4 Digital Marketing Investments All Companies Should Be Making Now

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DIGITAL-MARKETING-INVESTMENTS

It’s safe to say that not one company is sitting around scratching their head saying “I have all of this marketing budget to spare, what can I spend it on?”. Budgets are tight, and marketing budgets are often the first to feel the pain of cuts.

Traditional marketing tactics often come at a high price, and it can be difficult to track return. Alternatively, the vast array of digital marketing tactics evolve frequently and can quickly become overwhelming.

Each year, companies are investing more and more in digital marketing. In fact, Econsultancy found that 77% of marketers were planning on increasing digital marketing budgets in 2015. But the question on many marketers’ minds is: Where exactly should these digital marketing funds be invested?

Below are 4 areas you should consider investing your digital marketing spend in 2015.

#1 – A Technically Sound & Optimized Website

A website is your calling card to the outside world. If it doesn’t work or isn’t optimized for mobile customers, they’ll quickly move on and will find one that does what they need.

Does your website pass the following tests?

  • Page Load Speed: Google’s PageSpeed tool will provide you with a page load speed score and provide recommendations for fixing any issues.
  • Responsive Design: The number of mobile users searching the web will only continue to grow. Use a tool like Am I Responsive? to see how your website displays across multiple devices.
  • Encourages Lead Conversions: Are your customers finding what they expected when they reach your website? Are you making it as easy as possible for people to reach you via contact forms or phone numbers? If the answer to either of those questions is no, your website is not optimized to encourage lead conversions.
  • Optimized for Organic Search: If you’re not an SEO expert, it can sometimes be hard to understand what exactly it takes to make your website optimized. All of your website content including title tags, meta descriptions, urls and more should all be optimized for the key terms and phrases that you want to appear for in search engine results.

#2 – Understanding Your Customers

Your customers should affect every aspect of your digital marketing strategy. The way that they interact with and consumer information should inform your SEO, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Social Media strategies and beyond.

In order to better understand customers and make a more impactful digital marketing strategy, you must complete:

  • Customer Research: This can take on many forms. Your current customers are the best place to start. Depending on your business model you can schedule a conversation with some of your best clients, or send out surveys to customers that have purchased once or many times.
  • Persona Development: Once you’ve collected customer data, you need to begin understanding how to mold a digital marketing strategy around that information. The data collected will help inform what topics and types of content makes the most sense for customers based on their needs and stage in the buying cycle.

#3 – Consistent, Creative & Compelling Content Creation

The 2015 B2B Content Marketing report shows that marketers recognize that blogging is not content marketing. While it’s a very important component, it’s not the only tactic you should be focusing on:

b2b content marketing tactics

However, before you begin deciding which tactics to invest in, you must first get a handle on:

  • Audits: If you’ve already identified your digital marketing opportunities, congratulations! However, for most marketers, the hardest part is knowing where to start. Either internally or with an agency like TopRank Marketing, we recommend that you audit the performance of your current content marketing activities and uncover your biggest opportunities for impact.
  • Content Marketing Strategy: A comprehensive content marketing strategy will include the targets, tactics and promotion for every content marketing asset throughout the year. As mentioned above, blogging is merely an element of a content marketing strategy, not a strategy all in of itself.
  • Resources: Today’s customers require compelling content and visuals that inspire them to take the next step. A content marketing strategy is only as good as the team that you have working for you. It doesn’t matter if it is internal team members or external resources, this is an incredibly important of digital marketing to invest in.

#4 – Paid Digital Marketing Amplification

What good is digital marketing if nobody sees or shares it? While it is always important to maintain a strong organic search and social presence, you should also consider making an investment in paid tactics.

  • Paid Social: Organic reach on social media platforms just isn’t what it used to be. Paid social on websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can help you target your digital marketing to the right people, for the action you want them to take.
  • Paid Search: Incorporating a paid search strategy can be the added boost that your digital marketing needs. There is an art to writing paid search campaigns and they can become expensive so make sure that you’re working with someone that can help guide you on your approach.

Knowing When to Partner with an Agency

It doesn’t matter if you’re a large enterprise company or a small startup, sometimes you need to ask for help. Below are three signs that you may need the help of a digital marketing agency:

  • You’re Looking for Expertise: Agency teams are typically comprised of teams that specialize in specific areas of digital marketing. Instead of hiring a team of experts, strategists, practitioners and project managers, you may want to consider partnering with an agency.
  • You Have Other Priorities: You may recognize that you have a digital marketing need, but your internal team is already strapped and focused on larger business objectives. If you want a team that can integrate with your existing staff, and help you work toward common business objectives an agency may be right for you.
  • Hiring Your Own Staff is Too Expensive: The cost of hiring new employees and paying their salaries, benefits and any other miscellaneous costs can quickly add up. One of the many benefits of working with an agency is that you have access to a whole team of digital marketers, at a reasonable price.

If you’ve felt the pressure to increase your digital marketing budget, you’re not alone. A marketing program can be a big investment, but it should be data driven and focused on results. If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency whose core values and business objectives align with your own, consider trying on TopRank Marketing for size.

Image via Shutterstock


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August 11th 2015 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Victoria’s Secret Is Social, Live From Facebook, Twitter Bulks Up

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SEO Mistakes To Avoid

SEO Tactics You Must Stop Right Away [INFOGRAPHIC] – It’s hard out there for content. The top 3 search results on Google get 61% of clicks. And 75% of Google users don’t ever look at second page of search results. So what are some of the most common mistakes that people make when they are trying to get good SEO? This infographic is a great primer. Social Media Today

Connect with Public Figures Through Live On Facebook We’re excited to introduce a new way for you to connect and interact with your favorite public figures on Facebook — through live video. Facebook

YouTube to Provide More Up-To-Date View Counts, No More 301+ Views – YouTube announced on Twitter today that its about to provide more timely video view counts, which means the infamous “301+ views” will become a thing of the past. Search Engine Journal

Survey: 90 Percent Of Retail Shoppers Use Smartphones In Stores – Mobile loyalty company SessionM recently surveyed 12,000 randomly selected US smartphone users about their mobile shopping behaviors. The company found that 85 percent of respondents said their m-commerce buying was steady or had increased versus a year ago. Marketing Land

And the Winner of Social Media Is… Victoria’s Secret [Study] – Looking at 50 major brands in various industries, Victoria’s Secret was the only one to score top marks across all eight social media platforms analyzed by Spredfast. ClickZ

Google: 180% Increase In Hacked Sites In The Past Year – Google launched their #NoHacked campaign again and shared some really sad news. In the past year, Google saw a 180% increase in hacked sites. That is just insane. Search Engine Roundtable

Facebook in Q2: Mobile Accounts for 76% of Total Ad Revenue – Not surprisingly, it’s full speed ahead for Facebook’s transition to a mobile company, as mobile advertising revenue accounted for 76 percent of the company’s total ad revenue for the second quarter of 2015, up from 62 percent in the year-ago period. SocialTimes

Instagram Ad Sales to Grow 5X in Next Two Years – It will then account for an estimated 28% of Facebook global ad revenues, says an eMarketer study. Direct Marketing News

Google Introduces New Schema Markup for Critic Reviews in SERPs – Google has introduced a new type of Schema markup that can be used to display detailed critic review knowledge graph cards in the search results pages. Search Engine Journal

New Google Analytics Reports For AdSense & Ad Exchange – Google mentioned on Google+ that Google Analytics introduced new sections for reporting on AdSense data and Ad Exchange data. Search Engine Roundtable

Facebook Lets Users Send Businesses Private Messages – Facebook is going to give businesses some social customer support power that is usually provided by external management toolsFacebook

Twitter Introduces Bulk Editing Tool For Managing Ad Campaigns – New “ads editor” enables advertisers to create and adjust campaigns using spreadsheets. Marketing Land

From our Online Marketing Community:

In response to 4 Ways to Build Content Marketing Authority with SlideShare, Josue Valles  said, “Hey Lee, great post. I used to repurpose my articles on SlideShare long time ago. The results were great, but I got lazy and stopped doing it. I’ll start again. Thanks for sharing such amazing information!”

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

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Fertile Frog


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August 7th 2015 Online Marketing

The Mortified Marketer: 8 Lessons To Help Evolve Your Content Marketing Strategy

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The Mortified Content Marketer

Blogging, Day 1
Dear Diary,
Today I wrote my first blog post. Everyone is going to love it! I am going to blog every day.

Blogging, Day 10
Dear Diary,
I can’t think of anything to write. I’ve published one post, and the only person that read it was my mom.

The format above may sound familiar if you’ve ever heard the Mortified podcast (if you haven’t tuned in, you’re really missing out). In this podcast, adults get on stage and read passages from their journals, plays or fan fiction, all penned when they were children or teenagers.

Their understanding of how the world works (and their place in it) has vastly evolved from the time they wrote these entries, to the time they read them on stage.

As content marketers, we’ve all likely gone through our own evolution. What we thought was a thought-provoking, awe inspiring blog post 10 years ago, looks much different now to our well-trained eye.

Unfortunately, we are all sometimes guilty of falling back into our old ways. But not to worry, here are 8 content marketing lessons to remember in order to keep yourself from being mortified.

#1 – Create Content That Resonates & Inspires Action

Take a moment to think about what drives your current content marketing strategy…

Is it brand message, new products and services or maybe your keyword strategy? It can be easy to fall into the trap of using content to push a business agenda or share information about new offerings. Don’t be ashamed, we’ve all done it.

A past report from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute found that 70% of B2B content created is never used. And the most cited reason why B2B content goes unused is that the topic was irrelevant to the buyer audience.

What a content strategy SHOULD be focused on is the needs of customers. Instead of focusing on the benefits and features of your products, focus instead on customer needs and issues.

Believe it or not, sometimes the content you produce will not be directly related to your services, but focused entirely on helping potential and current customers solve a business problem.

Each piece of content should inspire some sort of action from the reader. This could be commenting on a blog post, downloading a white paper or eBook and maybe even reaching out to contact your company.

#2 – Simplify Your Approach

Complexity doesn’t always improve the quality of a content marketing object. It’s very easy to get swept up in creating complex marketing programs with too many variables. Especially if you’re like many marketers and working with a small team, and a tight budget. Personally I’ve found myself becoming overzealous in trying to create as many things as possible to satisfy clients (internal and external) then realized that it was impossible to do any of them well, because it was just too much.

Make things easier on yourself and better for your customers by focusing on creating content that is impactful and inspires action.

A great way to scale the value that your content provides is to repurpose content that has performed well. This will help you get additional value, over content that has already been created, but has been repurposed intelligently.

#3 – Choose Automation Over Manual Process

It can be a struggle to adopt an automated solution after spending years building a manual process. You may have spent months or even years finding a way to make a process hum (even if it does take 10 hours to execute).

Part of simplifying your process is understanding when to bring in tools to create efficiency. True, tools won’t always replicate or replace some elements of your manual process, but they will speed up delivery and free up your time to focus on more impactful content marketing efforts.

#4 – Don’t Forget to Amplify Your Content

Promotion of great content marketing can often be an afterthought. You’ve spent so much effort putting together your content masterpiece that by the time it’s done, you’re ready to move on to the next opportunity.

It doesn’t matter if you’re creating a blog post or an eBook, you need to have a plan for promoting the content asset. For each piece of content, always consider the following:

  • What websites/platforms will be used for promotion?
  • What message will resonate best with the audience on each website/platform?
  • Is there budget available to incorporate paid search and social advertising?

#5 – Spend Time Building Relationships

Everyone is busy, and taking the time to build relationships (both online and offline) can seem like a daunting task. At some point or another it’s likely that the majority of us have reached out to someone because we thought they could help promote our cause. And they didn’t respond. Why?

Each relationship takes time  and must be mutually beneficial. If you’re trying to connect with influencers, keep it simple (they’re busy) and create value for them. It’s likely that they get a great deal of requests like yours on a daily or weekly basis, so do what you can to differentiate your request.

Part of your content amplification strategy can include reaching out to people that you have relationships with and asking them to participate in sharing. Remember, if you are going to take this step, there must be value in it for the other person to share your content.

#6 – Follow a Content Creation Schedule

On TopRankBlog, we have set a precedent that a blog post will be published each day, Monday through Friday. Our readers have come to expect that they will be able to find at least one post every week day.

That’s not to say that you need to publish blog content every day of the week, but there does need to be a consistent schedule for readers to anticipate. Commit to a schedule and follow through.

Other content assets can follow a consistent schedule as well. Try to determine what content can be published daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly. Then, alert your audience so they know what to expect.

#7 – Always Be Learning

The daily grind will often have you dragging into the office in the morning, and falling into bed at night. Sometimes you may realize that it’s been days or weeks since you spent time researching other content or processes outside of your organization.

However, if you want to compete in today’s digital marketing landscape, you have to make the time for continuing your education.

A simple way to work learning into your routine is to create bookmarks for the websites or blogs that you know provide educational content. Then, commit to spending time either daily or weekly to consume new information.

Digital marketers also have a plethora of local, national and international conferences and events available. Create an event list for the year and prioritize which ones make the most sense for different team members to attend.

#8 – Use Data to Drive Your Content Strategy

Don’t rely on guesswork to determine what sort of content will resonate best with your target audience. If you don’t know how to interpret the data you have or are unsure where to start, consider reaching out to a company like TopRank Marketing to complete a content marketing audit.

Use free tools like Google Analytics to create custom dashboards that let you see which content is resonating on your website and social media platforms with your audience. If you watch the data closely and create content consistently, you may be able to identify what topics and content types work best for your audience.

Share Your Content Marketing Lesson

It doesn’t matter if you’re a content marketing noob or veteran, you know more today than when you started. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned related to content marketing and how has it impacted your approach?

Image via Shutterstock

 


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The Mortified Marketer: 8 Lessons To Help Evolve Your Content Marketing Strategy | http://www.toprankblog.com

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August 4th 2015 blogging, Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Twitter Gets Eventful, Facebook Gets Secretive, Google+ Gets Going

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Why Are B2B Content Strategies Important

Why Are B2B Content Strategies Important – The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council launched a new study centered on how marketing can more effectively generate qualified sales leads through compelling thought leadership content – a task that has proven to be a struggle for marketers today. Find out more from this great infographic. Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council

Survey: 42 Percent of Business Leaders Say Consumers Shame Them on Social – Lithium Technologies, a social customer experience management platform, announced the results of a recent survey performed on its behalf by Harris Poll, finding that brands are increasingly under pressure by consumers to innovate. SocialTimes

Google: Lower CPCs Are Because Of YouTube, Not Mobile Search For several quarters of declining Google CPCs, financial analysts have speculated and assumed that the migration of usage to mobile and lower bids for mobile clicks were responsible. However on Google’s earnings call today CFO Patrick Pichette sought to dispel that belief. Search Engine Land

Survey: 99 Percent Of Consumers Will Share Personal Info For Rewards, But Want Brands To Ask Permission – Consumers repeatedly say in surveys that they want more personalization — but also more privacy. This is an apparent contradiction. But maybe it’s not. Marketing Land

Study: Men and Women Use Hashtags Differently – In a column for The Atlantic this month, “Why Men Are Retweeted More Than Women,” the journalist Jessica Bennett argues that men and women use hashtags differently. Social Media Today

Study: Forget About Average Organic CTRs, They Mean Nothing – Many marketers try to benchmark their organic search performance against industry average click-through rates (CTRs). This turns out to be a mistake. Search Engine Land

Less Than 1/3 Of The World’s Top CMOs Are Active On Twitter Of Interbrand’s top 100 global brands, only 31 have CMOs or top-level marketing executives actively participating on the social network. Marketing Land

New Report Highlights Significant Benefits and Challenges of Real-Time Marketing – Real-time marketing is one of the most important trends of the connected era, with various reports underlining it’s growing relevance, particularly in regard to meeting rising consumer expectation. Social Media Today

Google+ Isn’t Dead, Will Continue As “Connection” Platform, Says Google – Google VP Bradley Horowitz says ending the requirement to use Google+ to engage with other Google products will allow the company to make a “slew of improvements” to the core social network. Marketing Land

Twitter Launches Event Targeting – When major events like the World Cup take place, millions of people flock to Twitter to check out the buzz and voice their opinions. Twitter

Facebook Announces Secret Videos For Publishers – Facebook is excited to introduce enhancements to our video upload system and a new Video Library. The enhanced video upload flow gives Page owners customized distribution options for videos on Facebook, while the new Video Library is a simple, centralized place to manage videos. Facebook

Report: 89% Of Marketers Have Problems With Cross-Channel Marketing, Data Linkage Is The Biggest Culprit – A new study shows that data linkage is again the biggest challenge to marketers and their cross-channel marketing efforts. Marketing Land

From our Online Marketing Community:

In response to Why Collecting Customer Information & Listening to Feedback Can Make You a Better Marketer, 40deuce said, “Great advice in here Ashley! I completely agree that your current customers are a great insight into how you can help to gain new customers. Keeping your current customers happy by listening to what they have to say and working with them to be better will not only help you to keep them as a customer, but likely also make you more attractive to new customers. As well, I’m always a firm believer that if you can keep current customers happy that they will be the ones who really help you to bring in new ones.”

Gini Dietrich said, “Amen!”, to Why Content Marketing is Imperative for the Future of Public Relations.

And on What You Need to Know About Playing High Stakes Content Marketing, paulnetke shared, “Hey Ashley, thanks for sharing these great content writing ideas with us. These ideas will really help to boost any content on the web. I live in Sweden and so I always take help of a good content marketing agency in when it comes to content marketing strategy. This blog has helped me a lot and is very interesting. Looking for similar stuff from your side in future as well….”

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

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council


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July 31st 2015 Online Marketing

What You Need to Know About Playing High Stakes Content Marketing

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HIGH-STAKES-CONTENT-MARKETING

The game of poker is filled with many complexities, opportunities and luck of the draw. Content marketing follows a similar theme and can lead to big winnings or high losses.

If you want to be a key player in the content marketing game, it’s time to up the ante. In 2015, only 30% of B2B marketers believe that their content marketing initiatives are successful. With the overwhelming amount of content created these days, the stakes are high and competition is fierce.

What can you do to walk away from the table better off than what you started? It’s all about playing the game the right way.

Plan for the Buy-In

plan-for-the-buy-in

The buy-in is considered the minimum that is required to play a game of poker. Content marketing is only one element of your digital marketing program and should at a minimum align with the following initiatives:

Skipping any one of the elements above leaves room for your competition to be servicing your customers in ways that you cannot. The rule is, you’ve got to pay to play.

Understand Your Hand

understand-your-hand

Based on your current investment, staff and skill-level of team members, you need to determine what you have to work with. While your competitors may be creating interactive digital marketing assets that are awe inspiring, you may not be able to dive that deep at this point in time.

No matter how much you have available to invest, always ask yourself:

  • Do I have a firm grasp on who my customers are and what they care about?
  • How can I use content marketing to better service my customers?
  • What types of marketing assets will have the biggest impact on customer needs?
  • Are my digital marketing strategies optimized to create a good user experience?

Sometimes you get dealt a hand that may not be be the best, but it’s all about how you play with what you have.

Blinds & Betting Basics

blinds-and-betting-basics

To stay competitive in the digital marketing game, there are some investments that have to be made. An investment of course can be a monetary amount, resources or time.

“The best investment you can make in marketing is the quality and experience of your “product”. – Lee Odden

Invest your time and resources into:

  1. Making content buyer centric
  2. Connecting with influencers to co-create & promote brand content
  3. Creating modular content & repurposing
  4. Keeping content accountable

Avoid betting all of your “chips” in one hand and instead focus on consistently creating content that is visually stimulating, creative and filled with helpful information for your customers.

Don’t Ever Bluff

don't-bluff

Content marketing is one game where bluffing never pays off. In fact, one of the worst things you can do as part of a content marketing program is bluff. An example of a bluff might be promising your customers a certain experience and then failing to deliver.

The user experience should always be one of the major objectives leading your strategy. User experience accounts for many things including:

  • Is your content (email or web-based) optimized for different devices?
  • Are your content assets delivering on promises made in search of social ad copy?
  • Do social messages promoting your content accurately describe what the reader will find?
  • Are marketing, sales and operations aligned to clearly describe and deliver on products/services?

Folding Some Hands is Ok

Know-when-to-fold

In tandem with knowing when to bet is understanding when to fold. What may start out as a great content marketing concept, can sometimes not quite meet expectations in delivery.

However, if you’re considering giving up on content marketing completely, I’d strongly urge you to reconsider. Perhaps you just can’t seem to find the right talent in-house or are struggling to determine exactly how much to invest in content marketing.

Agencies like TopRank Marketing can work with you to determine how to get the most return out of your content marketing budget. Sometimes a phased approach is needed, while other times the opportunity is ripe to move forward.

How to Get a Content Marketing Royal Flush

royal-flush

A royal flush is the best hand that anyone can get in a poker game. But like content marketing, it all depends on how you play the hand that you are dealt. One way to set yourself up to have the best possible outcome is to start with a comprehensive content marketing audit. Contact TopRank Marketing today to see if you have the right cards, and what you can do to ensure that you are the content marketing pot winner.

Images via ShutterStock: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5, Image 6, Image 7


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What You Need to Know About Playing High Stakes Content Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

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July 28th 2015 Online Marketing

Why Collecting Customer Information & Listening to Feedback Can Make You a Better Marketer

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Collect Customer Feedback for Marketing

It can be so easy to find yourself drooling over the prospect bringing in new customers. Unfortunately, this can mean that current and previous customers are overlooked.

Current customers are a goldmine of information that can be used to draw in new customers. In 2013, Nielson found that 68% of people trust online opinions from other consumers. Did you notice that the study didn’t say that consumers trust “marketers”, instead it mentioned “other consumers”.

We often talk about executing all digital marketing tactics with customers in mind. Sometimes we fall into the trap of focusing strictly on creating customer personas (they do have their place) and deciding as a marketing team what our customers need and want.

An overlooked and seemingly simple approach is to reach out to customers, collect information and listen to feedback. Sounds simple right?

What Are Some Ways to Begin Gathering Information?

B2B and B2C businesses alike have many opportunities to stay in contact with customers. More often than not, your customers have provided some means for you to contact them, typically via email.

So in this instance, the hard part isn’t knowing how to reach them, but how to get them to respond. Below are some options for information gathering:

  • Surveys: Stick to the most necessary information needed to encourage customers to complete the survey in its entirety. Depending on the audience, a good way to encourage response is to offer some sort of reward for completing the survey.
  • Customer Feedback Forms: Often, customers may be searching on your website for answers to their questions. If you provide the option for them to complete a quick feedback form during this experience, it will be top of mind.
  • Forums: If you’re able, consider setting up a customer hub of sorts where they can ask questions and share feedback. If the forum lives on your website then you are better able to juggle responses than if the response is on any one of the social media networks that you manage.
  • Set Up Regular Temperature Checks: Sometimes you communicate with your customers on a regular basis. It’s recommended that you run a quick temperature check with these customers on a quarterly basis to determine what additional needs they may have that you are not meeting.
  • Anonymous Feedback: If the customer relationship is close, it may be hard for the customer to share feedback directly to the team. One option is to allow them to share anonymous feedback which avoids putting them on the spot.
  • Live Chat: Sometimes customers just don’t want to write a long email or chat on the phone. Live chat provides a quick option for getting answer to a question or sharing relevant feedback.

What To Do (& Not To Do) When a Customer Shares Negative Feedback Publically

Never brush negative feedback under the rug in hopes that it will go away. That’s when it really begins to rear its ugly head.

Take for example, the infamous Amy’s Baking Company that appeared on Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares a few years ago. One of the reasons that Ramsey made a visit to the California restaurant was because of interactions on Yelp like the ones below:

Amy's Baking Company Negative Yelp Review

After the show aired, things took a turn for the (even more) bizarre.  The restaurant owners Amy and Samy began taking to their Facebook page to rant about the people that alleged were “spreading hate” about their company.

Amy's Baking Company Facebook Review

Amy’s Baking Company is just one example of many companies that have lost many more customers than they gained by reacting very badly to poor reviews.

It’s true, sometimes your company may receive a review that is unsavory or upsetting. That is outside of your control. What you can control is how you react.

If possible, try to solve these issues “privately” via a direct message or contact with the customer that is having an issue. Try to take an authentic approach to each problem and make an attempt to rectify the situation.

Unfortunately, unhappy customers often make much more noise than happy ones. That’s why it’s our job as marketers to draw that information out of them.

What Should You Do With Customer Feedback?

All feedback, good and bad can help your business. Why? Because knowing who your customers are and what is important to them is what will help your business grow.

But how does it relate to marketing specifically? Customer feedback has many uses for marketers it can impact the strategies below as well as all other digital programs:

  • Content Marketing Plan: Hearing the issues and successes that your customers have had in working with you can be incredibly helpful when building your content marketing strategy. This will help determine what topics and asset types will be more impactful for attracting new customers.
  • Social Media Presence: An often overlooked component of social media marketing is the tone and voice used to communicate with your fans and followers. Interacting with your current customers and asking strategic questions about how they like to interact with brands like yours on social media can provide valuable insight into the approach you should take on social platforms.
  • Paid Search Strategies: Again, if you’re asking the right questions, the responses can affect many or all of your digital marketing strategies. If for example, you ask new customers what it was that drove them to you, or what they were searching for the moment they were ready to buy, it can help inform your approach to paid search.

Many companies have also taken steps towards instituting a client advisory board. The business can utilize insights from this board to improve marketing messaging, operations and any other department’s output.

Tools for Collecting & Monitoring Customer Feedback

Let’s face it, the more this process can be automated, the more effective we can be at collecting and analyzing the information gathered. There are tools that can be used to assist in the information collecting process, while others that can be deployed to monitor what your customers are already saying online. Below are a few helpful tools for both scenarios:

Tools for Collecting Feedback

Tools for Monitoring Feedback

What is the most useful nugget of information that you’ve ever received from a customer, and what action did you take once you received the information?

Header image via ShutterStock


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Why Collecting Customer Information & Listening to Feedback Can Make You a Better Marketer | http://www.toprankblog.com

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July 27th 2015 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Twitter Gets Safer, Google Panda Gets Fresher, Facebook Video Gets Edited

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Next Generation Commerce

How Digital Media is Shaping a New Generation of Commerce (Infographic) – Social shopping has grown significantly in the last few years. As younger generations gain purchasing power, they are reshaping the commerce market. An infographic from Acquity Group, a digital marketing agency, studies how user behaviour differs between the generations. Acquity Group

STUDY: Brands on Facebook Post More to Combat Declining Reach – Brands on Facebook posted more frequently during the first quarter of 2015 in an attempt to combat declining organic reach, while Periscope is starting to pull away from Meerkat in the live video-streaming sector, according to the latest research from Adobe Digital Index. SocialTimes

Report: 75 Percent Of Google’s Mobile Search Revenue Comes From Apple Devices – A recent analysis by Goldman Sachs estimated that Google collected about $11.8 billion on mobile search ads in 2014, with about 75 percent coming from ads on iPhones and iPads. Search Engine Land

Study Says 69% Of Brands Fail to Make The Grade – Using linguistic analytics software to measure grammar and style, Acrolinx finds most content marketing lacks quality. Marketing Land

Facebook Now the Number One Source for Political News – Study – A new study by Pew Research has found that Facebook is ‘far and away the most common source for news about government and politics’ among Millennials in the U.S. Social Media Today

Sites With Most Search Impressions Are Now HTTPS, Google Says – Gary Illyes, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, championed HTTPS as a ranking signal back August 2014 — today he celebrated a milestone for HTTPS and web security. Search Engine Journal

Instagram Opens Search Capabilities on Desktop – The company announced Monday that users can search for people, hashtags and places on Instagram.com. SocialTimes

67% Of Ad Buyers Say Original Digital Video Will Soon Rival Original TV Programming – Nine out of ten brand advertisers increased investment in digital video over the past two years, new study released by the IAB shows. Marketing Land

Google Explains How It Handles The New Top Level Domains (TLDs) – Google has published the latest on how it handles TLDs — the new ones, the old ones and the geo-specific ones. Google

Introducing the new Twitter Safety Center – In the last few months, you may have noticed some changes on Twitter designed to make your experience safer. For example, we introduced changes to our reporting mechanisms, overhauled how we review user reports and improved our block feature. In our ongoing commitment to your safety, today we’re unveiling a new Safety Center. Twitter

Facebook Launches Video Ads Creative Spotlight – Video ads are red-hot on Facebook, and the social network will showcase the best of them every month, in nine verticals, in its new Video Ads Creative Spotlight. SocialTimes

Google Panda 4.2 Is Here; Slowly Rolling Out After Waiting Almost 10 Months – Google says a Panda refresh began this weekend but will take months to fully roll out. Search Engine Land

Facebook Pages Get New, YouTube-Like Tools For Publishing & Managing Videos – Secret videos, expiration dates, custom thumbnails and a new Video Library for organizing everything are among today’s announced upgrades. Facebook

From our Online Marketing Community:

In reply to Find the Right Content Marketing Agency for a Happily Ever After, JoAnne Funch said, “Great article Brooke, love the match analogy and the importance of you choosing a good fit for yourself as a content writer!”

And Tiffany Youngren praised, “This is so true. I’m been researching good writers – this is great advice. Thanks!”

And in response to 5 Ways to Exercise & Develop Your Digital Marketing Muscles, Connor Rickett shared, “Great list of resources, and I like the way you relate it all to a fitness regimen. I often find myself swinging in and out of marketing things. I’ll get deep into it, but then it’s the first thing to go when the workload ramps up. I’ve found it’s easier if I actually force myself not to spend as much time on it when I’m in the mood, to avoid burn out. Balance, balance, balance.”

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

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Acquity Group


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Online Marketing News: Twitter Gets Safer, Google Panda Gets Fresher, Facebook Video Gets Edited | http://www.toprankblog.com

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July 24th 2015 Online Marketing

4 Creative Email Marketing Campaigns That Inspire Action

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email-marketing-

Email is a private experience. Unlike social media where comments are public email provides a safety zone for both B2B and B2C customers. What does that mean?

You can receive an email, and take no action. Alternatively, a personalized email may be the tipping point that determines that you will make a purchase.

According to a study from MarketingSherpa, 7 in 10 people have made purchases influenced by email marketing. Interestingly, that study also found that the vast majority that do purchase, are not just making purchases online.
While it’s true that some businesses do not fit under the in-store or “over the phone” model, many do. A well developed email campaign will solve a pain point, inspire action and make you feel connected.

Below are examples of some of the best email marketing campaigns that of this year (so far).

#1 – Sally Hogshead – Find your Fascination Advantage

Our team first heard of Sally’s fascination advantage concept when attending Copyblogger’s Authority Rainmaker conference earlier this year. If you want to determine the primary advantages that will allow you to communicate most confidently and effortlessly, all you have to do is complete a short quiz to find your type (visit: howtofascinate.com/you and use code: copyblogger).

Once you’ve completed the quiz, you receive a chart which describes your different archetypes. But it gets even better!

Based on your results, you’ll receive a series of customized emails that explain more about the advantages and disadvantages of your archetype as well as tips to help you be successful.

Sally Hogshead Email

What pain point does this campaign solve?

Sally’s campaign provides insight into better understanding where we can be most impactful as individuals how to better communicate with our team members.

Why is it awesome?

Since completing my quiz in May, I’ve received a handful of emails that are specifically geared toward my identified communication style. The email copy is concise, impactful and actionable.

What is the next step?

Now that you have a basic understanding of your own archetype and a few helpful tips on how to play to your strengths, the logical next step is to have your entire team sign up to complete the communication exercise, and gain access to the full toolkit that will help you communicate more effectively.

How can it make you feel?

It’s almost like Sally is looking out for you and sharing information to help you be better. Each time I received an email I eagerly opened it to find out what I would be learning that week.

#2 – Uber Minnesota – Ice Cream Delivery

Uber frequently sends out emails with special fare promotions, local events and information on the trips you’ve taken with them.

The email below takes an entirely different approach from the Uber norm. Uber partnered with Capital One to bring warm Minnesotans a cool summer treat.

Uber is offering $20 ice cream delivery to people who make a request on July 24 and are able to connect. Additionally, if you’re a Capital One member you have an opportunity to score a free ice cream delivery.

Uber Email

What pain point does this campaign solve?

It’s hot as blazes outside and you don’t have time to leave work and go grab a frosty frozen dessert whenever the craving strikes. They’re making it easy and ok to eat ice cream in the middle of the day by delivering it right to your location.

Why is it awesome?

This campaign has seemingly nothing to do with hailing Uber for a ride when you’re in need of transportation. However, Uber is cleverly creating a great and unique experience that will keep them top of mind the next time you’re trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B.

What is the next step?

This campaign reminds me of the frenzy created when radio DJ’s announce that they have a front row pair of tickets for an awesome band that will be awarded to the tenth caller. I predict that many of Minnesotans will be furiously trying to “get through” to collect on their ice cream prize (even though it’s not free) on July 24th.

How can it make you feel?

While you may not be interested in $20 worth of ice cream, you’ll remember “how nice” it was that Uber was willing to deliver you ice cream on a hot day.

#3 – Life Time Fitness – Workout with a Friend

Getting into an exercise routine can sometimes feel like a serious form of torture. One of the best ways to stay motivated is to exercise with a friend. If you know someone is depending on you, the chances that you’ll stick to your regimen greatly increases.

Life Time Fitness took a conversational approach to recommend that you use one of your available guest passes to workout with a friend. All you have to do is mention the email at your visit.

But wait, there’s more. If you can convince your friend to join, you both get some free Life Time Fitness swag, and 50 LT bucks that can be used on a variety of club services.

Life Time Fitness Email

What pain point does this campaign solve?

Committing to a workout routine is tough. You should consider working out with your friends to make exercising more enjoyable and stick with your program.

Why is it awesome?

The casual air with which Life Time encourages you to workout with a friend, offers you free things and enlists you to recruit new members is nothing short of genius.

What is the next step?

Bring your friends to the gym, get them hooked and have them sign up permanently. I’ve actually convinced a number of my friends to join Life Time in the past couple of years since I’ve been a member.

How can it make you feel?

This one email had me thinking about my closest friends, and which ones would be the most fun to work out with. Also, I could really use a new pink gym bag.

#4 – Adobe – How to Reach Customers on Any Screen

The subject line alone is enough to compel someone to open the email. Adobe’s campaign empathizes with every marketers need to be a better solution for their customer’s problems than their competitors.

They are sympathetic to the fact that creating a steady flow of content isn’t easy, but they can help.

Adobe Email

What pain point does this campaign solve?

Simply, helping businesses create a better user experience for their customers.

Why is it awesome?

Their customer centric approach (to the end user, not you the buyer) is brilliant. The message is focused on helping you service your customers better, which in turn leads to more customers (and more money).

What is the next step?

Download their white paper to access tips on creating a better user experience for your customers.

How can it make you feel?

Like I truly am getting a secret weapon that will give me an edge over my competitors.

Are Your Email Marketing Campaigns up to Par?

Sometimes it can be difficult to create email marketing campaigns that are optimized for the devices that your customers use, evoke creativity and inspire action. Each campaign that you create should provide value and give your customers a next step.

What are some examples of email marketing campaigns that have influenced you to make a purchasing decision?

Header image via Shutterstock


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4 Creative Email Marketing Campaigns That Inspire Action | http://www.toprankblog.com

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July 22nd 2015 adobe, Online Marketing

Find the Right Content Marketing Agency for a Happily Ever After

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content marketing agency happily ever after

Heartfelt vows. First dances. Sparkler send-offs. Nothing says happily ever after quite like a romantic wedding. When it comes to finding “the one,” weddings beautifully illustrate the success of two people making a perfect match.

When you’re looking for love and the match is right, you just know. It might be the way your personalities meld, how you never run out of things to talk about, or the ease you feel when you’re with your Prince (or Princess) Charming.

Finding the right content marketing agency is a lot like finding your perfect match. From choosing a content partner that measures up to your dream list of qualities, to ensuring the agency really is who/what it claims to be, marketers are looking for a relationship that’s going to last. However 32% of marketers say they are challenged with finding trained content marketing professionals in 2015, which is over three times greater than the number of marketers who cited it as a problem in 2014.

You can’t just trust your content marketing efforts to anybody – it takes the right kind of partner. You’re looking for someone who will get to know you, be loyal to you, and go the extra mile for you.

As the Biebs would say, “I just need somebody to love.” Looking for a content marketing agency to love? Fall for the right one by following these 5 pieces of expert matchmaking advice:

#1 – Create Your Dream List

What type of agency is going to be the best fit for you? Know exactly what you’re looking for by sitting down and defining everything you’re looking for in your content marketing agency match.

Maybe you’re ready to take your company blog to the next level and are looking for strategic support to ensure that content speaks to your audience at the right stage in their buying cycle, and can be found for the right keywords. Perhaps you’re interested in generating leads via eBook or digital asset creation. Or maybe you’re about to launch a new product and are looking for a strategic partner to recommend the right digital tactics to promote the product launch.

If so, you’re looking for someone who:

  • Has experience writing for your industry
  • Can tie outcomes to business KPIs
  • Understands how to create a content marketing strategy
  • Knows how to optimize content for search engines
  • Responds to communication within 24 hours
  • Can write, publish, and promote the content

Whatever qualities, skills, and objectives are most important for you to find in a content marketing agency, you’ll be much more likely to find a just-right fit by creating that thorough list as a starting point.

Also consider what’s most important. Is their location a factor? Do you need a short-term or long-term partner? What about budget? Mark items that you cannot compromise on – and know which items would be a bonus if you found them in a partner.

#2 – Scope Out Your Options

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a Tinder for content marketing agencies? Set your preferences, and start swiping!

Thankfully the Internet offers a wide variety of excellent resources for finding content marketing agencies. Start with a simple Google search along the lines of the following:

Also consider who you already know. Do any of your business colleagues use agencies with whom they have a great relationship?

#3 – See What Their Friends Are Saying

Once you’ve found a couple potential matches, do your homework and snoop a little on your top contenders. Are the agency’s online reviews positive? Search client testimonials on their website to learn about stories of success, the agency’s best qualities, and what their clients love about them.

On a larger level, you want to find an agency that is well-regarded in the marketing world. Look for someone that is not only providing content marketing services, but is actively creating thought leadership through speaking engagements, publishing articles on timely topics, and sharing resources with the marketing communities. A little Googling and some social media stalking should be enough to confirm that they really have the expertise they say they have.

#4 – Look for Someone Who Makes Conversation Easy

Communication is the key to a strong and mutually beneficial relationship. When you begin to contact potential agencies, pay attention to how easy (or difficult) it is to communicate with them. From emails to phone calls to client meetings, you want to find a content marketing agency that will communicate clearly and convey important information in a way you can understand. Also, you want to make sure they will sound and look good in case your boss ever joins your meetings.

In your initial interactions with agency prospects, ensure that communication is going to be positive.

  • Do they respond to emails with professionalism?
  • Are they easy to talk to on the phone?
  • Is their expertise clear?
  • Do they speak marketing lingo?
  • Overall, are they attentive, responsive, and friendly?

#5 – Don’t Rush Into Things

Here’s where the matchmaking metaphor falls down – you won’t “date” your content marketing agency as extensively as you would finding the right person to spend your life with. However, the process for finding the right match should still be thorough. This isn’t a relationship you want to fumble!

A content marketing agency that’s a perfect match will offer exactly what you most value on your must-have list, be highly esteemed by their “friends”, and make it easy to do business with. Take your time to do the research process right and you’ll reap the rewards with the happily ever after that will follow.

Are we your happily ever after? Let’s find out! Start by telling us a little about yourself and your business when you contact TopRank Online Marketing.

Image via ShutterStock


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July 21st 2015 Online Marketing

5 Ways to Exercise & Develop Your Digital Marketing Muscles

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digital-marketing-muscles

Minnesota summers are so short that they often fly by in the blink of an eye. To make the most of the gorgeous weekend we just had, I found a bunch of active things to do. On Friday we went to the gym, Saturday consisted of Disc Golf and Sunday sent us to one of the local lakes to go paddle boarding.

I’ll admit that I’m more than a little tired, but it felt good to be so active.

The same logic can be applied to exercising your digital marketing muscles. The first couple days you might be “sore” but once you get into a routine, it’s easy sailing. The digital marketing landscape changes so quickly that the tactics that your team is deploying currently, may be vastly different in the matter of a few months.

Below are some simple exercises to keep your digital marketing muscles toned and ready for an active workweek.

1 – Make Time Everyday (even if it’s only 30 minutes)

To start, it’s important to get into a routine and start exercising a little every day.

With how quickly digital marketing is evolving, working ongoing education into your routine is a must. In order to keep up (or get ahead), it’s important that you’re paying attention to the smart work created by other marketers in your field.

Each day I make it a goal to read at least 2-3 blog posts from other marketers. Sometimes I need inspiration when I’m stuck writing a blog post, or maybe I’m just looking to see what tips these marketers have up their sleeve, either way, there are many benefits.

Some of the blogs that I work into my weekly routine include:

2 – Try Things That Are New & Sometimes Difficult

This weekend was only my second time venturing out on the lake to paddle board. I will admit, the first time was a little nerve wracking. But this time, I glided across the lake with supreme confidence and grace (or so I’d like to think).

If I hadn’t taken the chance to try something new, I would have been missing out. The same rule applies to your digital marketing knowledge.

A recent study found that 86% of buyers were looking for access to visual/interactive content on demand. Perhaps you have grand aspirations to have a video series, but just can’t seem to sit down in front of the camera and start shooting. Or maybe you’d like to try your hand at creating a new type of visual content.

Take the first step and give it your best shot. True, what you create may never see the light of day, but at least you took a step towards testing to see what does (and does not) work.

If you’re looking for some help, there are a lot of great (and free) resources available:

3 – Get a Responsibillibuddy

It’s much easier to get into an exercise routine if you have someone else to help push you, keep you honest and workout right alongside you.

When you’re training for that digital marketing marathon, you’ll want to make sure that you have other smarties by your side. You can either partner up with people you work with, or other digital marketers you know outside of work.

One way to keep everyone on track is to plan on meeting regularly (either virtually or in-person) to transfer knowledge. Another idea is to have a monthly book club revolving around digital marketing books and discuss what you learned.

4 – Have a Goal

Maybe your exercise goal is to get toned, lose a couple inches or be able to bench 25% more than you can now. Either, way – it’s important to work towards something.

Think about your digital marketing goals in the same light. What do you want to learn, execute and measure by a specific date? Determining what your goals are early on can be incredibly helpful in sticking to your routine.

For example, if you want to add co-created influencer content marketing to your program deliverables, create a plan to find out what steps need to be taken, and how you’ll “train” to get there.

5 – Remember That Results Take Time

If you don’t feel like you’re getting the results you want right away, don’t get discouraged.

Learning how to add new marketing skills to your arsenal takes time and dedication. Some weeks you’ll se a lot of progress in your increased knowledge and application, while other weeks will be a bit slower.

Keep following your learning routine and you’ll begin to see the impact that it has on the progress of your digital marketing development.

Know Your Digital Marketing Limits & Push Them

The harder you train the more knowledge you will gain. There is virtually no limit to what you can do to educate yourself on an ongoing basis. It’s all up to you.

What have you found to be the best way to work ongoing digital marketing education and training into your routine?

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July 20th 2015 Online Marketing