Latest Marketing News

CMWorld Interview: Eli Schwartz on Curiosity & SEO Around the Globe

Mon, 13 Aug 2018 10:30:23 +0000

Should marketers ignore international and inter-linguistic considerations when it comes to their SEO strategies? Survey says: BZZZRRRT In a way, optimizing for search is like participating in the game show Family Feud. To align with searcher behavior and intent, marketers must make educated guesses, and ultimately it is the people who will dictate whether we’re [...]

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Digital Marketing News: Facebook’s Playable Ads & Business Pages Update, Gen Z Mom Trends, & B2B’s Video Uptick

Fri, 10 Aug 2018 10:30:54 +0000

Facebook redesigns biz Pages for utility as feed reach declines Facebook has released a slew of changes to its popular Business Pages offering, including updates to mobile, recommendations, events, jobs, and Facebook Local. The updates bring marketers new opportunities along with the need to re-think certain strategies that may no longer be relevant. TechCruch Twitter [...]

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How to Build a Resilient Evergreen Content Marketing Forest

Wed, 08 Aug 2018 10:35:49 +0000

Evergreen Content Marketing

Evergreen Content Marketing

Evergreen trees are a symbol of life and renewal because they never lose their leaves; they stay green year-round.

Tell that to anyone who has dragged a Christmas tree to the garbage on New Year’s Day.

The truth is, evergreen trees are part of an ecosystem. When they’re rooted and cared for, they thrive and the whole forest benefits. Cut one down and take it home, and it won’t be green for long.

Evergreen content is the same way. We tend to think of it as stand-alone pieces of content that bring in traffic without any additional effort. Something isolated, set-it-and-forget-it. But if you treat your content that way, it will start dropping needles on the carpet with a quickness.

Here’s how to create, care for, and bolster a thriving content marketing forest with your evergreen content.

[bctt tweet="Evergreen trees are part of an ecosystem. When they’re rooted and cared for, they thrive and the whole forest benefits. #EvergreenContent is the same way. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

How to Create Evergreen Content

As a famous content marketer (probably Ann Handley) once said:

Some posts are born to greatness; others have greatness thrust upon them.

Some evergreen posts will naturally arise from your content library. However, unlike a viral post, evergreen is something you can actually do on purpose.

Before you start adding to your content calendar, check out analytics and search data to find existing content that reliably gets traffic. You can promote and refresh these posts (more about that later), and you can use them as springboards to generate new content ideas.

Once you find your old-growth evergreens, put some new ones in your content calendar. The following types of post are good candidates for evergreen status:

Influencer Content

When you co-create content with influencers, you're providing your audience with content that has authority, credibility, insight, and expertise. And that kind of content tends to have enduring interest for an audience — provided the influencer stays influential. 

Read: What is Influencer Marketing? Definitions, Examples, and Resources

In-depth Guides

It’s hard for short content to get attention now — there’s just too much mediocre, shallow content to compete with. But long-form content is having a renaissance. Give your readers something they can really dig into, something that covers everything they need to know about a specific, relevant topic.

How-To Posts

There’s no simpler value proposition than learning how to do something you need to do. Make sure your how-to is simple, direct, easy to follow, and not overly-promotional, and you can create a resource built to last.

Tool Roundups

These posts are both easy to create and incredibly valuable for the reader when done properly. There are hundreds of software tools available for virtually every industry. People need help navigating the landscape. Publish your comprehensive guide to the tools you and your brand find useful, and update it frequently as the landscape changes. Here's an example of one of our own (recently refreshed) pieces on social media marketing tools.

Example of Refreshed Tools List

History or Timeline Posts

The internet tends to have a short memory. Content that captures the historical context of your industry, or technology that your audience uses at work, is bound to get attention and stay relevant over the years. Just make sure to update your timeline with the latest developments!

How to Promote Evergreen Content

In theory, evergreen content (when crafted with a best-answer mentality) should bring in search traffic without much extra attention on your part. But you shouldn't settle for search alone. You know the content is resonating with your desired audience, so give it as much of a chance to be seen as possible.

Influencer Promotion

We always ask influencers to amplify content at least once, when it initially goes live. But it’s also okay to check back with influencers and ask them to promote again. There’s always a reason to reach back out: “Your post is almost to 10,000 views!” “We added some stats to your post!” “People have shared your post almost 5,000 times!”

Organic Social

Don’t make your social promotion a one-and-done proposition. Social feeds move so fast, and organic reach is so limited that posting the same content multiple times is practically required. Establish a cadence with unique messaging to consistently promote your evergreen content long-term.

Paid Social

You want to put your best content forward when investing in paid social, so it makes sense to promote content that has proven to have lasting value for your brand and your audience. Promote your evergreen content with ads and test different audiences with each post.

SEO

All content should be created with SEO in mind. But as algorithms and how people search evolves, make your content even more of a search engine magnet by sprucing up your SEO. Make sure your title and tags are optimized, and that your meta description makes a compelling case for clicking through. You can also take a look at competitor content that’s ranking for similar keywords and fill in gaps in your own content.

Newsletter

Email marketing is still one of the most powerful ways to reach an audience. Use your monthly/weekly newsletter to get your evergreen content in front of your most valuable audience — you already know the content is worth their time, so be bold.

How to Keep Content Fresh

Once your evergreen forest is growing and thriving, make sure to keep it up-to-date and relevant. Here are a few ways to keep your content ecosystem healthy.

Don’t Include Dates in Your URLs

Okay, I admit that we break this rule on the TopRank Marketing Blog from time to time. So do as I say, not as I do: Keep your posts timeless by not embedding the date in your file structure. Your how-to guide may still be relevant, but if the URL says 2010, people will be disinclined to read further.

Refresh on the Regular

When you audit evergreen content, look for elements that are no longer adding value for the reader. Trim irrelevant content, update outdated info, and check for dead links. If you have influencer material, make sure their job title and bio are up-to-date as well.

Trim Invasive Species

Odds are there are a few evergreens in your forest that you don’t want around. For example, you might have a post about services your company no longer offers, or on a topic your brand doesn’t want to be known for. If these evergreens are still pulling in traffic, they can hurt your brand’s reputation. Look for posts with high traffic but high bounce rates as well — rework or remove them to improve your search engine credibility.

O, Contentbaum

Let’s be honest: Most content is temporary. No one is digging deep into a blog’s archives looking for content when there’s plenty of new stuff out there. As the content keeps piling up, it’s more and more important for brands to invest in content meant to provide value for months, even years, to come.

[bctt tweet="As the content keeps piling up, it’s more and more important for brands to invest in content meant to provide value for months, even years, to come. - @NiteWrites #EvergreenContent #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Start planting your evergreen saplings now, cultivate your forest, and you can make your site a destination for your audience.

How else can you power your evergreen content and overall content marketing strategy? Earning links. Learn how to create link-worthy content and see examples.

The post How to Build a Resilient Evergreen Content Marketing Forest appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Design for Dummies: 5 Tips to Liven Up Your Written Marketing Content

Mon, 06 Aug 2018 10:30:38 +0000

Design Tips for Non-Designers

Marketing Design Tips for Non-Designers

I’m not a designer. I’m not artsy. I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

I’m a writer to the core. But, as much I love words, I recognize that they don’t jump off the screen and grab people’s attention. Let’s face it: even the most beautiful prose is pretty ugly, from an aesthetic standpoint. You’re not going to find a framed portrait of blocky text hanging at the Guggenheim anytime soon.

As a marketer who is admittedly lacking in design skills, I’ve done an awful lot of reading on the subject, and I do my best to soak up knowledge and advice from the awesome group of visual wizards here in the TopRank Marketing design department.

My belief is that any writer who wants their work to be seen should be seeking to sharpen expertise in this area.

Design is Essential to Content Marketing

A compelling and unique graphic on a social media link can be the deciding factor when it comes to earning a click. Once a visitor arrives at a blog post, they’re liable to quickly move on if there isn’t an eye-catching visual to immediately pull them in.

via GIPHY

These statistics help portray the vital importance of keeping design front-and-center:

“Design is content,” asserts Patrick Pineda, motion designer for TopRank Marketing. And he’s right: treating visual elements as separate add-ons for your content is a mistake. Without the help of integrated imagery, great writing can easily go unnoticed.

[bctt tweet="Treating visual elements as separate add-ons for your content is a mistake. - @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #Design" username="toprank"]

The trouble, of course, is that your design department may be stretched thin or you need super quick turnaround. And while this is never an ideal scenario, if the need arises, you can create simple, professional-looking visuals that enhance your content by adhering to a few simple guidelines.

1. Find a Tool You Love

The emergence of user-friendly apps for graphic design has been huge for folks like me. No longer must we stare blankly at a Photoshop interface while trying to figure out the functional differences between three different paint-brush icons.

There are plenty of different options out there for executing simple design tasks. Find one you like and take some time to get comfortable with it. These apps are usually free up to some level, and offer efficiencies like drag-and-drop editing and templates.

Here are a few worth trying:

  • Canva: My personal go-to. Tons of templates, backgrounds, and free illustrations you can use.
  • Desygner: Very similar to Canva, with a focus on straightforward ease of use.
  • Piktochart: An intuitive tool for creating infographics.
  • Pixlr: Super helpful for quick photo editing and resizing.
  • PicMonkey: Paid app with robust feature set

Here’s an example of a recent ad template in Canva. It’s sharp and simple, and if the design and dimensions are what you’re looking for, all you need to do is edit the text.

Canva Web Ad Template Example

2. Think About Design at Every Step

Don’t treat visuals as an afterthought. Instead, build them into your content planning. When developing new concepts, think not only, “How can I write about this in a compelling way?” but also, “How can I illustrate these ideas?”

Just as written content should be strategic and purposeful, so too should visual content.

“I always ask: What's the story? Who's the audience? Where will my design reside?” says Pineda.

Here’s an example of a pull-quote design template from Canva. Whether you’re conducting an interview or there’s a specific takeaway you want to call out in your writing, consider turning it into a graphic to add a little pizzazz.

Canva Quote Design Template

3. Simplicity is Golden

Our eyeballs are drawn to striking visuals, but they’ll be quickly repelled by overly busy graphics. Focus on conveying the necessary information as clearly and cleanly as possible. Modern design is often defined by its simplicity (think Apple or Nike).

In the words of Antoine de Saint Exupéry:

It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.

4. Colors Have Feelings

Be thoughtful in your color choices. Not only is it important to stay on-brand, but colors also encompass their own spectrum of emotions. This awesome Color Emotion Guide infographic from Visually offers a framework:

Color Emotion Guide from Visually

5. Get Creative with Fonts and Layouts

The trouble with using free online design apps is that, well, lots of other people use them, too. And when you’re relying on the same default fonts and templates, your productions will inevitably end up looking like much of what’s already out there.

Whenever possible, add unique touches and flares. Maybe your company’s designers are too busy to create graphics for each blog post you write, but can provide a few customized templates or fonts for you to upload and use.

Make sure you’re balancing creativity with readability. Poppy elements to catch the eye are critical, but you always want viewers to easily find and understand the message.

[bctt tweet="When it comes to designing visual content elements, balance creativity with readability. - @NickNelsonMN #ContentMarketing #Design" username="toprank"]

An Eye on Better Marketing Design

When I need a high-quality visual asset for a client, our tremendously talented TopRank Marketing design team is always my first stop. But for quick one-off graphics to promote or accompany a blog post, these practices have proven really critical.

The design below took all of 10 minutes to put together in Canva. Honestly, the majority of the time was spent on finding just the right background photo. But, it looks pretty sharp, if I do say so myself.

Design Tips for Non-Designers

If you can find the time, I recommend taking introductory design classes or working alongside your design team to see what you can pick up. Any skills you’re able develop in this regard as a writer will be helpful as we forge ahead into the era of content saturation and shortening attention spans.

Speaking of captivating visual imagery, there may be no more important platform to add some of that wow-factor than on social media. But you have to select the right visual content for the right platform. Learn best practices for choosing effective social media visuals.

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Digital Marketing News: Rewarded Ads, Google’s Podcast Push, SEO’s B2B Power, & YouTube’s Ratio Refinements

Fri, 03 Aug 2018 10:30:20 +0000

Industry Group Finds Consumers Love ‘Rewarded’ Ads: Marketers, Less So A new collaborative study by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), OpenX, and MediaMath looks at view-and-reward advertising, rewarded opt-in ad types, and what they may mean for digital marketers going forward. MediaPost Google Has A Podcast App, But Does It Have A Podcasting Strategy? Google [...]

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CMWorld Interview: How Tamsen Webster Drives Irresistible Change in Marketing

Wed, 01 Aug 2018 10:30:55 +0000

Few things are more inspiring than the before-and-after weight loss photo: two drastically different figures juxtaposed against one another, usually connected by an impossibly short span of time. It’s not just the physical transformation that is striking in these portrayals. Even more so, it’s the mental transformation. Something clicked in that person’s head, causing them [...]

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Best Practices for Choosing Effective and Captivating Social Media Visuals

Mon, 30 Jul 2018 10:35:12 +0000

Best Practices for Selecting Social Media Visuals

Best Practices for Selecting Social Media Visuals

For both B2B and B2C brands, social media marketing has become an age-old tactic by now. And it’s no surprise. Despite working 8 hours a day and sleeping (hopefully) 8 hours, the average person still spends nearly two hours each day on social media, according to a study by Mediakix.

But the social media landscape is changing—alot. Organic reach on Facebook is declining with changes to the Newsfeed, some of which are still rolling out. Twitter is struggling to retain their active users. Instagram is experimenting with long-form video content. LinkedIn is also investing in more video.

Given these changes and regular updates, the best practices for each platform are constantly evolving. But what's one thing that isn't poised to change anytime soon? The importance of using eye-catching, compelling visual content to draw people in.

Whether it’s YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn, or another social media platform, we know audiences consume content on those channels for a significant amount of time—they crave it. And if you want to make a positive impression, you have to go beyond ensuring proper image dimensions. You need make sure you're sharing the right visual content on the right platform.

To help you paint your content in the best light on social media and help create a positive experience for your audience, we asked our own Social Strategist, Meg McDougall, to share some best practices for selecting the right social images and video for some of the major platforms. Here’s what she had to say.

LinkedIn Social Image and Video Best Practices

Think About Your Audience

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 562 million members and growing. But even though LinkedIn has a large audience of professionals, that doesn’t mean they exclusively want to engage in buttoned-up, stiff content.

To make sure your pages, profiles, and articles are interesting and engaging for your audience, you need to know your audience really well. Do they like it when you show a little personality? Do they like more formal language or slang? Take a look at your LinkedIn Company Page analytics to see what types of content and messages your audience is engaging with to come up with a direction for your page.

Take Advantage of Video

Announced in 2017, LinkedIn added the ability for members and brands to create and share video content. This gives content creators, publishers, and brands more opportunities to engage and connect with their audiences. Plus, LinkedIn video has autoplay enabled, making it easy for your audience to watch your content.

Speaking of video, all of your motion graphics should be published as a video .mp4 file, not a .GIF. Many browsers and social media platforms are disabling autoplay for GIFs and are instead converting them into click-to-play videos. Instead of relying on the social platform to convert the GIF for you, take control of how your motion graphic will appear by creating the graphic as a video file from the start.  

Who’s doing it right? GE. Just take a look at one of their most recent posts (below). Their video on GE turbines has received 1,841 likes and 29 comments in less than 24 hours. As of July 10, just four days after posting, that count was up to 3,656 likes and 58 comments. The video also takes advantage of captioning to ensure that even with the audio off, audiences can still engage with and learn from their video.

LinkedIn Video Example From GE

LinkedIn Image Specifications

  • Company Page Direct Uploads: 552 x 368
  • Image Previews From Link Posts: 436 x 228
  • Personal Page Direct Uploads: 1200 x 627
  • Personal Page Cover Photo: 646 x 220
  • Personal Page Image Previews From Link Posts: 520 x 272
  • Article Featured Image: 520 x 272
  • Article Cover Photo: 744 x 400
  • Video: 16:9 or 1:1

Twitter Social Image and Video Best Practices

Keep Site Traffic in Mind

Eighty percent of Twitter’s traffic comes from mobile devices. However, check your audience data in Google Analytics to see if mobile or desktop is your top traffic source for Twitter. Whichever device comes out on top, you should tailor your social imagery accordingly.

Consider the Number of Images

Depending on how many images you upload and attach to a post and which device its viewed on, Twitter will display them in different sizes and orientations. As a result, it’s important to remember how many images you want to share and how they will be seen on mobile versus desktop as they look very different.

Here’s how multiple images look on mobile from Buffer’s guide to social media image sizes:

Twitter Multiple Images on Mobile

Image credit: Buffer

And here’s how multiple images look on desktop:

Twitter Multiple Images on Desktop

Image credit: Buffer

Stand Out With Something Creative

A single day’s worth of Tweets could fill a 10 million page book—there are a lot of tweets out there that are saturating feeds. Make sure your content stands out with a creative image, graphic, video, or motion graphic.

For example, try making a custom image to add additional context to the image and capture more attention. Tools like Canva or Venngage make those custom images easy—just remember to make them the correct size or your design may get cropped off.

Who’s doing it right? Wendy’s. Already killing the game with their witty brand voice on Twitter, they also make sure they stand out in news feeds with custom images, memes, video, and other media. For example, in the tweet below, Wendy’s makes a timely reference to Avengers: Infinity War while also taking a fun shot at their competition (McDonald’s). The end result is a tweet with viral potential and over 230,000 likes.

Wendy's Custom Image Example on Twitter

Twitter Image Specifications

Mobile Images: 1200 x 675 (16:9)

Mobile Multiple Image Upload

  • One Image, 2:1
  • Two Images, 7:8
  • Three Images, 7:8 & 4:7
  • Four Images, 2:1

Desktop Images: 506 x 506 (1:1)

Desktop Multiple Image Upload

  • Two Images, 252 x 252 (1:1)
  • Three Images, 337 x 337 (1:1)
  • Four Images, 379 x 379 (1:1)

Video: 16:9 or 1:1

Facebook Social Image and Video Best Practices

Keep Videos Short and Sweet

More and more brands are creating more Facebook video as an average of 100 million hours of video are watched each day on the platform. Browsing through your own Facebook accounts, you’ll likely notice videos have taken over. Your eyes might be drawn to a video recipe from Tasty or a video from TechCrunch on the latest technology news.

To create Facebook videos that drive the best results, create videos that are between 60 and 90 seconds long. In a study that analyzed 100 million Facebook videos, Buzzsumo found that videos between 60 and 90 seconds had the most engagement on Facebook.

BuzzSumo Graph on Facebook Video Interactions

Image credit: Buzzsumo

When it comes to Facebook video, it’s also worth noting that 85% of Facebook users watch videos without sound. Any narration or audio you include in the clip might not make it to a majority of your audience. To ensure that your message is communicated to your viewers who prefer silence, add captions or copy onto your Facebook videos. This way both types of viewers get the full impact of your content.

Support Multiple Traffic Objectives With Carousels

Oftentimes, social messages contain one link or call to action (CTA). However, Facebook is changing that with their new carousel page posts that can showcase multiple images, links, and headlines. As a collection of links and images, your Facebook followers can browse through your post to click on the link that’s most relevant to them. This makes carousels a great tool if you have a campaign with multiple landing pages or traffic objectives.

Who’s doing it right? Skype. While carousels make a natural fit for promoting several or even one product, Skype went in a different direction. Instead of promoting one of their software products, Skype is using carousels to share and generate awareness for their work with The Young Actors Project.

Facebook Carousel Post Example From Skype

Facebook Image Specifications

  • Image Uploads: 476-wide
  • Vertical Uploads: 476 x 714
  • Video: 1:1 or 2:3
  • Image Previews From Link Post: 476 x 249
  • Carousel Images: 300 x 300
  • Cover Photo: 820 x 312
  • Link-less Image Ratio (Paid): 16:9 or 9:16
  • Linked Image Ratio (Paid): 1200 x 628

Instagram Social Image and Video Best Practices

Don’t Be a Square

Instagram used to only allow images with a square, 1:1 aspect ratio. However, they now allow for both horizontal and vertical image content. This can be done in regular image uploads, but also in Instagram Stories. So, don’t feel like you have to keep your images in those tight, perfect boxes. Use whatever orientation and ratio works best for the image you want to share. Here's a great example courtesy of Buffer:

Example of Vertical Content on Instagram

Image credit: Buffer

Drive Conversions With Stories

Instagram has been known to marketers for making it a little harder to share links. On Instagram, URLs and links don’t work in the description of traditional image uploads. As a result, many brands use their profile bio to add in a URL and update it for each campaign.

This is a good workaround, however, it requires a lot of additional clicks and steps from both audiences and social media marketers.

Instagram Stories, however, offer a better solution. Through stories, accounts with over 10,000 followers can attach a link to your post that audiences can visit by swiping up. This makes it easy to drive traffic to your target pages and drive more conversions. Plus, your audience doesn’t have to leave the Instagram platform to view the link—they can stay directly within the Instagram interface.

Don’t have 10,000 followers on Instagram? Getting your account verified will also do the trick.

Who’s doing it right? Apple. Using Instagram Stories to tease their brand videos are captivating and engaging pieces of content. Taking advantage of both image and video, Apple knows how to pull people in and get them invested in a good story. To drive traffic to their objective pages, they’re also utilizing Instagram’s swipe up feature.

Apple Instagram Stories Example

Instagram Image Specifications

  • Square Image Upload: 1080 x 1080
  • Vertical Image Upload: 1080 x 1350
  • Horizontal Image Upload: 1080 x 566
  • Video: 1:1 or 2:3
  • Instagram Story: 1080 x 192

Size Up Your Social Campaigns

Social media is an important piece of any content distribution or promotion strategy. With each platform having a unique voice, purpose, and target audience for your brand, it’s important that you customize your social images and videos for each one. Whether that means customizing the image size, picking individual images for each platform, or creating a special video, the more you tailor your social imagery, the better.

Need help finding the perfect image for your content? Read our guide on how to find and choose dynamic images.If you’re ready to dive into the world of video, make sure you’re creating the right videos with our guide to the different types video for B2B marketing and when to use them.

The post Best Practices for Choosing Effective and Captivating Social Media Visuals appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Smarty-Pants Speakers Drive Voice Search, YouTube’s Rejiggered Hashtags, & Google’s Word Count Wisdom

Fri, 27 Jul 2018 10:30:09 +0000

July 27 2018 TopRank Marketing News Image

July 27 2018 TopRank Marketing News Image

Report: Smart speaker ownership driving voice adoption on smartphones
The popularity of voice search on smartphones has grown in part due to more Americans owning smart speakers, with a new NPR and Edison Research report revealing 18 percent now own so-called smart audio devices. Marketing Land

Report: Facebook takes a back seat to Instagram as ad spend on the Facebook-owned app grows 177%
New research data shows that Instagram had ad spending four times Facebook’s rate year-over-year during the second quarter of 2018, while YouTube's ad spend was nearly triple that of last year. Marketing Land

Emojis Score With Mobile Users
New study data shows that the use of emojis has resulted in a sizable boost of mobile e-mail open rates, with open rates boosted over 80 percent resulting in 363 percent revenue gains, but are digital marketers convinced? MediaPost

YouTube Shows Searchable Hashtags Above Video Titles
YouTube has begun showing searchable hashtags above the title of each video. The first three hashtags of a video’s description field have gained prominence with the change, offering new opportunities for YouTube marketers looking to optimize video findability. Search Engine Journal

Google: Word Count Isn't Indicative Of Quality
Google has indicated that written content isn’t ranked solely by word count numbers. Short or not-so-short, good writing is rarely tied to formulaic word counts, Google has hinted. Search Engine Roundtable

Google releases AMP Stories v1.0 with new features, including an ads beta for DFP users
Google has announced new features for developers using its AMP Stories format, including several monetization features and additional metadata attributes targeting digital marketers. Marketing Land

July 27, 2018 Digital Marketing News Statistics Image

Twitter Releases New 'Playbook for Agencies' Which Includes a Heap of Twitter Promotion Tips
Twitter has published a new guide offering ad tips and more, in its agency playbook announced this week. The guide’s insight is applicable to a wide swath of digital marketing professionals. Social Media Today

An update to referral source URLs for Google Images
Google announced recently that it will soon implement a new referrer URL specific to Google Images. Digital marketers working with country-specific search queries also get specific new guidelines from Google. Google Webmaster Central

Snapchat beefs up ad targeting in deal with Nielsen
Segmented audience data is finally coming to Snapchat, as the firm recently announced a new partnership with Nielsen that brings some 30,000 segments to marketers using the firm's newest addition. AdAge

Inside the Mating Rituals of Brands and Online Stars
The New York Times examines influencer morality clauses and the rise of online stars from YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, and others, with newfound brand credibility often following. The New York Times

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Tom Fishburne July 27 Cartoon

A lighthearted look at lifestyle brands by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

How Kit Kat managed to turn a viral tweet into a branded proposal — SEO Roundtable

This Man Tried to Break the World Record for Paper Airplane Flight — Wired

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Natural Language Generation: The Future of Content Management — e-Spirit
  • Lee Odden — The Top 13 Content Marketing Influencers to follow in 2018 — JBH

What are some of your top influencer marketing news items for this week?

Thanks for reading, and we hope you'll return next week for the latest digital 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: Smarty-Pants Speakers Drive Voice Search, YouTube’s Rejiggered Hashtags, & Google’s Word Count Wisdom appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Google Game Changers: 5 Recent Updates and How They Affect Marketers

Wed, 25 Jul 2018 10:35:42 +0000

2018 Google Updates & What They Mean for Marketers

2018 Google Updates & What They Mean for Marketers

Since the inception and rise of digital marketing, marketers have been keeping a watchful eye on Google — the ruler of the kingdom of search.

From research project to technology giant, over the last two decades Google has cemented itself as the dominating force in internet search. And while there are other rising contenders in the space, as of June 2018, Google owned 72.21% of all desktop searches. And the domination continues if you look at mobile, with Google owning a whopping 90.20% of searches.

Of course, Google's market (and marketing) domination isn't because of their speed to market in the late 90s, but rather the company's dedication and investment in evolving the platform. And some of the latest evolutionary tweaks and new features are hitting soon — or have just recently arrived.

What are those changes and how will they affect your marketing plan? Below, we break down the latest and greatest game-changing updates from Google, what they mean for marketers, and how marketers can adapt.

#1 - HTTPS Warnings are In-Effect

While we’ve been talking about this for a while now (just see our Security as SEO post from August 2017), Google Chrome’s non-HTTPS pop-up warning went live in July 2018. Instead of serving non-HTTPS pages with just an information icon in the URL bar, Google will now serve users with a warning and potentially a pop-up alerting them that the website they’re on isn’t using a secure connection.

Google HTTPS Warnings

Image credit: Google

Of course, this shift towards site security isn’t new. In fact, back in January of 2016, Google announced that they were indexing HTTPS pages over HTTP pages, signaling to marketers that the security of your site will soon impact your rankings. The past algorithm changes coupled with the new warnings in Google Chrome means that leaving your site with an unsecure HTTP connection will likely cause traffic loss both organically and direct, as well as losing those hard-fought rankings.

To make sure that your site doesn’t take a hit to traffic or rankings, make sure you’ve upgraded to HTTPS. As an extra measure, check Google Search Console’s Security Issues tool to check for other potential security threats.

Google Search Console Security Notice

The Key Takeaways

  • What’s New: HTTPS warning and pop-up goes live in Google Chrome.
  • What It Means: Organic traffic and rankings loss if your site is non-HTTPS.
  • Next Steps: Double check that your site is secure and upgrade to HTTPS if necessary.

#2 - Need for Speed

Over the last several years, Google has altered its algorithm to prioritize the user experience. Back in 2010, Google announced that desktop page speed was a ranking factor as poor load times create a bad user experience, which is something we covered in an interview with former Developer Programs Tech Lead Maile Ohye. Their latest update, which went into effect July 9, 2018, continues that trend as the algorithm will also account for mobile page speed as well.

But what pages are affected and how will it affect you?

According to Google, only the slowest pages will be affected. And to help you see if that includes you, they’ve launched their PageSpeed Insights tool where you can see how fast your pages load on mobile and how you can improve your load times.

PageSpeed Insights

With this new change, you need to make sure that your mobile page speed is up to par by entering your site URL into the PageSpeed Insights tool. Then, download your free report to see what improvements you can make to your site.

For example, the report may recommend that you optimize or compress your images to reduce the data consumption needed to load the page. Or, the report may suggest that you leverage caching. Whatever suggestions are made, implement them as soon as possible to ensure that your mobile rankings don’t suffer.

The Key Takeaways

  • What’s New: Google now uses mobile page speed as a ranking factor for mobile searches.
  • What It Means: If you’re mobile pages have slow load times, your rankings could take a hit.
  • Next Steps: Use the PageSpeed Insights tool from Google to test your mobile page speed. Then, make the suggested changes the tool recommends like compressing images, using fewer scripts, or leveraging caches.

#3 - No More AdWords

That’s right, AdWords is no more. Instead, Google is merging all of their advertising products under one brand umbrella: Google Ads.

Why the change? Google says it’s to reduce the complexity associated with digital advertising. They want simpler products that make it easier to advertise on their platforms. And they’re rebranding shows their commitment to simplicity.

Google Ads isn’t just a rebranding, though. They’ve also announced new products, all focused on automation, including:

  1. Smart Campaigns (which we’ll explain more later)
  2. Universal App Campaigns
  3. Goal-Optimized Shopping Campaigns
  4. Automated Bidding
  5. Dynamic Search Ads

Through automation, Google hopes to introduce products that reduce the complex nature of digital advertising and instead create optimized ads with an easy user experience.

When it comes to your own campaigns, log into the new Google Ads platform and explore their new product offerings that leverage features like automation and machine learning. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, test out one of those new product offerings to see if Google is successful in creating easy-to-use ads that produce hard-to-achieve results.

The Key Takeaways

  • What’s New: Google AdWords is now Google Ads and has more automated products.
  • What It Means: Automation means less time spent creating, managing, and optimizing your ad campaigns.  
  • Next Steps: Try out one of Google Ads new products to see if their automation and machine learning algorithms are successful in generating results.

#4 - Introducing: Smart Campaigns

Paid search advertising is a complicated business. From ad creative and copy to setting the right bid and objective, there are a lot of moving parts that impact the effectiveness of your ads. Well, Google wants to change that.

To continue their commitment to simplified digital advertising mentioned above, Google Ads is launching a new advertising type: Smart Campaigns. Smart Campaigns are automated ads that take care of ad creative and delivery based on the products, services, and goals that advertisers set. Through automation and machine learning Smart Campaigns will show ads to the right audiences using signals like behavior, location, devices, and others.

If you’ve ever struggled with your paid search campaigns or they just suck up too much of your time, this news is music to your ears. An automated ad campaign with the ability to optimize on the fly means you can create your Smart Campaign, monitor the performance, and watch Google make optimizations on your behalf.

And this new ad type works. Google’s Small Business Ads Lead, Kim Spalding, says that Smart Campaigns are three times more effective at reaching a target audience than AdWords Express campaigns.

So, give Smart Campaigns a try. You just might find more success than with traditional Google Ads products. And as always, be thoughtful about your goals and KPIs to determine if Smart Campaigns works for your business. Furthermore, we’d never recommend “setting and forgetting.” You need to monitor and ensure that the automated suggestions being served up are a right fit for your product/service, industry, and audience.

The Key Takeaways

  • What’s New: To simplify advertising, Google is launching fully automated Smart Campaigns.
  • What It Means: Advertisers can reduce the amount of time they spend creating and optimizing ads and instead leverage an automated ad campaign.
  • Next Steps: If you’re currently running any AdWords Express campaigns, consider a Smart Campaign instead. But remember you’ll need to monitor, not just set it and forget it, if you want to ensure the best results.

#5 - There’s More Data to Love

With GDPR in effect in the EU, Google and other software vendors have made changes to ensure their compliance (they also love letting us know that they’ve updated their privacy policy). But more importantly, GDPR stipulated new regulations around data retention, stating that companies cannot store data longer than necessary.  

As a result, Google, Mixpanel, and other analytics tools updated the amount of data is tracked and saved on their platforms. And a few months ago Google updated their data retention controls to 14 months, 26 months, 38 months, and 50 months with no options lasting longer than 50 months. This is a big change as Google Analytics previously tracked data for the entire history of the site.

Luckily, the latest announcement from Google is a data increase, not decrease.

Previously, Google Search Console's search analytics only tracked the past 90 days. However, Google Data Studio (Google’s really cool and free dashboard builder), the search analytics API, and the Google Search Console beta now have 16 months of historical search analytics data. With more data to analyze, this update allows marketers to better track historical trends and patterns in their search rankings and performance.

Google Search Console Data Update

If you want to see your expanded search analytics data, the update is currently live in Google Data Studio, the search analytics API, and the beta Google Search Console Search Performance report. Not sure how to access the beta? Click on the link in the upper left-hand corner of the Google Search Console menu circled in red below:

The Key Takeaways

  • What’s New: Google will soon let you see 16 months of search analytics data.
  • What It Means: This new update makes it easier to see historical trends and patterns in your search rankings as there is more data to draw comparisons from.  
  • Next Steps: Start seeing 16 months of search analytics data by creating a report in Google Data Studio or logging into the Google Search Console beta.

Up Your Google Game

With the most popular internet browsers and the No. 1 site in the world, marketers need to stay up to date on new updates in Google in order to make sure that their content, ads, and site are being served effectively.

This latest round of updates means marketers need to make sure their sites are secure and load fast on mobile devices. In addition, Google has introduced new ad products and data to help you make the most of your digital advertising and search performance.

For more digital marketing news, subscribe to our YouTube channel or visit our digital marketing news archive for weekly news updates.

The post Google Game Changers: 5 Recent Updates and How They Affect Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Trust in Marketing is at Risk. These CMOs and Marketing Influencers Share How to Fix

Mon, 23 Jul 2018 11:10:48 +0000

The average tenure of a CMO is under 4 years representing a crisis in confidence amongst business leadership when it comes to marketing. Expectations for marketing are higher than ever amongst business leaders and customers alike. To advance the valuable contributions marketing can make from boosting short term sales to growing long term market share, [...]

The post Trust in Marketing is at Risk. These CMOs and Marketing Influencers Share How to Fix appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s Bot Detox Fallout, Google’s Mobile Thumbs-Up, & Millennial’s Top Social IQ Factors

Fri, 20 Jul 2018 10:30:16 +0000

Report: Google’s mobile search results now show image thumbnails 45% of the time Mobile Google users see image thumbnails in nearly half the search results shown, according to new report data. Should marketers consider placing greater importance on thumb images? Search Engine Land Twitter’s bot purge welcomed by agency execs Twitter recently deleted millions of [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s Bot Detox Fallout, Google’s Mobile Thumbs-Up, & Millennial’s Top Social IQ Factors appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game

Wed, 18 Jul 2018 10:35:10 +0000

How Facebook Stories Will Change Social Media Marketing

How Facebook Stories Will Change Social Media Marketing

“You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount.”

This scathing remark, delivered by actor Jesse Eisenberg while portraying Mark Zuckerberg amidst a heated deposition in the 2010 film The Social Network, has a certain pertinence today with regards to the company Zuckerberg founded back in 2004.

As Facebook’s news feed algorithm becomes increasingly restricting for brands and publishers, many of us are finding it difficult to capture even the minimum amount of our audience’s attention on the platform.

The search for elusive reach on the world’s largest social media channel has led some marketers to explore Facebook Groups as a way to stay visible with users. But it appears the more critical frontier may be Facebook Stories, a feature that is rapidly on the rise and — according to the company’s own top execs — represents the future of connection on Facebook.

[bctt tweet="#FacebookStories — according to the company’s own top execs — represents the future of connection on #Facebook. #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

A Primer on Facebook Stories

The Social Network, referenced earlier, is a biographical drama depicting the inception of Facebook and the power struggles that took place. The film was extremely well received, earning eight Oscar nominations and winning three: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing.

Certain people portrayed in the movie have criticized its inaccuracies (it wasn’t exactly kind to Mr. Zuckerberg, as the opening quote in this post illustrates), and writer Aaron Sorkin doesn’t deny playing loose with the facts.

“I don't want my fidelity to be to the truth,” he told New York Magazine. “I want it to be to storytelling.”

A reputed screenwriter, Sorkin understands the power of stories, which have an ability to hook and captivate audiences in a way few other styles of communication can hope to match. This dynamic is undoubtedly driving the growth of “Stories” — series of images and videos played in succession, perfectly suited for mobile screens — across all social media platforms.

This chart via Block Party’s report, Beyond the News Feed: Why Stories Are Becoming the New Face of Social Media, visualizes the unmistakable trend well:

Facebook Stories Usage Trend

Interestingly, Snapchat — which largely sparked the popularity of this format when its “My Story” feature launched in 2014 — has remained stagnant while other players have gained fast traction. You can definitely count Facebook among them.

Originally rolled out on mobile in 2017, Facebook Stories made their way to desktop earlier this year and the feature now boasts 150 million daily active users. Like the versions on Instagram and Snapchat, this content is ephemeral — Facebook Stories and all of their comments disappear after 24 hours. But the convention itself is here to stay.

“We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in feeds as the most common way that people share across all social apps,” said Zuckerberg (the real one, not the Eisenberg character) during a fourth-quarter earnings conference call.

This sentiment is shared by Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, who laid out a more specific and imminent timeline at the company’s annual conference in early May:

The increase in the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.

Needless to say, this is a story marketers need to be tracking.

The Other Side of the Story

Okay, so we know that Stories are quickly becoming a mainstream method for sharing content on social media, and we know that Facebook is making a firm commitment to the format. What does all this mean to us as marketers?

Add to Your Facebook Story

This is definitely a tool that companies can use, if they are so inclined. You have the ability to post them from your brand page, and (at least for now) it may increase your content’s odds of getting noticed. Relatively speaking, this feature isn’t being used all that much, and Facebook’s clear emphasis on growing it means that Stories are carving prime real estate above the news feed.

Some view this as the next great social media marketing opportunity on the platform. Earlier this year, Bud Torcom wrote in a piece at Forbes that Facebook Stories are “like California’s mines and creeks before the 1849 gold rush.” He sees this format transforming campaigns through experimentation, experiential marketing, influencer integration, and visual pizzazz.

Michelle Cyca sees similar potential, as she wrote on the HootSuite blog, calling Stories “a way to reconnect with users who aren’t seeing your content in their Newsfeed the same way” and calling out examples of campaigns that drove lifts in awareness by incorporating the tactic.

The idea of added organic reach is enticing (if fleeting, knowing that the onset of ads will turn this — like all Facebook marketing initiatives — into a pay-to-play space), but what really intrigues me about Stories is the almost infinite grounds for creativity.

[caption id="attachment_24532" align="alignnone" width="600"]Facebook Stories Examples Facebook Stories Examples from ModCloth and Mashable.[/caption]

It’s a very cool method for visual storytelling. It’s a low-barrier entry point for social video (no one is expecting premium production quality on these). And it presents an accessible avenue for toying with emerging technologies — most notably, augmented reality, which is being strongly integrated into Facebook Stories in another step down the road Snapchat has paved.

[bctt tweet="The idea of added organic reach is enticing, but what really intrigues me about #FacebookStories is the almost infinite grounds for creativity. - @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

Where Does the Story Go Next?

“You don't even know what the thing is yet. How big it can get, how far it can go. This is no time to take your chips down.”

This advice — delivered to Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg by Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker in The Social Network — referred to Zuck’s budding Facebook venture, but could just as easily apply to any social media marketer eyeing Stories as a way to connect with their audience.

The downside is minimal. What have you got to lose? A little time and effort, perhaps. The possible benefits are extensive however. These include:

  • Prioritized placement on user feeds
  • Engaging bite-sized video content
  • Powerful visual storytelling for brands
  • Ability to experiment with new content styles and emerging tech like AR
  • Gaining familiarity with a format that could well represent the future of social marketing

More than anything, though, Facebook Stories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount.

[bctt tweet="#FacebookStories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount. - @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing" username="toprank"]

And since brands generally aren’t tapping into this functionality as of yet, early adopters can jump ahead of the curve and beat their competition to the punch. If there’s one primary takeaway from Facebook’s story (as reflected in The Social Network), it’s the tremendous business value in being first. Just ask the Winklevoss twins.

At TopRank Marketing, we’re all about helping companies tell their stories through a wide variety of digital channels and tactics. Give us a shout if you’d like to hear more.

What are you thoughts on the future of Facebook stories? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing?

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 10:38:29 +0000

Quality in Content Marketing

Quality in Content Marketing

Have you heard the good news about quality content? It’s the latest innovation that’s sweeping the nation. It’s going to revolutionize your content marketing efforts. If your current strategy is to crank out crappy content, then quality content is going to blow your KPIs away!

Okay, sarcasm aside: Every content marketer knows their content needs to be good to be effective. We call it “quality,” or “value,” or “usefulness.” But all of these traits can vary widely depending on your audience. For example, conventional wisdom might say that 500-word blog posts don’t connect with readers. But that word count may be just the right length for the people you want to reach.

So, when we get into the specifics, quality is relative and highly subjective. But it’s possible to define quality content marketing in a more universal way:

Quality content demonstrates to your audience that you are listening to them.

It’s that simple. Well, one step further:

Quality content demonstrates that you’re listening and you care.

We often think about what action we want readers to take. That’s a valid question; in fact, it’s the foundation of content marketing strategy. But for quality content we need to consider the flip side: How will the reader’s life be better after reading this content? Or, to really boil it down: What’s in it for them?

That’s the essence of quality content. And here’s how you can make sure your content passes the test. First, at the broadest level, there are two minimum requirements for quality:

All Content Marketing Should Be ...

#1: Hyper-Relevant

We talk a lot about best answer content at TopRank Marketing, content that:

  • Serves a proven search need
  • Addresses a customer’s burning questions
  • Is substantial and comprehensive

Basically, it means that you’re putting in time and effort into researching your audience, what they need and how they’re searching for it. Then you’re crafting content that acknowledges that search and makes a genuine attempt to give them exactly what they’re looking for.

#2: Non-Promotional

It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. Quality content has to be non-promotional. Now, some brands take this advice to heart, but create content that’s still promotional, just with a thin veneer of solving a problem. They’ll publish a “10 Ways to Be Better at X,” but each way just leads to their solution. That’s a cheat.

Real customer-centered content gives away valuable information that people can use even if they never buy from you.  For example, here’s Quicksprout’s “Advanced Guide to Content Marketing.” It’s massive. It’s ungated. Only a tiny fraction of it is related to the solutions they sell.

Advanced Guide to Content Marketing Example

Of course, your content mix should include some bottom-of-funnel content that will show how your brand solves a problem. But the majority of your content should focus on the reader.

[bctt tweet="It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

So, quality content demonstrates to your reader that you’re listening and care about them. It does this by being hyper-relevant and non-promotional. It’s a good working definition, but still a little vague. Here are five ways you can approach content to guarantee quality:

Five Ways to Create Quality Content

#1: Tell a Story

Humans are storytelling animals. We're wired to process narratives, to get pleasure from a good tale and retain the information within it. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. Tell a story that shows your reader you understand what their world is like. Tell a story that shows you understand what they wish their world was like. Even better, make them (or someone very much like them) the star of the story.

[bctt tweet="We're wired to process narratives. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Read: Be Honest Like Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling

#2: Show Vulnerability

One of the quickest ways to make an emotional connection is to reveal your own shortcomings. Everyone has moments of failure; they’re what makes us human. Use your brand’s failings, and the lessons learned from them, to connect with the reader and help them improve.

The Buffer team is great at the kind of honest, meaningful discussion I’m talking about here. Their “5 Times We Failed at Diversity Big Time (and How We Fixed It)” is a good starting example.

Buffer Quality Content Example

#3: Help Them Look Smart at Work

What do most working people have in common, regardless of industry, function or seniority level? We all want to look good in front of our boss. If you are the boss, you want to look good in front of shareholders. Everyone can benefit from a little competitive edge, a tip or a trick or a bit of wisdom they can pull out at the next meeting.

#4: Help Make Their Job Easier

Another thing all working people have in common is that we would prefer to not work so hard. Anything that can help us get the job done quicker, with less effort, without sacrificing quality, is incredibly valuable. Keep that idea in mind when writing checklists, tools and tips, or how-to posts. It’s not just “here’s how you do this,” it’s “here’s how you do this better, regardless of your current skill level.”

#5: Help Them Improve Themselves

Your audience’s lives are bigger than their interaction with your brand. They’re bigger than the pain points your brand has the expertise to solve. If you can reach out to the broader sphere of their life experience, you can bring quality in new and unexpected ways.

This piece from LinkedIn's* Jason Miller, “How to Survive a Mid-Career Crisis in Marketing,” is a stellar example. It’s a guide that’s not really about marketing at all; it’s about finding your true voice and pursuing passion. Bonus: Notice that the piece tells a story and shows vulnerability, too.

LinkedIn Quality Content Example

Quality Is Job One

Have you ever said to anyone, “I consumed some quality content the other day?” I sincerely hope not. Instead, you likely said, “I saw the greatest article,” or “Check out this cool video.” When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise.

That’s the only type of content we should be in the business of making. Not just because it gets better results — it does, but that’s only part of the equation. When we create quality content, that means the work we do is useful, valuable, and meaningful. Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time doing otherwise.

[bctt tweet="When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Create content that connects. Check out these 10 powerful lessons in resonance from some of the industry's top marketing minds.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Google’s New Ad Tools, Facebook’s Snoozefest, and LinkedIn’s QR Code Refresh

Fri, 13 Jul 2018 10:30:18 +0000

Google leans more on algorithms for ads as critics highlight risks Google has unveiled a slew of new ad-buying tools that incorporate machine learning, and expanded availability of a utility for running the best text-based search result ads. What will the new ad tools announced Tuesday offer for digital marketers? Reuters Facebook Adds Keyword ‘Snooze’ [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Google’s New Ad Tools, Facebook’s Snoozefest, and LinkedIn’s QR Code Refresh appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

CMWorld Interview: Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy Shares How Story First Marketing Drives Success

Wed, 11 Jul 2018 10:30:21 +0000

While digging through data and market research, it can be easy to get lost in the numbers. But when assessing these insights, what really matters is the stories they tell. This is a key point of emphasis for Gartner, and specifically its Smarter with Gartner content platform, which adds context and substance to trends surfaced [...]

The post CMWorld Interview: Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy Shares How Story First Marketing Drives Success appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

The Power of Social Media Polls: The Drill-Down on 3 Platforms + 5 General Best Practices

Mon, 09 Jul 2018 10:31:29 +0000

The Power of Social Media Polls for Marketing

The Power of Social Media Polls for Marketing

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to 2007.

The world was a different place. Rihanna’s “Umbrella” (ella, ella) dominated the Billboard Charts. Scorsese’s masterpiece The Departed won Best Picture. Facebook was only a year removed from opening its membership to the general public, and Twitter was a fledgling startup, still looking to gain traction.

But even then, online polls were already emerging as an intriguing tool for digital marketers. On this blog, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden penned a post about the relatively nascent tactic, which could be utilized through a modest WordPress plugin.

“If you want to know what your users are thinking,” Lee wrote. “Just ask them.”

It’s a simple premise, and one that hasn’t changed over the past decade, although the tools at our disposal have evolved considerably. Today, audience polls are integrated features on most major social media networks.

As marketers seek new ways to drive engagement and gather data, the allure of social media polls is obvious.

Let’s take a look at how polls work on each platform, what kind of value they can provide, and how to get the most out of them.

The Polling Details

Twitter Polls

Users on Twitter could informally run polls in the platform’s early days — by manually tracking responses, hashtags, or retweets — but the official Twitter polls feature was launched in 2015. This made it easy to create sleek, interactive, customized polls with two (and later up to four) options.

Lee frequently runs polls like this one on Twitter to gauge the opinions of his followers on various subjects:

Lee Odden Poll Example

What Makes Twitter Polls Engaging

Staying in line with the overall appeal of Twitter, polls are extremely easy to participate in — one quick click of the mouse or tap of the mobile screen.

How to Get Twitter Polls Right

Knowing that the platform is built around quick-scrolling and bite-sized content, you’ll want to to ensure these polls are light on text, and eye-catching. Maybe include a couple of emojis, like HootSuite does here:

Hootsuite Poll Example

Instagram Polls

In 2017, Instagram rolled out its own polling convention, which became a part of its Stories feature. Instagram polls are added in the form of interactive stickers with two options that you can drag-and-drop on visual content you’ve created.

As is the nature of the platform, polls will usually pertain to the content of the post in question. (“Which color shirt do you like better?” or – in the example below via the company’s official announcement post – “Which donut should I eat?”)

Example of Instagram Stories Poll

(*Extremely Homer Simpson voice* Mmm, donuts…)

What Makes Instagram Polls Engaging

This is an excellent avenue for quickly gathering feedback around something people can see right in front of them. And you’ll have many options for making them stand out aesthetically.

How to Get Instagram Polls Right

If you have a sizable and engaged Instagram following, you could enlist your audience to help guide a decision (a la M&Ms). Customers might be more attached to what you’re doing if they feel like they played even a small part in directing it.

You may also try using polls for more general topics or market research – Instagram does have an enormous and active user base, after all – but the way it’s set up doesn’t lend itself to such applications as well as the other platforms mentioned here.

Facebook Polls

Very shortly after polls were introduced for Instagram last year, parent company Facebook released its own version for members and page administrators. Like Instagram, it only offers two response fields (presently), but does have some nice features like the ability to include images and gifs. Businesses might consider trying out more robust third-party apps Polls for Pages.

Example of Facebook Polls

What Makes Facebook Polls Engaging

Driving engagement on Facebook, as a publisher, has become very challenging. You likely know this already. Polls can be helpful in this regard.

A study by BuzzSumo found that questions rank as the most engaging types of posts on Facebook. Partially because of this, Neil Patel has argued that “a well-designed Facebook poll is one of the most powerful Facebook marketing tools today’s social media marketers have available to them.”

How to Get Facebook Polls Right

You’re competing with content from friends and family members in highly personalized feeds, so you’ll want a poll that stands out and bears considerable relevance to your audience. Take advantage of the ability to use images or moving graphics for voting options.

While polls can be more impactful than a standard text-based update, your organic reach will still be somewhat limited by Facebook’s suppressive algorithm unless you really catch some viral traction or pay to boost the post.

What About Other Platforms?

As of now, these are the only three social networks with built-in polls. LinkedIn used to have a Group polls feature, but retired it in 2014 (much to the chagrin of B2B marketers). Snapchat and Pinterest have never offered polls.

Best Practices for Social Media Polls

In the sections above we mentioned some distinctions and pointers specific to each platform. But at a higher level, here are a few recommendations for marketers looking to use social media polls.

#1 - Pique Your Audience’s Interest

One thing I really like about the poll features on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is the immediate incentive factor for participants. Voting on a poll allows you to instantly see real-time results. I know there have been plenty of times where I’ve come across one on my feed and clicked because I was very curious to see what the general consensus was.

Keep this irresistibility factor in mind as you create poll questions and response options.

#2 - Use Polls as a Springboard for Content

Let’s be honest: this isn’t exactly a scientific survey method, and the data obtained through social media polls isn’t going to be substantial enough to draw serious conclusions. However, you can still leverage the results in interesting ways.

In May, Search Engine Journal ran the following Twitter poll:

SEJ Poll Example

Then, they used the results (and responses) for an article on the topic. It was, transparently, just a sampling of feedback from random followers, but still made for a good read. Using the poll question as the post title also happens to be a savvy SEO move in this case, since it’s exactly the query a business owner might type into Google.

You can also simply poll your audience to ask earnestly what kind of content they want from you, as Slack* did here:

Slack Poll Example

#3 - Choose a Fitting Platform for Each Poll

Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. Make sure your polls align with them. Instagram and Facebook will only work for A/B type questions, which can be limiting. Twitter provides more of a multi-choice format but you can’t incorporate images or video into the voting options. And of course, each channel has its own distinct audience profile.   

#4 - Think Strategically

In many cases, the objective for a running a poll will simply be to attract attention and boost engagement. Nothing wrong with that. But you can also think bigger and tie it to other goals. For example, you could run a Facebook poll with a trivia question, prompting voters to visit your website and find the answer.

Think big and, when possible, tie your poll to a larger strategy.

#5 - Follow Up on Results

Granted, it doesn’t take a ton of effort to vote in a social media poll, but users are still taking an action and you should make it worth their while in some way. One method is to create content around the tabulations, as mentioned earlier.

But even following up with later posts remarking on the results, or inviting further thoughts, will show that it you’re not just tossing out throwaway questions for the heck of it. It will signal that you’re genuinely engaged with what your audience has to say and that you want to hear more.

What’s Your Poll Position?

Now that you know a little more about social media polls and how they work on each platform, where do you stand? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Let us know below (and, hey, we’d love it if you gave us a follow on Twitter while you’re at it).

TopRank Marketing Social Poll

Interested in finding other ways to increase your social media reach and engagement? Check out these recent posts from our blog:

Disclosure: Slack is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post The Power of Social Media Polls: The Drill-Down on 3 Platforms + 5 General Best Practices appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Google’s Marketing Platform Partners, LinkedIn’s Translations, & Facebook’s Instant Articles Subscription Results

Fri, 06 Jul 2018 10:30:06 +0000

LinkedIn Adds Translation Services In Over 60 Languages

[one-sixth-first][/one-sixth-first][one-sixth][/one-sixth][one-sixth][/one-sixth][one-sixth][/one-sixth][one-sixth][/one-sixth][one-sixth][/one-sixth]

LinkedIn Adds Translation Services In Over 60 Languages

Google announces Google Marketing Platform Partners program
Google has been busy consolidating and refreshing its marketing partner offerings, with individuals, companies, and sales partners on its new approved-training list, combining Google Analytics Certified Partners and DoubleClick Certified Marketing Partners. MarTech Today

[embed]https://youtu.be/la8PrRl7bVw[/embed]

Facebook trials subscription tool to appease Instant Article publishers
On the heels of Facebook's recent subscription Groups announcement, could the news that the social media giant is also testing subscription-based Instant Article signal a shift that digital marketers will need to adjust to? The Drum

Forrester issues first Wave report on Experience Optimization
"The Forrester Wave: Experience Optimization Platforms" report examining the continued consolidation of online testing, behavioral targeting, and recommendation practices in experience optimization, with Adobe garnering top marks. MarTech Today

Facebook starts showing all ads a Page is running
Facebook has introduced a new Info & Ads dashboard that shows all ads run including those on Instagram, Messenger, and partner networks, a move that may simplify certain tasks for some digital marketers. Marketing Land

Unveiling Translations in the LinkedIn Feed: Keep in Touch with Your Global Community
LinkedIn's new “See Translation” feature brings post translation in 60 languages to the service's users, offering interesting audience reach expansion to digital marketers. LinkedIn (client)

Instagram Rolls Out Video Chat, New Camera Effects And Topic Channels
Instagram has released several new features including video messaging, new camera effects, and topic channels on Explore, for users of its Android and iOS apps. How can digital marketers best use the new features? Forbes

July 6, 2018 Artificial Intelligence Statistics Image

Dove introduces a mark indicating its ad images are free of digital manipulation
Unilever's Dove has put out a branding mark meant to signify that an advertising image is free of digital manipulation. Will the move represent a shift the use of such marks in the greater digital marketing universe? AdAge

B2B marketers are ‘generally unclear’ of what AI means, according to research
With 32% of marketers not confident in their knowledge of AI, and 54% only somewhat confident, greater understanding could be a worthwhile goal among B2B marketers. The Drum

Why publishers are ditching viral clips for long-form video series
Some publishers have found greater success with video series than with traditional clips aiming solely for viral popularity. What could a shift to episodic video publishing mean for marketers? Axios

Teens, YouTube and the rise of the micro-influencers
70% of teen YouTube audiences are more likely to be influenced by YouTubers, recent survey data shows. How can savvy marketers utilize these findings in campaigns targeting teens? The Drum

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Tom Fishburne Brand Positioning Cartoon

A lighthearted look at brand positioning, by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

1990, meet 2018: How far does 20MHz of Macintosh IIsi power go today? — Ars Technica

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden — Pubcon Pro 2018 Featured Speaker: Lee Odden — Pubcon
  • Lee Odden — IDMA 2018: Celebrating the best in the industry — Exchange4Media
  • Lee Odden — It takes a Village — Digital Doughnut
  • TopRank Blog — My 10 Biggest Mistakes in 10 Years as an Entrepreneur — Medium

What are your top content marketing news items this week?

Thank you for joining us, and we hope you'll return next week for another round-up of the latest digital 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: Google’s Marketing Platform Partners, LinkedIn’s Translations, & Facebook’s Instant Articles Subscription Results appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Becoming a Better Marketer by Embracing Your Passions Outside the Office

Wed, 04 Jul 2018 10:33:57 +0000

How Our After-Hours Passions Elevate Us as Marketers

How Our After-Hours Passions Elevate Us as Marketers

In the first post I ever wrote for the TopRank Marketing Blog, I reflected on the marketing lessons I’d picked up through my baseball blogging hobby. Helping build an online community at Twins Daily has instilled many important fundamentals that, I feel, make me better at my day job.

I’m always fascinated by this interplay. We spend so much of our time each week alongside our coworkers, but are often unaware of the interests and side hustles that drive them outside of the office. Those very passions can be such integral parts of who we are and how we operate.

More recently, this has been a topic of focus for our friends at LinkedIn*. In April, Jason Miller wrote a piece about following your dreams while staying committed to your career, and in June, Sean Callahan profiled a LinkedIn marketer who moonlights as a DJ.

The subject of Sean’s piece was Ish Verduzco (aka DJ Ishh), who says that spinning the turntables on weekends has helped him learn how to get in tune with online audiences as a social media marketer. Incidentally, Jason and Sean themselves are great examples of this dynamic — Jason is a rock-and-roll photographer whose creativity and energy infuse the content he produces, while Sean is the author of several children’s books with a knack for conveying information clearly and understandably.

These posts from LinkedIn inspired me to learn more about my own colleagues here at the TopRank Marketing office, and how their outside hobbies or passions help shape them professionally. So I asked around:

What activities occupy your time when you’re not at the office, and how do they help make you a more clever, curious, and courageous marketer?

Hopefully their answers will inspire other marketers to fully embrace their own passions, and think about ways in which their personal pursuits can fuel their professional success — or vice versa.

The After-Hours Passions that Elevate Our Team Members' Marketing Skills

Improving Through Improv

Josh NiteJosh Nite, Senior Content Marketing Manager

His jokes and puns are cherished staples during the workday, and Josh puts his sharp wit to good use after it ends by participating in improv shows and competitions. He believes that these comedy performances make him a better marketer for two primary reasons.

“First, they force me to carefully consider words, how they have an effect on people, how powerful they can be. Second, they're performed live in front of an audience, so I can see whether or not I'm making a connection. It really helps me have a mental image of the reader in mind when I'm writing content.”

Making a Habit of Being Helpful

Debbie Friez, Influencer Marketing Strategist

Debbie is very active at her church, Spirit Garage, where she applies her professional skills to help out with marketing functions.

“I serve on the marketing committee, so that has me looking for new ideas,” she says. “I subscribe to a few newsletters and I’m active in Social Media Shepherds, a group of church communicators.”

In turn, Debbie’s community work through church and other endeavors — she picks up garbage at local parks on Earth Day, participates in a book club, and serves cotton candy during street festivals, for example — helps her develop rock-solid relationships with influencers and clients.

Finding Focus on the Fairway

Anne Leuman, Content Strategist

As someone who regularly covers SEO-related topics on the TopRank Marketing Blog, Anne understands the importance of links (she recently wrote about examples of link-worthy content). And on the weekend, she likes to unwind by hitting the links.

“My No. 1 hobby outside of work is golf,” Anne says. “Golf, believe it or not, requires a great amount of imagination. If you can see a shot, you can make the shot. Playing the sport allows me to hone my imagination skills, leading to more creativity and well-thought-out content strategy.”

She also adds that the sport’s individualistic nature helps her focus on self-improvement. Bolstering your score on the golf course is all about looking inward and making the right personal tweaks, which is also true of content creation.

“Similar to working on my golf game,” she starts. “I'll take lessons, ask for advice, or spend hours writing each day to ensure I'm above par.”  

Managing to Make a Difference

Elizabeth Williams, Account Manager

As a mother raising two young children of mixed race, Elizabeth feels strongly about doing her part to create a more accepting and fair environment for individuals of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

“As a marketer sometimes it’s hard to see that direct impact on ‘making a the world a better place’ in your day-to-day. But, it’s something I crave. Having that reason behind what we do inspires us to keep going when we're feeling frustrated or overloaded.”

She continues: “My ‘making the world a better place’ is working toward MLK's dream — for a world where people will not be judged by the color of their skin. In my family, we experience racism nearly every time we're in public, whether it’s big or small.”

And so she commits much of her energy outside of work to advocating for the cause of social justice. A marketer’s understanding of how to engage and influence proves helpful in this regard.

“I love applying my knowledge of digital marketing to my activist communications,” she says.

Making Creativity is the Name of the Game

Patrick Pineda, Motion Designer

If you watched any of the awesome 8-bit videos he whipped up for our Content Marketing Combos series, you might peg Patrick as an avid video game enthusiast. But his real passion is for tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and World of Darkness.

Earlier this year, he collaborated with Anne to create a blog post around content marketing lessons from the realm of D&D, such as the value of originality, the pitfalls of corralling an audience, and the importance of customization — something that is incredibly important and top-of-mind for marketers today.

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

The Rabid Researcher

Lane EllisLane Ellis, Social & Content Marketing Manager

Working remotely from northern Minnesota, Lane conducts plenty of helpful research for the team at TopRank Marketing, and his proclivities in this area are deeply ingrained.

“Since 1994 I've been doing family history research, including several years as one of Duluth's few professional genealogists, which has taught me many research-related lessons that I try to apply to my social media and marketing career,” he explains.

As someone who was using the internet for research before many of us were using it at all, he’s very adept at quickly finding what he’s looking for.

Harnessing Healthy Results Like a Boss

Lee OddenLee Odden, CEO

Employees at TopRank Marketing are accustomed to the occasional week or two where Lee isn’t in the office, given the amount of traveling he does for speaking engagements around the world, but recently we’ve noticed that we’re seeing less of him — literally. The agency cofounder has been on a major health kick over the past several months, and the impact has been visibly evident in his physique.

“I've found diet, cardio and other exercise have direct correlations to goal-setting, discipline, quality of effort, time management, and optimization of marketing performance,” Lee explains.

In particular, he’s sees parallels in the ways success is measured for fitness and marketing. In neither case should vanity be the name of the game.

“I found it interesting not to focus on weight loss, but clothing size, energy level, and quality of life improvements since those are the real goals,” he says. “I think there are lessons there as a marketer in measuring performance. Views, shares and impressions are like sugary candy metrics that give spikes of endorphins, but don't really reflect the real goals of leads, deals, and revenue.”

What Drives You?

At TopRank Marketing, we’re lucky to have a team with diverse interests and hobbies. Working with these folks on a daily basis, it’s easy to see they are keeping their marketing skills sharp through after-hours activities, even if that’s not necessarily the inherent rationale.

Meanwhile, staying busy and focused on other things outside of work helps us stay refreshed and rejuvenated once we arrive each morning. So, I ask you, too: What passions outside of work make you better at your job?

Let us know in the comments section below.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Becoming a Better Marketer by Embracing Your Passions Outside the Office appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

How to Rally Around ROI & Prioritize Your Digital Marketing Efforts in the Face of Budget Cuts

Mon, 02 Jul 2018 10:17:37 +0000

Prioritizing After Marketing Budget Cuts

Prioritizing After Marketing Budget Cuts

Ask any marketer if they’ve ever had to contend with the shrinking or deep cutting of their budgets, odds are you’ll get a deep sigh and a “more than once” response.

Organizations are always looking for efficiencies and ways to tighten their financial belt, and marketing departments are among the first to be placed on the chopping block because it all comes down to ROI—something many modern marketers find hard to prove

In fact, according to a recent report from Demand Gen Report and BrightFunnel, 58% of B2B organizations surveyed said their current ability to measure and analyze marketing performance “needs improvement” or worse.

So, if you’re staring down a budget reduction, don’t panic. This is the time to evaluate and prioritize your efforts so you can revamp your integrated digital marketing strategy to include a tactical mix that will not only refocus your strategy to reach your objectives, but also improve how you measure and achieve ROI.

[bctt tweet="If you’re staring down a #marketing budget reduction, don’t panic. This is the time evaluate, prioritize, and focus. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Here are four key actions you’ll want to take:

#1 - Evaluate your existing data against your goals.

While it may seem obvious, the first step is to evaluate how you’re performing against your objectives; what’s working and what’s not. However, you can’t rely solely on high-level or vanity metrics like overall traffic. In order to really dig into what’s working, you need to map each of your tactics and/or channels to closed business—and total revenue numbers if you can.

Not only will this help you focus on where to revamp and hone your strategy, but also put you in a better position to consistently measure as you move forward. So, when the next budget cut comes along, you can better prove the ROI of your marketing activities and make a stronger case for keeping your budget.

#2 - Narrow your targeting.

Every marketer knows that understanding your audience is key to developing and executing a strategy with impact. But audience characteristics, preferences, and habits—as well as the market you operate within—can change overtime. As a result, you may be wasting precious marketing dollars on the “wrong” people. So, it’s time to redefine and zero-in on who your ideal customer or buyer is and who are most likely to convert.

With the budget and resources you do have, it may be worth investing time and money in a survey or analysis of your existing client or prospects to better understand their preferences and pain points.

This will not only give you a clearer picture of what channels or tactics are working—but which may have the most potential based on who your customer is, where they’re interacting with your brand or other brands, what they’re interested in, and what moves them to a conversation.

[bctt tweet="If you're facing #marketing budget cuts, it may be worth using the resources you do have to analyze your customers and prospects to hone in on their needs, preferences, and paint points. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#3 - Place safe bets if your data is limited.

Effective measurement is a problem that’s plagued marketers for years. As a result, you may not have all the data to inform your decision making. In this case, we’d suggest making some “safe marketing bets” based on tried-and-true tactics.

For example, email marketing. Email marketing is perhaps the oldest digital marketing tactic around, but still one of the most effective. Not only does it deliver helpful information to your clients and prospects, when segmented and constructed correctly, it helps nurture them toward the sale. In fact, three-quarters of companies say email offers “good” or “excellent” ROI.

In addition, SEO and content marketing are consistently rated by marketers as top channels with the best ROI.

That said, be careful not to stake your success on simply following what’s “always” worked. The safe bets you place should be a temporary strategic solution as you work to get better measurement and data practices in place so you can continuously optimize your strategy.

#4 - Invest in efficiency.

Efficiency isn't about doing more in less time, but rather making the most of your time by doing the right things. As the old saying goes: Work smarter, not harder. From our perspective, there’s three core investments to consider:

1. Technology

Whether you want to optimize your workflow or automate time-consuming processes, investing in the right technology for your needs can make a major positive impact on efficiency.

2. Training

Your marketing spend is likely not the only item that took a hit. You may have also needed to cut internal resources. As a result, investing in training for the team you do have is a good play—whether you want someone to expand their skill set or level up his or her existing skills—to help your team work more efficiently and ultimately drive more ROI with less.

3. An agency partnership

Oftentimes, partnering with an agency can help you stretch your budget for maximum ROI. Rather than solely relying on your in-house team for expertise, execution, and strategy—an agency can be a robust extension. You get access to an entire team of digital marketing experts, made up of individuals with a range of skill sets—and often at a lower cost than having the equivalent depth of knowledge as internal hires.

[bctt tweet="Efficiency isn't about doing more in less time, but rather making the most of your time by doing the right things. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Focus on the Opportunity, Not the Loss

Budget cuts are no fun. But they’re not the end of the world. After all, we marketers can be scrappy—and we live to innovate.

So, use recent or near future cuts to redefine your marketing strategy from both a tactical and measurement standpoint, and work to put better measurement in place. Hopefully, this will not only help you avoid bumps in momentum as you deal with less financial resources, but also help you get better ROI data so you can defend against future cuts.  

How can you prove the value of your content marketing efforts to your CMO? Check out our three steps to proving content marketing ROI.

The post How to Rally Around ROI & Prioritize Your Digital Marketing Efforts in the Face of Budget Cuts appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Facebook’s Subscription Groups & Brand Collabs Manager, New URL Tools at Google, & Employee Advocacy Study

Fri, 29 Jun 2018 10:30:33 +0000

Facebook tests ‘subscription Groups’ that charge for exclusive content Facebook has begun testing subscription-based Groups among a select array of users, which now allow Group managers to charge monthly for exclusive content, and which will open up new possibilities to digital marketers when rolled out to all users. TechCrunch Google Search Console URL Inspector Tool [...]

The post Digital Marketing News: Facebook’s Subscription Groups & Brand Collabs Manager, New URL Tools at Google, & Employee Advocacy Study appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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22 Feb 2013 06:12:45 Z

Regrettably, most business professionals aren't using LinkedIn social media marketing to the fullest. People tend to create their business profile, connect with colleagues, and leave it at that, but those who take the bull by the horns can reap many...

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