Lucky 13 – Happy Birthday to TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog!

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Happy 13th Birthday TopRank Marketing Blog

We have a lot to celebrate this time of year and I feel incredibly lucky that TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog gets to celebrate yet another blog birthday.

Happy Lucky 13 Birthday Online Marketing Blog!

And thank you to Ashley Zeckman for doing a great job managing our blog in 2016!

I have a confession: Starting a blog in 2003 was just another “thing” to explore for its marketing value, not some ephiphany-inspired marketing journey. The inspiration came from a drive to reach more people with fewer resources in a meaningful way. Could blogging be the solution?

In fact, the creation of TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog followed several other search marketing focused blogs that launched the same year including Search Engine Roundtable, Search Engine Journal and SEO Book. Two of those three are still going pretty strong with daily posts and large readerships.

But it didn’t take long to realize that the useful content published through blogging was opening up doors for our business. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement.

A million plus reasons. This year we’ve attracted just under 1.5 million visitors to our blog and search has led the way. 56% of our visitors come from search and much of the rest from direct and social networks. Our blog has been included on many top marketing blog lists with a growing network of 300,000+ across our social networks. We’ve attracted amazing talent, super smart clients and great partners – all thanks to the great blogging contributions from Ashley, Josh, Caitlin, Tiffany, Kevin, Knute and Jolina from our team.

Thank you back! Beyond the acolades, rankings and such – some of the most meaningful feedback I get is when people approach me and say they’ve been following our blog through their career or after starting a business and how much it has helped them. What makes that feedback meaningful isn’t just the “warm fuzzy”, it’s seeing our strategy pay off: That the combination of content we create along with real world experiences will be instrumental for growing our business.

Content is Social and Social is Influential. Today, creating content through blogging is as social of an activity for us as it is a way to provide ultility. We’ve connected with an incredible community of marketing industry influencers through content delivered as blog posts in addition to candidates, partners and clients. These connections have evolved into relationships and more.

Slow Down and Ramp Up. In 2016 I took a backseat to creating content on our blog to focus on other areas of our business and methods of advancing our thought leadership. In my place, Ashley Zeckman has stepped up and published 3 times as many posts as I have. She’s also developed internal and external relationships for regular contributions and co-creation that have added a lot of value for our readers.

Social and Influencer Marketing Dominate Our Topics. It’s amazing what happens when you develop a strategy, create a corresponding editorial plan and follow through. I’m only half being snarky with that comment. We published a lot more content around social media marketing since that is what people are interested in (and it’s an area of our business). In fact, our most popular post in terms of traffic for 2016 was 9 Social Media Marketing Trends That Could Make or Break Your Business in 2017.

Side note: Out of the top 10 most popular (traffic) posts for the year, only 1 was actually published in 2016. Evergreen content FTW!

We also published a lot more content about influencer marketing as a result of a decision to advance our thought leadership in this fast-growing area of our business. We were engaged by 3 Fortune 100 companies in 4th Quarter alone for influencer content programs and that trend is not going to slow down in 2017 at all. In part, this is thanks to the useful and thought leadership content around influencer marketing being published on the blog.

Of course we’ll continue to cover all our staple topics that are most relevant to the practical areas of our consulting: Content Marketing, SEO, Social, Influencer Marketing. I also think we’ll evolve the fun Friday news videos that Tiffani and Josh do every week and do more video overall. I know our long time readers are thinking, “What took you so long?”.

Besides kudos to Ashley, our excellent blogging team deserves a lot of thanks. To give you an idea of the great work they’ve been doing, here are some of their most popular posts:

Ashley Zeckman
314 career blog posts
69 posts in 2016
Most popular post of 2016:
50 Influential Women in Digital Marketing: North Stars & Rising Stars (5,600 social shares/engagement)

Josh Nite
61 career blog posts
48 posts in 2016
Most popular post of 2016:
Content Marketing: Answer These 4 Questions in the First 15 Seconds (2,400 social shares/engagement)

Caitlin Burgess
56 career blog posts
52 posts in 2016
Most popular post of 2016:
7 Tips for Making Your Brand More “Likeable” on Social Media (2,600 social shares/engagement)

Tiffani Allen
47 career blog posts
47 posts in 2016
Most popular post of 2016:
Online Marketing News: Snapchat Unicorns, Periscope Moderation and Instagram Business (292 social shares/engagement)

Lee Odden
2514 career blog posts
24 posts in 2016 (I can’t believe it either – time to get back to blogging in 2017)
Most popular post of 2016:
50 Social Media Marketing Influencers to Follow (6,100 social shares/engagement)

Kevin Cotch
10 career blog posts
10 posts in 2016
Most popular post of 2016:
Understanding the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on SEO (1,800 social shares/engagement)

Knute Sands
7 career blog posts
7 posts in 2016
Most popular post of 2016:
Easy-as-Pie Guide to Content Planning (1,600 social shares/engagement)

Jolina Pettice
75 career blog posts
2 posts in 2016
Most popular post of 2016:
3 Great Storytelling Tips for Compelling Customers (1,100 social shares/engagement)

We all contribute to your success. The rest of the team at TopRank Marketing contributes to our blog indirectly, by sharing insights, research and data as well as sharing the resulting blog posts to their social networks. Blogging is truly a team effort at TopRank Marketing and I think the end product really shows the impact of our collective wisdom and collaboration.

Going forward. There’s a lot more I could share about this blog in celebration of our 13th blog birthday, but I think the overall focus here is that it’s important to experiment, but to do so with a vision or some long term goal in mind. If I wasn’t driven to persist with blogging during my first year despite no visitors, no engagement all with a substantial amount of of time invested, this blog would not have survived. Without that early survival, our young business would not have achieved the amazing momentum we have now, or laid the groundwork for being able to attract the team that runs blog now an into 2017. Persistence with vision (and ongoing optimization) pays off!

Our community rocks! I am immensely appreciative of the support our community has provided in return to the useful content our team publishes on TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog. I appreciate the contributions that super busy industry influencers and friends from Ann Handley to Joe Pulizzi to Mike Stelzner and many more continue to make to help make our content great. Also, a huge thanks to major brand executives from the U.S., UK and broader Europe that have contributed to our blog with their insights this past year.  Your investment in time makes this blog a better resource for us all. Thank you!

Thank you to our team, our clients and our community for helping celebrate our blog birthday today: Lucky 13!

Seasons Greetings!

Here are some warm wishes from our team to yours.

May your marketing programs be successful,
to make your holiday season less stressful.

May your customers be joyful and content,
because of the great campaigns you sent.

May your hearts be full and your season merry,
so that you start 2017 refreshed and not wary.

Thank you for being a part of our community.

The Team at TopRank Marketing

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Lucky 13 – Happy Birthday to TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog! |

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December 24th 2016 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Abandoned Carts, Email Benchmarks & 2016’s Most Popular Content

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Infographic: Average Cart Abandonment Rates for Q3 2016
Why, and at what frequency, are users abandoning their online shopping carts? Many folks are abandoning carts simply because they’re just looking or researching — 34% to be exact. 23% are abandoning carts because of issues with the cost or time required for shipping. ClickZ

3Q16 Email Marketing Benchmarks and Trends
Marketers sent nearly 20% more emails in Q3 of 2016 than in the same period of 2015. However, click through rates were 12.5% lower. This could be due to the rising share of mobile ‘clicks’ to marketing emails, meaning that the emails we send to our list need to be mobile-friendly and actionable from a mobile device. MarketingProfs

2016: A Year of Great Content Marketing in Review
The 15 most shared marketing articles of the year taught us some key lessons: Content that’s controversial is shared more frequently on social, thought-provoking questions appeal to the minds of marketers, and influencer emphasis makes a world of difference for amplification. Search Engine Journal

51% of US adults have bought something online via their cellphones [Pew data]
Marketing Land reports: “The latest e-commerce report from Pew Research Center offers new data on how shoppers are using their cellphones, and not just for product research but also for purchasing. A survey of almost 4,800 US adults conducted in late 2015 shows that about 80 percent have bought something online, and just over half of all US adults have made a purchase via their cellphones.” Marketing Land


53% of Women Made Purchases Due to Influencer Posts (Survey)
A recent survey showed that 53% of women surveyed made purchases based on influencer posts. More than 60% said that the influencer content needed to be authentic in order to drive them to purchase. 61% of women surveyed preferred to engage with influencers on Instagram, with Facebook following closely behind at just over 50%. SocialTimes

Facebook Will Fact-Check Its News Feed and Shame Fake Posts With ‘Disputed’ Tag
The next phase in Facebook’s war on fake news has arrived. The social platform is now fact checking, through third party sources, the news articles posted on their site. Posts that don’t measure up to their factual standards will be called out with a prominent ‘disputed’ tag. AdAge

Marketers to Boost Influencer Budgets in 2017
Influencer marketing is quickly becoming a staple to a successful digital marketing campaign, and that shift is being reflected in 2017 marketing budgets. eMarketer reports: “According to November 2016 research, nearly half of practitioners said they plan to ramp up budget for influencer-focused campaigns in 2017.” eMarketer

65% Of Connected Device Owners Open To IoT Advertising
MediaPost reports: “For brands and marketers, the Internet of Things is going to lead to new ways of advertising and many consumers seem OK with that. For example, of those who own any IoT device, the majority (65%) are receptive to IoT advertising. The receptivity to advertising differs based on which device.” MediaPost

What were your top online marketing news stories this year?

We will be back next week with more online marketing news. Stay in the know every day of the week and follow @toprank on Twitter, otherwise we’ll see you next week!

The post Online Marketing News: Abandoned Carts, Email Benchmarks & 2016’s Most Popular Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

December 23rd 2016 Online Marketing

The Future of Influencer Marketing: Top Predictions for 2017

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The buyer journey has changed, and will only continue to evolve. Clean funnels that marketers used to use to determine their digital marketing strategy are a thing of the past.

Today’s consumers can take many different paths (at their own pace) to discover the products and solutions that work best for them. This can create a lot of unpredictability for marketers struggling to keep their head above water.

For marketers trying to do more with less, or connect in a more meaningful way, influencer marketing can be an extremely effective method.

Influencer Marketing is the practice of developing relationships with connected internal and industry experts to co-create content of mutual value to achieve measurable business goals.” – TopRank Marketing

To help marketers see what is on the horizon for influencer marketing in 2017, we tapped into some of today’s leading experts. Their predictions are included below.

Experts Share Their Top Predictions for 2017

Amisha Gandhi


Senior Director, Influencer Marketing – SAP

Companies will look to the business results they can drive with influencer programs. @AmishaGandhi
Click To Tweet

I think the trend and the importance of micro-influencers will increase in 2017, but more importantly – companies/brands will look to the business results they can drive with their influencer programs versus awareness and reach. Specifically, in B2B influencer marketing, we will see companies plan campaigns that include influencer content and offers that help both lead-gen and demand-gen in the customer journey.  For, 2017 influencer marketing 1) will prove its value through concrete ROI and pipeline touch – through influencer-led content and marketing offers (eBooks, videos, etc) 2) due the rise of mobile first content, marketers need to deliver “snackable” content that is easy to consume and share (example: mini video series vs. longer corporate driven videos) 3) rise of influencers who can drive purchases vs. awareness – continuing the trend of the micro-influencer model.


Lee Odden


CEO – TopRank Marketing

Niche influencers will be empowered to connect w/ brands seeking micro-audiences at scale. @leeodden
Click To Tweet

Influence ubiquity – While a very small percentage of influencers account for the majority of influence and content with reach, I think creator platforms and influencer marketing platforms will evolve in 2017 to help make “everybody is influential about something” a reality. Individuals as niche influencers will be more empowered than ever to connect with brands seeking micro-audiences at scale. A more participative approach to content at scale will completely change the game of influencer marketing that is focused almost entirely on top tier influencers.


Tim Williams


CEO, Onalytica

Credibility & engaging content will be pivotal to improve brand perception. @williamstim
Click To Tweet

2017 is the year when Influencer Marketing will become embedded into Marketing & Communication activities. Brands need to be more agile and align their messages and content with what the influencer community really cares about. They need to invest in training internal subject matter experts to connect with the influencer community both offline and online to win over the key influencers. Authenticity and credibility as well as engaging content will be pivotal to successful engagement to improve brand perception and trust with consumers.


Pierre-Loic Assayag


CEO – Traackr

2017 is the year we end the confusion of what influencer marketing is and how to succeed. @pierreloic
Click To Tweet

2017 will be the year we end the confusion of what influencer marketing is and how to succeed in it. We’re already seeing many brands, both B2B and B2C, taking a critical look at their influencer marketing investments and setting up measurement frameworks to evaluate their initiatives. In 2017, these brands will make data-driven strategic decisions on their investments (and divestments) in influencer marketing. This will trigger the roll out of business processes and governance guidelines on the practice. My prediction is that the normalization of influencer marketing in 2017 will lead to massive scaling of the practice in 2018.


Konnie Brown


Leading Corporate Social & University Influencer Relations – Dell

2017 will be the year of influencer co-creation that is sincere, meaningful & valuable. @Konstanze
Click To Tweet

After experimenting with influencer marketing for a few years now, brands are still at varying degrees of maturity and influencers are increasingly selective and savvy of how to work with brands. One thing is clear, however, if there is no mutual value creation, influencer marketing  will fail.

2017 will be the year of brand and influencer content co-creation that is sincere, meaningful and valuable for both parties and helpful to the consumer. My prediction for large B2B brands is that the often failed attempts of brand publishing on owned properties (as an extension of marketing) will evolve into a much more sincere digital content co-creation between brands and influencers.

Key factors will be a brand’s focus on customer experience, in this case in brand publishing,  and much improved understanding of building long-term, human-to-human influencer relationships.  Emerging brain research on digital story processing and improved social analytics capabilities will play a key role as well.


Douglas Dawson


General Manager, Influencer Relations – Microsoft

The most successful and impactful partnership moments will be the unexpected. @theDougDawson
Click To Tweet

We have already seen the power of authenticity when it comes to working with influencers and I think next year will continued to be focused on that. That being said, I think the most successful and impactful partnership moments will be the unexpected, creative ones you might not see coming.


Kristin Hersant


VP of Marketing – Linqia

2017 will be the year that influencer marketing becomes accountable. @kristinhersant
Click To Tweet

Linqia’s The State of Influencer Marketing 2017 survey of 170 B2C marketers found that influencer marketing program budgets are set to double in 2017. 94% of marketers who used influencer marketing in 2016 found the channel to be effective and yet 78% cite determining the ROI of influencer marketing as their top challenge. Linqia predicts that 2017 will be the year that influencer marketing becomes accountable. Through new technologies, marketers will finally tie spend through to performance, driving a shift in ownership from PR to advertising budgets as influencer marketing becomes a key part of the media mix.

Take Your Time & Build Meaningful Relationships

Inevitably, a successful influencer marketing strategy relies heavily on your brand’s ability to build meaningful relationships and create mutual value for your influencers. If you have recently started to incorporate influencers into your marketing strategy or have been working with influencers of an extended period of time, what do you think are the most important characteristics of a successful influencer marketing program?

Disclosure: SAP and Dell are TopRank Marketing clients.

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December 22nd 2016 Online Marketing

A Year in Blog Posts: TopRank Marketing’s Most Popular Influencer Marketing Posts of 2016

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If you’re a marketer and haven’t been living on another planet for the past few years, influencer marketing is a term that you’re familiar with. The increasing popularity of influencer marketing has brought every person out of the woodwork sharing their “expertise” and trying their hand at building a program.

In fact, 84% of marketers plan to run influencer marketing programs within the next year. If you fall into that 84% or have already kicked off your influencer marketing initiative, there are some things you need to know.

First and foremost, you need to have a strategy for your influencer marketing program. That strategy should include building relationships with influencers that have mutual interests, audiences and goals.

At TopRank Marketing we have been developing and implementing influencer driven content programs for our clients for many years. We have used that experience (and the expertise of other influencers) to develop the posts below.

Top Influencer Marketing Posts of 2016

#1 – [eBook] Influencer Engagement: 15 Ways to Fail & 25 Ways to Win

Influencer Engagement - 15 fails and 25 wins

Don’t ask me to promote your product in exchange for affiliate revenue. @CarlosGil83
Click To Tweet

The internet is full of fails for almost any topic. Sometimes the misfortune is a funny one, and other times it is not. In today’s world, there is nothing funny about failing at influencer marketing. So many brands have tried (and failed) to implement a successful influencer program. This eBook provides 15 fails, and 25 wins to help your team create a more successful approach to influencer marketing.

#2 – Is Your Influencer Marketing Program Not Effective? Here’s Why


The core of influencer marketing is building a relationship to ensure mutual value creation. @Konstanze
Click To Tweet

If you’re just starting or smack dab in the middle of an influencer marketing initiative, take some time to slow down and find your focus. Ultimately, a successful program will take time, and focus on the relationships and value created with influencers.

#3 – How B2B Companies are Winning Hearts & Minds with Influencer Content


Influencer marketing is the practice of developing relationships to create mutual value. @leeodden
Click To Tweet

Today’s customer journey isn’t quite as predictable as marketers would like. Because it is unpredictable, marketers need to find a new (and better) way to connect with customers no matter where they are in their journey. This presentation from Lee Odden takes a dive into how to incorporate influencers into your content strategy.

#4 – 5 Dangerous Myths About Influencer Marketing – Busted!

5 Influencer Marketing Myths Busted

Some influencer marketing advice is good, some is suspect and plenty is pure mythology. @leeodden
Click To Tweet

When new trends (like influencer marketing) begin to emerge, you’ll find that nearly everyone you know claims to be an expert. To uncover the truth about influencer marketing, TopRank Marketing CEO polled marketing industry leaders and experts from the UK who help bust some dangerous myths.

#5 – 5 Ways Influencer Marketing Can Grow Your B2B Company

B2B Influencer Marketing

Justifying resources to manage influencer relationships starts by fully understanding the value.…
Click To Tweet

Influencer marketing can take on many forms, and provide many benefits for brands if implemented correctly. If brands focus on including influencers in their marketing for campaigns only, there is a lot of value left on the table. This post provides 5 helpful influencer marketing tips specifically for B2B marketers.

#6 – Influencer Content Marketing: The Art of Relationships & the Science of Software

Influence Content Marketing

Everyone is influential about something. @leeodden
Click To Tweet

There truly is an art to implementing a long-term influencer marketing program. Relationships with influencers must be built over time and special attention spent on creating value for those influencers. TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden has many years of experience working with influencers, and being a marketing influencer himself. In this post you’ll find some powerful insights into what works.

#7 – What is Influencer Marketing? Definitions, Examples, and Resources


At its most effective, influencer marketing serves a purpose for everyone involved. @NiteWrites
Click To Tweet

Countless complexities exist within the world of influencer marketing. If you’re new to the whole concept or just need a little refresher, this post is a very robust resource filled with examples of influencer marketing done right.

#8 – How Dell Approaches Integrated & Authentic Influencer Marketing


Each organization experiences a somewhat different journey as they find which approach to influencer marketing works best for them. And that’s exactly what Dell’s Shelley Ryan and Lauren Mauro did at this year’s Content Marketing World conference. We can all learn from the experiences of this dynamic duo.

Take Your Time with Influencer Marketing

It’s important to remember that developing an influencer marketing program is not a race. Brands are better off taking their time and finding the RIGHT influencers to help advance their business goals.

Disclosure: Dell is a TopRank Marketing Client

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A Year in Blog Posts: TopRank Marketing’s Most Popular Influencer Marketing Posts of 2016 |

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December 19th 2016 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: B2B Case for LinkedIn, The State of Content & Ranking Factors Study

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Get Proof: The Case for B2B Marketing on LinkedIn [Infographic]
A new infographic from LinkedIn makes a compelling case for B2B Marketing on the channel. 92% of B2B marketers leverage LinkedIn over all other social platforms for their marketing efforts, and 80% of B2B marketing leads generated through social come from LinkedIn. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog

Facebook Page Layout Changes: How Marketers Should Respond
Facebook pages have a new layout for visitors — bumping up videos and photos underneath shopping recommendations where popular content used to live. Not a fan? Not to worry! You can still edit the order of your page’s content by editing the order of the sidebar tabs. Social Media Examiner

Searchmetrics Ranking Factors – Rebooting for Relevance
A new study from Searchmetrics found what we’ve been suspecting all along — keywords are losing some of their oomph in terms of SEO, while engagement and relevance metrics lend more weight to rankings. Content quality, and proper meta data, are a powerful combination. The study is full of other helpful metrics to hone in on the state of search. Searchmetrics

The Current State of the Content Marketing Ecosystem [INFOGRAPHIC]
As we’ve seen in recent news, content production is becoming more of a priority for marketers across industries. But within the small subset of marketers across industries, there are some significant differences between content philosophies and perceptions. Those differences are outlined in this handy infographic. Search Engine Journal


B2B Content-Enabled Campaigns: Top Trends, Benefits, and Goals
When it comes to content-enabled campaigns, marketers are seeing success. MarketingProfs reports: “Some 41% of respondents say content-enabled campaigns have 20-30% higher open rates than traditional campaigns; 13% say content-enable campaigns have open rates that are more than 30% higher than traditional campaigns.” MarketingProfs

Snapchat Adds 4 New Features, Including Much-Requested Group Chat
Snapchat has made four major additions to their platform in terms of features: Enabling group chats for up to 16 people, Shazam capability to help users easily identify songs within the app interface, scissors that allow users to cut out part of a message and turn it into a sticker, and a paintbrush that allows users too customize their snaps to their artsy heart’s content. AdWeek

Facebook Reveals New Advertiser Number Flaws
Ad Age reports: “Facebook has found more flaws in its ad stats, and is making changes to give advertisers more accurate numbers. This time Facebook said it will tweak how it estimates the potential audience size for new campaigns, an area where advertisers have been saying the figures seemed off.” Ad Age

Instagram Begins Rolling Out Live Video in U.S.
Last month, Instagram announced that their live video feature within Instagram Stories was en-route, and it’s now official. This rollout will begin with users in the U.S. this week, and globally in the next few weeks. SocialTimes

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

I’ll be back next week with more top online marketing news. If you can’t wait, follow @toprank on Twitter or subscribe to our blog for the latest and greatest in the online marketing world.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Online Marketing News: B2B Case for LinkedIn, The State of Content & Ranking Factors Study appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

December 16th 2016 Online Marketing

A Year in Blog Posts: TopRank Marketing’s Most Popular Content Marketing Posts of 2016

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Each year, marketers are investing more time, effort and resources into creating content. The good news is that 45% of organizations believe that they have been more successful this year than they were last year.

The key indicators to this success has been largely due to increasing the quality of content, developing a strategy and prioritizing content creation.

As a content marketing centric agency, TopRank Marketing has covered various topics throughout the year that are aimed at helping other content creators find their way in a sometimes tricky industry.

Instead of just selecting our favorite posts of the year, we let our readers decide what was most useful. The 10 posts below represent our most shared content marketing posts of the year.

Top 10 Content Marketing Posts of 2016

#1 – 10 Daily Habits to Create More Powerful Content


If you’re not steadily improving your writing, you’re actively moving backward. – @NiteWrites
Click To Tweet

To truly become a more effective content marketer, it’s important that you make steady, incremental improvements over time. If you try to do too much at once, you may become overwhelmed. By working these ten daily habits into your writing routine over time, you might be impressed to find just how much you can improve in a short amount of time.

#2 – 20 Jokes Only a Marketer Could Love


It’s well past time for marketers to get serious about comedy. – @NiteWrites
Click To Tweet

Did you hear the one about the marketer that got fired as a tap dancer? Unless you’ve read this post, the answer is likely no. TopRank Marketing Content Lead and resident comedian Josh Nite created these jokes just for marketers like you.

#3 – 5 Magical Tactics for Repurposing B2B Marketing Content

Repurpose B2B Content Marketing

Snackable content can be managed & repurposed like ingredients to create a main course. @leeodden
Click To Tweet

With the diversity of expressions buyers search for and the demands of producing a variety of engaging content on a consistent basis, one has to wonder why so many B2B marketers insist on publishing content once and with a singular theme. If you truly want to get more value from content investments while providing a greater variety of information to prospective customers, many B2B marketers are repurposing. Find out how in this post.

#4 – 4 Components of a Killer Content Marketing Plan on LinkedIn


People spend time on other social networks, but they invest time on LinkedIn. – @JasonMillerCA
Click To Tweet

If you’re looking for best practices on publishing content on LinkedIn, there is no better source than the team from LinkedIn Marketing. Jason Miller and Alex Rynne shared 4 incredibly insightful and actionable insights in their presentation at Social Media Marketing World. In this post you’ll find samples of common objectives, key metrics and action items for success.

#5 – 7 Ways to Optimize Your Web Content for Humans & Search Engines

optimize for humans

In case you haven’t heard, SEO is not dead. @CaitlinMBurgess
Click To Tweet

Gone is the notion of marketers only needing to to focus on optimizing content for search engines. Today’s customers (and search engines) have become much more savvy which means that marketers need to focus on creating a great user experience for their readers. This post provides you actionable tips for optimizing content for both humans and search engines.

#6 –  8 Ways to Build Credibility & Trust with Content Marketing


Your content can be ignored if you don’t establish credibility and build trust. – @NiteWrites
Click To Tweet

If you’re going to invest time and resources into creating content, it MUST create value for your audience. If it doesn’t, the likelihood of it being seen, read or shared is very unlikely. This post offers some insightful tips that marketers can use to begin building credibility with content.

#7 – Long-Form Content on Social Media: Pros, Cons, Examples & Best Practices


As the digital space gets more cluttered, marketers are embracing new ways to stand out from…
Click To Tweet

Long-form content is no longer reserved strictly for blog posts, eBooks or other traditional forms of content. Social media platforms also offer a variety of opportunities to create more in-depth content for your readers, where they’re spending the majority of their time. This post takes a deep dive into the do’s and don’ts of creating long-form content for social media.

#8 – What is a Content Marketing Strategy (And Why Do I Need One)?


Content marketing allows you to give your audience tailored, relevant and meaningful information. -…
Click To Tweet

Even though the vast majority of companies are producing content at an astounding rate, over 50% still aren’t sure what success looks like. Key to developing an impactful content marketing program is developing a content marketing strategy to serve as your roadmap. This post provides insight into 7 elements that every marketer should include in their content strategy.

#9 – 20 Must-Have Content Marketing Tools for Blogging


Content marketers tend to be the MacGyver of the marketing world. – @NiteWrites
Click To Tweet

For many years, content creators have worked to cobble together solutions for concepting, creating and publishing blog content. And that is not always an easy (or fun) process. If you’re tired of the “old” way of doing things, this post provides 20 incredibly helpful tools to make blogging efforts easier, and more effective.

#10 –  The 4 Essential Questions Your Content must Answer


If someone won’t even take credit for the content, how trustworthy can it be? – @NiteWrites
Click To Tweet

As soon as someone hits your content the clock starts counting down. On average, readers will decide in less than 15 seconds whether they want to engage or need to move on. To get more readers to jump for joy (instead of jumping ship) make sure that you quickly answer these four questions to keep them engaged.

Find Your Content Marketing Mix

At the end of the day, the most important indicators of content marketing success are dictated by your readers. If people enjoy your content, they will share. Let 2017 be the year that you focus on creating a substantial impact with your content marketing program.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

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December 15th 2016 Online Marketing

The Future of Social Media Marketing: Experts Share Social Media Predictions for 2017

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Social media platforms enable people from around the world looking to connect and build personal and professional relationships. Earlier this year studies found that there are currently over 2 billion active social media users.

If you consider the sheer number of people interacting on social networks, it seems like a no-brainer that both B2C and B2B brands should be spending time engaging with their audience, where they’re spending time. But finding a way to not only reach, but connect with audiences on social networks has become increasingly difficult.

Just a couple years ago, brands were able to build audiences on platforms like Facebook and get in front of the vast majority of their followers without investing in social advertising. These days, the average brand on Facebook will only reach 1-2% of their audience without boosting posts. Need proof? The amount spent on social advertising has increased by 234% in the past seven years. Ouch!

To help ease the pain, we went straight to the source and tapped into the brilliant minds of marketers from brands like LinkedIn, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, BMC and our own team at TopRank Marketing to gain insights into their social media marketing predictions for 2017.

Experts Share Their Top Predictions for 2017

Mike Stelzner


CEO/Founder, Social Media Examiner

Information toll stations must be paid for by the those who create content. @Mike_Stelzner
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2017 Prediction: Content Creators Become Endangered Species

Algorithms, bots, artificial intelligence and people working for very big companies will destroy the business models of people who produce content by disrupting the free flow of information.

Before the Internet, the power brokers of information were a few media companies that controlled the newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television. The Internet busted through those barriers and allowed anyone to produce anything for any audience. Information flowed and content mediums like blogs and podcasts flourished.

The Internet was the great system of disintermediation, eliminating the middleman and allowing a free flow of information.

But, in the very near future, this information flow will be filtered and measured and censored in the name of “reducing clutter” and revealing “only what’s important.”

Facebook will decide what you see. Google will serve up only that content that complies with its rules and are housed on its servers. Email solutions like Gmail and Yahoo will tighten their own algorithms so even reaching the inbox is at risk.

The information distribution highway will have toll stations that must be paid for by the those who create content.

If you want your content seen, you’ll need to house it inside the companies that control the toll stations. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and more will incentivize content creators to not link to off-site content. These large businesses will become the equivalent of the 1990s America Online–a type of “Hotel California,” where you can enter but never leave.

Traffic to websites will decline and blogs will shut down. Gone will be the days of information flow and true information freedom. The future will only be more controlled, more filtered and less open.

But, born from this filtered, computer curated world, will come something new. Some young person in a spare bedroom will invent the next big idea that frees information once again. The pendulum will start swinging back and content creators will experience a new creative renaissance.

Are you ready for the change?

Carlos Gil


Senior Manager – Social Media, BMC

Undoubtedly, live video content will continue to take over newsfeeds. @carlosgil83
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The biggest challenge marketers will face in 2017 is the same that they seemingly face year over year which is keeping up with the innovation around emerging marketing channels and technologies, such as Snapchat, Facebook Live, and AR/VR, while still maintaining an active presence on the traditional platforms used by the masses (i.e. print, social, digital, etc.). Undoubtedly, live video content will continue to take over newsfeeds with Facebook flexing its muscle as the go-to platform for marketers meanwhile Snapchat, and its looming IPO, will result in Snapchat attracting more brands as advertisers to their platform.

Caitlin Burgess


Content Marketing Lead, TopRank Marketing

One opportunity in the coming year will be for brands to focus on user experience. @CaitlinMBurgess
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The social media landscape is in a constant state of change, but the one thing that will probably never change is the reason people use social in the first place: to feel and be connected.

As a result, I think that one of the greatest opportunities in the coming year and beyond will be for brands to focus on user experience by creating a unique, entertaining and engaging destination for their audiences.

Think about it. Social media platforms are constantly tweaking their formats and algorithms to provide users with the best possible content and experience, making it more difficult for brands and marketers to get organic visibility. Plus, nearly every brand is on social media, competing for the top spots. But what if your pages were able to offer such an awesome, relevant experience that would entice people to navigate on their own to see what the latest discussion, video or tip was?

All that said, I think to create a destination, one important focus will need to be on social media community management, not just traditional social media marketing. From native video and long-form content to actively encouraging and participating in discussions, you need to ask yourself why anyone would visit your pages in the first place. Do you have a niche expertise or offering? Do you provide great entertainment? What is it that could set you apart? How can your social content connect? Then combine all that with data and insights to begin building a strategy to get people there, participating and coming back.

Megan Golden


Senior Content Marketing Manager, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

content marketers are going to strive to become even more empathetic in their content topics. @Goldmegs
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Empathy in a World Divided

From Brexit to the American election, 2016 has been an eye-opening year and a divisive one for many around the globe. A chasm has come to the surface in a way that really no one can deny. It’s a divided world. As a result, my prediction (and personal hope) for 2017 is that social media and content marketers are going to strive to become even more empathetic in their content topics. I hope we’re also going to be committed to creating content that is humanizing with the innate ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

Andrew Hutchinson


Content & Social Media Manager, Social Media Today

The biggest shift in social media marketing is (and will be) focus. @adhutchinson
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For years, traditional marketing has aimed for broadcast, to reach as many people as possible, as often as possible. And that makes sense – brand association is a powerful device, and higher exposure leads to better cognitive connection in the consumer. But at the same time, the new age of social media, fuelled by the masses of online data, has opened the door to whole new approaches, methods of connection that no one is fully across yet, given it’s so new.

Because of this, I’d expect to see increased focus on both niche communities and better online and offline data connection in 2017.

On the first, personalization is growing, more and more brands are learning how to be more effective with content that’s targeted to individual users based on who they are, what they do and what they’re interested in, among many other traits. In times past, this was impossible, but such data is now freely available, and the more brands are using this more focused approach, the more the expectation for others to follow suit increases in step. Because of this, you can expect to see more brands segmenting and focusing their content and marketing efforts in order to appeal to more specific audiences and use-cases.

On the second, social ROI has long been the thing that critics fall back on, that you can’t connect a ‘Like’ to a cash money result. But you can, and more and more systems and processes are being developed for just that. Facebook, for example, has been evolving its Conversion Lift metrics which correlate online ads and offline sales, incorporating data from the businesses POS system. With the evolution of beacons, geofencing and other tracking technologies, it’s going to become easier for more businesses to directly link their on and offline efforts, enabling them to outline definitive ROI trails.

Create A Content Destination & Engage Your Audience

Phew! If we take a look at just the last few months, there have been tremendous advances made in social technology, and the way that users interact with social networks. Imagine what all of 2017 will hold!

Creating an impact on social comes down to a few very simple ideas which include finding ways to uncover how your social audience interacts (and do that) and developing a destination that they will want to come back to again and again (like blogs have traditionally done) so that you don’t have to rely only on advertising to drive eyeballs to your content.

Disclosure: LinkedIn and BMC are TopRank Marketing clients.

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December 12th 2016 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Agile Marketers, Facebook Sends Waves & Faster Mobile Ads

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Marketers Are Clueless About Agile [Infographic]
Only 40% of marketers are using or planning to use agile task management systems in the next four years, while 40% aren’t sure. This isn’t a super surprising statistic, given that more than 20% of marketers don’t know what agile means. This infographic shows details of what task management systems marketers are using, their future plans for agile and more. Workfront

Facebook Testing ‘Send a Wave’ Feature Within Nearby Friends
Just when we thought the poke had retired, it comes back in the form of a wave. Users can now send a waving hand emoji to their nearby friends to help facilitate a meet up. The question here is when this feature will be available for business on a local level. Time will tell. SocialTimes

Google Says Faster Mobile Ads Are Boosting Clickthrough Rates Up to 200 Percent
AdWeek reports: “Results showed publishers using AMP, an open-source Google initiative, saw clickthrough rates increase by 200 percent, completion rates increase by 15 percent and ad performance increase 18 percent.” AdWeek

Digital Share of New Ad Dollars to Reach 77% Next Year, GroupM Forecasts
In the last few weeks, there have been forecasts predicting, and reports confirming, that digital ad spend continues to drive growth in total ad spend into 2017. In fact, digital captured 72 cents of every ad dollar this year, and may get as many as 77 cents to the dollar next year. Ad Age

Google replaces ‘In the News’ box with ‘Top Stories’ on desktop
Search Engine Land Reports: “Google has confirmed that they have dropped the “In the News” box with the “Top Stories” box. This change seems to just be an aesthetic update to the design in order to make the news box on desktop match that on the mobile version.” As far as we know, this is just an aesthetic change, and not an algorithmic change. Search Engine Land


Beware: New Types of Referral Spam & How to Filter Them Out
A new ‘language’ in the language section of Google Analtyics is popping up and causing spam concerns: “Secret.? You are invited! Enter only with this ticket URL. Copy it. Vote for Trump!” This, coupled with an alternative kind of spam that makes spammy traffic look as though it’s coming from reputable sites like Reddit and Lifehacker, have webmasters scratching their heads. This post shows how to filter out that spam. Search Engine Journal

The State of Social Media in 2016: Platform and Usage Trends
According to recent research from Pew Research Center, Facebook is still the most popular network with U.S. adults. 68% of all U.S. adults use Facebook, while 28% use Instagram, 26% use Pinterest, 25% use LinkedIn and 21% use Twitter. MarketingProfs

Instagram Adds New Community Safety Tools, Including the Ability to Switch off Comments
Instagram has announced a new set of tools with a goal of helping make Instagram “a welcoming place for everyone.” These features include comment control, allowing users to turn comments off on their posts, comment liking, and the ability to remove followers from private accounts. Social Media Today

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

I’ll be back next week with more online marketing news. Have something to share? Tweet it to @toprank or share in the comments!

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December 9th 2016 Online Marketing

Content Marketing: 4 Ways to Make Sure Your Mobile Content Connects

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How often do you use your smartphone as a phone? Personally, I think of it as more for avoiding human interaction than facilitating it:

These days my desktop and home laptop are gathering dust; I can do it all on my phone. The only reason we still call them “phones” is “personal computation device” sounds too nerdy.

All of which to say: Mobile is the current and next frontier for content marketing. Reports show that 65% of digital media time is now spent on a mobile device. Not only that, all digital growth is now coming from mobile usage—expect to see desktop traffic stagnate or reduce while mobile traffic continues to grow.

So how do you create content that works as well on a 5-inch screen as it does on a 17-inch monitor? Here are a few guidelines.

Focus on the Center of the Screen

Eye tracking studies show that most people read in an f-shaped pattern on a monitor:


The top left corner tends to get most of the attention, and the outer right edge gets virtually none. This pattern has informed web design for the past decade. We tend to put the most important information on the top and down the left side.

On mobile devices, however, there usually isn’t space for f-optimized content. Eye tracking on mobile shows people focus their attention on the center of the screen and on images.

For content marketers, that means:

  • Shorten your headline to fit on one line
  • Adjust your header image to put the headline front and center
  • Add a short blurb under the headline summarizing the content

If your reader has to swipe, shrink or tap to see your content, they’re likely to hit the back button instead.

Ditch the Interstitials

On a desktop, those pop-up windows with special offers do get results without affecting readership overly much. When the little “Do You Want 1100 Secrets about Cheese?” window shows up, it’s easy to click “Yes! Cheese Me up!” or “No Thanks, I’m Lactose Intolerant” and go about your day.

On a mobile device, though, interstitials tend to lead to bounces. It affects the user experience enough that Google will start penalizing pop-ups in January.

Instead of a pop-up, you can embed your offer in the content as an organic call to action based on what they’re already reading. That way you can enhance the content with a next-step offer, instead of obscuring it.

Think Scroll, Not Click

From an advertising perspective, content consumption on desktop is a page at a time. Each new page load is an opportunity to display new ads. So it makes sense to add page breaks into content; the more, the better.

For mobile users, though, each page break means tapping a tiny “Next” button with pinpoint precision. It ranges from a mild nuisance to a bounce-worthy offense.

It’s better to put your content all on one page and let readers scroll vertically through it. Swiping up to scroll is easier than playing target practice with a Next button.

If you can organize content in a slideshow, so users can swipe left and right to see it, that works, too. But the best option is still one long page.

Optimize Your Text

Mobile users tend to read content in shorter sessions than laptop or desktop users. Not only that, the time reading is likely to be full of distractions. Your content may be competing with another screen, another person, or a sidewalk full of pedestrian obstacles.

It’s best to make your writing efficient, skimmable, and resumable if interrupted. Here’s how:

  • Keep sentence structure simple. You don’t have to write like Tarzan, but avoid paragraph-long sentences.
  • Use headers to highlight your main points.
  • Break paragraphs every 2-3 sentences. If the text fills the whole screen with no white space, your reader can get lost.
  • Avoid vague paragraph starters like “Because of this [referring to the previous paragraph], we should…” Your reader will have to scroll backward, and may opt out. Keep the momentum moving forward, repeating points if you need to.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

Increasingly, your audience is going to be searching for and consuming content on mobile devices. To avoid search engine penalties and high bounce rates alike, make sure your content is optimized for mobile. Put the most pertinent information front-and-center, get rid of interruptions, and make the text easy to consume. With the right content, you might persuade your reader to use their phone as a phone—to give your business a call.

What else does the future hold for content marketing? Check out our expert predictions for 2017.

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December 7th 2016 Online Marketing

The Future of Content Marketing: Experts Share Content Predictions for 2017

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At a time in the not so distant future 2016 will come to a close and many content marketers will reflect on 2016 and think, “Man was that unfair!”. They’ve tightened their belts, worked hard to develop a content strategy and tried to stay up on latest content trends. But the sad reality is that content still isn’t having the business impact that they had anticipated.

In order for us to look to the future of content marketing, we have to take a critical look at the past and present. One  that we have always known to be true is that creating content just to improve rankings and to say that you “do” content marketing is never going to be good enough. So many marketers get caught up in creating content for content’s sake and find that they’ve wasted hours, months or years developing messages that nobody will ever read or share.

Our not too distant future holds many opportunities for content marketers, but there will be bumps and challenges along the way. To keep yourself from being distracted by the shiny objects that the future will inevitably hold, you must focus on what is most important. When approaching any content initiative, consider the following:

  • For content to be effective, you must have impact.
  • In order to create impact, your content must be memorable.
  • In order to be memorable, you must understand your audience.

Experts Share Their Top Predictions for 2017

Ann Handley

Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

“The smartest companies will ground their marketing into something substantive.” – @annhandley
Click To Tweet

Two things. One small and tactical; one big and strategic.

First, the small tactical thing: Companies that aren’t strategically tapping into the power of video get left behind. (And as a consequence they will end up eating friendless and alone, living in squalor in a sad walk-up tenement wearing nothing but boxer shorts and a gravy-stained T-shirt.)

Why is a writer telling you to think about video in 2017? Because embracing video doesn’t mean we ignore text and writing. Quite the opposite: Writing is the foundation of a good story. And well-chosen words can greatly enhance whatever video you’re creating, too.

Notice I said “strategically tapping,” too. Not “randomly tapping.”

Which leads me to the bigger-picture trend: In 2017, the smartest companies will slow the $*(@)$*%& down. Next year (is it really just one month from now?), the smartest and more successful companies go deep into purpose and identity to ground their marketing and content strategy in something substantive—so that our programs can find a place within the context of what our customers care about.

There is such a thing as a bad slow in marketing, but there is a critical need for a good slow, too.  

Carlos Abler

Leader – Content Marketing and Strategy – Global eTransformation, 3M

“Mistrust of news sources leads to new opportunities for Truth as a Service.” – @Carlos_Abler
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The accelerating mistrust of news sources triggered by the imputed impact of fake news in the US presidential election, will not only create new points of friction for paid media distribution and credibility of journalism and journalist-like tactics, but leads to new business model opportunities for Truth as a Service.

For example there is a significant opportunity for Facebook (or someone) to fuze a content curation, with a snopes-like editorial service; a new trending topic information portal for articles with ratings filtration (white list  validated/non-validated, medium-trustworthy validated/non-validated, low trustworthy validated/non-validated); a corresponding “Truth-ometer” rating model for in-stream content; and an affiliate model of gated higher rated articles from paid sites e.g., at a .50 cents per article fee for access, or a charge for aggregated researched original articles or info-graphic display owned by the host aggregator.

Joe Pulizzi

Founder, Content Marketing Institute

“More brands will launch print magazines as a way to cut through the clutter.” @JoePulizzi
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Print custom magazines, as a content marketing tool, have finally hit the bottom, and more brands will launch print magazines in 2017 as a way to cut through the clutter that is proving so difficult on the web.

Amy Higgins

Account Manager, TopRank Marketing

“We will see a shift in team structure as the role of content marketer becomes more clearly defined.” -…
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I believe the biggest change in Content Marketing in 2017 will be centered around the structure of the marketing team. As the role of Content Marketing continues to expand and grow, many companies are still struggling with how to structure their marketing teams. Some have Content Marketing as a function of a single department, like Demand Gen or Social Media, while other Content Marketing teams are a shared resource among the entire Marketing team.  To date, there is not a best practice for the team structure. In the next year, we will begin to see a shift in team structure as the role of a Content Marketer becomes more clearly defined.

Chris Moody

Content Marketing Leader, GE Digital

“Having a written content plan helps marketers anchor against business objectives.” – @cnmoody
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B2B marketers will come around and the number of documented content marketing strategies will increase for the first time in three years. In 2015, 35% of B2B marketers had a documented content strategy and in 2016, that number dipped to 32% (CMI/MarketingProfs). Research shows that those with a documented content marketing strategy are 300x more effective than those without. 2017 is the year that this improves. Marketers realize that having a written plan helps anchor them against business objectives and supports them being more effective.

If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first of many to bang my head against my desk and question the existence of two-thirds of my marketing friends who are doing stuff without a documented plan. Without that documented plan, that’s all your marketing is…stuff. Gone should be the days of activities-based marketing. Let’s drive action, results and revenue and improve the perception of our industry.

Jason Miller

Group Manager – Global Content & Social Media Marketing, LinkedIn

“As video grows, marketers are going to have to focus on quality over quantity.” – @JasonMillerCA
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The “Content Shock” that Mark Schaefer called out a few years ago is going to happen with video in 2017. As video grows in importance and live video becomes the norm, marketers are going to have to focus on quality over quantity. Upping the production value of an iPhone video and focusing on smart editing and razor sharp audio will be differentiator.

Know Your Audience. Be Memorable. Have Impact.

It’s clear that there are key themes that tie each of these expert’s predictions together. If you’re going to run a successful content program in 2017 focus must be on content quality, planning and cutting through the clutter to create a great experience for your audience.

Want more? Learn how TopRank Marketing developed an interactive microsite to create a memorable experience for a client’s target audience.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing Client

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December 5th 2016 Online Marketing