Latest Marketing News

From Messenger Bots to the Growth of ‘Gram, Social Media Examiner’s Annual Report Reveals Trends to Watch

Mon, 21 May 2018 10:38:57 +0000

2018 Social Media Marketing Trends from Social Media Examiner Report

2018 Social Media Marketing Trends from Social Media Examiner Report

Engagement is down. Trust is dwindling. And the most popular social media marketing platform is now riddled with uncertainty.

For marketers, the social space has never felt more daunting or perplexing. Luckily, Social Media Examiner recently released its 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, the latest annual snapshot of where things currently stand in this critical frontier.

While the report doesn’t answer all our questions, it does offer some helpful clarity and context.

We’ve gone through Social Media Examiner’s in-depth report, which gathered input from more than 5,700 respondents, and distilled some of the most noteworthy nuggets for marketers to noodle on and insights on how you can improve your efforts.

Here’s what you need to know about the state of social media marketing in 2018.

#1 - Facebook is in flux.

Although it continues to be easily the most prioritized social network for marketers at large, Facebook has become a source of quandary.

This pie chart, displaying responses to the question, “My Facebook organic post reach has declined in the last year,” illustrates this quite well:

That’s a remarkably even split, but the bottom line is this: more than half of marketers either agree or strongly agree that their organic reach has dropped since 2017. This comes as no surprise, since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has all but admitted that the platform is shifting feed prioritization away from branded content in favor of user-generated posts.   

Despite this, Facebook remains the most-utilized social channel for marketing with 94% penetration, nearly 30 percentage points above the next-highest, and 67% of respondents point to it as their most important platform.

Facebook’s gargantuan active user base is impossible to ignore. We just need to get creative in finding ways to connect with people there, as only 49% of respondents feel their marketing is effective on the platform.

[bctt tweet="Facebook’s gargantuan active user base is impossible to ignore. We just need to get creative in finding ways to connect with people there. - @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

What Should I Do?

Obviously, paid will play a major role; 67% of marketers plan on increasing their use of Facebook ads in the coming year. But, as TopRank Marketing’s Caitlin Burgess has written, influencer marketing also offers a path to capturing attention in the age of diminishing organic reach. And that’s an opportunity that fewer marketers are hip to, with 61% reporting that they are not working with influencers as part of their social media efforts.

#2 - The ‘Gram is in.

While Facebook continues to rule the roost, its prized subsidiary is most noticeably on the rise. Instagram is now the second most commonly used social media platform for marketers, jumping up from the No. 4 slot in 2017 with a 54% gain.

via GIPHY

Our own Josh Nite recently coined the term “hopping on the ‘gramwagon,” which I love, and there’s definitely a widespread movement in that direction. Two out of three marketers said they plan to boost their organic activities on Instagram in the next year, while 53% intend to increase their investment in ads on the platform.

This makes sense given that 80% of marketers cited visual images — core to Instagram’s interface — as their most commonly used type of social media content and 32% said it was the single most important type, beating out blogging (27%), videos (24%) and live video (9%).

Seeking to take advantage of its growing momentum, Instagram is in the process of rolling out several new features for businesses.

As you might guess, Instagram is a more popular focus for the B2C cohort (72%) than B2B (57%), where LinkedIn remains the most prevalent non-Facebook option.

What Should I Do?

Is it time for your business to jump on the ‘gramwagon? Not necessarily. Instagram has a sizable audience and some great features, but isn’t the right fit for every business type. Determining whether it’s a good fit will ultimately depend on who your ideal customer and audience is, as well as your business objectives and available team and budgetary resources.

These insights and examples around Instagram marketing might help inform your decision.

#3 - Video is the vision.

The marketing community at large is taking a keen interest in the world of video.

Fifty-eight percent of marketers said they plan to increase their YouTube organic activities in the next 12 months. And while only 24% of marketers currently peg video as the most important social media content type, 77% expressed an intention to grow their reliance on it going forward, topping the list.

When asked which forms of content they wanted to learn more about, respondents chose video (77%) and live video (68%) above all others.

What Should I Do?

The beauty of video is that it doesn’t follow a linear format. You can and should experiment to find the right format for your message and audience's tastes, as well as to match what you’re trying to accomplish at different stages of the funnel.

If you’re among those eager to learn more about video, our team recently shared some tips for first-time video marketers. And if you’re already exploring this tactic, our Annie Leuman shared examples of brands connecting with audiences through long-form video.

#4 - What about bots?

Facebook Messenger first launched an API for bots back in 2016, but there still aren’t too many marketers wading into this pool. Only 15% of respondents said they’re currently using Facebook Messenger bots as part of their marketing mix. However, 51% said they plan to include this tactic in future marketing.

One does wonder, however, if such plans will be altered by Facebook’s maneuvers to restore faith amid privacy concerns. The company quietly paused the ability of developers to add new chatbots in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

What Should I Do?

This remains a relatively nascent tool for engagement, but it’s worth getting familiar. Why? Because it has the potential to be an “always-on” marketing team member. But like any new feature or technology, you need to be thoughtful and engaged as you develop and launch your plan, as well as monitor

To provide some recognizable context, this blog post does a nice job laying out the similarities and differences between email and messenger bots.

#5 - Measurement moving forward.

Here at TopRank Marketing, we’re big on concrete reporting and analytics, so we’re glad to see 44% of marketers now stating that they’re able to measure ROI from social media activities, up from 38% last year.

That’s still less than half, and only 10% strongly agreed, so there remains considerable room for improvement.

Incidentally, Seb Joseph wrote earlier this month at Digiday that advertisers questioning ROI might be Facebook’s biggest threat.

What Should I Do?

Most of the major social platforms have deep measurement functionality that you might not be utilizing. Make sure to explore back-end dashboards and pinpoint metrics that align with your objectives. Additionally, Sprout Social compiled a list of the best social media analytics tools of 2018.

[bctt tweet="Most of the major social platforms have deep measurement functionality that you might not be utilizing. Explore back-end dashboards & pinpoint metrics that align with your objectives. - @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

Solving Social Media Marketing in 2018

The constantly changing dynamics of social media marketing make it an especially challenging landscape to navigate, but the sheer number of users and level of activity make it one that none of us operating in the digital world can afford to ignore.

While the latest Social Media Marketing Industry report points to several areas of of uncertainty and shortcoming, it also shows that marketers are moving in the right direction when it comes to grasping ROI, embracing video, and diversifying their strategies. Hopefully the tips we’ve provided here can help you with these initiatives.

While its standing is still impressively strong, I’ll be curious to see if Facebook loses its dominant footing in the year ahead, and how other players might pivot to take advantage.

Want to read the full report? Head on over to Social Media Examiner. Looking for additional social media insights, trends, and tips? Peruse our lineup of recent social media marketing blog posts.

The post From Messenger Bots to the Growth of ‘Gram, Social Media Examiner’s Annual Report Reveals Trends to Watch appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Millennial Pops’ Pinterest Passion, Facebook’s Housecleaning, Closing Klout, & Google’s Latest

Fri, 18 May 2018 10:30:03 +0000

Facebook has disabled almost 1.3 billion fake accounts over the past six months Facebook has stopped nearly 1.3 billion fake user accounts over the last six months, one of numerous statistics the company has revealed for the first time in a preliminary report announced this week. Recode Pinterest proves popular with dads, pointing to shifting [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Millennial Pops’ Pinterest Passion, Facebook’s Housecleaning, Closing Klout, & Google’s Latest appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

A Tasty, Strategic Addition to the Content Marketing Table: ‘Repurposed Content Cobbler’

Wed, 16 May 2018 10:30:22 +0000

Ingredients for Content Marketing Cobbler

Ingredients for Content Marketing Cobbler

If you didn’t know, tomorrow, May 17, is home to a very special holiday: National Cherry Cobbler Day.

I know, I know—every day seems to be home to some strange, random, or innocuous holiday these days, but this one has a special place in my heart.

via GIPHY

While my palate generally prefers more savory options, fruit cobbler is my jam. (Does that count as a pun? No? OK.) And as it turns out, not only is cobbler of all varieties deliciously satisfying to eat—but it also serves up a tasty slice of content marketing inspiration.

You see, cobbler was an innovation in both sweet and savory cooking, originating in the British American colonies. Settlers didn’t have access to suitable ingredients or equipment to make their traditional puddings and pies, so using a little creativity with what they did have, the cobbler was born.

Like America’s early settlers, content marketers need to adapt to their new, challenge-filled surroundings. From information overload to the death of organic social reach to age-old challenges such as the lack of time, budget, and internal resources, consistently creating new quality, engaging, and inspiring content is an ever-present challenge.

The good news? You likely already have a lot of the ingredients you need to create a tasty, strategic content cobbler. And the baking tactic is repurposing those ingredients into something your audience can’t resist.

Ingredient #1 - Your pantry of existing content.

If there’s one thing that every content marketer has in spades, it’s a fully stocked content pantry. From white papers and eBooks to blog posts and original or third-party research, all of that robust and niche content has the potential to be sliced, diced, and repurposed into something new and fresh.

For TopRank Marketing’s CEO Lee Odden, microcontent is one tasty repurposing ingredient.

“Snackable content can often be managed and repurposed like ingredients to create a main course,” Lee says. “On their own, short form content like quotes, tips, and statistics are useful for social network shares and as added credibility to blog posts, ebooks, and articles.”

And I have a very fitting example of both microcontent and more robust content pieces being repurposed into a tasty dish: the Mastering the Perfect Content Marketing Recipe: 30 Essential Savory & Sweet Content Ingredients eBook.

Mastering the Perfect Content Marketing Recipe eBook

In our quest to be the best answer for our audience, the TopRank Marketing team had created individual, robust blog posts on 30 unique content marketing tactics, all featuring definitions, quotes, examples, and best practices.

And as an integrated digital marketing agency, we wanted to bring all of those tactics together under one roof to give our audience a little strategic food for thought.

We plucked and tweaked the best practices content from each of the blog posts to form the meat of the asset. Then we seasoned it with microcontent—namely original and curated quotes from internal and external experts—to add additional insight and authority. Finally, we topped it off with some new, original content to add a little extra flavor.

Content Marketing Recipe for Inner Chef

[bctt tweet="Snackable content can often be managed & repurposed like ingredients to create a main course. - @leeodden #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Ingredient #2 - Your spice cabinet of flavorful data and insights.

Herbs and spices often hold the key to unlocking the full potential of any dish or desert—and any good cook has the essentials on hand. So, when it comes to making sure your repurposed content cobbler tastes just right for your audience, it needs to be seasoned with the right data and insight.

“We live in the age of big data. Every marketer has data. Every marketer knows data holds power,” TopRank Marketing’s Annie Leuman stated in her post 5 Reasons Why B2B Content Marketing Works & 5 Reasons It Doesn’t. “And the most forward-thinking marketers are leveraging data and their practical knowledge to draw insights that can be acted upon in their marketing strategy.”

Dig into the data to draw insight on what is resonating most with your audience—as well as what’s leaving a bad taste in their mouth. Then take action on those insights as you repurpose to help improve reach, engagement, completed calls to action, and more.

[bctt tweet="When it comes to making sure your “content cobbler” tastes just right for your audience, it needs to be seasoned with the right data & insight. - @CaitlinMBurgess #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Ingredient #3 - A drizzle of creativity and experimentation.

Cobbler was born thanks to the creativity of America’s early settlers. And the truth is, marketers, we all have unique creative insights that can be added to the repurposed content cobbler mix to create something different and relevant for our target audiences.

As I heard Jay Acunzo say during his 2016 MarketingProfs B2B Forum presentation on content marketing creativity:

“You’re the key to your creativity. You’re the starter.”

We often feel like we don’t have the tools, technology, the team, or the talent to be highly creative. But we marketers are scrappy in the content kitchen. We’re innovative. We can and have made the absolute most out of whatever resources we’re given. But the key to success here isn’t luck. You have to tinker. You have to experiment. You have to practice. This will not only help you refine your recipe, but also find opportunities to use your resources in new ways.

[bctt tweet="We #contentmarketers are scrappy in the content kitchen. We’re innovative. We can and have made the absolute most out of whatever resources we’re given. But you have to tinker." username="toprank"]

Cook Up Your Own Content Cobbler Recipe

Like early settlers, content marketers need to adapt and innovate in the ever-changing marketing landscape using the resources they have to consistently create quality, engaging, inspiring content.

So, it’s time to get to the kitchen, throw open your content pantry, data and insight spice cupboard, and add a dash of creativity and experimentation to find unique ways to repurpose content that resonates and drives value.

To get the creative juices flowing, check out our Mastering the Perfect Content Marketing Recipe: 30 Essential Savory & Sweet Content Ingredients eBook mentioned above to beef up your content marketing strategy and inspire your own recipe for repurposed content cobbler.

The post A Tasty, Strategic Addition to the Content Marketing Table: ‘Repurposed Content Cobbler’ appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Calling All Content Marketers: Sound Off in Our Content Marketing Planning Survey!

Mon, 14 May 2018 10:30:11 +0000

2018 Content Planning Survey

2018 Content Planning Survey

We’re all in this together.

Granted, it might not always feel that way. The current environment we operate in as marketers is a competitive one. But we do have the power to collectively drive our discipline forward, toward greater efficiency and productivity. This begins with sharing knowledge, and improving our understanding of the most prevalent challenges and obstacles being faced.

In this spirit, we’ve partnered with our clients and friends at DivvyHQ to whip up a new 2018 Content Planning Survey, and we’d love your input.

What’s Inside the Survey

The idea is to gather data from a wide range of marketers in efforts to form a clear and accurate picture of how today’s content teams operate and where the key opportunities lie.

[bctt tweet="“One thing marketers can do to improve their content planning is stop planning each piece of content. The key to an effective editorial plan is committing to a publishing cadence.” @brennermichael" username="toprank"]

Topics covered in this quick, five-minute survey:

  • Content planning processes and tools
  • Content team structure and collaboration
  • Content marketing tactics and metrics

Insights Content Marketers Will Gain

The more responses added from pros in the trenches like yourself, the more useful the results will be. Among the enlightening findings from DivvyHQ’s 2017 Content Planning Report:

  • 64% of respondents cited “developing a comprehensive content strategy” as a top challenge
  • Only 10% identified “creating clear defined objectives” as a successful aspect of planning
  • 58% of respondents said they were “too busy” to collaborate with peers
  • The most utilized content marketing tactics were email (89%), blog articles (88%) and video (80%)
  • 28% of respondents said they do not conduct regular content planning meetings

[bctt tweet="“There is such a thing as a bad slow in marketing. But there is a critical need for a good slow, too.” @annhandley" username="toprank"]

So please, add your voice by filling out the survey. The best part? While you aren’t required to provide an email address, if you do, you’ll receive exclusive early access to the report generated from the aggregated information.

A Fresh Look at Content Planning for 2018

What’s changed this year? Where will we be able to identify trends and prevalent changes in focus? By submitting your own survey, you can be among the first to find out.

Armed with these insights, you’ll be able to better assess how your team measures up against the content marketing world at large, helping to guide your strategy onward and upward.

Together, we can take content to new heights.

The post Calling All Content Marketers: Sound Off in Our Content Marketing Planning Survey! appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Facebook Teases Ad-Free Subscriptions, Google Tests SERP Questions, & Online Ad Spend Jumps

Fri, 11 May 2018 10:30:29 +0000

Digital Ad Spending Graph eMarketer

Digital Ad Spending Graph eMarketer

Facebook Weighs Ad-Free Subscription Option
Facebook is considering an ad-free paid subscription option for users, and has recently conducted market research on how such an plan would go over at the company, which brought in the vast majority of last year’s revenue of $41 billion from ad sales. Bloomberg

Instagram quietly launches payments for commerce
Instagram has been testing its own direct payment system among certain app users and partners, in a move that could increase the firm’s native payment footprint. TechCrunch

Google Tests Submitting Question Directly In Search Results
Google has recently tested question forms within search results that allow users to submit questions directly by text or voice to the Internet giant and its various publisher partners. SEO Roundtable

eMarketer Releases New Global Media Ad Spending Estimates
Digital advertising totals could surpass spending on all other media types by 2020 or 2021, according to new report data from eMarketer, rising from this year’s predicted 43.5 percent to 49.9 percent in 2020 and 52.1 percent in 2021. eMarketer

Microsoft and Amazon Show Alexa and Cortana Becoming Friends
Marketers in the Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa voice-controlled personal assistant arena will soon find it easier to work with both platforms, as the firms recently demonstrated a mashup combining the two competing systems. Bloomberg

Facebook is using Instagram photos and hashtags to improve its computer vision
Facebook has utilized Instagram photos and hashtags to make a better image recognition system, which could ultimately help marketers save time and reach wider audiences through so-called weakly supervised learning. VentureBeat

eMarketer Global Ad Spend Stat

May 2018 Google Webmaster Report
Google made a multitude of changes in recent weeks, from mobile search prominence and algorithm adjustments to local search and SEO changes, and many are compiled and covered here. SEO Roundtable

For all the hype about VR, advertisers are more excited by AR (for now)
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) at companies including Facebook and Snapchat have competed for advertising spend, with brands favoring AR recently. DigiDay

What Marketers Should Know About Personality-Based Marketing
Harvard Business Review has taken a close look at personality-based marketing and the research behind the evolving field. Harvard Business Review

Podcasts: Who’s Listening, and What It Means for Marketers (Infographic)
The number of podcast listeners and related advertising spending were both up and trending towards sizable growth, according to a variety of new study data from IAB, Rakuten Marketing, and podcast ranking firm Podtrac. eMarketer

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Influencer Fatigue Marketoonist Cartoon

A lighthearted look at influencer fatigue, by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

Here Are The Most Amazing Flying Car Designs Featured At Uber’s Elevate Conference — Fast Company

Commodore 64 owners rejoice: The 1541 is BACK — The Register

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Looking to Reach Prospects? Consider Going Micro — Chief Marketer
  • Lee Odden — Lee Odden to speak at Indian Digital Marketing Awards (video) — exchange4media

We hope you'll join us again next week, when we’ll share a new batch of the latest marketing news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don't miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

The post Digital Marketing News: Facebook Teases Ad-Free Subscriptions, Google Tests SERP Questions, & Online Ad Spend Jumps appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

5 Reasons Why B2B Content Marketing Works & 5 Reasons It Doesn’t

Wed, 09 May 2018 10:30:07 +0000

Why Content Marketing Works & Why It Doesn't

Why Content Marketing Works & Why It Doesn't

It’s no secret that content marketing is a widely adopted tactic. In fact, over 90% of B2B Marketers say they’re using it to reach their larger business goals, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 B2B Content Marketing Report. However, just 24% of B2B marketers rate their content marketing as extremely or very successful.

Why is content marketing working extremely well for some marketers, but not for others? What makes content marketing so effective, and what holds (your content marketing efforts) back?

Well, let’s talk all about it. Content is at the center of everything we do here at TopRank Marketing. And below we dive into some of the key reasons why content marketing efforts succeed or fall short. Hopefully, this insight can help you level up your own content marketing strategy in a way that amplifies your results.

5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Works

#1 - You’re solving a problem.

While this is a fundamental marketing concept, it needs mentioning. Simply put, content marketing works when you’re able to create and deliver content that solves a specific, relevant problem for your audience.

Buyers are increasingly self-directed in their research and purchasing decisions, taking their questions to search engines to find answers. That’s why it’s no surprise that many searches start with question words like how, what, where, when, and why. Your audience is looking for content that can provide them with the best answer, tutorial, guide, checklist, or another resource that can help solve their problems.

So, when your content delivers exactly what your audience is looking for and where they’re looking for it, you can gain traffic, foster engagement, and nurture them to action.

[bctt tweet="Simply put, #ContentMarketing works when you’re able to create and deliver content that solves a specific, relevant problem for your audience. - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

#2 - You’re targeting your ideal audience.

Successful marketing is rooted in being able to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time and on the right platform. The “spray and pray” method, where you’re blasting out content and hoping that your message sticks, can’t help you do this. But when done right, content marketing allows brands to target specific buyer personas and reach their ideal audience.

When content is personalized to address buyer pain points and common questions, you can capture more qualified traffic and leads, which increases the overall value of your content marketing efforts. In our experience, successful content marketers start by defining buyer personas, identifying their relevant pain points, and mapping them to content they might find helpful based on SEO opportunities and where they are in the sales funnel (e.g. checklists, definitions, infographics, etc.).

#3 - When you leverage customer data and insights.

We live in the age of big data. Every marketer has data. Every marketer knows data holds power. And the most forward-thinking marketers are leveraging data and their practical knowledge to draw insights that can be acted upon in their marketing strategy.

With data pouring into services like Google Analytics, you can see where your audience is dropping off, how they spend their time on your site, or what content has the best conversion rate. In addition, there are many public, third-party data providers that can be paired with your own data to gain more insight. Armed with this information, you can optimize your content marketing strategy based on your analysis to generate better results.

#4 - You’re climbing the rankings.

We all know that search engines help audiences find content. But without content, a brand has little SEO value.

As a result, successful content marketers don’t rely only on their brand’s main website pages to draw in organic traffic. Brands that are baking SEO in from the start are able to create strategic content in many forms across their owned digital channels to expand their footprint, greatly increasing their chance of attracting more organic traffic to drive results.

#5 - You’re showing credibility, not telling.

How do customers know that you’re an authority in your industry? Or that you’re a credible source of information?

When done well, content marketing allows you to become the best answer for your audience, showing them over and over again that you have the goods. This builds trust between you and your audience as they start to see you as an expert on the subjects you discuss. And because trust is strong, you can more effectively influence customers on their purchasing decisions.

Creating expert content that is seen as authoritative has other benefits as well. In fact, a study from inPowered found that expert content lifted awareness by 88% more than branded content, and increased purchase consideration by 38% more.

Building trust through credible content comes in many forms. Of course, capitalizing on SEO is an important piece of the puzzle. But successful marketers understand that tactical integration of a variety of content types is key. Among some of those different credibility-boosting tactics are influencer content, employee interviews, and original research and studies.

[bctt tweet="#ContentMarketing allows you to become the best answer for your audience, showing them over and over again that you have the goods. " username="toprank"]

Read: 8 Ways to Build Credibility & Trust with Content Marketing

5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Doesn’t Work

#1 - You don’t have the resources.

Content marketing is not a “one and done” marketing tactic. Brands who start publishing and can’t stick to a schedule may find that their audience becomes disinterested, causing traffic to dip and search engines to notice the lack of publishing. 

But maintaining consistency is easier said than done for most marketers. Each piece of content can take hours to research, edit, beef up with keywords, and crosslink to other pieces of content. All of this time quickly adds up, consuming additional resources and adding on to your content marketing costs.

Whether you decide on a daily, weekly, or monthly posting cadence, the key is to stick with it.

[bctt tweet="#ContentMarketing is not a “one and done” marketing tactic. - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

#2 - You’re putting out quantity, not quality.

Another key to content marketing success is quality. Why? Your audience and search engines demand high-quality, authoritative content. Brands that don’t dedicate enough time or effort to their content, and making sure that it truly serves a purpose, likely find their audiences don’t want to listen to what they have to say.

With your audience tuned out, search engines could also see your content as less valuable, decreasing your rankings and impressions. And then you're left asking:

via GIPHY

Read: The Content Marketing Juggling Act: How to Consistently Create Quality, Engaging Content

#3 - Your competition is growing.

Everywhere you look today, you’re confronted with content. Content lives in our social media news feeds, email inbox, text messages, and more. Brands and media outlets alike are all competing for an individual’s attention through content, creating a very saturated market that is ripe with competition. And if you’re executing content marketing, you could quickly start competing with yourself.

For example, brands who post too frequently could decrease their overall engagement with their audience. Or, they could start creating content that’s similar to things they’ve published in the past, cannibalizing from their own work. CoSchedule experienced this dip in engagement when increasing their blog posts from two to three each week. The increase in blog posts per week resulted in a decrease of 236 social shares per post, and a decrease in page views per blog post.

#4 - The impact of your content is hard to see.

With metrics that don’t directly translate to revenue, proving the value of content marketing can be difficult. CMOs want to hear about the business you’ve been able to generate, not the page views you’ve garnered or your average session duration. While those things are valuable, they don’t prove that you’ve grown the business, supported your sales team, or produced new leads.

As an example, it’s challenging to prove that just because someone read your latest eBook that they felt motivated enough to purchase your software or use your services. Because the impact of content is so difficult to measure, brands struggle with determining if their content is working or not. In fact, this is likely what contributes to only 35% of B2B marketers reporting that they measure content marketing ROI.

#5 - You're impatient.

Generally speaking, content marketing does not produce immediate, short-term results like a traditional promotion or sale would. Content marketing strategies are designed to reach your audience at multiple touch points during their journey.

Of course short-term wins are often achieved with a strategic content marketing plan, but at the end of the day, content marketing really is a long-term play. It’s about producing long-term value and strengthening your client relationships.

As a result, this means you need time to really grow their content ROI into something that’s worth raving about and produces a positive return. So, if you aren’t in it for the long-haul, success will elude you.

[bctt tweet="If you aren’t in it for the long-haul, #ContentMarketing success will elude you. - @aleuman4" username="toprank"]

A Tailor-Made Content Strategy

From SEO value to thought leadership, there are a lot of reasons why B2B content marketing works for brands. But there are plenty of reasons it fails. Content is hard to tie into your pipeline and there are a lot of competitors vying for your audience’s attention.

But if you can create a content marketing strategy that overcomes those challenges and takes advantage of those benefits, you could see amazing results from your campaigns.

Not sure how you should start altering your strategy? Try starting by using these six questions you should use to guide your content marketing strategy.

The post 5 Reasons Why B2B Content Marketing Works & 5 Reasons It Doesn’t appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

32 B2B Content Marketing Case Studies for 2018

Mon, 07 May 2018 10:15:38 +0000

One of the great honors of working in the marketing agency world is seeing your work recognized. For me, an even greater honor is seeing the work of our clients and my team recognized and that’s exactly what happened at the 2018 Killer Content Awards. This year the award in question went to our client Cherwell [...]

The post 32 B2B Content Marketing Case Studies for 2018 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Video Ad Spend Up, Snap’s Unskippable Ads, & Instagram’s Latest

Fri, 04 May 2018 10:30:44 +0000

Digital video ad spend keeps rising, with social media (i.e., Facebook) set to see most growth Social media and digital video advertising spending will see the biggest gains over the next year, according to new IAB study data from $1M+ buyers, with two-thirds planning to move traditional video budgets to digital video. Marketing Land Unskippable [...]

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Redesigning Your Website? Make Sure SEO & Content Have a Seat at Website Migration Table

Wed, 02 May 2018 10:30:52 +0000

SEO and Content Integration During Website Migration

SEO and Content Integration During Website Migration

Digital marketers know their company’s website is more than a digital storefront. It’s a marketplace that must deliver a quality, engaging experience for prospects and customers once they arrive. So, it’s no surprise that the average company invests in a website redesign every three years to stay fresh, competitive, and meet evolving customer expectations.

In our experience, however, design faux pas aren’t the biggest marketing missteps that can lead to poor results after a migration—it’s the lack of a solid website migration strategy that encompasses both SEO and content considerations.

There’s no question that SEO needs to play a leading role in the planning, design, and execution of any website migration. But SEO can’t stand alone—it needs a content lens to ensure a solid performance after the switch is flipped.

Better Together: Content + SEO for Migration Success

A poorly planned and executed migration after a site refresh or redesign can lead to decreases in organic traffic and reduced search visibility in both the short- and long-term. And chances are, your marketing team has spent innumerable hours crafting content and optimizing your site for both user experience and search engine performance—and you don’t want it all to be for naught.

By baking content and SEO into your website migration strategy, you have the opportunity to:

#1 – Strike that oh-so-necessary balance between SEO and user experience.

If you’re embarking on a website redesign, chances are your goals are to improve user experience and optimize conversions paths, all while strengthening your organic search footprint. But without SEO and content working together, the steps you take to reach those goals can’t be fully informed or reach their full potential. The key is integration from the start.

[bctt tweet="For a smooth website migration process, integration of #content & #SEO is key from the start. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#2 – Bolster top performing content (and weed out weak or irrelevant content).

Site migrations often involve some picking and choosing as far as what content needs to be kept, killed, updated, or created. The last thing you want to do is cut or disrupt the content your audience loves—but you also don’t want to pass up opportunities for adding or improving content with potential or killing content that’s no longer viable. As a result, this is definitely the sweet spot for SEO and content integration in a migration scenario.

From an SEO perspective, you can leverage Google Analytics and Google Search Console to analyze traffic, conversions, ranking, and engagement rates. Then content can be grouped into suggested buckets of what content stays, what content needs updates, what content can be killed, and what content you may be missing. From there, strategic content tweaks can be made with both SEO and user experience in mind before launch.

[bctt tweet="During a website migration, the last thing you want to do is cut content your audience loves. But you also want to take advantage of opportunities to improve content with potential. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Read: How to Use Google Search Console to Increase SEO Visibility

#3 – Promote your new and improved site.

After making your shiny new site live, it can be tempting to relax and celebrate. But the work isn’t done. Of course, technical SEO considerations such as 301 redirects, site crawlability, site speed, mobile friendliness, and backlinks need QA and monitoring to ensure your content is working its magic on search engines. You'll also need to make sure your site map is updated in Google Search Console if any URL structures have changed.

But where does that leave your customers and prospects?

Communicating and promoting the changes you made is a must—but it’s something that is often overlooked. So, in addition to your post-migration SEO checklist, create a promotional plan (e.g. email newsletter update, social media, blog post highlighting key new features, etc.) to ensure you’re getting the word out.

[bctt tweet="The importance of communication & promotion after a website migration should not be overlooked. - @Alexis5485" username="toprank"]

#4 – Make ongoing tweaks that satisfy user and search engine needs.

After launching your redesigned site, you’ll likely be measuring like crazy to learn where users are dropping off, if you’re losing any traffic to key pages, and if you’re losing conversions from anywhere.

Of course, tweaks will be needed to capitalize on SEO opportunities. But just sprinkling in keywords isn’t the answer. You need context and insight—some of which can be drawn from the competitive content landscape—in order to make strategic content updates that better answer your audience’s questions, as well as send positive signals to search engines.

[bctt tweet="You need context & insight in order to make strategic content updates that better answer your audience’s questions & send positive signals to search engines. - @Alexis5484 #websitemigration" username="toprank"]

Integration = More Successful Migration

There’s little doubt that SEO needs be at the forefront of any website redesign and subsequent migration. But it shouldn’t stand alone. By pairing content and SEO together, you can make more thoughtful and strategic decisions that will help you bolster user experience as well as search visibility.

Looking for more insights and tips on SEO and content integration? Here’s some light reading:

Looking for a website migration partner? Look no further. We can help.

The post Redesigning Your Website? Make Sure SEO & Content Have a Seat at Website Migration Table appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Camera Shy: 7 Tips for First-Time Video Marketers

Mon, 30 Apr 2018 10:31:53 +0000

Video Marketing Tips for First-Timers

Video Marketing Tips for First-Timers

Video isn’t for the faint of heart. You need to feel confident enough to put yourself, and your brand, out there. But it’s a medium that a lot of marketers are exploring as it holds a lot of potential.

In fact, Cisco’s Visual Networking Index predicts that 82% of all internet traffic will be video by 2021. Video is a main source of content consumption, including everything from the news to YouTube tutorials. And as marketers looking to demonstrate thought leadership and credibility, video presents a unique opportunity to get in front of and educate your target audience. However, 64% of marketers agree that video is the hardest type of content to produce, turning many people away from embracing video.  

Never one to shy away from a challenge, we’ve been diving in head-first here at TopRank Marketing. We’ve been doing video for a while through our Digital Marketing News casts, but we recently started expanding to include a video series (Crush-It!) that inspires the next generation of curious, courageous, and clever digital marketers. Each video features one of our internal experts, which brought both seasoned and green video personalities to the stage.

If you’re thinking that you want to enter the world of video marketing, check out our team’s video marketing tips from their own experiences in front of the camera, as well as behind the scenes.

Our Video Marketing Experts

Tiffani Allen TopRank MarketingTiffani Allen

Senior Account Manager

One of the anchors for our Digital Marketing News YouTube series, Tiffani is a veteran in front of the camera. Having starred in over 100 videos, as well as directed videos for a few of our clients, Tiffani knows how to organize and shoot effective videos.

Follow Tiffani on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Josh NiteJoshua Nite

Senior Content Marketing Manager

As Tiffani’s Digital Marketing News co-anchor, Josh also has plenty of advice for marketers going in front of or behind the camera. With over 100 videos under his belt as well, Josh is no stranger to video marketing.

Follow Josh on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Nick Nelson

Content Strategist

Recently appearing in one of our latest Crush-It! episodes, Nick has useful tips for first-timers. Having covered video marketing strategies and tips in the past for our own blog content, Nick’s also picked up some advice from leading brands and video experts.

Follow Nick on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Steve SlaterSteve Slater

Senior SEO and Digital Advertising Manager

Video isn’t widely known for being SEO-friendly. But as a dedicated SEO expert, Steve provides great insight into how you can still take advantage of video for search marketing. Steve has also appeared in our Crush-It series, becoming a breakout star with some helpful tips.

Follow Steve on Twitter and Linkedin.

7 Video Marketing Tips for First-Timers

#1 - Get ready for your close-up.

Video is all about “looks,” but looks don’t just boil down to your hair or makeup. It’s more so about making sure that your talented cast comes prepared and well-versed on the subject they’re going to be talking about. This will allow them to appear more comfortable, relaxed, and confident on camera. Afterall, everyone appearing in the video will be an extension of your brand. To help you get ready for your close up and put your best self forward, here are some tips from our team on your appearance and demeanor.

“If you appear nervous or lacking in confidence, it'll probably be visible to viewers. This is no easy task, especially for the camera-shy, but be mindful of the vibe you're giving off. Try as hard as you can to relax and have fun. It'll show.” - Nick Nelson

“Relax! It can be uncomfortable to be on camera, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Think of it as a conversation with your audience versus a video – it takes some of the pressure off. Also, avoid super busy patterns or lines when you’re picking out what to wear. It can make some really crazy things happen visually.” - Tiffani Allen

In addition to keeping your appearance in check, you also can’t stop once you start. This lesson can be applied to plenty of things you’ll try throughout your marketing career. But if you want to experience success with your videos, it will take a lot grit, determination, and outside-the-box thinking. Even if you aren’t getting the views or subscriptions you want, you have to keep at it, optimizing your approach along the way.

“You have to commit. The first video probably won't be great. It might not even be good. Keep going and it will get better.” - Steve Slater

We’ve been iterating on our approach to video since 2016, starting with the basics, learning as we go, and striving to make each take better than the next.

Here’s an early example from us from a couple years back.

And here’s a video from last week. We've been working on finding the perfect lighting scenario, experimenting with different cuts, angles, and interstitials, and other refinements.

#2 - You don’t need a blockbuster budget.

Video is an expensive endeavor. Or, it can be. Between lighting, audio, video, and editing equipment, it can quickly become a costly investment. But just because you have all of the bells and whistles, doesn’t mean your video will be a success. Instead, focus on the content of your videos to ensure that your video will be watched and appreciated.

“You don’t have to have a huge budget. You can work with what you have to create a great video, you just have to get creative.” - Tiffani Allen

Our own videos don’t have a huge budget. For example, we shot the below video in one of our offices and used the creative theme of meditation to engage our audience. It was an out-of-the-box idea, but it currently holds the title for longest watch time.

Read: How to Get Started with Video Content Marketing (Without a Blockbuster Budget)

#3 - Practice your narrative, not your lines.

When it comes to film, there’s usually a script that’s followed. When it comes to your video marketing, you’ll also want a script that helps you stay on track and express all of your talking points. However, while it’s tempting to document everything you want to say, word for word, avoid that urge as best as you can. Having a script is helpful, but it can also cause your video to feel less organic or authentic. Check out our team’s tips below for practicing ahead of filming.

“I would recommend carefully planning out your talking points ahead of time and rehearsing them so they don't escape your mind on the spot. You don't need to memorize a script — in fact, you might not want to, as you'll likely come off as robotic and not very conversational — but memorize the things you'd generally like to say. This will help prevent the "ums" and "uhs" that can become stressful when the camera is rolling.” - Nick Nelson

“I would recommend going over your talking points to have a good understanding of what you want to say, but NOT scripting it out verbatim. You want to keep it sounding natural and human.” - Joshua Nite

“Practice your narrative, not your lines. If you try to remember what you’re going to say verbatim, you’ll likely need to do multiple takes and it may come off as rehearsed or inauthentic. Know what message you’re trying to deliver and you’ll have much more fun!” - Tiffani Allen

#4 - Nail down your intention.

If you’re writing a blog post, putting together an eBook, or drafting an email, there’s typically a call to action (CTA) with a link. When it comes to video, however, that type of call to action becomes harder to include. While links are important and can be included as bumpers or within the video description, we would challenge you to think more critically about the action you want to inspire from your audience.

Video offers a vastly different experience for your audience than physical text. This means your CTA can offer a different experience as well. Do you want viewers to subscribe? Like the video? Share it? Comment? All of those CTAs now become options. You need to decide what you want your audience to do before you think about a measurable CTA.

“This comes down to being creative. What are you really trying to accomplish? Know that first, then figure out what tools you have at your disposal to get there. Can’t embed CTAs in your YouTube videos? Use bumpers with short links and add them to the description.” - Tiffani Allen

For our own Crush-It videos, we added clickable CTAs at the end of our videos to subscribe to our channel or watch another episode.

Crush-It Video Calls to Action

#5 - Put someone in the director’s chair.

If you have a low-budget for your video marketing projects, odds are you don’t have a director or cameraman to back you up. While we don’t expect you to go out and hire someone to fill that void, simply enlisting a coworker or friend to press record has immense value. Even if they don’t have video experience, if they can help you start and stop your video clips, you can save hours in the editing chair.

“I think my biggest piece of advice is to have someone behind the camera. It really helps if it's someone who knows what they're doing (like our own video mastermind, Adam Dunn), but even just having someone to push the button and stand there made a drastic difference in how quick and easy it was to record.” - Joshua Nite

via GIPHY

#6 - Video transcriptions aren’t just for closed captioning.

Video has a reputation for not being SEO-friendly. Because video by nature has minimal crawlable text, the SEO value is perceived to be low. However, there’s a workaround we’ve discovered that can more than make up for a video’s lack of text. What’s that secret? Transcriptions that allow for supportive, repurposed blog content and increased search visibility.

“Transcribe those videos when you embed them on your website. Don't miss out on giving Google all that great content to index.” - Steve Slater

“If your video focuses on keywords and topics that are important to your audience, it might be worth creating a written transcript and having it accompany the embedded video in a blog post. This will enable you to gain SEO traction and draw more inbound traffic for the vid. Include optimized headers and everything for maximum impact. Moz sets a good example of this with their Whiteboard Friday sessions.” - Nick Nelson

Moz Whiteboard Friday Video Transcription

#7 - Be your biggest critic.

If you’re anything like me, you do not like the sound of your own voice or watching yourself on screen. But if you want to improve your videos, it’s something that you have to do to measure your own performance. Skipping out on watching yourself can lead to you repeating past mistakes.

“To quote the great LIttle Walter, ‘you better watch yourself.’ I know it isn't fun but watch your own videos. See how you look and act on camera.” - Steve Slater

via GIPHY

Lights. Camera. Action.

Video marketing is a large undertaking for any brand as it involves looping in your brand’s internal thought leaders, investing in new equipment, and putting your brand into uncharted territory. But if you let the fear of budget, failure, or judgement hold you back, you’ll never reach the results you’re looking for.

For your best chance at creating video that’s award-worthy, it’s important that you stay organized, authentic, and determined. And we speak from experience when we say that it can be challenging at times, but the payoff is video content that educates and inspires — a common goal for many marketers.

Not sure what your first video should cover or aim to do? Struggling to come up with a starting point? Check out our other video marketing resources for inspiration and guidance:

The post Camera Shy: 7 Tips for First-Time Video Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: 3.3B Global Social Users, Facebook’s Loyalty Prediction AI, & More

Fri, 27 Apr 2018 10:30:46 +0000

Report: Social media use is increasing despite privacy fears 3.3 billion people worldwide use social media, an increase of some 100 million over the first three months of 2018, according to new report data from Hootsuite and We Are Social, despite a spate of recent privacy fears surrounding Facebook and other social companies. The Next [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: 3.3B Global Social Users, Facebook’s Loyalty Prediction AI, & More appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Marketers, Assemble! The Super-Powered Team-Up of Content Marketing Confluence

Wed, 25 Apr 2018 10:30:44 +0000

Content Marketing Super Team

Content Marketing Super Team

It’s been a spectacular decade to be a nerd. The superheroes we love leaped from the page to the multiplex, each movie connected to the rest with the kind of complex storytelling we love in comic books.

It started with Iron Man in 2008. This weekend, "Avengers: Infinity War" hits theaters, with over two dozen heroes throwing down against a celestial being with godlike powers (who, for some reason, has a chin that looks like a raisin).

[caption id="attachment_24138" align="aligncenter" width="232"]The Avengers and Content Marketing The California Raisins reboot looks really dark.[/caption]

I’m pretty stoked.

Team-up events like this are great because a superhero team is always more powerful than the sum of its parts. They can use their powers to complement each other in unexpected ways:

  • Spider-Man uses webbing to make a slingshot for Captain America’s shield
  • Thor throws his hammer through portals that Doctor Strange makes
  • The Hulk throws Hawkeye to safety

You get the idea. When a team is really working together, all of them do better.

Which, of course, makes me think all about content marketing. At TopRank Marketing, we believe the present and future of reaching an audience depends on confluence, a superhero team-up of all our content marketing tactics and channels working together.

Here’s a quick guide to the members of our superhero “team,” and how they assemble to amplify each other’s superpowers.

The Content Marketing Super Team

Content: Captain America

Captain America is the heart and soul of the Avengers team. He’s not the most powerful guy on the team, though he does pack a mean punch. His primary value lies in bringing humanity to a team of gods, aliens, and androids. He unites the team and gives everyone their marching orders, leading the charge on the ground.

Your content should be at the heart of your marketing super team, too. It should speak directly to your target audience on a human-to-human level. Your content can emotionally engage, deliver value, and ultimately persuade people to take action.

SEO: Spider-Man

Spider-Man is the lone “street level” hero on the Avengers team. He started out doing solo work cleaning up the streets of Queens. As part of the team, his main role is to assist the heavy hitters, tying their attacks together with his web-slinging, wall-crawling acrobatics.

SEO used to be the biggest deal in marketing, a strategy and tactic all unto itself. Now SEO works best as part of a team. Great content (preferably co-created with influencers) can benefit from a light dusting of SEO. Just remember that with SEO power comes responsibility: Use SEO to boost great content, not to trick search engines into ranking mediocre content higher.

Influencers: The Incredible Hulk

There’s one thing for sure about the Hulk: He’s a hard guy to ignore. Not only is he capable of punching an airplane out of the sky, he’s 10 feet tall and green. He’s not great on stealth missions, is what I’m saying, but if you want to make a splash, he’s your man.

Influencers share some of the Hulk’s properties (hopefully not the “giant rage monster” part). Some influencers make their living off of being seen, which means they have a built-in audience you can reach with their help. Some are more on the Bruce Banner side, with smaller followings that are still valuable if they’re your target audience.

Organic Social: Hawkeye

Hawkeye is one of two Avengers with no super powers, but he proves his value to the team with his technological savvy and arsenal of specialized arrows. He excels at precision strikes that hit valuable targets.

Organic social used to be a more high-powered team member, but the rise of the algorithm in social media feeds have reduced its reach and power. Still, it’s good for getting the word out to a select audience – you just have to be more strategic on your social channels to compensate for the lack of power.

Digital Advertising: Iron Man

Iron Man takes Hawkeye’s precision strike capability and adds extra maneuverability and power. He can swoop in and blast a target with an arsenal of rockets and pulse rays, all while delivering devastatingly sarcastic quips.

Digital advertising gives you the ability to hit precise audiences at scale. There’s more of a cost associated with it than with organic tactics, but it’s an investment that can get substantial returns.

The Content Marketing Super Team at Work

As you can see, each member of our super squad is powerful on its own. But the magic really happens when all these tactics work together. And you can’t plan that kind of teamwork in the heat of the battle, either. It has to start before a single word of content is drafted.

When we’re creating content, first we determine search demand. Looking at what people are searching for helps us narrow down our topics and makes sure the content will have SEO built in.

Then we search for influencers who are experts on the topic and have a sizable, relevant following. We invite influencers to co-create the content with us. True collaboration with influencers makes them far more likely to be    excited about the resulting assets, which means they’re more motivated to share.

Part of our content creation process is designing images and messages for organic social amplification. We provide influencers with everything they need to share the asset on social media. Influencer shares are crucial for reaching the target audience, so we make it as easy for influencers to share as possible.

Finally, we use paid social to amplify the content directly to our clients’ most valuable audience. We create unique social images and messages to compel people to take action.

It’s easy to see how the super-team approach makes each tactic work better. Each of the tactics is working toward the same unified goal: reaching an audience and persuading them to take action.

Content Marketers, Assemble!

What turns a ragtag group of marketing tactics into an elite audience-persuasion force? Strategy and communication. In our agency, we have a content team, an SEO team, a social media team, etc. But we make sure the teams are working together by design. We regularly meet together to make sure we’re all sharing the same vision. And we also share best practices with each other. The more each of us knows about everyone else’s area of expertise, the stronger we all are.

Want more insight into how content marketing tactics can be brought together for maximum impact? Here's some more light reading:

The post Marketers, Assemble! The Super-Powered Team-Up of Content Marketing Confluence appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

A Non-Agency Guy Reflects on His First Year at TopRank Marketing

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 10:30:59 +0000

TopRank Marketing Team

TopRank Marketing Team

Liking where you work is not an optional luxury. At least it sure shouldn't be.

Spending 40 hours of every week at a place you dread is a tough way to go through any stretch of life. I've been there and I'm sure many of you have as well — especially if you work in digital marketing, which can often be a fast-paced, demanding, and stressful field.

So last year, when I decided to pursue a new professional venture, finding the right culture fit was a huge priority for me. As I started exploring the possibility of joining the TopRank Marketing team, I had some reservations; not because of anything specific to the company, but because it’s an agency.

I hadn't work at agencies much in the past. I was familiar with the stereotypes, the paradigms, the lamentations. While confident in my skill set being very applicable in this world, I couldn't help but wonder if it was the right world for me.

Would the constant reality of client demands stifle my creativity? Would the permeating structure of workflow management systems prove suffocating? Would I be intimidated as a newbie working alongside people who've been in such a setting forever?

Well, as you can tell, I took the plunge. And I'm very glad I did. I'm coming up on my one-year anniversary here at TopRank Marketing and can happily say that up to this point, it has been an extremely rewarding experience, unhindered by those negative agency archetypes mentioned above.

If you're a talented writer, strategist, SEO or analyst considering a career move, I highly recommend checking out TopRank Marketing — even if you've never worked in an agency. Here are five reasons I've felt right at home.

#1 - Business Casual

I'm not just talking about dress code. The environment here here strikes the right balance between business and casual. In the years prior to coming aboard, I'd spent time working downtown at a big corporate bank as well as at an ultra-leisurely tech startup, so I've experienced both ends of the spectrum and didn't love either extreme.

I know from speaking to others that certain agencies can veer a little too far in the direction of informality, with flip-flops and Monday morning mimosas and lax attendance standards. From my view, these kinds of things can quickly become distractions, preventing people from being seriously focused on their work. At TopRank Marketing, the vibe is laid back enough that it's always comfortable and easygoing, but not so much that anyone is apt to lose sight of their duties or commitments.

#2 - Cool Clients

Working with big-league clients also helps us keep our eyes on the prize. One thing that has become quite clear to me in my time at TopRank Marketing is that we are very deliberate about the businesses we engage as an agency. There's a strong emphasis on finding the right fits and aiming high.

Partnering with recognizable and respected enterprise companies such as Dell, LinkedIn, and SAP keeps us on our toes and challenges us to raise the bar. I'm continually impressed by the innovation and big thinking on display in these organizations.

During client meetings, I get to interact with sharp people and I find there's a high degree of mutual respect. I haven't personally encountered exasperations with companies that just don't "get it," which I hear a lot about from friends and peers working at other agencies.

#3 - Awesome Team

Not only do our clients keep me on my toes — so do my coworkers. To me, this is probably the most invigorating aspect of working at TopRank Marketing. Each day I get the chance to absorb knowledge from tremendously adept and skilled pros in various disciplines. This is by design; attracting and retaining high-caliber talent is central to our operation.

The collaborative culture enables our team to collectively reach new heights. I'm fortunate to build out my own expertise by learning from our specialists in search, SEO, strategy, analytics, design, content and more. Hopefully I'm able to impart some of my own knowledge as well. 

#4 - Growth Opportunities

Just a few months after starting here at TopRank Marketing, I was able to attend Digital Summit Minneapolis and rub shoulders with some of the industry's biggest names as a representative of our agency. It was a cool opportunity right out of the gates, and speaks to the windows that are opened for anyone with such aspirations. I've also gotten to write several times for the renowned TopRank blog, providing me with a platform for visibility and brand-building in the marketing community.  

As employees we are adamantly encouraged to branch out, gain new competencies, take on speaking engagements, and become public faces for the agency if they show that initiative. There's a very legitimate and earnest focus on personal development that I believe to be rare.

#5 - Taking Pride

It's honestly cool to tell people where I work.

I've quickly learned that TopRank Marketing has a stellar rep, fueled in large part by our CEO Lee Odden, who regularly appears as a keynote speaker all around the world promoting our brand and extolling our talent. Being able to work with prestigious international clients gives me a daily feeling of impact and accomplishment. There's also a certain thrill inherent to being on the cutting edge with so many tactics and frontiers — most notably B2B influencer marketing at the moment.

I Guess I’m an Agency Guy Now

I'm not going to say it's easy, nor that every day is free of stress or struggle. But I’m not sure I would even want that. I will say that on those more difficult days, I always have the support and structure necessary to overcome.

I had no idea what to expect with my first real venture into the agency world, but what I’ve found at TopRank Marketing is an accommodating environment, meaningful work, amazing colleagues, clear avenues for growth, and a real sense of pride.

That pretty much covers the checklist I had coming in. If yours looks similar, and you think you’ve got a professional skill set befitting one of our openings, you should get in touch and see if TopRank Marketing might be a match for you. Even if the word “agency” makes you bristle a little bit.

I might be biased, but not without good reason.

The post A Non-Agency Guy Reflects on His First Year at TopRank Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Gen Z’s Snapchat Love, LinkedIn’s GIFs, & Google Gets More Time

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 10:30:02 +0000

Snapchat Remains Teens’ Favorite Social Platform, Instagram Their Top Marketing Channel Snapchat has remained the top social platform among teens, who also see Instagram as the best way for brands to communication with them, according to Piper Jaffray’s latest semi-annual “Talking Stock with Teens” survey. MarketingCharts LinkedIn Teamed Up With Tenor to Add GIFs to [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Gen Z’s Snapchat Love, LinkedIn’s GIFs, & Google Gets More Time appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 10:17:37 +0000

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

Content Marketing Lessons from Dungeons & Dragons

It’s probably not news to you that 91% of B2B brands use content marketing to attract, engage, nurture, and convert their audience. However, it might be surprising to learn that only 9% of those brands rate their content marketing as “sophisticated.” Sophisticated meaning that their content marketing is successful, scales across the organization, and provides accurate measurement to the business. This puts a lot of pressure on content marketers to elevate their game and provide more worthwhile and valuable content experiences.

Patrick PinedaAs an adept Dungeon Master (DM) of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) games, TopRank Marketing’s Motion Graphic Designer, Patrick Pineda, can relate.

It might sound a little odd at first, but Dungeon Masters and content marketers are more alike than you think. Responsible for creating meaningful and memorable experiences through content that takes people on a journey, you can see the similarities arise. Just like content marketers need to help guide people through the buyer journey, the Dungeon Master needs to guide players through a journey of their own.

After serving his friends as the go-to Dungeon Master, Patrick has learned a thing or two from creating lengthy campaigns—some successful, some not—that are both engaging and challenging. Discover Patrick’s lessons from the dungeon and how you can apply them to your content marketing campaigns and programs down below.

What Is a Dungeon Master?

For the unfamiliar, a Dungeon Master is the organizer for the wildly popular, 40-year-old tabletop role-playing game, “Dungeons & Dragons.” Not only do DMs organize the game, but they are also responsible for the game rules, details, and challenges. According to Patrick, the player experience hinges on a DM’s ability to create meaningful content that’s fun to explore.

One thing Dungeon Masters are not responsible for, however, are the players’ actions.

Like the self-directed buyers of today, D&D players are able to choose their own paths. As a result, DMs are challenged to make sure players finish the game. And just like your audience won’t read every piece of content you put in front of them, the same happens in a D&D game. Certain story elements DMs put together will never see the light of day because every player has a different play style, completes tasks in different orders, and takes different actions.

“The best Dungeon Master doesn’t just create a good story, but they also help players reach their goals,” Patrick claims.

Does any of this sound familiar? It certainly resonated for me.

5 Content Marketing Lessons From the Dungeon

Having created D&D campaigns that ruled and bombed, here are Patricks top five tips for developing content that resonate with your audience.

#1 - Your audience values originality.

If Patrick creates a campaign that plays to common tropes like a damsel in distress or small town disappearances, the story becomes predictable. But worse than that, the players feel condescended to as the game starts to feel dumbed down.

“Cliches and stereotypes will make players groan. It’s important when creating a campaign that I shake it up and play against common conventions,” Patrick says.

When examining your content and the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original and play with your audience’s expectations. For example, listicles with social media tips are a dime a dozen. Your audience might be more interested if you flip the idea on its head with social media mistakes. In changing it up, you’re giving your audience something new that they haven’t read before, capturing their interest.

[bctt tweet="When examining your content & the story you’re trying to tell, it’s just as important to stay original & play with your audience’s expectations. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Appeal to curiosity.

When it comes to creating an adventure for players to navigate, the DM has a seemingly impossible job. They need to create a unique and compelling world that is able to hold players’ attention—something not easily done. In fact, campaigns have taken Patrick days to put together. But that doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

“I’ve spent hours upon hours creating content for a campaign. But 80% of what I create may never see any playtime. It’s ultimately the players’ choice as to what tasks they want to complete and what quests they want to go on,” Patrick points out.

While the D&D world needs to have a unique and compelling narrative, it also needs to appeal to a player’s curiosity to ensure they keep playing the game and play the parts of the game that you want them to.

How does this apply to content marketing? Well, as you know, just because you’re producing content, doesn’t mean that your audience will find it. To find the answers they’re looking for, they might scour the internet, social media, and trusted experts for more information. Having an integrated content strategy that has multiple touch points throughout the buyer journey and an omni-channel approach, helps ensure you’re reaching your target audience whenever and wherever they may be searching.

Weaving SEO, social media, and influencer marketing into your content marketing strategy helps improve the reach and engagement of the content you’re producing. Through SEO, your organic rankings and click-through-rates will start to rise, improving your organic traffic. Social media messages that are well written and value-based help attract larger audiences from their social feeds. And, finally, tapping into industry influencers exposes your content to a wider network of like-minded individuals, as well as adding authority and credibility.

#3 - Avoid corraling your audience.

Nobody likes to be told what to do, including D&D players. While the DM writes the game and serves as a referee, they cannot influence a player’s actions. And if a DM attempts to, they could quickly lose a player’s interest.

“As a DM, it can be tempting to intervene and make sure that your players are playing the game the way you intended. But this is the one thing you cannot do.” Patrick emphasizes.

This is true in content marketing, too, as making calls to action (CTAs) with zero context can be a turn-off for your audience. If you insert a CTA before your audience can learn what’s in it for them, whether it’s downloading an eBook, listening to a podcast, or subscribing to your blog, they’re less likely to do it. In fact, QuickSprout found that placing a CTA above the fold on a page decreased their conversion rate by 17% and attributed it to their audience not fully understanding why they should complete the action.

Instead, make sure that your CTAs have plenty of context and explain what the audience will gain by filling out your form, reading another blog post, etc. This helps ensure that your content satisfies your audience’s quest for knowledge.

#4 - Customize content for your audience, not the other way around.

As we mentioned previously, the players are in charge of their actions and how they choose to play the game, making it impossible for DMs to have control over the game experience. This makes it important for DMs to know their audience ahead of time, so they can include important sought-after details into different game components.

“I’ll ask players before we start what they hope to get out of the game, whether it’s take down an enemy or just to have fun. Knowing this ahead of time, I can tailor the game to what each player wants to have happen,” Patrick says.

For content marketers, this lesson should hit close to home. You need to know your audience well in advance in order to deliver personalized content. If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people.

After taking a look at your own audience’s characteristics and interests in Google Analytics, create unique personas for each of your audience members. This allows you to create content that is tailored for each person you hope to attract and engage. For example, if one of your target personas is a Director of Business Development, creating custom content that addresses a unique pain points like identifying new business opportunities or tips from the experts on how to strengthen their existing client relationships.

[bctt tweet="If you create content and worry about your audience later, chances are you aren’t engaging the right people. - @aleuman4 #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#5 - Chart your course.

There is a lot going on in a D&D game. And for the DM, that number is amplified as you have to remember every detail about your players, what’s been completed, and what could come next.

“To make sure I’m on top of the game and can portray characters well, I chart the game’s relationships instead of story elements. If I focus on the story, it could quickly become useless as players might do things out of order or in a non-linear fashion. By focusing on the relationships and where they fit in the narrative, the game becomes more fluid and flexible for the players and I can keep track of their journey,” Patrick says.

Tracking the journey isn’t the only thing Patrick notes, however. He also documents player strengths, weaknesses, and stats as the game progresses.

“I keep a character sheet that details each player’s play style. For example, if a player is investing their skill points in intelligence, I can tailor future encounters in the game to focus on problem-solving instead of combat. The opposite is true for a player who invests in raw strength,” Patrick notes.

Through detailed charts, maps, and grids, Patrick is able to make sure that his players have a personalized, seamless experience for every campaign they play, regardless of how they play it.

Customer Journey & Dungeons and Dragons Journey

By taking the same approach with your content marketing, you can identify opportunities for customization and develop a strategy for weaving your content into the buyer’s journey. For example, by knowing which pieces of content attract a larger audience or drive more conversions, you can use that information to inform your content development and map your content to different stages of the funnel (see below).

Grid Assigning Content to Buyer Stages

To collect this data on your content and audience, review your Google Analytics behavior and conversion dashboards to find our which pieces of content excel at attracting, engaging, or converting your audience. Metrics like page views and entrances are good indicators for attraction, whereas time on page or number of pages per session can help you understand engagement. And, finally, the number of conversions through conversion tracking is the best way to find your top converting content. Armed with this knowledge you can create content plans that are tailored for your audience’s unique buyer journey.

Your Audience Is the Hero

A good Dungeon Master enables players to become the hero of the story through a personalized game with a compelling, original narrative. As a content marketer, it’s your responsibility to create content that transforms your audience into heroes as well, helping them solve seemingly impossible problems with your expert, best-answer advice.

Through an integrated content strategy with originality, personalization, and “best answer” content that’s mapped to the buyer journey, you can become the perfect Content Master for your audience.

For more ideas on how to become a masterful content marketer, check out these 25 content marketing tips, including how to tackle writer’s block, repurpose content, utilize storytelling, and more.

The post What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

6 Top Marketing Challenges Solved by Influencer Content

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 10:22:10 +0000

Whether you’re a new Marketing leader at a company in need of establishing wins quickly or part of a growing organization with ambitious revenue goals, the challenges within marketing today are greater than ever. To help make sense out of these challenges, I’ve listed 6 of the top obstacles to brands achieving effectiveness out of [...]

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Digital Marketing News: Cryptofluencers, Google’s Infinite Scrolling, Influencer Trust Grows

Fri, 13 Apr 2018 10:30:22 +0000

Influencer Marketing Has Hit Cryptoworld The proliferation of cryptocurrencies over the past several years has led to a sharp recent increase in the number of paid influencers hired to help promote and legitimize both small and large players in the cryptoworld. Digiday Google launches Reach Planner for YouTube & video ad forecasting in AdWords Google [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Cryptofluencers, Google’s Infinite Scrolling, Influencer Trust Grows appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Relationship Powered Link Building #Pubcon Florida

Thu, 12 Apr 2018 19:37:45 +0000

Keywords, content and links. This is the currency of the Search Engine Optimization world and the rules for spending that currency seem to be in a constant state of flux. At TopRank Marketing, we take a conservative approach to attracting links through purely organic means. Our focus is on creating content that’s actually worth being [...]

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How to Leverage Influencer Marketing for Improved SEO #Pubcon Florida

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 19:04:40 +0000

This session on influencer marketing and SEO is the first up for me on day one of Pubcon Florida, which has grown from a one day to a two day event. It’s easy to see why: The speaker line up is chock full of current smart search marketing advice from a great collection of expert [...]

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Social Media Marketing Benchmarks: What Works & Where to Focus

Wed, 11 Apr 2018 10:02:20 +0000

Social Media Marketing Benchmarks Report 2018

Social Media Marketing Benchmarks Report 2018

Social media marketers, how are you feeling? Take a minute to breathe if you need to. The last few months have been a wild ride. Fatigue, vertigo, and even a little nausea are perfectly understandable.

As I said before, social media isn’t dying, but it is changing. Marketers are used to quick changes, naturally, but it’s important to be sure we’re making the right changes. We should approach evolving our social media with the same data-driven, strategic rigor that applies to everything else we do.

The good folks at Rival IQ recently published their 2018 Social Media Benchmarking Report. The data points to some clear directions for the next evolution of social media marketing.

Here are some of the key data points – and, more importantly, what you should do about them.

#1 - Influencers Have the Highest Engagement Rate on Facebook

Facebook Engagement Benchmark 2018

The report breaks down engagement by platform and by vertical, which invites some intriguing comparisons. If you’re in the food & beverage industry, congratulations! You’re likely seeing some of the highest engagement.

If you’re not, however, there’s no need to roll out a new Cloud-Based SaaS brand of soft drink. Influencers are also hitting the top engagement rate (a whopping .24%, but more on that later).

What to Do:

TopRank Marketing has been talking about influencer marketing since before it was cool. These stats underline the importance of co-creating content with influencers who are relevant to your audience. It’s incredibly tough for brands to make a connection with organic social. Influencers can provide the person-to-person relationship that most people want out of social media interaction.

Read: Death of Facebook Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing

#2 - More Posting Doesn’t Equal More Engagement

The highest post frequency on Facebook is in the Media vertical, with an average of over 10 posts per day. That’s an artifact of an old way of thinking about social media: Flood your page with posts and hope one or two stick. That strategy doesn’t seem to work anymore. Media has the lowest engagement rate, at .08%. Especially with Facebook, upping your posting frequency is counterproductive. The algorithm will show your posts in fewer feeds, fewer people will interact with them as a result, and you start a vicious cycle that ends up slashing your organic reach.

What to Do:

Stick to one or two posts per day, and really make them count. That’s right at the industry average, and seems to be the threshold on most platforms for how much an audience wants to see branded content. If you have ten potential posts, get ruthless: Pick the two that are most interesting, most relevant, most valuable to your audience. Then save the rest for a roundup blog post at the end of the week.

#3 - Engagement Rates Vary Widely by Platform

We tend to talk about social media as though it were a single monolithic platform. Of course we know there are differences between channels, but the report underscores just how much they can vary. The engagement rates for Instagram are above the 1% mark, with some verticals seeing over 3%:

2018 Instagram Engagement Benchmarks

2018 Twitter Benchmarks

While Twitter has an average engagement of .046%. That’s 4 hundredths of a percent, or engagement on one out of every 4,000 posts.

What to Do:

If Instagram fits your brand, and your audience is there, these stats are definitely an endorsement for hopping on the 'gramwagon. But don’t count Twitter out completely. There is a great deal more content posted on Twitter than Instagram, and Twitter moves a lot faster. So that low engagement rate shouldn’t scare you off completely. Instead, use Twitter to boost your brand awareness, provide customer service via social media monitoring, and to engage with potential influencers.

Paid posts on Twitter can also have a powerful impact. One of our technology clients initially ruled out Twitter completely. We were able to prove they had a potential audience on Twitter and helped them run a paid program. In the end, their Twitter engagement was far higher than engagement on any other platform.

#4 - Engagement Is Low on Every Platform

More than anything, the report shows just how low the benchmarks are across the social media spectrum. If an email marketing campaign had a .046% average open rate, we would be throwing in the towel writing our resignations at the same time.

The drop in engagement makes sense, though, with how social media platforms have evolved. They used to be based on delivering all the posts the user opted into seeing. Whatever accounts the person chose to follow, that was what filled their feed.

Now every major social site is curated by algorithm. The user doesn’t control what they see, and neither do brands.

What to Do:

There are two key ways to thrive in the Age of the Algorithm. We’ve already covered the first: Start thinking of most of these channels as pay-to-play. Take your most compelling content and throw some paid promotion behind it on your highest-performing platform. Then A/B test your audience targeting until you find the sweet spot.

The second is to produce the type of content that the algorithm will promote. For Facebook and Twitter, that increasingly means native video. Facebook in particular has been explicit about their favoritism for video. Posts that match what the platform wants to promote will get a bigger initial push, which can help you get engagement, which will signal the algorithm to promote it more.

It’s also a good idea to explore the major platform that’s missing from Rival IQ’s report: LinkedIn*. The reported engagement rate on LinkedIn is .054%, lower than Facebook but higher than Twitter. However, it’s easy to more than double that benchmark with a little optimization, as this infographic from LinkedIn shows.

You can also branch out on LinkedIn by having your C-suite post their own thought leadership content on their own accounts. Personal posts are likely to get more engagement and more shares.

Stay on Your Mark and Don’t Get Benched

Social media marketing is still one of the newest marketing disciplines there is. We’re still developing best practices as the platforms continue to evolve. It’s a little like trying to build a train while you’re going 60 miles per hour down a track built on top of a pool of lime Jell-O.

These benchmarks can provide a starting point for the next iteration of your strategy. They might not speak to your specific vertical or audience, but they do highlight the broad changes taking place across social media. To make sure your train keeps rolling, focus on just a few high-quality posts per day, boosted with paid ads on your most valuable channels.

Need help mastering social media marketing? Here’s how we helped one company expand their reach.

*LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing Client.

The post Social Media Marketing Benchmarks: What Works & Where to Focus appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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