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.

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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

Online Marketing News: Millennial Micro Influencers, Apple Clips, Facebook Seasons

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Infographic: Who Is the Millennial Female Micro Influencer?
Who is a millennial female micro influencer? How does she compare to your average social media user? She tends to have a larger following with more engagement, and posts about topics like travel, fashion and health and fitness. This infographic sums up who this person is and what her followers and habits are like. AdWeek

Apple introduces Clips: the fun, new way to create expressive videos on iOS
This week, Apple introduced Clips — a new way to create expressive videos out of music, photos, video clips and more. These Clips also feature interactive titles that are based on your voice, and are easily posted directly to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo or a variety of other platforms. Apple

New: Save Your Live Video to Your Phone
Late last week, Instagram announced the newest addition to its live videos – users can now save their live videos directly to their devices. However, these saved videos will not retain comments, number of views or interaction data. Instagram

52% Say Majority of Their Business Marketing Activity Is Digital [DATA]
Search Engine Journal reports: “According to a survey sent out to Search Engine Journal’s Twitter audience, 52% say majority of the overall marketing activity for their business is digital.” Does this mean that brands are straying away from traditional advertising in favor of digital? According to a recent study by AdRoll, 65% of marketing decision makers spent more than half of their marketing budget on digital marketing. Search Engine Journal

Facebook rolls out seasonal greetings at the top of the News Feed
Facebook’s Goodwill team — the same folks that brought us Friend’s Day videos — have rolled out new animated media to announce the change of the season. In the northern hemisphere, users will see images of birds and flowers. In the southern hemisphere, users will see falling leaves. TechCrunch

New: LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences will target ads based on people’s web browsing, email addresses
According to Marketing Land, “Later this year LinkedIn will once again let businesses target the people who visit their websites with ads on the Microsoft-owned, business-centric social network. On top of re-adding website retargeting — which is already offered by Facebook, Google, Twitter and Pinterest — LinkedIn will also enable business to target ads based on people’s email addresses, as its aforementioned rivals already do.” Marketing Land

How Much Instagram Influencers Charge to Post Sponsored Content
MarketingProfs reports: “Influencers charge $271, on average, to share a sponsored post on Instagram […] Modeling influencers charge the most ($434, on average) per sponsored Instagram post. Music influencers charge the least ($201, on average). Modeling influencers also tend to have the largest audiences (141,563 followers, on average), and music influencers tend to have the smallest (26,403).” MarketingProfs

Google Admits Brand Safety Is a Global Problem
Prompted by recent events in the UK, where a media group paused all of its clients’ display spending due to ads appearing next to questionable and/or unsafe content through Google’s ad network, Google is reevaluating their practices around unsafe advertising. However, advertisers must also call themselves into account and ensure they understand where and how their ads are being placed. For brands to maintain safety, everyone needs to be watching. Ad Age

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

I’ll be back next week with more online marketing news. If you have something to share, sound off in the comments or Tweet to @toprank.

The post Online Marketing News: Millennial Micro Influencers, Apple Clips, Facebook Seasons appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

March 24th 2017 Online Marketing

Superheroes of Social Media: Your Must-See Guide to #SMMW17

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In a past life, I was a minor internet celebrity. One big perk to that dubious career was being a vendor at San Diego Comic Con for seven straight years. Our little indie booth saw visits from superheroes and celebrities alike. Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, DC & Marvel Comics: It’s truly a nerdy paradise.

Now I’m headed back to the convention center for a different kind of meetup: Social Media Marketing World 2017. I’m expecting fewer costumed superheroes (although with the right pair of glasses I could pull off a Seth Godin costume). But there will be plenty of astonishing and amazing marketers to meet.

These folks may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound—though I hear Ann Handley has an impressive long jump—but when it comes to getting results on social media, they’re nothing short of heroic.

Here are five social media superheroes I’m excited to see at Social Media Marketing World, and a quick rundown of their sessions.

#1: Carlos Gil

The Marketer: Carlos is an influencer, sought-after public speaker, social media strategist and Snapchat expert. He’s currently the Head of Global Social Media for BMC Software. Carlos’ YouTube Channel is an entertaining, informative mix of personal anecdote and professional insight.

The Session: Snapchat Strategies for Marketing Your Business, March 23, 2:00-2:45pm

For many businesses—especially in the B2B space—Snapchat is something of an enigma. Besides applying funny filters to our CEO’s headshots, what’s the marketing potential? Where’s the ROI? Carlos’ session promises to teach “how to grow your Snapchat account, strategies for content creation, tips for working with influencers including examples from notable brands and measuring the $ ROI of your marketing efforts. You will also discover how to use Spectacles for content creation and how to balance Instagram vs. Snapchat to engage your community.”

Secret Superhero Identity: The Flash

There’s only one superhero who matches up with the man who created “The Hustle Diaries.”

#2: Ann Handley

The Marketer: Ann is a personal hero of mine, as she should be for anyone in content creation. She is waging a war on boring content, fighting for truth, justice, and personality. As the Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, Ann practices what she preaches, curating and creating a treasure trove of instructional content. Think you’re not in the content creation business? Think again: As the title of her bestselling book points out: Everybody Writes.

The Session: How to Create Breakthrough Written Marketing Content, March 23, 11:30am-12:15pm

When visual is the new headline, video is the new blog post, and orange is the new black, do we really need to focus on the written word? Absolutely. Ann says, “Even in our social media-driven world, good writing still matters. Now more than ever. Good writing can move your marketing from mediocre to remarkable. From boring to brilliant.” Ann’s writing is always compelling, and her session is bound to be indispensable for marketers of every stripe.

Secret Superhero Identity: Oracle

From her tiny writing house, Ann keeps marketers informed and masterminds a content empire.

#3: Lee Odden

The Marketer: Lee is the CEO of TopRank Marketing, author of the bestselling book Optimize, and a speaker at marketing conferences around the world. Lee is a pioneer in integrated marketing, influencer marketing, and participation marketing, keeping steadily ahead of the curve as TopRank Marketing grows.

The Session: Future of Influencer Marketing: Strategies and Trends March 24, 10:15-11:00am

Influencer marketing has the potential to generate amazing results for influencers, marketers, and audiences alike. But most of us are still trying to define what exactly influencer marketing means, its potential and best practices. This session focuses on the habits of successful marketers to identify trends to embrace and obstacles to avoid, based on Influence 2.0, TopRank Marketing’s research with Altimeter and Traackr.

Secret Superhero Identity: Professor X

He’s built a team of super-powered marketers and seems to have the ability to read his audience’s minds.

#4: Koka Sexton

The Marketer: Koka is the Godfather of Social Selling, the strategic use of social media for sales enablement and acceleration. After a meteoric rise through the ranks at LinkedIn, he is currently the Global Industry Principal of Social Selling at Hootsuite. Koka’s ability to bridge the divide between sales and marketing demonstrates his deep understanding of what social means to business.

The Session: How to Turn LinkedIn Into a Funnel for New Leads, March 24, 11:15m-12:00pm

Koka has unique insight into winning strategies on LinkedIn, as the only LinkedIn Influencer who has ever worked at the company. Expect deep-level insights from someone who helped shape the platform into the B2B powerhouse it is today.

Secret Superhero Identity: Iron Man

He’s a sales and marketing machine with charisma to spare.

#5: Mari Smith

The Marketer: Known as the “Facebook Queen,” Mari has a decade of experience as a social media consultant and trainer. She’s an international keynote speaker and has shared the stage with luminaries like Sir Richard Branson, Ariana Huffington, and Guy Kawasaki. The numbers speak for themselves: Mari has over 650 thousand followers on Facebook alone, and over 1.5 million across social channels.

The Session: How to Improve Your Facebook Marketing ROI, March 23, 10:30-11:15am

Of the 60 million businesses who have a Facebook Page, less than a tenth are actively advertising, and even fewer are seeing positive ROI from their efforts. Many businesses gave up on earning organic reach on the platform as Facebook placed emphasis on paid promotion. Mari’s session promises to teach “specific content marketing secrets, savvy engagement tactics, and cleverly allocated paid promotion,” to “improve your organic reach by properly integrating strategic paid efforts.”

Secret Superhero Identity: Ms. Marvel

She’s a high-flying, high-visibility marketer who can still deliver a knockout for her clients.

Marketers, Assemble!

If you’re headed to Social Media Marketing World, keep an eye out for me and Ashley Zeckman. Feel free to stop by and say hello any time you see the gleam off the top of my head. If you can’t make it follow along on Twitter at @TopRank, @LeeOdden, @NiteWrites and @azeckman.

What sessions are you most excited to attend? Let me know in the comments.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
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March 23rd 2017 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Netflix Teaches B2B, Email Benchmarks & Facebook is a Copycat

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What B2B marketers can learn from Netflix [Infographic]
What could B2B marketers possibly learn from Netflix? It turns out, quite a bit. Namely, that scheduled marketing needs to take a back seat to content that’s packaged for consumption when your prospects are ready. LookBookHQ

Email Marketing Benchmarks: 4Q16 Average Open, Click, and Bounce Rates
A new study from Experian shows that email open and click metrics remained fairly stable year-over-year in 2016, but the average transaction-to-click rate grew by 10% and the average bounce rate increased by 11.8%. MarketingProfs

Facebook Messenger copies Facebook’s copy of Instagram’s copy of Snapchat Stories
Yes, you read that headline correctly. There is some truth behind all that sass. Last week, Facebook messenger rolled out it’s copy of Facebook Stories — a copy of the story feature owned first by Snapchat and later adopted by Instagram. They’re calling Messenger Day. Marketing Land

U.S. Digital Advertising Will Make $83 Billion This Year, Says EMarketer
In 2017, eMarketer estimates that digital advertising revenues will grow to $83 billion. Leading that charge is Google with about 40% of that share of revenue, followed by Facebook with about 20%. Things are even closer when it comes to mobile revenue, with Google owning 32% of the market and Facebook owning 25%. AdWeek

Google’s Share of Search Ad Market Projected to Grow to 80% by 2019
Search Engine Journal reports: “According to research firm eMarketer, Google is projected to hold 80% of the search ad market by 2019. As of last year, Google held 75.8% of the search ad market and this year it is currently holding on to 77.8%.” Search Engine Journal

Snapchat Receives Poor Grades From Marketers
Marketers are reporting seeing low return from advertising on Snapchat. According to a recent study, Snapchat was outperformed by Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo and YouTube. The media platform did, however, outperform AOL. Ad Age

Ad Exchange Launches, Aims To Transform Ad Inventory Into Standardized Securities
MediaPost reports: “There’s a new ad exchange, and it’s not programmatic. The NYIAX (New York Interactive Advertising Exchange), launched on Tuesday, aims to change ad inventory into standardized securities. The NYIAX will run on the Nasdaq’s technology infrastructure and be platform-agnostic.” MediaPost

1055% higher share rate on Facebook native videos
Social media analytics provider quintly published a new study which found that users interact with Facebook videos at a 109.67% higher rate than they do YouTube videos, and that users are sharing Facebook videos at a 477.76% higher rate. quintly

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more online marketing news. In the meantime, check out the @toprank feed or our YouTube channel!

The post Online Marketing News: Netflix Teaches B2B, Email Benchmarks & Facebook is a Copycat appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

March 17th 2017 Online Marketing

Broad Vs. Niche Content: How to Find the Right Content Marketing Balance

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’Cause whether you’re high or low, you gotta tip on the tightrope.” –Janelle Monae

Content marketing can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope through treacherous crosswinds. On one side, you have the need for brand recognition: Followers, likes, shares, all the metrics that make marketers feel good.

On the other, there’s the need to prove effectiveness through lead capture, conversions, and closed deals. These metrics used to be the sales department’s problem. As marketing becomes more data-driven, though, marketers are increasingly held responsible for proving their contribution to revenue.

Sometimes we end up swaying from one side to the other, constantly over-correcting. It’s hard to make forward progress if you’re just trying to keep your footing.

The good news is, once you find the right balance you can quickly pick up speed. You can make minor adjustments to make even more progress. You can attract the right audience and help lead them to a purchase decision.

Let’s take a look at two unbalanced ways to approach the problem, then explore what a healthy balance looks like.

Approach #1: Fill the Top of the Funnel

This marketing mentality comes from a reasonable place. Your pipeline is a funnel that has more people at the top and fewer at the bottom. So the more you fill the top, the more paying customers you will eventually acquire. Right?

So you create content that’s maximized for clicks and sharing. Let’s say your company makes artisanal handcrafted backscratchers. But you see a trending video with a dog jumping into a pool. So you make a compilation video of dogs jumping into pools. It’s a great video and it goes viral.

The problem is, if the content is irrelevant to your actual product offering, you’re hitting the wrong audience.

You can’t ask that audience to take the next step, because they haven’t taken a first step.

Approach #2: Focus on the Bottom of the Funnel

So pulling in a broad but irrelevant audience doesn’t work. Why not take it to the other extreme, and focus on the people that you know are interested in your product? They’re more likely to go straight from your content to a purchase decision.

That means creating content that convinces people your backscratcher is the best. Videos that highlight the hours spent lovingly whittling each backscratching tine. Blog posts about how most backscratchers use fake leather to wrap the handle, highlighting your genuine leather handles.

Anyone in the market for a backscratcher would be a fool to buy any other brand after reading your content.

But how many people are already in the market? How many even know there are multiple backscratching options out there?

Most importantly, how many people with itchy backs will never see your content? They’re not searching “what’s the best backscratcher,” they’re searching, “upper back skin irritation.”

This approach can capture a fraction of your potential audience, but leaves the majority out in the cold.

Four Tips for an Effective Content Balance

It should be clear by now that neither approach is going to keep you moving forward on your marketing tightrope. Here’s how to find the balance that will let you sprint down that rope to your next big goal.

#1: All Content Should Single Out Your Audience

Regardless of funnel stage, every piece of content you create should be relevant to your audience in some way. That means clearly defining who your audience is… but also defining who your audience is not. Don’t create content for people who want the cheapest backscratcher. They’re not your people. Focus on people who are likely to be moved by your value proposition.

#2: Create a High Ratio of Top of Funnel Content

Most organizations have more bottom of funnel content than top—like I said, it’s easier to connect that content to revenue. However, depending on your audience, you should have more top of funnel content than any other type. Just keep in mind the first point: It needs to be relevant content designed to be a first step towards a purchase.

#3: Don’t Neglect Mid-Funnel Content

It’s important to address the area between “my back itches sometimes, but whatever” and “I need a $100 artisanal backscratcher.” The middle of the funnel is where you can provide the most value to your potential audience. You’re positioning the brand as an authority in your industry, providing helpful information, improving your audience’s lives and earning trust. It’s a crucial step in the process.

#4: Bring It Home with Bottom of Funnel Content

In a well-balanced content plan, you will likely create the least amount of bottom of funnel content. That’s okay, because your early content was relevant and your middle content led the buyer further in their buyer’s journey. Now you just need a few pieces that speak directly to your different audience segments.

Each piece should show one segment exactly why your solution is right for them. One might talk about the sustainable hardwood in your backscratchers, another about durability, another might be an industry study on how well different brands of backscratcher alleviate an itch.

Check Your Balance

How can you tell if your content is perfectly balanced? Check your analytics. If you’re getting tons of impressions in search results but no clicks, or lots of page traffic but no response to your CTA, your top of funnel content needs to be more relevant.

If you have a high conversion percentage but low overall traffic, you’re too focused on the bottom. If you get plenty of blog subscribers but no purchases, that’s likely a middle funnel deficit.

Keep making adjustments to better give your potential customers what they need. As you balance your content, you’re likely to find traffic and conversions rising.

In other words, if you scratch their backs… they’ll scratch yours.

Need more help finding your balance? Learn how TopRank Marketing does content marketing.


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March 16th 2017 Online Marketing

5 Psychological Factors That Affect Your Sales

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People don’t make any purchases like they used to. Most of them make their buying decisions on Google, other buyers are done digitally. Each customer typically uses different interaction channels to finish their buying journey.

Using the common acclaim in sales and digital marketing is imperative, but many companies are still behind with their efforts. You often hear this phrase: "We know that it is very important, but we don’t know where to start". Most business owners should spend enough time on sales.

Convincing your customers should be one of the key jobs for each marketer and advertiser. They always face two important problems that can affect your business decision-taking process. First of all, what you need to do, and, secondly, how to get moving. To grow your sales and improve your brand awareness, you should take the advantage of five psychological factors that can explain and impact on customers’ decision-making.

1. Use social proof to boost sales

As you know people love to be a part of something big. They love to feel their peers accept a product before they make a crucial decision. There are various social proof tactics that can affect your sales. You can use product reviews, polls, surveys, expert or celebrity approval, etc.

The approach of social proof is closely associated with the approach of liking. We all are social creatures and we like everything that delights the eye. Other people do that as well. Everything that displays the popularity of your products and your website can enhance a response.

Many studies reveal that 70% of consumers rely on product reviews before your decision-making. Make sure that product reviews are more reputable than product descriptions made by manufacturers. This tactic is perfectly demonstrated by Bestmattress Brand that provides a list of the most popular mattress and beds reviews.

Description: seochat social proof.png

Make sure that product reviews are not the only way to show social proof. You can also use other ways to increase sales:

  1. Polls and surveys. Most of companies use this tactic when they state like "92% of clients are pleased with their purchases".
  2. Expert or celebrity approval. Many brands take after this strategy to increase sales. Influencer or celebrity words mean a lot in a certain industry.
  3. Follower counts. Using social media icon on a page that shows a number of followers and shares is a good form of social proof. When people see these tickers, they are more likely to share it themselves.

2. Use the principle of consistency and commitment

Many brands go all out to be consistent in their actions and works – even they do things that are totally unwise. If you want to highlight something in your product or make changes in your life, it will be useful to state your benefits publicly. As soon as you do it out loud or online, you should build up more incentives to complete your sales deal.

As a marketer, if you want to get more clients, you need to make a good commitment to your brand. For example, you can use like sign up for the newsletter or try out for free. This is one of the most effective principles behind WorkExaminer:

Description: commitment.png

But if you actually don’t offer products or services, for example, you offer online courses or tutorials, even if there is no official commitment, you will get more chances to increase your sales. For example, WHSR demonstrates it in a proper way. They make it as coherent as possible – download now, start e-course and read review.

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I also love Zappos’ shipping and returns policy that provides less dissidence for customers. If they don’t like anything, they can easily return it. This is a good commitment to increase sales.

3. Use free offers

It is common knowledge that people love all free things. No matter what you write or post, as soon as people view the word "free", they will stop and study your offers. Even if you provide offers that don’t intrigue people, some customers will respond you, just because it is free.

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Each marketer or advertiser should get the value of "free". When customers shop online and understand that they need to spend $10 to get free shipping, they will add another product to their shopping cart to get this free shipping.

Description: free.gif

Make sure that another $10 or more can boost the size of your transaction. That’s why 60% of companies use and think this marketing tool like " free shipping with conditions" the most effective. When it comes to e-commerce companies, free shipping and trials are enough to convert leads into customers.

Based on the research from Duke professor Dan Ariely, free offers give us an emotional snatch that we feel what is being offered as tremendously valuable than it can be. It should imperative for you to use this factor to your advantage.

4. Boost desire using the scarcity principle

The principle of scarcity is one of the most effective ones that highly motivate people by the thought not to lose something important. If someone tells you about something that you don’t have, – man, you will want to have it.

Online marketers use this principle to offer their products and services that can soon be disappeared or somebody attempts to discontinue a certain product. It is important to use deadlines for your sales. Lily Pulitzer counts seconds when sale prices will be unavailable.

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Another online shop ModMom use the principle "out-of-stock announcements". You need to hurry up to get this product –  only 3 left!

Description: scarcity-example.jpg

Seasonal or limited sales are another great tactic to attract more sales. The fact that the product is kind of limited within a certain period of time really motivates people and make them feel like a chance to "win" it.

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5. Integrate the appearance of authority

Most of famous companies are inclined to the principle of authority. People seem hard-wired to respond to influencers.  When people see a man in a white coat that tells something important about products, it will build up the compliance effect for all volunteers.

If you have some secret content of your products, you can integrate the credentials from professionals like Herbalife:

Description: herbalife.jpg

Showing different course books are another good example of authority. Especially, if you use books with big names and they share their secrets of awesome sauces or other dishes:

Description: cookbook-village.jpg

Summing up…

There are a bunch of other psychological factors that affect your sales, but these five referenced in this post stand out in recent years as the most effective factors in online marketing.

Whether you use the principle of authority, scarcity, social proof, etc, it’s evident that online marketers can easily integrate these psychological impacts to increase online sales and income flow.

Sprinkle these factors across the website and watch how your sales go up!

The post 5 Psychological Factors That Affect Your Sales appeared first on SEO Chat.

March 16th 2017 Google, Online Marketing