4 Elements of a Mobile Strategy That All Marketers Should Pay Attention To

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mobile-strategy

I hate to admit it, but like most people today I take my phone almost everywhere I go. As a society, we have become very reliant our SmartPhones because they make life easier. I use my phone for the common purposes, but when I think about it,  it is incredible how much research and reading I do on it too. And I am not alone. According to Think With Google,

“Over two-thirds of smartphone users (68%) say they check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning, and 30% admit they actually get “anxious” when they don’t have their phone on them. Millennials? They’re really attached. Eighty-seven percent always have their smartphone at their side, day and night.”

I might have a nasty habit of being reliant on my phone, but that’s because marketers have made the mobile experience easy for me. I’m much more willing to look at my phone for information when the experience is just as solid as I would find on using a desktop or laptop computer.

Whether you’re just embarking on a mobile marketing initiative or want to see if you’re on the right track, check out the four areas below that your team should be considering as part of your mobile strategy.

Mobile Marketing Strategy

It is important to understand who your audience is and what type of activity they take while online. For example, some companies might be better suited for mobile traffic like local businesses compared to B2B companies. Regardless of the type of company, mobile has increased in importance. Consumers are more savvy online and are accessing websites on multiple devices. It is important to have a fluid and optimized mobile experience to engage your consumers.

There are really two areas of mobile strategy that we can focus on: mobile apps and mobile websites. Define your mobile target audience’s goals when developing your mobile strategy. Your mobile target audience will most likely have, at least, a couple different goals than desktop users.

#1 – Mobile App Strategy – There’s an app for that?

Have you ever heard the expression, “There’s an app for that?” Apple may have trademarked the saying for its own marketing reasons, but the statement points out that there are clearly too many apps available for consumers today. A mobile strategy isn’t just about having a mobile-friendly website. There are multiple other layers involved within the mobile market.

Often, the mobile experience is different than the desktop experience, which can help marketers  identify if a mobile app is even worth developing. In some situations, developing a mobile app is the correct decision especially if the experience tailored to a specific action(s). In other situations, there really isn’t a need to have an app developed for a specific action or user group. Instead, focus on creating a mobile-friendly website that provides a fluid experience between the desktop and mobile devices.

If you create an mobile app, take the proper steps to optimize the app store location page and build a campaign to promote the app. Optimize your listing by including keywords in your title and throughout the app description. Search engine optimization should not only focus on Google or Bing, but can expand to app store optimization or other locations online.  To help rankings within the app stores, focus on getting quality reviews and ratings. Also, look into ways to incorporate deep linking to get indexable app content within search engines.

#2 – Mobile Website Strategy – Is my mobile website content friendly?

The first step when creating a mobile-friendly website is to technically develop the site correctly. Two options to create a mobile website could are having a responsive website or an individual mobile (m.example.com). It is important to keep in mind what content you want to add to your website for your mobile users.

You will need to conduct mobile keyword research regardless of you are creating a mobile app or website to guide the correct type of content creation. Keywords can hold multiple meanings when comparing mobile to desktop users. Searcher intent holds more importance than the search volume for a keyword.

If you create a mobile friendly-website consider applying AMP (accelerated mobile pages) to your blog pages to help increase site speed for mobile users. AMP can be explained as html on a diet so that a web page can load almost instantly. Google and some social media platforms have placed more emphasis on accelerated mobile pages as they want to provide the a fast user experience to mobile users.

#3 – Mobile analytics – Make informed decisions for your audience

After you have developed your mobile marketing strategy, it’s important to track your mobile metrics. Just like any marketing decision, updates to your mobile strategy should have data to support your decision. Analyzing your mobile analytics is a critical step in your mobile strategy both when developing and ongoing. Google Analytics does a solid job with mobile reporting to helps us marketers make the informed decisions we need to make to delight our consumers.

The best place to start when looking at mobile metrics are the engagement metrics. Most websites have more mobile users than desktop users now. Although you may have a majority of your traffic from mobile, we can take it a step further by looking at the following metrics to judge the performance of our mobile strategy:

  • Bounce rate (and/or adjusted bounce rate)
  • Pages per session
  • Hard or soft conversions
  • Site speed on mobile
  • Page path
  • Landing pages
  • Top performing eCommerce products

You are now able to take the mobile metrics and compare them to desktop metrics to see how much discrepancies there are. The actionable data from Google Analytics will allow us marketers to make informed decisions on any changes that might be needed, like type of content on the mobile site/app, design, and usability.

#4 – Mobile Usability – Make the experience fluid

Just because something looks good on desktop doesn’t mean that it will work on a mobile device. Use actual devices or tools to identify potential issues when it comes to mobile rendering. Check to see how the mobile page renders even though your site might be mobile friendly. The page could look different on multiple devices even if it is deemed mobile friendly creating a poor user experience.

It is important to view how close are buttons/links are to each other. I unfortunately have fat fingers, which makes it difficult for me to click on the correct links even when I’m focusing intently. Ideally, you shouldn’t make any action of your mobile website/app difficult to perform. Making the experience as fluid as possible will help users take the actions you want them to make. Make sure to include A/B tests for your mobile design to also help make informed decisions about the aesthetic of the website/app. Google provided a great resource on some simple best practices when designing a mobile website.

Mobile Strategy to the Rescue

There is no question on how important mobile is anymore. If fact, marketers need to start focusing on how to use mobile analytics and strategy to provide a better experience for consumers. Mobile technologies will only keep evolving and we need to stay on top of the data to reach our target audiences. I might not need a desktop computer much longer if marketers continue to get better at providing the best experience for mobile users.

Header image via Shutterstock


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4 Elements of a Mobile Strategy That All Marketers Should Pay Attention To | http://www.toprankblog.com

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May 10th 2016 Mobile, Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Social Yin & Yang, Instagram for Brands, Facebook Gives ROI

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Yin_and_Yang_of_Biz_SM_Training

Yin_and_Yang_of_Biz_SM_Training

The Yin and Yang of Social Media Training
Having a strong, social workforce by way of employee advocates can do a lot for a business. It shows your customers that your employees believe in your brand, while making your brand more human with direct contact – person to person. Many organizations are hesitant, and often for good reason, about encouraging their employees to share news and content online. This infographic helps make the case for employee advocacy and social involvement. Social Media Today

Instagram Brand Profiles are Coming – Here’s a First Look
Just like winter, Instagram brand profiles are rumored to be on the way. According to Social Media Today, “the first images of the new brand pages for Instagram have been spotted, with Later.com posting images of the new profile format – or, at least, how the new brand profiles look at this stage of the testing process.” Following news of ads being available on the platform, this may not be a huge surprise, but rather, a huge opportunity. Social Media Today

For Social Media Marketers, Facebook Produces the Best ROI
According to eMarketer, “Social Fresh, Firebrand Group and Simply Measured surveyed 551 social media marketers worldwide and asked them to choose up to three social media platforms that they thought produced the best ROI. Almost all (95.8%) of social media marketers worldwide said Facebook did.” Followed in stride by Twitter and Instagram, social media giant Facebook continues to rule the roost in the eyes of marketers. Interestingly, Pinterest, Snapchat and Slideshare are trailing their social advertising cohorts. eMarketer

Groupon Lets You Send a Life-Size, 3-D Version of Yourself to Mom for Mother’s Day
Sunday is Mother’s day, and what better way to celebrate the lovely lady who gave you life than to send her a 3D version of yourself? For the menial cost of $30,000, Groupon is letting you do just that. What does this mean for marketers? Although not everyone can, or should, be purchasing some giant, life-sized version of themselves for dear old mom, unique gifts that go beyond the standard flowers and bruch may be increasing in popularity in the future. Making sure you angle your marketing and messaging accordingly can only help your bottom line. AdWeek

Google confirms live demo of new AdWords redesign will happen on May 24
A few weeks back I mentioned that AdWords is undergoing a much needed redesign, their first since 2008. The company has now announced that they’ll be giving a live demo in their annual conference on May 24th of this year. According to Search Engine Land: “It is being built with Material Design, the design language Google uses for many of its consumer-facing apps like Gmail and Maps.” What does this mean for search marketers? A potentially more user friendly, certainly prettier, AdWords platform. Search Engine Land

Business leaders say email marketing and owned websites are most effective

YouTube Introduces Virtual Reality And More
According to Social Media Today, not only are you able to record and post 360-degree video to YouTube, there will soon be a possibility to live-stream that 3D video for an audience. This is awesome news for music festivals like Coachella who count on the at-event experience to lend heavily to word of mouth promotion. This could also have implications for the real estate, sports, and entertainment industries, allowing marketers to make virtual experiences for their audiences to increase engagement and allow a try-before-you-buy scenario to play out where it previously wasn’t possible. Social Media Today

Millennials, Gen-Z Alienated by Ads in Social News Feeds (Study)
Social media ads may not be the way to go when targeting millennials and Gen Z buyers. According to Social Times: “A new study by Harris Poll, commissioned by brand relationship manager Lithium Technologies, found that 74 percent of millennials (ages 20 through 39) and Gen-Z respondents (16 through 19) object to being targeted by brands on their social media feeds.” For marketers, this means that finding more out-of-the box ways to target potential buyers is key to engaging this younger generation. Social Times

What were your top news stories this week?

If you have something to say, or something to share, send it my way @Tiffani_Allen or @toprank! I’ll be back next week with more helpful news for your everyday marketing life.

Infographic via Social Media Today.

The post Online Marketing News: Social Yin & Yang, Instagram for Brands, Facebook Gives ROI appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

May 6th 2016 Online Marketing

Do Visuals Really Have an Impact on Online Advertising Success?

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online-advertising-success

Humans are visual creatures by nature. In fact, research shows that 90% of the information that comes to our brains is visual. And as it turns out, our visual intelligence is actually increasing while verbal intelligence is on the decline, according to an infographic from WebDAM.

What does this mean? It means that the way people consume information and the way they communicate is changing. And marketers who want to effectively reach their audiences will need to more strategic with visuals in all their marketing tactics—including online advertising. Simply paying to be at the top of search results or news feeds is no longer enough to get the results you’re looking for.

But the importance of visual content in your online advertisements goes beyond the fact that we’re becoming an increasingly visual as a society. Below we dive into some other reasons visual content should be a focus and outline some best practices, too.

Why Visuals Matter in Online Advertising

Images Impact How People Feel

It’s true what they say. A picture truly is worth a thousand words. Images have the power to move us, and to evoke feelings and memories. And in advertisements, images can definitely impact the way we feel about a product or brand. In fact, when it comes to ecommerce sites, 67% of consumers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in selecting and purchasing an item.

One of my favorite brands using visual content to give people all of the feels is Love Your Melon. Love Your Melon was founded to improve the lives of children battling cancer by providing them with a special hat. With each hat purchased by the public, 50% of the net proceeds are donated to the organization’s nonprofit partners in the fight against childhood cancer. Throughout the year the brand releases new products and boosted/sponsored Facebook posts are a major promotion tool. And at the center of it all is an awesome image that encompasses the brand’s mission and the good they’re doing for sick kids.

Love Your Melon

Of course, I also have to mention Chevrolet’s tribute to the late, great Prince Rogers Nelson following his death on April 21, 2016. Most people first saw it on Twitter, but the company also ran the ad in several newspapers.

Chevrolet

Visual Content is More Engaging

Visual content is engaging and eye-catching by nature. Videos and images can get us to stop, look and watch. How many times have you found yourself watching one of BuzzFeed’s Tasty videos in your Facebook news feed this week? In addition, visual content often compels us to share with others. According to a Buffer infographic, visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social networks.

General Mills recently released a cute video ad on Facebook featuring the “honorary real Trix rabbit” to let the world know that the company’s cereals all contain real stuff. The ad delivers information in a visually delightful way and uses the memorable Trix campaign slogan to remind people General Mills was part of their childhood.

Visual Content Rules the People

In today’s digital world, mobile devices have put a camera in people’s pockets and the ability to share the photos they take in real-time. According to the Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends Report, people uploaded 1.8 billion photos every single day in 2014. That same report indicated that 44% of millennials use the camera or video function of their smartphones at least once a day. In addition, visual social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest are on the rise—especially among young people. And of course, YouTube has been a growing go-to for people for the last few years.

Best Practices

  • Be thoughtful. Just like any digital marketing tactic, thinking about who your audience is, what they need and the message you’re trying to spread is essential when choosing what visuals to use.
  • Be consistent. Your visual content should be representative of your brand and be consistent across all of your digital channels. (Read: Learn How to Create a Better Customer Experience with Omni-Channel Marketing)
  • Show your audience something special. Give them a sneak peek at a product launch or a behind-the-scenes video story. This type of visual content can pique interest and help spread awareness about your brand, rather than trying to sell a product or service outright.
  • Use real images. Real images resonate with people. As an example, the following two ad images were used to advertise a furnace inspection promotion on Facebook. The ad featuring a real image and humorous hashtag received a 22% higher click-through rate, than the illustrated melting snowman ad.

Furnace Fail People

Furnace Fail Illustrated

  • Illustrate your message. Ask yourself: How can I convey what my message is through an image? Once you’ve picked an image that can deliver your message, make sure any text supports the overall message.
  • Show them the product. Sometimes just simply using an image of your product is all your need to do. For example, if you are advertising a new software, provide a snapshot of the backend that shows its capabilities or features rather than a jovial person sitting at a computer. How-to videos can also be incredibly impactful.
  • Don’t be too busy. Make sure your images don’t have too much going on. Humans are easily distracted and you want to keep their attention.
  • Think mobile. It’s no secret that mobile devices are overtaking desktop computers. Make sure that your visual ad content will load quickly and can be easily seen on mobile.
  • Size images to proper dimensions. Make sure your images are properly sized for the advertising medium, otherwise they could be cropped and cause your ad to look unprofessional. And people will move on without a second thought. (Also, proper image size is important for your social media profiles and updates, too. Check out HubSpot’s ultimate cheat sheet for social media sizing guidelines.)
  • Take advantage of free tools. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to pull off high-quality ad images. Canva, Pixler and PicMonkey are awesome and all offer free versions.
  • Use color. Colors are more likely to grab and hold your audience’s attention. Research from Xerox shows that colored visuals increase readers’ recall and attention spans by 82%.
  • Don’t be afraid to test. Use a couple different images in your ads so you can see which type or style better resonates with your audience.

What is one of the most visually compelling online ads that you’ve seen recently? Why did it resonate with you? Tell us in the comments section below.

Header image via Shutterstock


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. |
Do Visuals Really Have an Impact on Online Advertising Success? | http://www.toprankblog.com

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May 4th 2016 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Short Attention Spans, Google Feed Rules, Starbucks Emojis

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shortening human attention span

shortening human attention span

The Shortening Human Attention Span (And What it Means for Marketers) [Infographic]
Down from 12 seconds in 2000, the average human attention span is now 8.25 seconds. That leaves marketers with very little time to make a meaningful impression. But, don’t sweat it too much. This infographic has some solid tips on how to capture and hold the attention of your audience, like using clear and brief messaging and telling your audience a story. Social Media Today

Google adds Merchant Center Feed Rules to make formatting shopping feeds easier
For a long time, Google shopping feeds have been a bump in the road for digital advertisers. So much so that there’s a whole industry dedicated to helping advertisers manage their shopping feeds. On Tuesday, Google announced a new feature in the Merchant Center — Merchant Center Feed Rules, that will help advertisers fix errors themselves in a simple way. Search Engine Land

Starbucks launched its own keyboard app so you can text emojis of unicorns drinking coffee
Starbucks is now allowing users to send unicorn and coffee emojis to their contacts. That’s it folks, the world is complete. The app was released under a partnership with Snaps Media, and is Starbucks’ first consumer app that is focused on entertaining their audience. What could this mean for other brands? I’m willing to bet we’ll see more custom emoji keyboards in the near future. TechCrunch

Facebook’s mobile ad revenue grew by 76% to $4.26 billion in Q1 2016
Facebook reportedly grew revenue in Q1 of 2016, which is a contrast to reports issued by Twitter and Apple with revenue reportedly being less than expected. Not only is mobile ad revenue up, but Facebook’s daily audience grew by 16%, with money made from each audience member increasing by 33%. This post is full of useful information from that report, and some highly entertaining gifs to boot. Marketing Land

64% of enterprise marketers DON'T have a documented content marketing strategy

Twitter Q1 2016 Revenue Falls Short of Analysts’ Projections
Twitter reported that while revenue was up 36% YOY for Q1, the $595 million fell short of analysts predictions. According to SocialTimes, “Twitter reported a GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) net loss of $80 million, or 12 cents per share, less than one-half the company’s net loss in the first quarter of 2015.” SocialTimes

Marketers Choose Responsive Email Templates Over Fluid Hybrid Design
New research shows that marketing professionals worldwide are overwhelmingly choosing to use responsive email templates (56.9%) over fluid hybrid design (7.9%). Interestingly, 19.9% are using both types of templates, and 15.2% aren’t using either. Designing for mobile first may sound like a trendy marketing idea, but smart marketers know that if your emails don’t look great on mobile, they aren’t nearly as effective. eMarketer

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

I’ll be back next week with more online marketing news! In the meantime, send your thoughts and ideas to me @Tiffani_Allen or @toprank!

The post Online Marketing News: Short Attention Spans, Google Feed Rules, Starbucks Emojis appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

April 29th 2016 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Social Made Easy, Disruptive Ads and Facebook Switches

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Social-Media-Image-Sizing-Cheat-Sheet

Social-Media-Image-Sizing-Cheat-Sheet

Social Media Marketing & Promotion Made Easy [Infographic]
Maybe it’s just me, but I find myself searching frequently for very specific imaging sizing requirements for various social media. Having all of that information bookmarked for an unfortunately timed case of the Mondays has been a figurative life saver. This inforgraphic has all the information you’ll need to rock the social universe. On Blast Blog

Majority of users frustrated by disruptive ads, aware of ad blocking [Survey]
A new survey from Accenture shows the majority of users are frustrated by ads that disrupt their activities, 84% saying that ad interruptions were too frequent. This information came coupled with a growing consumer awareness of ad blocking capabilities. In fact, 73% of consumers surveyed said they would pay more money for long form content if there were fewer ads. Marketing Land

Facebook Switches Page Management and Posting Options – What You Need to Know
Facebook has changed the way page managers can post as a page, and how they can interact with that page’s News Feed. Although no functionality has been changed, the process is noticeably different than it has previously been. For example, managers can no longer log in to Facebook as their brand’s page. To view the brand’s News Feed, managers need to click on a link in the page function panel. Social Media Today

Brands Can Now Create Interactive Video Campaigns on Facebook and Instagram
Instagram and Facebook are now allowing brands to create interactive advertising campaigns in their platforms by way of online rollover ads. Users can roll over the ads with their mouse to access more information about the advertiser. One brand tested this recently, “the new format resulted in a 35 percent engagement rate with 4,400 likes, more than 250 comments and 400 shares.” AdWeek

CMOs want to focus on relationships in 2020

Digital Ad Spending Surges to Record High as Mobile and Social Grow More Than 50%
According to a report released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau: “Domestic digital advertising revenue surged to a record-breaking $59.6 billion for the 2015 calendar year, a 20% uptick over last year’s also record-breaking numbers.” This growth was attributed in part to mobile, which grew by 66% over 2014 to $20.7 Billion. Ad Age

Google’s New Search Card Will Help Track Your Online Orders
Google is now letting users track online orders straight from the search bar. Simply type in ‘track package’ or some close variation into the Google search bar and a card will pop up, prompting you to enter your tracking information. This is great news for online retailers who depend on reliable delivery information as part of their customer service strategy. Search Engine Journal

Google’s annual livestream of AdWords and Analytics news to be held May 24
Google has announced that they’ll be livestreaming their annual Performance Summit on May 24th at 9am PT. During this conference, Google will announce new features for AdWords and Google Analytics, along with new research conducted by the company. The news post also includes a link to register for the livestream. Search Engine Land

What were your top marketing news stories this week?

I’ll be back next week with even more online marketing news! Have something to share? Tweet me at @Tiffani_Allen or @toprank using the hashtag #trnews!

The post Online Marketing News: Social Made Easy, Disruptive Ads and Facebook Switches appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

April 22nd 2016 Online Marketing

Learn How to Compel Your Audience to Act with These 3 Storytelling Tips

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Storytelling-Tips

When you hear the phrase “once upon a time…” your mind likely flashes to some of your favorite childhood stories. But what exactly is it that you remember about these stories, is it:

  • The conflict between Cinderella and her stepmother, that didn’t stop her from finding a happy ending?
  • The irony that Jack won a ticket on the Titanic at the last possible moment, only to slip away into the icy waters of the Atlantic?
  • The various social norms that were crossed, broken or all but forgotten in Alice in Wonderland?

As marketers we crave the opportunity to have top-of-mind awareness with prospects and customers when they hear certain phrases or are thinking about ideas that compel them to take action. Building that awareness doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and the right injection of storytelling into your digital marketing strategy.

Yesterday at Social Media Marketing World, I was able to gain insight into just how brands can do this from a panel of expert storytellers in a session moderated by Park Howell  that included Tim Washer, Kathy Klotz-Guest and Ron Ploof.

Below we’ll explore three ways and three exercises to help brands tell better, more impactful stories to create a lasting connection with their audience and compel them to take action.

#1 – Create Irony

Irony can be an incredibly effective tool in your storytelling arsenal as it forces the reader to analyze the situation in more detail.  As a brand, getting the audience to think through your message, to spend more time with it – is a good thing.

To start adding more irony to your content strategy, try the following exercise:

  1. Take some time each day to look at images
  2. Write down what you think is happening in the image
  3. Then, write down the opposite.

Then take both of those scenarios to the extreme. Wire your mind to be absurd. If you can do this, you can find stories that connect with the audience on a deeper level, compelling them to act.

#2 – Find the Conflict

Human brains are wired to seek out the conflict and take joy in the resolution.

To create a more compelling story, start with documenting the problem your brand solves and everything that can happen before you enter the picture. This is the conflict and will become the cornerstone of your story.

After you have the story written, then edit with the Rule of Replacement by:

  1. Counting the instances of  ‘and’ within the copy
    • Do the ‘and’s outnumber ‘but’ and ‘therefore’?
  2. If so, replace ‘and’ with ‘but’ and ‘therefore’ to create more conflict

#3 Learn to Heighten the Story
Now that you have a story to work with, it’s time to push narrative further.  

Here’s an exercise to get you started:

  1. Pretend for a minute that the problem your company solves goes unchecked.
  2. What would happen? Document everything you can think of, no matter how crazy.
  3. Now, document how the outcome would have been different had your product or service entered the story earlier.

Mayhem from Allstate is one of the best examples of a brand heightening the story. The story they tell is everyone’s worst nightmare and in painting such a vivid picture, they are able to connect with the audience. On the flip side, had they started with the product they would be telling a very similar story as the competition.

Are You Leveraging Your Story to the Fullest?

Knowing where to begin incorporating storytelling into your content marketing strategy can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, with the help of today’s speakers, you can turn it into a more manageable opportunity.

Remember that you may only be able to tackle one story at a time, and you won’t want to lose all the great ideas you or your team developed. One way to avoid that is to create a story bank that you can pull from constantly.

What are the brands that you think create and tell amazing stories?

Another way to tell great brand stories is by incorporating influencers. If you’re at Social Media Marketing World and are looking for a great session to attend, I encourage you to stop by room 28ABCD at 1:30pm to see TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden discuss Influencer Marketing Playbook: How to Identify, Qualify and Recruit Effective Influencers


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. |
Learn How to Compel Your Audience to Act with These 3 Storytelling Tips | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Learn How to Compel Your Audience to Act with These 3 Storytelling Tips appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

April 20th 2016 Online Marketing

7 Tips for Incorporating Snapchat into Your Marketing Strategy

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snapchat-marketing-tips

Let’s face it, Snapchat is an application that has many of us scratching our heads and wondering if it’s simply something the “kids are doing these days” or if there is valuable as part of a marketing strategy.

The good news is, Snapchat has faced tremendous growth since launching a couple years ago. In fact, there are an average of 9,000 snaps per second and over 8 billion video views on the platform per day.

So, how fitting that the session I attended about Snapchat Marketing at Social Media Marketing World yesterday started strong with the panelists sending videos of the audience to their respective Snapchat audiences.

In this session, led by Carlos Gil of BMC Software, these brand marketers and Snapchat influencers shared some wisdom on how they use Snapchat to create connections and build engagement.

The panel included Snapchat sensations Shaun McBride and Shaun Ayala (Shaun Squared?), as well as brand marketers Callan Green from L’Oreal and Joel Price of the San Diego Chargers.

These experienced Snapchat experts covered a plethora of tips and best practices for marketers during their session. Below are what I considered to be the top 7 takeaways that both B2C and B2B brands can use to create a more impactful Snapchat marketing strategy.

#1 – Add Value for Everyone

Brands should try to add value to each person that they share their Snapchat stories with, and that value should be present throughout the entire story. Snapchat can be an incredibly effective way to build brand affinity (especially with Millennials) and with all of the options available to them today, they have to see themselves in the content you’re publishing.

#2 – Be Innovative, But Don’t Strive for Protection

According to these Snapchat experts, this platform is a great way to try something new that doesn’t have a ton of risk associated with it. Understanding how to create the perfect snap will be largely dependent on how your audience responds to different types of content that you create.

That means, companies just starting out shouldn’t be afraid to do something innovative or interesting to initially catch the attention of the Snapchat audience. This helps relieve some of the pressure that many brands are likely experiencing when trying to create a strategy without having first tested the platform and trying a few things to see what resonates.

#3 – Give a “Behind-the-Scenes” Look

Both of the marketers from L’Oreal and the San Diego Chargers strongly recommend giving a behind-the-scenes look at your organization to draw in new users, and engage your existing ones. Some of those that have performed the best featured high profile celebrities in a way that fans may have never seen them before.

This is a good opportunity to showcase the raw or real story behind these brands and the celebrities that work with them.

#4 – Allow Influencers to do a Snapchat “Takeover”

One of the topics that all of the panelists unanimously agreed on was the benefit of the Snapchat takeover. Allowing someone that is influential to your fans takeover your Snapchat account for a day can be a way to draw attention to your message.

Sometimes it can be scary if you aren’t exactly sure what they’ll say or do so you’ll need to set a realistic game plan beforehand but let the influencer run with it. Why? There is a reason you wanted to collaborate with them and the more they can be genuine, the more successful this type of campaign can be.

#5 – Don’t Be Afraid to Test But Be Realistic About ROI

Currently, it seems that Snapchat is best used as a mechanism for growing your audience and creating ongoing engagements. While some companies like the San Diego Chargers have used it to manage sweepstakes (one of which received 6,000 submissions in less than 24 hours), you need to be realistic about your expectations for conversions solely based on Snapchat.

Marketers have experienced the same struggle with other social media platforms providing conversions. While there may not be a direct conversion from one social message (or snap) it is part of the process of leading customers through the buying cycle, as well as building brand affinity and trust.

#6 – Take Advantage of Snapchat’s Features

A good Snapchat strategy won’t fulfill everything your audience is looking for immediately, but instead gives them small nuggets of information that make them hungry for more.

Some of the suggestions included utilizing many of the different tools available within the platform to add vibrancy and a mix of drawings and text to keep your audience scanning and engaged with the message.

#7 – How to “do” Snapchat with Limited Resources

Fortunately for marketers, Snapchat currently requires little to no investment to get started. Because of the low financial impact, now is the perfect time to begin figuring out the best application for a brand just breaking into Snapchat.

The panelists also recommended utilizing interns (typically a low cost center), many of which will likely be Millennials to start building your Snapchat following. Chances are many of them are already using Snapchat personally and could actually teach the marketing team a thing or two about the formula for a perfect snap.

7 Snackable Snapchat Marketing Takeaways

As a bonus, I’ve also included 7 additional, snackable tips to keep in mind when you’re venturing out on a Snapchat marketing initiative for the first time:

  1. If you want to humanize your brand, you have to be on Snapchat.
  2. When you’re getting started, utilize your other channels to drive traffic to Snapchat.
  3. The key is to string together a perfect story with a beginning middle and end that is unique and different.
  4. It’s imperative to give your audience a compelling reason to follow you.
  5. People want attention, they want to be famous on social media and they want to win free stuff. If you focus on making your viewers famous, you’ll win the Snapchat game.
  6. No matter what your role is within the company, you should be on Snapchat. So you can understand the platform.
  7. Take Snapchat seriously as part of your marketing but remember to have fun and create a great user experience.

Is Snapchat Marketing Right for Your Brand?

After what I learned today, I think it’s safe to say that every brand has the opportunity to at least test Snapchat’s capabilities and see if there is a fit for their brand marketing strategy.

If you’ve tried and succeeded (or failed) to add Snapchat to your marketing, what has been your experience?


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7 Tips for Incorporating Snapchat into Your Marketing Strategy | http://www.toprankblog.com

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April 19th 2016 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Brightest Millennials, Branded Content, Google Penalties

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millennial demographic infographic

millennial demographic infographic

Infographic: How the Best and Brightest Millennials Live, Shop and Dream
Millennials are a popular demographic for marketers, but with that popularity can often times come stereotypes and shortcuts used to resonate with this audience without doing the legwork of truly understanding them. This infographic shows what the best and brightest of millennials do with in their day to day lives, from banking to world politics. One big takeaway is that remarkably more millennials are shopping online vs. in store, and using mobile banking apps rather than banking online or in-branch. AdWeek

Facebook Changes its Policies on Branded Content
Facebook defines branded content as content “that specifically mentions or features a third party product, brand, or sponsor.” Facebook is now giving marketers the ability to tag each other in their branded content, opening up the ability for the tagged marketers to view post insights and making it more clear to the consumer that the content is sponsored. There are, however, types of branded content that Facebook still won’t accept, like persistent watermarks and pre-roll ads. Search Engine Journal

Google penalizes sites for unnatural outbound linking
Last weekend, Google issued penalties to sites implementing unnatural outbound linking. The letter from Google reads: “If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site.” Moral of the story? Wear your white hat, and check your Google Search Console messages! Search Engine Land

Fluent: 8% of Americans Own an Apple Watch
According to a new study by Fluent, 8% of Americans own an Apple Watch, along with 8% that own a different brand of smartwatch. These consumers reportedly are using the Apple Watch to access notifications and monitor health and fitness. Mucic streaming, email and playing games were also popular among Apple Watch owners, 62% of whom said they are planning to upgrade when the newest edition is released. SocialTimes

From the @toprank Twitter Community
twitter drives referral traffic

Google Analytics’ new User Explorer report shows individual, anonymized website interactions
Google is rolling out a new feature in Analytics called User Explorer, which Google defines as a “new set of reporting in Google Analytics that allows customers to anonymously analyze individual interactions to their website.” User Explorer uses existing Google Analytics data to deliver insights and help marketers uncover insights to help optimize their site. Marketing Land

Facebook users are sharing posts more frequently but liking and commenting less
A new report from Rival IQ shows that Facebook users are sharing posts more often than they are liking or commenting. Marketing Land speculates that this is due to initiatives to decrease spam engagements and the newsfeed trend toward users rather than brands. There’s also a related theory new Messenger sharing features, giving users more options to share than before. Marketing Land

What was your top marketing news story this week?

I’ll be back next week with more marketing news and delightful video content. Have something to say? Tweet me @Tiffani_Allen or @toprank!

The post Online Marketing News: Brightest Millennials, Branded Content, Google Penalties appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

April 15th 2016 Online Marketing

Book Review: 5 Takeaways From Scott Brinker’s Hacking Marketing + Bonus Author Interview

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scott-brinker-book-review

Digital marketing is a very competitive race. The team that is nimble, creative and working smarter will almost always win and keep the business in the end.

Many tools and processes have surfaced over the years that can help marketers improve their efficiency and deliverables. However, there are still many antiquated processes that still exist that may be hindering success.

Scott Brinker’s new book Hacking Marketing: Agile Practices to Make Marketing Smarter, Faster and More Innovative takes a much needed look at the areas of marketing that are broken and ways that they can be fixed.

In the time that TopRank Marketing has been following an agile approach to marketing, we’ve seen amazing benefits in our ability to deliver more impactful digital marketing strategies within a much shorter timeframe to deliver results and delight our clients. This book is for anyone that is considering the idea of an agile approach, has already started the process or just wants to learn more about what it is.

Below you’ll find what I considered to be some of the top takeaways as well as an interview with the author where he digs even deeper into some of the core concepts discussed in the book.

5 Takeaways From Hacking Marketing

#1 – The Concept of Digital Dynamics

“We want management methods that can leverage digital dynamics, rather than struggle against them.”

In his book, Scott describes what he calls Digital Dynamics. The five characteristics that are part of a digital world that make up these dynamics include:

  1. Speed
  2. Adaptability
  3. Adjacency
  4. Scale
  5. Precision

The struggle that many marketers are facing is trying to harness the power of these features with management practices that were created prior to the digital world we live in today.

#2 – The Correlation Between Marketing & Software

“Everything digital is controlled by software.”

Many of us may still think of software as programs that we download to our desktops or smartphones. However, the applications and websites that we use everyday as well as the cars we drive are typically made up of many software programs working together.

While we may think of our digital marketing activities as being direct to our consumers through email or social media, they are still passing through software to reach their destination. These softwares have a significant impact on the success of your business because the fact of the matter is, they write the rules.

#3 – Why Marketers Need to Adapt an Agile Approach

“Rethinking the way we manage marketing, to make it more responsive in this new environment, can have a significant impact on the agility of our business.”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard of more and more companies adopting an agile approach to their business. This allows companies to rid themselves of antiquated processes that slow them down and reduce effectiveness.

The agile approach was recently developed by software professionals but has become largely adapted by marketing departments across the globe. However, marketers quickly found that not all of the elements of agile for software companies fit the mold for marketing.

Scott began working on an agile marketing manifesto and suggested that the values that should be focused on for this use case should include:

  • Numerous small experiments over a few large bets.
  • Testing and data over opinions and conventions.
  • Intimate customer tribes over impersonal mass markets.
  • Engagement and transparency over official posturing.

#4 – How to Change the Way That Marketing Operates

“To acclimate ourselves to the speed of a digital world, we must accelerate the tempo at which marketing operates.”

In order to become more effective, it requires that marketers improve efficiency. But creating a sustainable approach that doesn’t wear out your staff can be a tricky thing to do. Creating a more successful approach is less about the speed at which you do it, and more about ensuring that your team can adapt quickly and focus on the right activities and outcomes.

The traditional waterfall timelines that many marketers follow can stunt effectiveness because the amount of time invested does not always improve results. An agile approach however focuses on launching sprints which are short (one week to one month) projects to show more immediate results.

#5 – How to Prevent Marketing Chaos

“Short loops of incremental and iterative work, with built-in checkpoints for feedback and adaptation, are the engine of agile management.”

A large part of the early phases of agile marketing require teams to be experimental. Based on what they’re marketing, who they’re marketing to and the makeup of their teams will all help determine how best to approach this new way of marketing.

When you throw the waterfall timelines out the window and instead focus on the small incremental sprints, you may find that there is a lot more happening at one time. To avoid getting overwhelmed and caught up in the details that don’t matter, you need to find a way to organize, prioritize and track all of the activities that make up your sprints.

Interview with Hacking Marketing Author Scott Brinker

Q: Can you explain what you mean by hacking marketing?

I know, it’s a strange title, right? Most people think of hacking as something bad — hackers who break into people’s computer systems and steal credit cards or whatnot.

That is definitely not the connotation in my book.

In the software community, hacking has a very different meaning. It’s an attitude of hands-on discovery — a “let’s build something, quickly, and learn from it, rather than endlessly debating hypotheticals” approach to product development. Hacking emerged in the 1960’s at MIT, as a way of describing the playful experimentation among the first generation of computer programmers, pioneering new boundaries of what software could do.

With Hacking Marketing, I had two goals. First, to give non-technical marketers an orientation in software thinking as it applies to their profession today. Because let’s face it, marketing today is thoroughly entangled in software and technology-powered dynamics. And second, to bring a bit of that “hacker spirit” of hands-on discovery to the way marketing operates in a digital world — not just experimenting with what we do, but innovating how we do it too.

Q: What did you see as the biggest barriers for marketers trying to adapt an agile approach that was designed for software companies?

The biggest challenge with agile management, whether you’re applying it to software development or marketing, is the cultural shift it requires to be successful. Classic management culture is typically rooted in precise plans that span months or years, executed in a top-down fashion. You do “the big release” — or “the big campaign” — and it has to be delivered all-at-once, perfectly.

Agile is a much more iterative approach that harnesses bottom-up feedback and ideas from the front-line. Management still directs the team’s priorities according to a longer-view strategy, but agile proactively embraces course corrections and opportunistic wins along that strategic journey. Rather than trying to predict the perfect big campaign out of the gate, agile continuously experiments with ideas on a small scale before ramping them up. The whole process is extremely transparent.

Agile management is about harnessing change rather than fighting it. It makes perfect sense in today’s world, but make no mistake — for a lot of organizations, that’s a big cultural shift.

Q: Do you have any advice about how teams should manage multiple sprints happening at one time to remain effective?

Agile is more of a management philosophy than a single, specific methodology. That’s not to say that you can implement it without any process. It’s more than just a state of mind. But there are many different agile methodologies — Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, etc. — and many teams craft their own variation that suits their particular situation best. That’s the great thing about agile. The process itself is adaptable.

My point is that there’s not one right answer to how to best manage multiple sprints.

That being said, I think well-defined Kanban boards — where everyone can see all the tasks in flight, at different stages of progress — can be very helpful in coordinating large teams and multiple teams. If there are common points where you explicitly need two different teams to sync up, you can add a column in the board where those tasks queue up. And if it’s becoming a bottleneck, it’s immediately obvious.

In organizational process design, as well as software development, I’m a big believer in the principle of “loosely-coupled architectures.” You want to design systems that smoothly hand-off the right tasks and information to different teams or components at the right time — but as much as possible, you want each team or component to be able to operate internally in their own fashion. Too much coordination becomes a drag on performance.

Q: What are the dangers of having too many items that are a work in progress? What can marketers do to limit these?

When the number of work-in-progress items exceeds the number of people you have working on them, one of two things happens. Either people end up task switching among them — or some tasks get deprioritized and pushed aside in a half-done state.

In both cases, there’s a cost you pay. Task switching takes a toll on productivity, as your brain has to remember where it was on a previously dropped task. You may have to back up a bit to get back into the groove. If a half-done task has been unattended for too long that time required to recover your train of thought and restore creative flow can be significant.

Teams are often far better having a small number of tasks actively in progress, and getting them done as quickly as possible, before grabbing more balls to juggle. You can facilitate this by keeping individual tasks as small as possible, even if they’re part of a larger story, and by adopting smaller sprint cycles. Limiting the number of tasks that are allowed in be in-progress at any particular stage on your Kanban board can also help keep task overload in check.

Hey, there will always be interruptions and urgent issues that arise mid-sprint that demand that you drop something else to address them. That’s life in a dynamic world. But good agile practices try to minimize those fire drills as much as possible so that they don’t sap our energy and focus.

Q: Why is it so important for marketers to be responsive?

First, our audience demands it. Social media has given prospects and customers a voice, and they now expect that we’re listening. More importantly, they expect we’ll do something based on what we hear. Ignoring them, even if it’s unintentional, is a recipe for brand damage.

Second, the competitive landscape today changes quickly. New threats and opportunities are continuously emerging in pretty much every industry. No one is safe from digital disruption.

So, in the language of software developers, is this a bug or a feature? If you’re responsive, if your organization develops an agile management metabolism that can thoughtfully act on shifts in your environment in a timely fashion, this can be a tremendous competitive advantage. Change becomes a feature that benefits your firm.

If you don’t develop that organizational agility though, change is almost always a “bug” — all it does is break the things you expected to work fine. And that’s a bummer.

Are You Prepared to Evolve Your Approach to Marketing?

Today’s customers are demanding better information, more quickly. In order to meet that need, companies must adapt how they approach marketing strategies and execution. If you’ve been toying with the idea of creating a more agile approach within your marketing department, be sure to pick up a copy of Scott’s new book, Hacking Marketing.  

What did you find to be the most useful piece of information about agile marketing that you can take back to your team?


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. |
Book Review: 5 Takeaways From Scott Brinker’s Hacking Marketing + Bonus Author Interview | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Book Review: 5 Takeaways From Scott Brinker’s Hacking Marketing + Bonus Author Interview appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

April 13th 2016 Online Marketing

Keeping it Real with Content Marketing: Why Integrity, Storytelling & Creativity Reign Supreme

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KEEPIG-IT-REAL-WITH-CONTENT-MARKETING

Marketing is often seen as a game. A game in which the marketers are the strategists and the customers are the pawns. Unfortunately, that is a game in which nobody wins. Marketers may feel a quick rush due to their success but customers that feel duped or mislead will surely, and quickly spread news of foul marketing practices.

There is no shortcut to providing value to customers through your marketing. In fact, now more than ever self-directed buyers are relying on the content they read online to lead their purchasing decisions and if something “feels fishy” they’ll quickly move on to a more reputable source.

Because of the amount of content being created today, that also means that not only integrity, but creativity and storytelling are an incredibly important part of creating content that connects your customers to your brand.

At the end of the day, customers want to trust you and feel that the service or solution that you’re offering will help them stand out. Below are some examples of how you can keep it real with your content marketing to create a better user experience.

Help Your Customers See Themselves in the Content

lodden-quote-041116

The content that you create shouldn’t just be about your brand and what you offer. Instead, your customers should be able to see themselves in the story that you are telling through content. How can this be accomplished?

Two of the best ways are through customer stories and case studies.

Customer stories can be incredibly impactful if done well. This type of content works two-fold. First, your current customers often get excited at the prospect of sharing their personal story and therefore creating an even deeper bond with your brand. Second, studies have shown that 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals over brands which means that your prospective customers are likely to connect with these stories.

Tesla for example, has an entire section of their website dedicated to Customer Stories. These stories are written by their customers and include photos as well as insights into their own journey with their Tesla car.

Tesla Customer Stories

Their YouTube channel also contains videos of their customer’s sometimes moving and sometimes humorous stories.

Case Studies can also be a great way to create content that incorporates storytelling and builds trust. A good case study will not focus only on tactics,, but more so how your brand helped a company or individual solve a problem.

The problems and needs of your current customers will be the most telling sign of what your prospective customers are looking for. So, to help attract new customers you need to showcase how you’ve been able to help other companies/individuals solve similar problems.

Take for instance this case study from our team that focuses on a strategy that helped a B2C company increase conversion rates by 129%.

Paid Search CRO

Other forms of content beyond customer stories and case studies can also help support the goal of helping your customers see themselves in your content. Website copy, blog posts, content assets, social messaging and advertisements should all be focused on customer need first, and what you’re trying to sell after.

Write Like a Human Speaking to Humans

Tfishburne-quote-041116

There is no denying that good SEO is still a very important part of creating great content. However, stuffing your content with keywords you want to rank for may get people to your site initially, it won’t keep them there or create a good experience.

Instead, time is better spent conducting research to see what questions customers are asking and how they are being phrased. That information can then be used to inform how you go about incorporating key search phrases in a way that is natural and pleasant to read.

B2B marketers have traditionally struggled to humanize their content. Much of the B2B content in existence today focuses purely on the business case for why the VP, CEO, etc. needs the product or solution that they are selling. Many have been able to understand and communicate the business problem and business need, but not the need of the individual actually consuming the content.

This is a big opportunity for B2B (and yes, even B2C) marketers to think a little bit deeper about the actual people behind the personas and begin developing content that will inspire and move them as a person, not a job title.

Open Up & Share

ahandley-quote-041116

It doesn’t matter if you’re asking people to spend $50 or $50,000, you are asking them to trust that investing their money with your brand will be of a benefit to them. There are often three stories that people tell about their company.

  1. The one that they tell to prospective customers online, in-person or on the phone.
  2. The one that they tell at cocktail parties with their friends.
  3. The real story.

In an effort to build credibility, many companies will tell the very dry and highly edited version of how they came to be, what they offer and what they can do to help customers like the ones they’re trying to reach. Unfortunately, when all of the bad or less than ideal is edited out of the story, it can make it harder for prospects to connect with the teams that work there.

Not every company started with millions of dollars of funding and many had to hustle and work their asses off to get where they are today. Your ability to tell that story in a way that inspires confidence (ie: here is what you learned from those experiences), can actually build more credibility with prospects and connect them tighter to your brand.

Help Customers Visualize the Message

PFITZPATRICK-quote-041116

An essential part of learning starting as a young child all the way through college is with the help of visual aids. When you’re younger, the images are a much larger focal point than the words because they are a way to help you discover what those words mean. As you get older, visual queues are still used to help explain more complex ideas and processes.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you but those visual aids don’t stop being useful when you graduate. In fact, with the monstrous amount of content that is being created today, compelling visuals need to be a staple of your content marketing efforts to stand out in the crowd.

Visual elements should be included in everything from your blog posts, to larger content assets and social messages.

When is scrolling through their Twitter feed trying to uncover some tidbits to read on-the-go, what do you think will stand out to them? Will it be the precisely 140 character tweet or the message that has the great picture attached? I urge you to go through your own Twitter feed (as I just did) and make note of what stands out to you most.

Twitter example 1

Twitter example 2

This sort of experiment just goes to show that while what you say is incredibly important, what you show people will often be what catches their eye and draws them in.

Be Real, Be Entertaining, Be Useful & Be Creative

There are ways to create compelling content that doesn’t play a game with your customers or deceive them in any way. If you can follow the principles above, you are on the path to creating a better experience and stronger bond between your brand and your customers.

Since we are all consumers in some way or another, what are some examples of brands following these principles that have stood out to you?

Header image via Shutterstock


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Keeping it Real with Content Marketing: Why Integrity, Storytelling & Creativity Reign Supreme | http://www.toprankblog.com

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April 12th 2016 Online Marketing