have included a hyperlinked URL to their company website in their signature or somewhere else in the email. None of them did.


#6 – There is No Value Being Offered
Not one of these emails offered up a case study or any validation that they could truly help in some way, or an example of how they had helped other companies in a similar situation.

#7 – Harassing Prospects Doesn’t Work
Telling your prospect that you’ve sent them numerous emails before is not a good way to elicit a response. The prospect doesn’t owe you anything.

7 Ways to Win

#1 – Network & Connect With Prospects FIRST
Before reaching out cold, make an effort to network to prospects by seeing if you know someone in common on LinkedIn or have similar interests. You can also begin following them on social networks like Twitter. This can create an opportunity for recognition when you do reach out via email and provide you with insight into what types of content they share and care about.

#2 – Personalize Your Approach
By putting in a few minutes of research before reaching out, you can quickly identify ways to personalize your email communication. It could be a matter of reading articles they’ve published, finding out where their company is located and making mention of it in your email, the opportunities for slight personalization to have an impact are vast.

#3- Show That You Understand Their Pain Points
You may not have met your prospect personally but with a little legwork you can determine that person xyz that works at this size of company and has this job title will likely experience these pain points. Use a portion of your email communication to show how your company/solution/services can help make life easier for them.

Keep in mind that if you’re emailing the marketing manager, director of marketing or CMO at a company, there will be different pain points or approaches that you need to take in order to sync with their specific needs.

#4 – Compliment & Flatter Your Prospects
We all like someone to take notice of the work that we’ve done. If a person trying to connect with a prospect makes mention of something created by the person they are reaching out to, it is likely that they will be much more open to what is being said.

#5 – Ask for Permission, Don’t Assume
When you use language that indicates you’re confident that the prospect will respond or participate in your ask, it can be a major turn-off. Instead, ask if they are interested in learning more or connecting. It is less invasive and allows the prospect to feel like they are in control instead of being manipulated.

#6 – Offer Proof of Concept
If you’re going to make bold statements in your outreach email, you had better be able to back it up with data. Linking to examples of your work or case studies within the email are an incredibly effective way of showing proof of success and how you have helped other people like them solve similar problems.

#7 – Make it Easy for Prospects to Research You
The simple inclusion of a link to the company website, blog or social links can make it easy for prospects to determine the legitimacy of a company sending them a communication. Since we know today’s buyers are self-directed, it will also give them an opportunity to dive in and learn more about your offering  on their own.

Start Creating More Meaningful Communications Today!

There is a clear opportunity for sales and marketing teams to collaborate and follow email marketing best practices as it relates to sales emails. The convergence of these two teams can help companies create a better and more cohesive experience for all prospects, no matter where interactions are happening. 

Are you guilty of sending sales emails that fail? What do you think you can do to create more effective emails that provide a better experience for your sales prospects?

Header image via Shutterstock


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7 Ways Sales Emails Fail & 7 Ways to Win | http://www.toprankblog.com

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March 16th 2016 Online Marketing

What’s the Secret of the Most Powerful Content Marketing Strategy? Simplicity

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be-the-best-answer

Imagine all the content created from the dawn of recorded history all the way up to 2003. Cave paintings, Renaissance artwork, Egyptian hieroglyphics, sacred texts, romance novels. The whole grand multicultural enchilada.

How long would it take us, in 2016, to replicate that staggering volume of content? According to Google’s Eric Schmidt: 48 hours.

Humanity creates more content every two days than our ancestors managed in 6,000 years. Those slackers.

Sure, that’s an impressive achievement for the human race (quality of the output notwithstanding), but it’s a challenge for every marketer hoping their content finds an audience. With multiple civilizations’ worth of data published every day, how can even the snazziest of infographics earn attention?

TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden has spent a decade learning what kind of content stands out from the rest. The solution is simple to say, but complicated to implement: your content must be the best answer to your customers’ questions.

To get the maximum amount of links and shares, to drive long-term search engine results, your content must be the best answer. Not content that showcases your products’ features. Not content that features .gifs of dancing cats (though it couldn’t hurt). Not even content that’s the second-best answer.

So, there you have it. Just be the best answer, and your audience will come to you. Now there’s just one small detail to figure out: How?

Lee tackled this issue in a recent webinar hosted by BuzzSumo Director Steve Rayson. Under Lee’s direction, TopRank Marketing has helped countless clients be the best answer in their respective industries, from small local businesses to Fortune 50 enterprises. You can watch the presentation below, or scroll down for the takeaways.

#1 – It Starts with a Question

Creating great content starts with finding out what questions your customers are asking. There are many ways to get inside your customers’ heads. Lee suggests:

  • Asking customers directly through email, surveys, etc
  • Asking sales staff what questions they answer every day
  • Having customer service CC the marketing department when they answer a question
  • Analyzing text from “Contact Us” form submissions
  • Using tools like BuzzSumo, Ubersuggest and Huballin

Look for correlations across multiple data sources to build your list of frequently asked questions. Then map them to stages in the buyer’s journey:

Customer Questions Drive Research

#2 – Write Valuable Content to Answer Questions

With your list of questions correlated and prioritized, it’s time to create valuable content that addresses them. Valuable content is:

  • Useful and informative. It seeks to answer a question, not bait-and-switch customers into purchasing a product.
  • Is your company qualified to answer the question? Do you have a reputation for knowledge in the field? If you need help here, consider partnering with influencers to add credibility.
  • High Quality. The best answer tends to be an in-depth exploration of the topic, including related topics where relevant. 5-point blog posts are all well and good, but you can show more value by going in-depth.
  • The content is not only relevant and informative, it’s entertaining to read.
  • Better than the Competition. Writing content that is better than your competitors’ requires research. Read what others have written on the topic, find unmet needs, and use your content to fill in the gaps.

#3 – Optimize for Humans (which Optimizes for Search Engines)

“Great content isn’t really great until it is found, consumed and shared.” Click to Tweet 

While SEO best practices are still important, quality content is the best SEO. When people are compelled to share and link to your content, search engines move you up in their rankings.

Good Answers Are Great SEO

The key is to go deep while still being entertaining. Use video and photos to keep readers’ interest. It’s worth investing in the resources to create visual content that pops.

And don’t forget crosslinking: Your comprehensive “best answer” content should link to external, and especially internal, resources that provide more information or offer next steps.

#4 – 10 Elements of Good “Best Answer” Posts

  1. They’re focused on one specific problem
  2. They provide social proof with social share count buttons
  3. They include great visuals & video
  4. They break it down step-by-step
  5. They showcase real-life examples, storytelling to boost reader understanding
  6. They’re informative and entertaining, not one or the other
  7. They’re serialized to keep audiences in a state of anticipation
  8. They follow a format that resonates, but with new content each time
  9. They’re timely, deep resources
  10. They make a big promise in the title, and actually deliver in the content.

The Ultimate Takeaway:

So what’s the best way to compete with the mountains of content out there? According to Lee: Stop creating content. Just stop.

There has to be more to that quote. Let’s see…Ah, yes:

Stop creating content, and start making answers relevant to your buyers at each stage.Click to Tweet

People don’t think, “I need to consume some content about rollerblades before I buy a pair.” Instead, they have questions: What safety equipment should I use with my rollerblades? How durable are different types of rollerblade wheels? How did I get here from 1994 when rollerblading was a thing?”

When you answer these questions with deep, informative, entertaining content, you can earn attention. Continually deliver quality content that speaks directly to your customers’ concerns, problems, and pain points, and you can earn their trust.

Address each part of the buyer’s journey with “best answer” content, and you can gently lead them to the logical conclusion that your solution is what they’ve been searching for.

Want to learn more about content marketing strategy?

Header image via Shutterstock


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March 15th 2016 Online Marketing

4 Must-Have SEO Hacks for Better Mobile Marketing

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4-SEO-Hacks-Better-Mobile-Marketing

I’m in the process of finding a daycare. As a working parent, my lunches are spent perusing options on my phone as I eat my Jimmy Johns (sometimes Erberts & Gerberts if I’m feeling fancy). When I come to website that doesn’t render well, I leave. If the “Request a Tour” form is unmanageably long on mobile, I leave. The expectation of instant gratification when surfing is engraved in our mobile behavior.

With over 50% of all Google searches performed from a mobile device, it’s vital for website owners to ensure their websites are optimized for mobile.

Optimizing for mobile goes beyond just having a responsive website. Here are the 4 hacks for optimizing your site for optimal user experience.

#1 – Optimize Your Page Speed

Every. Second. Counts.

We’ve all experienced the pain of a website that’s slow to load, and this frustration is a leading factor for page abandonment. Delight your users with pages that load in the blink of an eye.  Apart from user-experience and page abandonment, page speed is also an important factor in Google ranking, so it’s important to test and address page speed regularly. An infographic from KISSmetrics features survey results correlating slower page response time with increased page abandonment. For mobile users, most survey participants say they typically wait 6-10 seconds before they abandon pages.

KISSMetrics Infographic

To check your current page speed, we recommend using Google’s free tool, PageSpeed Insights. This tool quickly tests how fast your site loads on mobile and desktop, identifies areas for improvement, and provides instructions on how to fix each item.

#2 – Standardize Your Local Search Presence

Whether your business has a local presence or not, Google is aware of a searcher’s physical location when any type of search is performed on mobile. They may not specify that they’re looking for a “State Park in Minnesota” but results will include geographical relevant results.  

Minnesota State Park

Standardizing your company’s NAP information (name, address, phone) across local directories ensure local customers can quickly locate accurate contact information, and will also support local rankings for searches related to your company, services or products. Tools like Moz Local allows users to feed consistent NAP information across hundreds of local directories.

#3 – Don’t Block CSS, JavaScript, or Images

Blocking these files used to be standard practice, as older mobile phones did not support these elements. Today’s smartphone capabilities are able to load CSS (style sheets), Javascript (commonly used for interactive effects) and images – and Google wants to access these too!

Blocking of these elements, along with other mobile-friendly standards can be uncovered using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

#4 – Analyze & Test

Let the data do the talking. Take a look at your website’s analytics to understand how mobile users interact with your website. Specifically, analyze what the most popular pages for mobile visitors are and which pages have the highest bounce rate for mobile visits. With these insights, pull up your site with a mobile device and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the most important information easy to find?
  • Are the forms short and simple to complete?
  • Are the images resizing correctly to fit your screen?
  • Is the company phone number “click-to-call”?

Call upon your coworkers or family to test your website on various mobile devices. You can also use free mobile rendering tools like Responsinator.com to emulate how your site loads on various devices.

Following these four mobile marketing hacks will help improve customer experience and make your website search engine friendly for mobile queries. Whether you’re the affordable daycare that I didn’t pursue, or the Jimmy Johns that made my day and my Turkey Tom, your ability to provide a great mobile experience can be the difference between an inquiry or sale and a user abandoning your website.

If you need help optimizing your mobile marketing presence to attract more customers, we’re here to help.

Header image via Shutterstock


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March 14th 2016 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Mobile Gets Personal, Facebook Buys MSQRD, Online Reviews Offline

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personalized mobile push notifications infographic

Mobile push notifications: Help or hindrance? [Infographic]
The marketing industry is obsessed with personalization, and rightfully so. It’d be foolish to think that consumers really want the generic, blanket content that was once our only option for mass communication. Personalization has again thrown its hat in the ring, and this time, it’s mobile. In fact, according to Microsoft’s infographic, personalized push notifications that align with user preferences see an up to 300% improvement in conversion rates. Microsoft Azure

Facebook acquires video filter app Msqrd to square up to Snapchat
In what many are saying is a play to keep up with Snapchat, Facebook has acquired video editing app MSQRD for an undisclosed amount. This app will allow users to add filters, stickers and texts on video through Facebook Messenger. According to TechCrunch, this isn’t the first time Facebook has taken a run at Snapchat. In fact, in the past they’ve tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to acquire the app for nearly $3 Billion. TechCrunch

Study: Reviews influence both online, offline shoppers
A new study from BazaarVoice shows that no matter where your customers are shopping for your product, online reviews are influencing their purchasing decisions. The study found that while 54% of online shoppers consulted online reviews before their purchase, 39% of in-store shoppers did the very same. What’s the point here? No matter where your customers ultimately make their purchase, your brand’s online reputation matters. BizReport

From the @toprank Twitter Community

Twitter community would choose data-informed marketing over lead attribution as a marketing priority for 2016.

Facebook Just Debuted Video for Its Growing Suite of Lead-Generation Ads
Facebook has stepped up its video lead generation game yet again, now enabling online advertisers to include a call to action within video ads that will lead consumers to contact forms. But Facebook didn’t stop there. The same day, they also announced that advertisers can now duplicate lead forms and edit fields across campaigns, integrate select CRM partners for lead gen ads, integrated MailChimp to automatically add leads to their lists, and select from more options in the disclaimer portion of their lead forms. Adweek

Responsive Design Mobile Marketing Emails Generate 24% More Clicks [Report]
With over half of all emails being opened on mobile devices, it should come as no surprise that emails designed for mobile receive more engagement than those that aren’t. A recent study from mYesmail shows that emails that use responsive design see 24% more email clicks, 55% higher mobile click-to-open rate, and even 23% higher desktop click-to-open rates. Despite the success of mobile, only 17% of brands are implementing responsive design in all of their emails. Marketing Land

In/Spree Launches Instagram for Shopping App on iOS
Finally, leaning on influencers for social selling has become more and more popular in terms of strategy since the onset of platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, and now In/Spree has taken the next step, launching their social shopping iOS app. According to Social Times, it’s “described as Instagram for shopping, the app allows users to follow influencers and shop for items that either match or are inspired by the items they’re wearing in pictures.” What dose this mean for social marketers? Along with rich pins you see on Pinterest, and video ad options for Instagram, this could be the next direction that retail marketers are taking in their social marketing strategy, integrating influencers in a natural and impactful way. SocialTimes

Google PLAs: Testing scrollable carousel on desktop & numbered rankings for “best” products go live
Google is testing a scrollable carousel, much like the one featured in mobile search, for product listings. This will bring the desktop search and mobile search experience in line if it takes off, as it’s one of many test Google has run on PLA layouts. They’ve also recently rolled out testing for Ranked PLAs — ‘top’ and ‘best’ products. To be chosen, Google clarified on Twitter, “first the top-rated products are selected to participate in the auction, where they then compete against each other for ad position. So the number one, or first ranked, ad isn’t necessarily the product with the best rating.” Search Engine Land

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend! I’ll be back next week with more online marketing news. Have something to share? Tweet me at @Tiffani_Allen or send it to @toprank using the hashtag #trnews!

Infographic via Microsoft Azure


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Online Marketing News: Mobile Gets Personal, Facebook Buys MSQRD, Online Reviews Offline | http://www.toprankblog.com

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March 11th 2016 Online Marketing

You Ought to Be in Pictures: 5 Amazingly Successful Brand Video Marketing Campaigns

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video-marketing-campaigns

My first cell phone was the unbreakable Nokia 3310. You could run over that thing with a tank and it would still be up for a game of Snake. At the time, its green-and-black display was a technological marvel: You could play games! Look at (pixelated monochrome) pictures! What a modern marvel it was.

Now, of course, almost all of us have a pocket-sized screen that puts the 3310’s to shame (if only they were half as durable…). Most of us are never more than arm’s length from our smartphone. And we’re using those screens primarily for video—fully 50% of all mobile traffic is video streaming.

Whether you’re B2B or C2C, your audience is watching videos. They spend more time with video content than blog content. Even senior executives watch and share: 75% watch work-related videos weekly, and over half share videos with their colleagues.

For marketers, the video revolution represents an enormous opportunity. But getting people to choose your video over thousands of other options can be a challenge. As with all content in a content-logged world, brands need to create extraordinary video to earn attention, likes, and shares.

The following five brands took content marketing best practices, applied them to tell extraordinary stories with visual interest, and experienced incredible success. Here’s how:

#1 – American Greetings: World’s Toughest Job

Most of us have experienced the nerve-wracking ordeal that is a job interview. Combine a job interview with the inherent awkwardness of video conferencing, and you have the recipe for a truly uncomfortable situation.

Greeting card company American Greetings capitalized on those fears by posting a fake job listing, then doing video conference interviews with respondents. Watch the video before you read the spoiler below:

As the interviewer details the harsh working conditions the job entails—no breaks, extra work on holidays, not even time off to sleep—the interviewees squirm in discomfort. Finally, he reveals the twist: He’s describing what moms do every day. The interviewees wipe away tears, talk about their own mothers, and the video ends with a quick link to American Greetings’ card creation website.

Why it Works:

American Greetings examines a familiar societal role in an unexpected way. The real people being interviewed are a surrogate for the viewer; our reaction mirrors theirs. Most importantly, they put the product in the background, focusing on the emotional heft of the content.

Takeaways:

  • Get at the meaning behind your product—people don’t buy cards because they enjoy spending money on folded paper.
  • Candid ‘reaction’ videos are hugely popular, and for good reason. They let the viewer imagine him or herself in the same situation.

#2 – Android: Friends Furever

It’s estimated that nearly 90% of web traffic is videos and pictures of cute animals doing cute things. Okay, I made that up—but if you check your Facebook feed, 90% seems about right. Android jumps into the cute animal trend with this simple-but-engaging video. It’s composed entirely of stock footage of animals in unlikely pairs, but still gets across Android’s point: Their software works on a variety of devices, not one monolithic product line. (*cough* Apple *cough*)

The video is charming, and definitely earned its over 23 million views. My favorite part, though, is in the comments. Android reveals that many of the animals in the video are cared for by non-profit organizations, and provides links to learn more and support them.

Why It Works:

Android puts the adorable animals front-and-center. It looks like any number of wildly-shared viral animal videos, until the slogan and logo come peeking in at the end. It seems designed to brighten someone’s day more than sell a product—so it’s free to do both.

Takeaways:

  • Less is more. Sometimes you can mute the dialog and let the video speak for itself.
  • Trust your audience. Android could have added a more pointed jab at Apple, or highlighted its product catalog, but they trusted the audience to make that connection.

#3 – Gainsight: Blank Space

Gainsight’s annual Pulse Conference is their biggest event—and biggest expense—of the year. They needed to bring in attendees to make sure the event was a success. Instead of a video with talking heads of the featured speakers, Gainsight earned attention with a playful approach unique for B2B conference marketing. They recruited Chief Customer Officers and VPs of Customer Success to lip sync an a capella version of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” with new lyrics:

The resulting video is a win for everyone involved. Gainsight attracted 2,000 new inquiries about the conference, the executives were featured in front of their company logo bringing humanity to their brands, and viewers got a catchy tune about customer satisfaction.

Why It Works:

Gainsight went all out with the production on this video. They drafted new lyrics to the song, hired an a capella group to perform it, and got their influencers to lip sync pretty convincingly. It’s light and playful, but still gets across the information: Gainsight knows a lot about customer satisfaction, they work with these brands, and they have a conference coming up.

Takeaways:

  • Employ influencers in unexpected ways. You can bet every exec featured in this video shared it with their network.
  • For top-of-funnel video, entertaining the viewer is paramount. Make it fun, make it catchy, and people will watch through to the CTA.

#4 – Always: Like a Girl

Ads for feminine hygiene products have not, historically, been the most compelling pieces of content marketing. Usually they go for the “blue liquid pouring into a pad” or “women walking through a meadow talking about life” tropes.

Always took a sledgehammer to those tropes with their #LikeAGirl campaign. They asked young women to throw “like a girl,” or hit “like a girl,” with the expected results. Then they asked younger girls—those who hadn’t absorbed negative stereotypes—the same question. The striking difference provides a humbling lesson in what “like a girl” can—and should—mean.

The resulting video is empowering, inspiring, and contains not a single scene of blue liquid being dumped on anything.

Why it Works:

Like American Greetings did with motherhood, Always challenges the audience to examine something they usually take for granted. They don’t hold back on their message of empowerment, and they’re aiming for a cultural stereotype far broader than their product line.

Takeaways:

  • Think about customers outside of where their lives intersect with your product.
  • Take a stand: How can you use your brand and your platform to make the world a better place?

#5 – GoPro: Hero in Action

As one of the kings of content marketing, GoPro has built an empire out of user-generated content from skateboarders, surfers, and other extreme sports fans. So it’s surprising that one of their more popular videos doesn’t feature a single half pipe or mountain face:

The fireman who attempts to save the kitten originally uploaded the video to his YouTube account. GoPro spotted the footage, and with the owner’s permission re-packaged it and posted it to the main GoPro account. Currently the video sits at just under 30 million views.

Why It Works:

With this video, GoPro expanded the idea of what their product was for. It could highlight instances of everyday heroism, not just extreme-sports hedonism. They were able to tell a compelling, human story that reached a wider audience than their usual fare.

The Takeaways:

  • Always take an opportunity to celebrate everyday heroes.
  • Don’t be afraid to broaden your brand’s emotional palette.

There’s No Business Like Show Business

With the advent of content marketing, brands suddenly had to become publishing houses. Will video marketing turn every brand into a Hollywood studio?

Probably not. You don’t need a whole film crew to make most of the videos on this list. Keep your content relevant, customer-focused, and entertaining, and you won’t need Michael Bay-size budgets to excel.

Want to learn more about content marketing strategy? How can we help?

Header image via Shutterstock

 


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March 9th 2016 Online Marketing, video