Content Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:12:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 What Content Marketers Can Learn From an Adept Dungeon Master http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/content-marketing-lessons-dungeons-dragons/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/content-marketing-lessons-dungeons-dragons/#respond Wed, 18 Apr 2018 10:17:37 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24118 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®.

]]>
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®.

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6 Top Marketing Challenges Solved by Influencer Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/marketing-challenges-solved/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/marketing-challenges-solved/#respond Mon, 16 Apr 2018 10:22:10 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24113 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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Marketing Challenges Solved by Influencer Content

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 their marketing and how collaborating with influencers on content help solve each problem.

1. Challenge: Ad Blocking

600 million devices are using ad blocking leading to a loss of $22 billion in ad revenue for publishers (PageFair). If buyers don’t ever see your ads, what chance do you have?

Challenge solved: Contrary to ads, influencers are liked and because people pay attention to the influencers they follow, shared brand messages are far more likely to attract and engage buyers.

When you subscribe to the idea that everyone is influential about something, especially with their friends, co-workers and social connections, this statistic from Nielsen (83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over advertising) becomes very powerful.

Collaborating with influencers on content that the influencers then promote to their subscribing community can become a powerful differentiator for any marketing program.

Of course not all customers use ad blocking and there are incredible opportunities to be realized with sophisticated ad targeting. That’s why when properly executed, influencer content can be leveraged for both organic and paid promotions.

2. Challenge: Information Overload

Consider this: 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years. That’s 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day (IBM). In fact, 74gb of media are sent to the average consumer on an average day (USC/ICTM).

The sheer number of choices faced by consumers and general distrust has turned brand marketing into noise for many customers.

Challenge solved: Influencers are Focused. One of the most compelling reasons a person is influential is because of the specificity in the topics they cover. Because of that specialization, buyers anticipate rather than ignore or feel overwhelmed by what their trusted influencers share.

While some influencers distribute their content on multiple channels, their personal brand focus plus consistency and trust equals a signal that buyers pay attention to.

3. Challenge: Google “Hates” SEO

Search Engine Optimization bloggers have been positing this question for 10+ years. With Google algorithm and platform updates including Florida, Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon, RankBrain, Mobile, Possum, Fred and the thousands of launches, live traffic experiments, side-by-side experiments and over 130,000 search quality tests, it makes you wonder: is this all for improving the customer experience or is some of it to thwart SEO?

Challenge solved: Google actually likes influencer content. Another key ingredient to why someone is influential is their credibility and authority. An influencer’s specific expertise and their ability to provide insights, answers and even research based perspectives all deliver on the Google’s expectation that content be useful.

Beyond influencer content being useful, there’s the practice of making content worth linking to. Influencers typically have a subscribed audience, many of which publish themselves. When influencers publish and promote content, it naturally attracts links.

By optimizing content for search and activating influencers, brands can create opportunities to help customers find trusted content and everybody wins.

4. Challenge: Buyers Don’t Trust Brands

Or ads. This is a hard pill to swallow: 42% of consumers distrust brands and 69% distrust advertising according to a study by (Ipsos Connect).

Challenge solved: Influencers are trusted.  A recent study by Fullscreen and Shareblee via MarketingCharts found that nearly 40% of 18-34-year-olds are more likely to trust what an influencer says about a brand than what the brand says about itself. Additionally, Twitter reports that users trust influencers nearly as much as their friends.

Collaborating with influencers on content can bring authenticity, credibility and trust to that content. When influencers share that content, the effect of their audiences’s trust goes even further.

5. Challenge: Content Doesn’t Scale

According to the annual study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, some of the top content challenges marketers included: 60% producing engaging content, 57% producing content consistently.

Challenge solved: Creator Influencers are experts at creating content. Influencer content creation and storytelling skills come in many forms: blogging, podcasting, video, images, and sometimes interactive.

Brands can extend the media creation skills of their marketing departments by partnering with creators with specialized skills. In addition to skill, creator influencers have an audience to promote the content to.

6. Challenge: Organic Social is Dead

Not only is Facebook organic reach down 52% (MarketingLand) but declarations that organic reach on Facebook is outright dead for brands are being stated by many credible industry publications, including Digiday.

Challenge (partly) solved: Influencers have optimized social popularity. Influencers create the kinds of signals that social network algorithms reward with higher visibility. Influencers understand what resonates with their audience in terms of topic, content type and promotion. Those same influencers also have an active audience that engages with their shared content. This is a powerful combination for triggering social network algorithms to prioritize influencer content in the feed.

Influencer Marketing is no silver bullet. Neither is content marketing or any kind of marketing approach.

But when influencers are intelligently researched, qualified and engaged during the planning phases of a content marketing program, the benefits of the collaboration can include improved content in a variety of ways:

  • Authenticity – Choose influencers that represent your customers and the resulting message will be a lot more genuine to what buyers actually care about.
  • Variety – Including experts beyond your marketing department can generate a greater span of content ideas.
  • Quality – Tapping expertise can boost the quality beyond what marketing department copywriters might be able to produce.
  • Quantity – Engaging a group of influencers on an ongoing basis can boost the volume of content. Factor in repurposing and you’ll create even more content options without increasing spend.
  • Reach – Trusted, credible experts promoting content can reach audiences that are very difficult to connect with through any other way.
  • Trust – The credibility, expertise and authority of influencers that collaborate with a brand over time can grow trust for the brand.

On top of that, there are efficiency benefits. We have implemented influencer content campaigns where influencers have contributed anywhere from 20% to 80% of the content for the entire campaign.

Then there are the effectiveness benefits. For an organic influencer content campaign, achieving a 50% share rate amongst influencers is impressive. We’ve had many programs with over 100% share rate. Why? By communicating effectively, setting expectations and making content that contributors are proud to be a part of.

The reality is that influencer content programs can deliver value across the entire customer lifecycle, not just awareness. That means improved engagement and conversions.

There are many more challenges for marketing than the six above. I didn’t get into martech shock (too much tech), difficulty in finding qualified marketing candidates, measurement challenges or the implications of the lockdown on data represented by GDPR in the EU and recent attention being given Facebook by lawmakers. But addressing the six above should give the vast majority of marketers reading this an advantage.

Establishing relationships with qualified, capable influencers can bring a tremendous amount of value to a company’s content marketing effectiveness. When influencer marketing is thoughtful, ongoing and properly managed, it becomes a force multiplier that is difficult to duplicate.

Are you planning a content marketing program right now? Who are your best influencers? Who are your best employee advocates? Which industry media do you have the attention of? Which of your customers are most likely to advocate for your brand? Do you know if they are influential? Do you know which of your prospective customers are influential?

Answering these questions can open the door to content marketing success for your brand and mutually valuable relationships with the people that actually influence your customers.

 


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Crushing Conclusions: Why Content Marketers Shouldn’t Skip the Ending http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/importance-conclusions-content-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/importance-conclusions-content-marketing/#respond Mon, 09 Apr 2018 10:26:31 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24076 Importance of Conclusions in Content Marketing

Importance of Conclusions in Content Marketing

We marketing writers spend a lot of time crafting a piece of content. In fact, according to Orbit Media’s most recent blogger survey, most writers spend about three and half hours crafting one blog post—which is a one-hour jump from its first report in 2014, highlighting to me the focus on quality over quantity of output.

But let’s be honest, regardless of how long we spend on a piece of content, we have our priorities in terms of how we spend that time. The title, while just a few words, is how we grab audience attention or entice the click. The introduction is how we hook the readers. And, of course, the body is at the heart of it all where we make good on everything we’ve promised in the headline and introduction.

But when it comes to tying it all up with a solid conclusion, I’d argue that many of us aren’t giving that component the thought and care it deserves.

In today’s crowded content landscape and increasing numbness to marketing messages, we can’t afford to leave any opportunity for engagement, connection, and conversions on the table. So for me, conclusions shouldn’t be an afterthought, but rather an essential marketing storytelling element for three main reasons—which is something I detail in this little video shoot I did with TopRank Marketing President Susan Misukanis.

Take a peek at my video debut if you want the Cliff's Notes, but I encourage you to keep reading to get more depth and examples that can inspire the next piece you craft.

3 Reasons Conclusions Deserve Content Marketing Care

#1 – Content consumption is bite-sized.

First of all, it’s no secret that humans have short attention spans. How short? Roughly 8 seconds. And in an age of so much content at our fingertips, so much content that is ready to be consumed—it’s overwhelming. As a result—whether we’re curious about a new trend, researching something we may need to purchase, professional development—we often scan or skim content to get satisfy our need for credible, quality content in the shortest amount of time.

All that said, there are absolutely moments when we’re willing to commit to diving deeper and give something our full attention—which brings me to my next point.

#2 – If we’ve done our jobs and we’ve enticed a reader to the end, we absolutely want to leave them with something of value.

At a minimum, you should be circling back to your main points to give your audience a great summary and then providing them with a next step. Depending on your industry, audience, topic and stage in the funnel, there’s a few different considerations here:

The Engagement Play

Keeping folks on-page and encouraging them to interact with the content. The easiest example here is asking a thought-provoking question that relates to the topic and gives readers a chance to lend their voice.

Here’s an example from my recent post regarding Facebook’s latest algorithm changes and what they meant for influencer marketing.

As you can read, there’s a summary, actionable next steps from a takeaway and other reading standpoint, and then a related question to encourage discussion.

Engaging Conclusion Example for Content Marketers

The Emotional Play

Appealing to your reader’s emotions by leaving them with a little food for thought, inspiration or encouragement is a great way to reinforce every word up until that point and create a more personal connection. From my perspective, this route is especially great for thought leadership pieces.

In my journalism days, one of my go-to tactics here was to end with a compelling quote from one of my sources. I’d bring it all back together and then frost it with an interesting, uplifting, or sometimes a little heart-wrenching quote to really drive it home.

Here’s a subtle example from the *LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog. Titled Play Ball! How Marketers Can Apply the Principles of Spring Training and Experimentation, this baseball-themed post discusses how marketers can use spring training as inspiration for validating and optimizing social ad campaigns. With baseball season kicking off, the metaphor itself has a great hook for appealing to their audience’s interests.

When it comes to the conclusion, the minimum best practices of circling back and providing a summary are in play. And it’s done with the inspirational, “you can do it” sentiment woven throughout. Then the final line—”Step on up to the plate and give it a try”—gives readers “permission” to try a little something new. Of course, there’s a related CTA, too.

Emotion Evoking Conclusion Example for Content Marketers

The Tactical Play

This one is simple and probably one of the most widely used. This is all about giving readers something to do next. You’ve addressed a pain point or issue, you’ve offered insights and some solutions, but now the question is: What do they do next?

I want to be careful to say that this isn’t just a simple call to action. The conclusion should absolutely lead them to believe that the end CTA is worth their time.

Here’s a lovely example from TopRank Marketing’s Anne Leuman. Her recent post on search marketing integration, which featured a philosophical theme, she reinforces her main point and highlights key benefits. When it comes time to deliver the next step, she uses a “but wait there’s more” approach that tells the reader they have more integration possibilities to discover.

Tactical Conclusion Example for Content Marketers

Play Integration

These three plays don’t stand alone. They can be played with and combined to fit your topic, audience, and natural next steps for readers.

In our own Nick Nelson recent post In a World of Diminishing Trust, Data-Driven Marketers Can Turn the Tide, Nick tackles consumer mistrust and what that means for marketers moving forward. He begins with data-mishap story, outlines the trust issue, talks about the solution, and then it’s time for the conclusion where he artfully leverages a combination of the plays above.

His first few paragraphs tug at the emotional and inspirational heartstrings, but also delivers tactical value with next steps and takeaways.

Conclusion Example from Nick Nelson

But his final line really drives it all home:

Final Line of Nick Nelson Conclusion

Finally, the related CTA isn’t just a simple “Read more” line.

CTA in Nick Nelson Conclusion

#3 – Every great story has a great ending.

Last, and certainly not least—and although it may sound a little hokey: Every great story has a great ending. No actually, every great story deserves a great ending. Period.

In Conclusion …

< Wow. No pressure or anything. >

We marketing writers are dedicated to our craft, spending hours to develop click-worthy headlines, compelling hooks and valuable body copy. But let’s not forget that every great story needs to have a great ending.

At a minimum, you should be circling back to your main points to give your audience a thoughtful summary and then providing them with a next step. And depending on your industry, topic, audience, and stage in the funnel, you should blend tactics to leave readers with something of value—whether that be inspiration, food for thought, actionable nexts steps or takeaways, or a little mix of everything.

The bottom line? Take it from the Master of Conclusions, Tom Smykowski:

Don't Skip the Conclusion Meme

Looking for ways to up your writing productivity, while also delivering on quality? Getting started can be the hardest part, so why not start with your conclusion? Get more content productivity hacks to help you take creation from failing to flying high.

What are your thoughts on the importance of conclusions? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Share your thoughts on the subject.

*LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Crushing Conclusions: Why Content Marketers Shouldn’t Skip the Ending appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Importance of Conclusions in Content Marketing

Importance of Conclusions in Content Marketing We marketing writers spend a lot of time crafting a piece of content. In fact, according to Orbit Media’s most recent blogger survey, most writers spend about three and half hours crafting one blog post—which is a one-hour jump from its first report in 2014, highlighting to me the focus on quality over quantity of output. But let’s be honest, regardless of how long we spend on a piece of content, we have our priorities in terms of how we spend that time. The title, while just a few words, is how we grab audience attention or entice the click. The introduction is how we hook the readers. And, of course, the body is at the heart of it all where we make good on everything we’ve promised in the headline and introduction. But when it comes to tying it all up with a solid conclusion, I’d argue that many of us aren’t giving that component the thought and care it deserves. In today’s crowded content landscape and increasing numbness to marketing messages, we can’t afford to leave any opportunity for engagement, connection, and conversions on the table. So for me, conclusions shouldn’t be an afterthought, but rather an essential marketing storytelling element for three main reasons—which is something I detail in this little video shoot I did with TopRank Marketing President Susan Misukanis. Take a peek at my video debut if you want the Cliff's Notes, but I encourage you to keep reading to get more depth and examples that can inspire the next piece you craft.

3 Reasons Conclusions Deserve Content Marketing Care

#1 – Content consumption is bite-sized.

First of all, it’s no secret that humans have short attention spans. How short? Roughly 8 seconds. And in an age of so much content at our fingertips, so much content that is ready to be consumed—it’s overwhelming. As a result—whether we’re curious about a new trend, researching something we may need to purchase, professional development—we often scan or skim content to get satisfy our need for credible, quality content in the shortest amount of time. All that said, there are absolutely moments when we’re willing to commit to diving deeper and give something our full attention—which brings me to my next point.

#2 – If we’ve done our jobs and we’ve enticed a reader to the end, we absolutely want to leave them with something of value.

At a minimum, you should be circling back to your main points to give your audience a great summary and then providing them with a next step. Depending on your industry, audience, topic and stage in the funnel, there’s a few different considerations here: The Engagement Play Keeping folks on-page and encouraging them to interact with the content. The easiest example here is asking a thought-provoking question that relates to the topic and gives readers a chance to lend their voice. Here’s an example from my recent post regarding Facebook’s latest algorithm changes and what they meant for influencer marketing. As you can read, there’s a summary, actionable next steps from a takeaway and other reading standpoint, and then a related question to encourage discussion. Engaging Conclusion Example for Content Marketers The Emotional Play Appealing to your reader’s emotions by leaving them with a little food for thought, inspiration or encouragement is a great way to reinforce every word up until that point and create a more personal connection. From my perspective, this route is especially great for thought leadership pieces. In my journalism days, one of my go-to tactics here was to end with a compelling quote from one of my sources. I’d bring it all back together and then frost it with an interesting, uplifting, or sometimes a little heart-wrenching quote to really drive it home. Here’s a subtle example from the *LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog. Titled Play Ball! How Marketers Can Apply the Principles of Spring Training and Experimentation, this baseball-themed post discusses how marketers can use spring training as inspiration for validating and optimizing social ad campaigns. With baseball season kicking off, the metaphor itself has a great hook for appealing to their audience’s interests. When it comes to the conclusion, the minimum best practices of circling back and providing a summary are in play. And it’s done with the inspirational, “you can do it” sentiment woven throughout. Then the final line—”Step on up to the plate and give it a try”—gives readers “permission” to try a little something new. Of course, there’s a related CTA, too. Emotion Evoking Conclusion Example for Content Marketers The Tactical Play This one is simple and probably one of the most widely used. This is all about giving readers something to do next. You’ve addressed a pain point or issue, you’ve offered insights and some solutions, but now the question is: What do they do next? I want to be careful to say that this isn’t just a simple call to action. The conclusion should absolutely lead them to believe that the end CTA is worth their time. Here’s a lovely example from TopRank Marketing’s Anne Leuman. Her recent post on search marketing integration, which featured a philosophical theme, she reinforces her main point and highlights key benefits. When it comes time to deliver the next step, she uses a “but wait there’s more” approach that tells the reader they have more integration possibilities to discover. Tactical Conclusion Example for Content Marketers Play Integration These three plays don’t stand alone. They can be played with and combined to fit your topic, audience, and natural next steps for readers. In our own Nick Nelson recent post In a World of Diminishing Trust, Data-Driven Marketers Can Turn the Tide, Nick tackles consumer mistrust and what that means for marketers moving forward. He begins with data-mishap story, outlines the trust issue, talks about the solution, and then it’s time for the conclusion where he artfully leverages a combination of the plays above. His first few paragraphs tug at the emotional and inspirational heartstrings, but also delivers tactical value with next steps and takeaways. Conclusion Example from Nick Nelson But his final line really drives it all home: Final Line of Nick Nelson Conclusion Finally, the related CTA isn’t just a simple “Read more” line. CTA in Nick Nelson Conclusion

#3 – Every great story has a great ending.

Last, and certainly not least—and although it may sound a little hokey: Every great story has a great ending. No actually, every great story deserves a great ending. Period.

In Conclusion …

< Wow. No pressure or anything. > We marketing writers are dedicated to our craft, spending hours to develop click-worthy headlines, compelling hooks and valuable body copy. But let’s not forget that every great story needs to have a great ending. At a minimum, you should be circling back to your main points to give your audience a thoughtful summary and then providing them with a next step. And depending on your industry, topic, audience, and stage in the funnel, you should blend tactics to leave readers with something of value—whether that be inspiration, food for thought, actionable nexts steps or takeaways, or a little mix of everything. The bottom line? Take it from the Master of Conclusions, Tom Smykowski: Don't Skip the Conclusion Meme Looking for ways to up your writing productivity, while also delivering on quality? Getting started can be the hardest part, so why not start with your conclusion? Get more content productivity hacks to help you take creation from failing to flying high. What are your thoughts on the importance of conclusions? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Share your thoughts on the subject. *LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Crushing Conclusions: Why Content Marketers Shouldn’t Skip the Ending appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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To Gate, or Not to Gate? Answers to an Age-Old Digital Marketing Question http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/when-not-to-gate-content/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/when-not-to-gate-content/#respond Wed, 04 Apr 2018 10:11:34 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24055 When Not to Gate Your Content

When Not to Gate Your Content

Modern marketers understand that quality, engaging and relevant content is at the core of any integrated digital marketing strategy. After all, in a world where consumers are increasingly self-directed in researching their options to make purchasing decisions, that quality, engaging and relevant content aids their journey and decision-making.

But let’s face it. While marketers want to inform and engage their audience, they ultimately want to generate viable leads to meet their goals and grow their respective businesses. Oftentimes, that means deciding when, where and how to gate certain content assets. In fact, perhaps one of the most common questions we get from our book of clients is: “Should I gate my content?”

The answer? It depends.

It depends on your objectives. It depends on your brand or product’s maturity in the marketplace. It depends on your content ecosystem. It depends on the “content of the content.” And it depends on your lead nurturing capabilities.

As a result, strategic decision-making is crucial, otherwise your content may never see the light of day. With that said, there are several situations where we believe gated content should be left off the table.

#1 -  When you’re looking to build brand awareness.

Simply put, if you’re hoping to get eyeballs on your content and drive traffic and on-page engagement, give your content away “for free.”

If you’re an emerging brand or part of a younger or smaller company, brand awareness is an important step in building your audience. By providing your prospects with great, accessible content throughout the funnel, you can plant seeds and strengthen your perceived value—which can pay off later.

For more established brands, you know that just because you have high visibility and a strong reputation doesn’t mean a focus on brand awareness is no longer necessary. Awareness is still key for growing your audience, staying top of mind or gaining share of voice when a new product or service is released into the wild. So, if you’re creating content with the goal of strengthening awareness at the top and middle of the funnel, leave it ungated.

[bctt tweet="Simply put, if you’re hoping to get eyeballs on your content and drive traffic and on-page engagement, give your content away “for free.” - @Alexis5484 #DigitalMarketing #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - When your brand, product or service is new to market.

This point is particularly important for startups or rising brands in a competitive marketplace.

For those pioneering a new field, you’re likely up against little to no demand for your product or service—meaning you’ve created a solution for a problem your audience doesn’t know they have yet. So, how can you expect someone to “pay” for content if they don’t know anything about your purpose, function or value?

For those rising brands in more established sectors, you’re likely competing with well-known or long-standing brands the same share of voice. And while you may be desperate for leads, providing quality, relevant content for “free” is where you should start in order to stand out.

#3 - When you don’t have quality, ungated content to bolster a gated asset.

When you gate a content asset, you’re signaling to your audience that what you’re offering is of premium value; content that requires a bit of payment to be enjoyed. So at the very least, you need to ask yourself if the content is truly valuable and worthy of that payment.

In addition, you need to make sure that your “free” content is up to par, too. Think of it this way: Your ungated content serves as an appetizer for your audience, allowing them to gauge whether their entree, a gated ask, may be worth it. So, it’s important to ensure you have a strong ecosystem of ungated content to bolster any gated content. It’s as simple as that.

[bctt tweet="It’s important to ensure you have a strong ecosystem of ungated content to bolster any gated content. - @Alexis5484 #DigitalMarketing #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#4 - When you don’t have a thoughtful nurture strategy in place.

We’ve established that all marketers are hungry for leads and gated content helps satisfy that hunger. But once you get those new leads in, do you have a lead nurturing strategy in place to support them?

If your plan only involves a standard “thank you” email and then sending the names off to sales, you’re not ready to gate an asset. You need to put together an automated email nurture first, as well as tracking and testing, to make sure you can optimize and personalize the experience for prospects.

#5 - When you’ve co-created content with influencers.

When you co-create a piece of content or asset with influencers, you want them to be proud of the finished product and ultimately share it with their followings. However, in our experience, if that content is behind a wall they’ll be far less likely to promote it.

Why? For a couple reasons:

  1. If your influencer partnerships were unpaid, some may feel uncomfortable with you “charging” for their content and expertise—especially if it comes as a surprise at launch. Or they may feel like they deserve further compensation, which you probably haven’t budgeted for.
  2. Your influencers have more skin in the game if your content is gated. Think about it. If they’re promoting a gated asset to their followings, they’re sending the signal that this content is premium. If at the end of the day they don’t feel it’s worthy of payment, they may not share.

Now, there is a slight caveat to this. If you’ve developed an integrated influencer content campaign with multiple content types, a gated asset may be mixed in there. However, something needs to be left ungated not only to demonstrate value to your target audience, but also to make it easy for influencers to share.

Gate With Care

Gated content absolutely has a place in the digital marketing mix. But you need to be thoughtful and strategic when choosing which assets to gate—otherwise you run the risk of investing time and resources into content that stays mostly hidden.

So, as you ponder whether to gate or not to gate, consider your objectives, market position and industry, current content ecosystem, nurture strategy, and influencer partners. This will help you see the bigger picture, while also enabling you to align your objectives and expectations.

Looking for a way to build and bolster your content marketing strategy? Check out these seven steps for documenting your strategy.

What other factors do you consider when choosing to gate an asset? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The post To Gate, or Not to Gate? Answers to an Age-Old Digital Marketing Question appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
When Not to Gate Your Content

When Not to Gate Your Content Modern marketers understand that quality, engaging and relevant content is at the core of any integrated digital marketing strategy. After all, in a world where consumers are increasingly self-directed in researching their options to make purchasing decisions, that quality, engaging and relevant content aids their journey and decision-making. But let’s face it. While marketers want to inform and engage their audience, they ultimately want to generate viable leads to meet their goals and grow their respective businesses. Oftentimes, that means deciding when, where and how to gate certain content assets. In fact, perhaps one of the most common questions we get from our book of clients is: “Should I gate my content?” The answer? It depends. It depends on your objectives. It depends on your brand or product’s maturity in the marketplace. It depends on your content ecosystem. It depends on the “content of the content.” And it depends on your lead nurturing capabilities. As a result, strategic decision-making is crucial, otherwise your content may never see the light of day. With that said, there are several situations where we believe gated content should be left off the table.

#1 -  When you’re looking to build brand awareness.

Simply put, if you’re hoping to get eyeballs on your content and drive traffic and on-page engagement, give your content away “for free.” If you’re an emerging brand or part of a younger or smaller company, brand awareness is an important step in building your audience. By providing your prospects with great, accessible content throughout the funnel, you can plant seeds and strengthen your perceived value—which can pay off later. For more established brands, you know that just because you have high visibility and a strong reputation doesn’t mean a focus on brand awareness is no longer necessary. Awareness is still key for growing your audience, staying top of mind or gaining share of voice when a new product or service is released into the wild. So, if you’re creating content with the goal of strengthening awareness at the top and middle of the funnel, leave it ungated. [bctt tweet="Simply put, if you’re hoping to get eyeballs on your content and drive traffic and on-page engagement, give your content away “for free.” - @Alexis5484 #DigitalMarketing #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - When your brand, product or service is new to market.

This point is particularly important for startups or rising brands in a competitive marketplace. For those pioneering a new field, you’re likely up against little to no demand for your product or service—meaning you’ve created a solution for a problem your audience doesn’t know they have yet. So, how can you expect someone to “pay” for content if they don’t know anything about your purpose, function or value? For those rising brands in more established sectors, you’re likely competing with well-known or long-standing brands the same share of voice. And while you may be desperate for leads, providing quality, relevant content for “free” is where you should start in order to stand out.

#3 - When you don’t have quality, ungated content to bolster a gated asset.

When you gate a content asset, you’re signaling to your audience that what you’re offering is of premium value; content that requires a bit of payment to be enjoyed. So at the very least, you need to ask yourself if the content is truly valuable and worthy of that payment. In addition, you need to make sure that your “free” content is up to par, too. Think of it this way: Your ungated content serves as an appetizer for your audience, allowing them to gauge whether their entree, a gated ask, may be worth it. So, it’s important to ensure you have a strong ecosystem of ungated content to bolster any gated content. It’s as simple as that. [bctt tweet="It’s important to ensure you have a strong ecosystem of ungated content to bolster any gated content. - @Alexis5484 #DigitalMarketing #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#4 - When you don’t have a thoughtful nurture strategy in place.

We’ve established that all marketers are hungry for leads and gated content helps satisfy that hunger. But once you get those new leads in, do you have a lead nurturing strategy in place to support them? If your plan only involves a standard “thank you” email and then sending the names off to sales, you’re not ready to gate an asset. You need to put together an automated email nurture first, as well as tracking and testing, to make sure you can optimize and personalize the experience for prospects.

#5 - When you’ve co-created content with influencers.

When you co-create a piece of content or asset with influencers, you want them to be proud of the finished product and ultimately share it with their followings. However, in our experience, if that content is behind a wall they’ll be far less likely to promote it. Why? For a couple reasons:
  1. If your influencer partnerships were unpaid, some may feel uncomfortable with you “charging” for their content and expertise—especially if it comes as a surprise at launch. Or they may feel like they deserve further compensation, which you probably haven’t budgeted for.
  2. Your influencers have more skin in the game if your content is gated. Think about it. If they’re promoting a gated asset to their followings, they’re sending the signal that this content is premium. If at the end of the day they don’t feel it’s worthy of payment, they may not share.
Now, there is a slight caveat to this. If you’ve developed an integrated influencer content campaign with multiple content types, a gated asset may be mixed in there. However, something needs to be left ungated not only to demonstrate value to your target audience, but also to make it easy for influencers to share.

Gate With Care

Gated content absolutely has a place in the digital marketing mix. But you need to be thoughtful and strategic when choosing which assets to gate—otherwise you run the risk of investing time and resources into content that stays mostly hidden. So, as you ponder whether to gate or not to gate, consider your objectives, market position and industry, current content ecosystem, nurture strategy, and influencer partners. This will help you see the bigger picture, while also enabling you to align your objectives and expectations. Looking for a way to build and bolster your content marketing strategy? Check out these seven steps for documenting your strategy. What other factors do you consider when choosing to gate an asset? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

The post To Gate, or Not to Gate? Answers to an Age-Old Digital Marketing Question appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Better Together: Why Your Content Marketing Campaigns & Always-On Programs Should Work in Harmony http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/24030/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/24030/#respond Mon, 26 Mar 2018 10:30:12 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24030 Campaigns + Always-On Strategy = Content Marketing Harmony

Campaigns + Always-On Strategy = Content Marketing Harmony

Regardless of industry or niche, nearly all B2B marketers—91% to be exact—are focused on leveraging content marketing to reach, resonate and inspire audience action. But budget and resource constraints and lofty lead generation goals—not to mention increasing buyer numbness to marketing messages and the extinction of organic visibility on social media—means you have to get scrappy when designing a content marketing strategy that drives toward business goals.

Oftentimes, this leads brands and marketers to focus on content marketing campaigns to quickly generate buzz, spike awareness and foster audience engagement. However, in our experience, campaigns alone will not help you reach your short- and long-term marketing goals.

Why? They’re simply not sustainable. Campaigns create spikes in activity that can quickly die out if there’s not a significant investment in ongoing promotion—specifically paid promotion.

But does that mean it’s time to drop campaigns from your marketing mix? Absolutely not. Quite the opposite, actually.

Campaigns should be intertwined with an overall, always-on strategy to create marketing harmony and get the ultimate value out of all your efforts. Below I highlight a few reasons why.

#1 – Integration enhances your nurturing capabilities.

Content marketing aims to create multiple touchpoints with your audience whenever and wherever they’re searching—and wherever they may be in the funnel.

Campaigns can absolutely drive valuable spikes in traffic, engagement, or conversions, as well as help you target specific audiences or verticals. But you need to be able to nurture the audience you’ve built beyond the confines of the campaign—otherwise you’re not only wasting your budget, but also leaving longer-term value and opportunity on the table.

By building campaigns as part of your overall strategy, you can nurture your audience or leads more effectively, as well as enhance the buyer’s journey.

[bctt tweet="By building campaigns as part of your overall #ContentMarketingStrategy, you can nurture your audience or leads more effectively, as well as enhance the journey. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#2 – Integration helps you get the most out of your campaigns.

Campaigns are often used for promoting a new idea or product, or generating or leveraging the buzz around an industry conference, event or hot topic. But once the newness wears off or the event passes, your campaign can become stale if you fail to iterate on the content or neglected to consider how it could enhance your other efforts.

Regardless of how successful your campaign is, your work shouldn’t stop once you’ve released everything into the wild. You want the momentum to continue so you should be continually optimizing your campaign for maximum performance and longevity.

But campaign content is also the perfect repurposing candidate, helping fill your editorial calendar, find opportunities for extending the conversation, and enable you to experiment with other content forms—all while helping you keep the people, trends or topics covered in the campaign top-of-mind.

The bottom line here is that you can get more out of your campaign by thinking strategically about how the content can be refined and used again and again to drive continued success.

[bctt tweet="You can get more out of your #contentmarketing campaign by thinking strategically about how content can be refined and used again and again to drive continued success. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#3 – Integration helps you build stronger influencer relationships.

If you’re looking to add influencers to your marketing mix, a campaign featuring influencer talents and perspectives can be a great starting point. Oftentimes, an influencer campaign will feature multiple experts and content types, but it’s anchored by a big and snazzy asset—which not only gets influencers excited about what they co-created with you, but for future opportunities, too.

But the key to influencer marketing success is building lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial—not just reaching out when you have a need. Baking ongoing influencer relations into your overall content marketing strategy will help you focus on building those relationships, while also boosting your campaign efforts.

[bctt tweet="Baking ongoing #InfluencerRelations into your overall #ContentMarketingStrategy will help you focus on building those relationships, while also boosting your campaign efforts. - Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#4 – Integration helps you create a steady drumbeat.

There’s no denying that campaigns are invaluable for generating buzz and excitement, but once the campaign has run its course that excitement and relevance will fade. By coupling your always-on program with campaigns, you have the opportunity to create a steady drumbeat of awareness and thought leadership to drive traffic, engagement, and leads, while also adding pops of variety to reinforce your brand and give your audience a little something special.

[bctt tweet="By coupling your always-on #ContentMarketing program with campaigns, you have the opportunity to create a steady drumbeat of awareness & thoughtleadership. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Strike Balance & Harmony

At the end of the day, there’s no doubt that campaigns can be wildly effective and successful. However, those results aren’t sustainable if there isn’t a larger integrated strategy backing it up. So, when it comes to developing your next campaign, think critically about how it can enhance within your overall content marketing strategy, how you can sustainably promote and repurpose content, and create harmony to get the most bang for your buck.

Looking for more B2B content marketing insights or inspiration to help you recalibrate your strategy, check out this roundup of six B2B brands using content marketing to fuel their business.

The post Better Together: Why Your Content Marketing Campaigns & Always-On Programs Should Work in Harmony appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
Campaigns + Always-On Strategy = Content Marketing Harmony

Campaigns + Always-On Strategy = Content Marketing Harmony Regardless of industry or niche, nearly all B2B marketers—91% to be exact—are focused on leveraging content marketing to reach, resonate and inspire audience action. But budget and resource constraints and lofty lead generation goals—not to mention increasing buyer numbness to marketing messages and the extinction of organic visibility on social media—means you have to get scrappy when designing a content marketing strategy that drives toward business goals. Oftentimes, this leads brands and marketers to focus on content marketing campaigns to quickly generate buzz, spike awareness and foster audience engagement. However, in our experience, campaigns alone will not help you reach your short- and long-term marketing goals. Why? They’re simply not sustainable. Campaigns create spikes in activity that can quickly die out if there’s not a significant investment in ongoing promotion—specifically paid promotion. But does that mean it’s time to drop campaigns from your marketing mix? Absolutely not. Quite the opposite, actually. Campaigns should be intertwined with an overall, always-on strategy to create marketing harmony and get the ultimate value out of all your efforts. Below I highlight a few reasons why.

#1 – Integration enhances your nurturing capabilities.

Content marketing aims to create multiple touchpoints with your audience whenever and wherever they’re searching—and wherever they may be in the funnel. Campaigns can absolutely drive valuable spikes in traffic, engagement, or conversions, as well as help you target specific audiences or verticals. But you need to be able to nurture the audience you’ve built beyond the confines of the campaign—otherwise you’re not only wasting your budget, but also leaving longer-term value and opportunity on the table. By building campaigns as part of your overall strategy, you can nurture your audience or leads more effectively, as well as enhance the buyer’s journey. [bctt tweet="By building campaigns as part of your overall #ContentMarketingStrategy, you can nurture your audience or leads more effectively, as well as enhance the journey. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#2 – Integration helps you get the most out of your campaigns.

Campaigns are often used for promoting a new idea or product, or generating or leveraging the buzz around an industry conference, event or hot topic. But once the newness wears off or the event passes, your campaign can become stale if you fail to iterate on the content or neglected to consider how it could enhance your other efforts. Regardless of how successful your campaign is, your work shouldn’t stop once you’ve released everything into the wild. You want the momentum to continue so you should be continually optimizing your campaign for maximum performance and longevity. But campaign content is also the perfect repurposing candidate, helping fill your editorial calendar, find opportunities for extending the conversation, and enable you to experiment with other content forms—all while helping you keep the people, trends or topics covered in the campaign top-of-mind. The bottom line here is that you can get more out of your campaign by thinking strategically about how the content can be refined and used again and again to drive continued success. [bctt tweet="You can get more out of your #contentmarketing campaign by thinking strategically about how content can be refined and used again and again to drive continued success. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#3 – Integration helps you build stronger influencer relationships.

If you’re looking to add influencers to your marketing mix, a campaign featuring influencer talents and perspectives can be a great starting point. Oftentimes, an influencer campaign will feature multiple experts and content types, but it’s anchored by a big and snazzy asset—which not only gets influencers excited about what they co-created with you, but for future opportunities, too. But the key to influencer marketing success is building lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial—not just reaching out when you have a need. Baking ongoing influencer relations into your overall content marketing strategy will help you focus on building those relationships, while also boosting your campaign efforts. [bctt tweet="Baking ongoing #InfluencerRelations into your overall #ContentMarketingStrategy will help you focus on building those relationships, while also boosting your campaign efforts. - Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

#4 – Integration helps you create a steady drumbeat.

There’s no denying that campaigns are invaluable for generating buzz and excitement, but once the campaign has run its course that excitement and relevance will fade. By coupling your always-on program with campaigns, you have the opportunity to create a steady drumbeat of awareness and thought leadership to drive traffic, engagement, and leads, while also adding pops of variety to reinforce your brand and give your audience a little something special. [bctt tweet="By coupling your always-on #ContentMarketing program with campaigns, you have the opportunity to create a steady drumbeat of awareness & thoughtleadership. - @Alexis5484" username="toprank"]

Strike Balance & Harmony

At the end of the day, there’s no doubt that campaigns can be wildly effective and successful. However, those results aren’t sustainable if there isn’t a larger integrated strategy backing it up. So, when it comes to developing your next campaign, think critically about how it can enhance within your overall content marketing strategy, how you can sustainably promote and repurpose content, and create harmony to get the most bang for your buck. Looking for more B2B content marketing insights or inspiration to help you recalibrate your strategy, check out this roundup of six B2B brands using content marketing to fuel their business.

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3 Reasons B2B Marketers Need Optimized & Influencer Activated Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/b2b-content-seo-influence/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/b2b-content-seo-influence/#respond Mon, 19 Mar 2018 10:12:15 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23997 We’ve all read the headlines about the death of organic social media and BuzzSumo’s recent report on the huge drop in social sharing reinforces the news that the free for all days of social media are coming to a close. Add to that the distrust of branded content and advertising and it’s easy to see [...]

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B2B content optimized influencer activated

We’ve all read the headlines about the death of organic social media and BuzzSumo’s recent report on the huge drop in social sharing reinforces the news that the free for all days of social media are coming to a close. Add to that the distrust of branded content and advertising and it’s easy to see that marketers need to rethink their approach.

If buyers are not engaging with brand social media and content, then where is their attention?

This is not a new question and the way we’ve been finding the answer is through insights about buyer preferences for solutions content: discovery, consumption and action.

The Customer Information Journey. Buyers pulling themselves through the majority of the research process for finding solutions do so with content. But where do they discover that content? What are their preferences for content types, topics and platforms for consumption? What sources do they trust? Of equal importance is what signals of credibility produce the confidence to inspire action within that content?

Customer Empathy. As B2B marketers are faced with an ever growing list of demands for content and channels, empathy with the customer experience is more important now than ever. What’s also important are the solutions for attracting, engaging and inspiring action that actually work.

Optimized And Influencer Activated Content. At TopRank Marketing we are fortunate to work with an innovative team and brave clients that trust our advice on how to optimize B2B buyer experiences. By leveraging integrated SEO, Content and Influencer programs, we’ve been able to achieve marketing performance results like 500% more leads and generating 22% of all sales pipeline revenue for the year tied to a single integrated content program.

To help marketers make the shift from dead end social media and brand-centric content that buyers don’t trust, here are 3 reasons why now is the time for B2B brands to capitalize on content optimized for search and influence:

1. Keyword Topics are King:

Customers ignoring social and brand content means they’re paying attention to something else. It comes down to trust and credibility. At every stage of the buying cycle from awareness to consideration to purchase, buyers use search engines to find solution content.

With virtually every B2B marketer on the content marketing bandwagon, many marketers are so focused on creating content they’re not allocating much more than an afterthought of paid social and ads to content promotion.

With content optimized for the solutions information and keywords that buyers are looking for, B2B brands can be useful at the very moment of need. That kind of credibility is what drives confidence, engagement and action.

The challenge: Is your content optimized for specific solutions keywords / topics? Have you done the homework to find out if those are the keywords buyers are using? That are in demand? Are you creating topical hub and spoke content for focused internal linking that drives organic search visibility? Is your content “the best answer” for what customers are looking for?

2. Influence is Queen:

B2B marketing industry research shows buyers trust peers and experts more than advertising. Whether it’s a question to an expert in a forum or reading authoritative advice in an industry publication, B2B buyers seek useful information from credible sources.

B2B brands are still behind when it comes to engaging influencers to add expertise and credibility to content. Our research with Traackr and Altimeter found that only 11% of B2B companies have ongoing influencer programs vs. 48% of B2C companies. B2B content without influencer contributions is like eating a baked potato plain. Boring! Including influencer contributions to B2B content is like adding your favorite toppings (salt, butter or sour cream) to that potato.

The challenge: Who are your brand’s influencers? Who is actively evangelizing your products or services? Which influencers could really make a difference for your marketing if they were associated with your brand? What are you doing to build quality, ongoing relationships with industry experts?

3. Activate Influencers & Optimize for Search:

When content programs leverage keyword and topic research to optimize content and use those same topics to help identify credible industry experts to contribute to that optimized content, it creates information that is both trusted and credible.

Many B2B brands do optimize their content for customer focused keywords. And others are moving from experimentation to implementing ongoing influencer programs. B2B brands that integrate both SEO and influence into their content marketing create a compelling opportunity to be found when it matters most and to be trusted when it matters more.

The challenge: Are you leveraging your keyword research for SEO to also find influencers that are relevant for the same topics? Are you engaging those influencers to co-create content on those topics? Are you inspiring the influencers to publish keyword rich content on their websites linking back to your brand? Are those influencers also engaged for earned media in industry publications and blogs on target topics with links back to your brand?

With an understanding of keyword demand, B2B marketers can tap into the opportunity to be the best answer for buyers with content at the very moment of need. Even better is that influencer contributions to that optimized content will give it the credibility and engagement needed to inspire action.

Here are a few steps to get started with an Optimized and Influencer Activated Content Marketing Program:

  1. Identify top, relevant search keywords
  2. Create hub and spoke content architecture (big topic & derivatives)
  3. Map keywords to to content
  4. Keyword optimize content + links
  5. Leverage keywords to identify & recruit relevant influencers
  6. Ask influencers keyword rich questions
  7. Incorporate influencer contributions in mapped content
  8. Encourage influencer promotion and linking to content
  9. Implement media and blogger relations using influencer content
  10. Repurpose content according to best performing keywords/influencers

You can go a lot deeper than this and there are a number of sub-steps, but this list should provide a good overview. Of course we specialize in B2B programs that integrate SEO, content and influencers, so feel free to check out our influencer content marketing case studies for inspiration.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2018. | 3 Reasons B2B Marketers Need Optimized & Influencer Activated Content | http://www.toprankblog.com

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4 Integrated Content Marketing Insights From the Trenches of Online Dating http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/integrated-content-marketing-insights/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/integrated-content-marketing-insights/#respond Mon, 12 Mar 2018 10:30:06 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23960 Left. Left. Left. Right. Left. No, this is not an army drill. These are the swiping habits I’ve picked up from my time online dating. Done in a split second, I can swipe faster than most people can snap their fingers. If you’ve ever dabbled with dating apps or online dating, you know that these [...]

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Left. Left. Left. Right. Left. No, this is not an army drill. These are the swiping habits I’ve picked up from my time online dating. Done in a split second, I can swipe faster than most people can snap their fingers. If you’ve ever dabbled with dating apps or online dating, you know that these snap judgements start to become second nature.

With the average human attention span lasting just 8.25 seconds, there’s something to be said about those snap judgements. As a marketing copywriter who’s working day in and day out to woo my audience with clever prose and charming insights, it’s my job to make a great first impression on my audience. If I fail, they’re going to move on to something (or someone) else. And I don’t want my audience dating around — I’m after that exclusive kind of relationship.

However, simply writing great content won’t get the job done. You need to have multiple tactics in play from SEO to social and beyond to really woo your audience whenever and wherever they are. It’s why our own client programs at TopRank Marketing have an integrated content marketing strategy driving them. Content, while a key component, is only a piece of our formula for fueling results.

To help you elevate your content marketing efforts to “swipe-right” status and spark instant chemistry with your audience, here are a few of my tips inspired by my time on the front lines.

#1 – Looks are everything, which means visual and visually appealing content is an imperative.

In the app and online dating world, looks are everything when it comes to making a first impression. Profile pictures are your first glimpse into who your dating prospects are, and the more interesting and compelling, the more likely it is that I’ll stop and give the full profile my time. And, as you may have already guessed, the same can be said for your content when it comes to visual appeal.

If visual content isn’t a key component of your content marketing mix — from native or produced video on social to the actual structure of your content — it probably won’t do much to stop scrolling thumbs from passing over you. What kind of visual content am I talking about? A header image should always be included, but in today’s digital marketing landscape video, infographics, charts, tables, and even special formatting should be considered. Bulleted lists, article structure, broken up paragraphs, and other formatting elements give readers the impression that your content is easy to digest. A wall of text is a huge turnoff.

For images that really stand out, avoid using common stock photography — odds are, someone else has already used it for a similar topic, which rings a little too close to catfishing for my taste. Instead, go for sources that other brands avoid like Flickr’s creative commons, make your own custom image in Canva, or get out your smartphone and snap your own pic. Even better, if you have an in-house designer, take advantage of their talents to create something custom.

 

#2 – Your average pick-up line isn’t going to cut it on social media.

Nothing is more annoying than thinking you’ve found a good candidate only to find out their bio has a solitary emoji in it (this really happened to me, by the way). That does nothing to pull me in. Instead, it makes me immediately want to swipe left. (Is the thumbs up saying they’re a good person? Saying I’ll have a good time with them? Letting me know that they will only communicate in emojis? What does it mean?!)

Whether your audience enjoys longer form content or want you to keep it short and sweet, organic visibility is next to zero on Facebook these days, and Twitter and LinkedIn feeds move fast and have their own ways of prioritizing content.

At the most basic level, this means that perceived value, engaging messaging and visuals, proper hashtag usage, and authenticity are non-negotiables. Next, this means that paid social promotion is a new norm for achieving reach. And finally, influencers can provide a killer hook to capture attention and inspire action.

#3 – Cease and desist all SEO catfishing.

When it comes to online or app dating, catfishing is always a risk — which adds a level of skepticism in the minds of any single looking for love. If someone has a profile picture I’ve seen associated with a different name, comes across as fake, or is just crazy out of my league, I’m definitely not swiping right in an effort to avoid a catfish.

When it comes to infusing SEO into your content, the days of prioritizing the search engine above your audience are long gone. Not only are old-school tactics like keyword stuffing ineffective for enticing or accurate read, you’re also just asking for search engines to put a permanent swipe-left on all your content.

In addition, clickbait title tags and meta descriptions need to go (This goes for any social promotion, too). Simply put, you need to be walk the line of honesty and intrigue with your audience, or else you’re no better than a catfish and you’re audience will bounce.

A great example of transparency and piquing interest comes from fellow TopRank Marketing employee Joshua Nite. He’s the king of injecting humor into his writing, which translates into his title meta content to pull people in from search (see picture below). Not only are his descriptions funny, but they’re also accurate to what’s on the page. And it works, too, because his posts have some of our highest organic traffic. In fact, his post, 20 Jokes Only a Marketer Could Love, had an average CTR of 11.42% in SERPs over the last 90 days.

#4 – Know your type to find perfect matches with digital advertising.

If someone’s a gym junkie, I’m swiping left. If someone’s a big football fan, I’m swiping right. Why is this? One’s my type and one isn’t. And knowing my type, I can widdle down my options and find a better match than if I was just playing a guessing game. If I give my own profile the same treatment, I can expect I am attracting a like-minded person.

Understanding who I want to attract and who I don’t, ensures that I am only receiving quality matches and gives me ammo to reach out to them with. This same practice should be applied to your paid promotion where you can target specific audience segments with customized messages.

Before launching a digital advertising, you should know the audience segments you want to target using their job title, company size, age, location, values, and interests using your website analytics service. And if you have a Facebook Pixel on your site, you can discover even more helpful information about your audience and how to target them. Once those segments are defined, you can use solutions like LinkedIn Campaign Manager or Facebook Ads to target those individuals with personalized posts that are more relevant to them. Through targeted posts, you can feel confident that you’re attracting the right audience.

 

Entice the “Swipe”

When it comes to reaching, resonating, and captivating your audience, you know simply publishing a good piece of content isn’t enough. Like creating swipe-right-worthy profile, you need to go beyond a simple photo and one-sentence bio if you want to attract well-matched prospect.

Integrating a mix of interconnected tactics such as compelling visual content and content infrastructure, honest and intriguing SEO, smooth social promotion, and digital advertising that hones in on your perfect match, are key for enticing your audience.

Once you’ve gotten the “swipe,” what comes next? Captivate them with good conversation (aka: get them to stick around for all 800+ words.). For your best chance at retaining your audience, check out these pointers for consistently creating quality, engaging content.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2018. | 4 Integrated Content Marketing Insights From the Trenches of Online Dating | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Content Marketers, This Is Not a Drill: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/content-marketers-buzzsumo-report/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/content-marketers-buzzsumo-report/#respond Wed, 07 Mar 2018 11:30:32 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23878

Content Marketing Takeaways from BuzzSumo's Content Trends Report

AWWOOOOGA! AWOOOOGA!

Content marketers, there is a content marketing emergency happening right now. This is not a drill. Please gather your belongings and exit the building in an orderly fashion. Go to your predetermined meeting spots to verify that your co-workers are safe, and start making a plan for the future.

I’m not naturally an alarmist. But there’s blood in the water. And smoke on the water. And fire in the sky. BuzzSumo just published their Content Trends for 2018 and the results aren’t pretty. After analyzing 100 million pieces of content for social sharing, social traffic referrals, and backlinks, the team has one clear takeaway: What most content marketers are doing is no longer working.

"The key takeaway from our research is that it is much harder to drive referral traffic from social networks than it used to be. Social sharing has halved over the last three years and organic reach has fallen, particularly on Facebook," BuzzSumo's Steve Rayson told us. "To be in the top 5 percent of shared content you needed just 343 shares in 2017. At the same time, content competition continues to increase with an ever increasing number of articles being published each week."

So, do we assume crash position and wait for the inevitable?

Heck no! Content marketing isn’t dying; it’s evolving. We can evolve our tactics and strategy to recapture our audience’s attention. Those who hear the alarm and take action will thrive, while those who keep snoozing will go down with the ship. As Rayson told us:

"The lesson for content marketers is that you must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social and expect people to find it."

[bctt tweet="You must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social & expect people to find it. - @steverayson #ContentMarketingTrends" username="toprank"]

Here’s our look at some key findings from the report, and what smart marketers will do about them.

5 Content Marketing Alarm Bells

#1 - Shares Are on the Decline

The Alarm: The median number of shares on content has declined by half since 2015. There has also been a sharp decline in viral posts with hundreds of thousands of shares, and in the effectiveness of “clickbait”-style content.

What You Can Do:. Instead of going after huge share counts, we should focus on getting shares from — you guessed it — influencers who have a relevant audience! Influencer marketing makes sure your content gets in front of the right people, and more than 8 of them at a time. Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts.

[bctt tweet="Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Facebook Is Just Not that Into You

The Alarm: Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but organic reach on Facebook has dramatically diminished in the past year and a half. Facebook shows no sign of reversing the trend, either. Quite the opposite; their stated goal is to have fewer (unpaid) brand messages in people’s crowded news feeds.

What You Can Do: First, start thinking of Facebook as a pay-to-play platform and adjust budget and expectations accordingly. This is also a good time to evaluate how much of your audience is actually on Facebook and actively engaging with content. The report also shows that LinkedIn* likes and shares are up more than 60% from last year — which means LinkedIn may be a better place to focus your attention.

#3 - Search Beats Social for Traffic Referrals

The Alarm: At the end of 2015, Facebook referral traffic finally rose above Google referral traffic. But Facebook’s dominance was short-lived. Now, Facebook is steadily trending down as Google continues to rise.

Graph showing social media shares versus google traffic

What happened? Google continued to get smarter about serving up relevant content, as Facebook continued to choke organic traffic from brands.

What You Can Do: The amplification model of “post on social media and ask people to click through” has been obsolete for a while now. Instead, focus on building your search equity with "best answer content" that is optimized for human beings. The more your content captures attention — page views, time on page, low bounce rate — the more search engines will serve you up at the top of the SERPs.

#4 - Backlinks Are Hard to Earn

The Alarm: As we refocus attention on search over social, we have to consider backlinks. Links to your site from reputable 3rd-party sources can be a significant ranking factor. Unfortunately, most content earns zero backlinks — 70% have no third-party links.

What You Can Do: The majority of content that attracts backlinks is high-quality research or reference content from authoritative sources. Work on building your library of stellar content, optimize it for SEO, and you can begin earning backlinks. In the meantime, your great content will help with search visibility even without the linkbuilding.

#5 - There’s More Content and Fewer People Reading It

The Alarm: Here’s the heart of the matter, the alarm bell to end all alarm bells. Content creation continues to climb, while content consumption declines. We have reached peak content. These two graphs, of content created versus pageviews on WordPress.com, say it all:

Graph showing number of wordpress posts increasing over time

Graph showing decline in views on WordPress

Notice while the volume of content rises, pageviews peaked somewhere around March of last year and are steadily declining.

What You Can Do: There are three ways you can combat content shock:

  1. Publish higher-value content at a slower cadence. Take time to deliver authoritative research or reference works rather than lighter, more shallow content.
  2. Repurpose content that drove pageviews in the past. Combine shorter posts into one big post, refresh the stats and links, and re-publish. Get the maximum equity from your existing content before you create new stuff.
  3. Capture your audience. When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. That way, you have a built-in audience not dependent on social media algorithms or search engine whims. And given how email marketing is still going gangbusters, you have a much better channel for reaching them.

[bctt tweet="When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Sound the All Clear

The way people consume content is constantly changing. Your content marketing tactics should be just as flexible. As the BuzzSumo report shows, the marketers who hang onto obsolete methods are losing audience now, and will continue to lose over time.

Interestingly, the “new” most effective tactics are those that have been steadily working the whole time, while some of us went chasing shiny objects: Create high-quality, best-answer content, leverage influencers for amplification & credibility, capture your audience and serve them engaging emails.

Need help creating best-answer content? We’re here for you.  

*LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions is a TopRank Marketing client

The post Content Marketers, This Is Not a Drill: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Content Marketing Takeaways from BuzzSumo's Content Trends Report AWWOOOOGA! AWOOOOGA! Content marketers, there is a content marketing emergency happening right now. This is not a drill. Please gather your belongings and exit the building in an orderly fashion. Go to your predetermined meeting spots to verify that your co-workers are safe, and start making a plan for the future. I’m not naturally an alarmist. But there’s blood in the water. And smoke on the water. And fire in the sky. BuzzSumo just published their Content Trends for 2018 and the results aren’t pretty. After analyzing 100 million pieces of content for social sharing, social traffic referrals, and backlinks, the team has one clear takeaway: What most content marketers are doing is no longer working. "The key takeaway from our research is that it is much harder to drive referral traffic from social networks than it used to be. Social sharing has halved over the last three years and organic reach has fallen, particularly on Facebook," BuzzSumo's Steve Rayson told us. "To be in the top 5 percent of shared content you needed just 343 shares in 2017. At the same time, content competition continues to increase with an ever increasing number of articles being published each week." So, do we assume crash position and wait for the inevitable? Heck no! Content marketing isn’t dying; it’s evolving. We can evolve our tactics and strategy to recapture our audience’s attention. Those who hear the alarm and take action will thrive, while those who keep snoozing will go down with the ship. As Rayson told us: "The lesson for content marketers is that you must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social and expect people to find it." [bctt tweet="You must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social & expect people to find it. - @steverayson #ContentMarketingTrends" username="toprank"] Here’s our look at some key findings from the report, and what smart marketers will do about them.

5 Content Marketing Alarm Bells

#1 - Shares Are on the Decline

The Alarm: The median number of shares on content has declined by half since 2015. There has also been a sharp decline in viral posts with hundreds of thousands of shares, and in the effectiveness of “clickbait”-style content. What You Can Do:. Instead of going after huge share counts, we should focus on getting shares from — you guessed it — influencers who have a relevant audience! Influencer marketing makes sure your content gets in front of the right people, and more than 8 of them at a time. Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts. [bctt tweet="Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Facebook Is Just Not that Into You

The Alarm: Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but organic reach on Facebook has dramatically diminished in the past year and a half. Facebook shows no sign of reversing the trend, either. Quite the opposite; their stated goal is to have fewer (unpaid) brand messages in people’s crowded news feeds. What You Can Do: First, start thinking of Facebook as a pay-to-play platform and adjust budget and expectations accordingly. This is also a good time to evaluate how much of your audience is actually on Facebook and actively engaging with content. The report also shows that LinkedIn* likes and shares are up more than 60% from last year — which means LinkedIn may be a better place to focus your attention.

#3 - Search Beats Social for Traffic Referrals

The Alarm: At the end of 2015, Facebook referral traffic finally rose above Google referral traffic. But Facebook’s dominance was short-lived. Now, Facebook is steadily trending down as Google continues to rise. Graph showing social media shares versus google traffic What happened? Google continued to get smarter about serving up relevant content, as Facebook continued to choke organic traffic from brands. What You Can Do: The amplification model of “post on social media and ask people to click through” has been obsolete for a while now. Instead, focus on building your search equity with "best answer content" that is optimized for human beings. The more your content captures attention — page views, time on page, low bounce rate — the more search engines will serve you up at the top of the SERPs.

#4 - Backlinks Are Hard to Earn

The Alarm: As we refocus attention on search over social, we have to consider backlinks. Links to your site from reputable 3rd-party sources can be a significant ranking factor. Unfortunately, most content earns zero backlinks — 70% have no third-party links. What You Can Do: The majority of content that attracts backlinks is high-quality research or reference content from authoritative sources. Work on building your library of stellar content, optimize it for SEO, and you can begin earning backlinks. In the meantime, your great content will help with search visibility even without the linkbuilding.

#5 - There’s More Content and Fewer People Reading It

The Alarm: Here’s the heart of the matter, the alarm bell to end all alarm bells. Content creation continues to climb, while content consumption declines. We have reached peak content. These two graphs, of content created versus pageviews on WordPress.com, say it all: Graph showing number of wordpress posts increasing over time Graph showing decline in views on WordPress Notice while the volume of content rises, pageviews peaked somewhere around March of last year and are steadily declining. What You Can Do: There are three ways you can combat content shock:
  1. Publish higher-value content at a slower cadence. Take time to deliver authoritative research or reference works rather than lighter, more shallow content.
  2. Repurpose content that drove pageviews in the past. Combine shorter posts into one big post, refresh the stats and links, and re-publish. Get the maximum equity from your existing content before you create new stuff.
  3. Capture your audience. When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. That way, you have a built-in audience not dependent on social media algorithms or search engine whims. And given how email marketing is still going gangbusters, you have a much better channel for reaching them.
[bctt tweet="When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Sound the All Clear

The way people consume content is constantly changing. Your content marketing tactics should be just as flexible. As the BuzzSumo report shows, the marketers who hang onto obsolete methods are losing audience now, and will continue to lose over time. Interestingly, the “new” most effective tactics are those that have been steadily working the whole time, while some of us went chasing shiny objects: Create high-quality, best-answer content, leverage influencers for amplification & credibility, capture your audience and serve them engaging emails. Need help creating best-answer content? We’re here for you.   *LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions is a TopRank Marketing client

The post Content Marketers, This Is Not a Drill: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Lee Odden Demystifies the Confluence Equation to Help Marketers Get Better Results http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/confluence-equation-lee-odden/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/confluence-equation-lee-odden/#respond Mon, 05 Mar 2018 11:30:31 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23886 Influencer marketing is not a new concept. Public relations professionals, journalists and forward-thinking marketers have been executing some form of influencer marketing for decades. While that may be the case, times have changed. The expectation for influencer content marketing has evolved, which means consumers have higher expectations and the influencers themselves are more particular about [...]

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Influencer marketing is not a new concept. Public relations professionals, journalists and forward-thinking marketers have been executing some form of influencer marketing for decades.

While that may be the case, times have changed.

The expectation for influencer content marketing has evolved, which means consumers have higher expectations and the influencers themselves are more particular about who they partner with. However, our Influence 2.0 report with Altimeter Group and Traackr found that 57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next 3 years.

Last week at Social Media Marketing World, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden took the stage to help marketers transition influencer marketing from something they’d like to do, to something they can execute strategically.

Interest in Influencer Marketing is on the Rise

According to Google Trends, the interest in influencer marketing has outpaced email marketing, SEO, social media marketing and content marketing.

What is Influence Really?

Often, influence is confused with simply having a large social following. According to Lee, there are five areas that make up influence:

  • Personality
  • Passion
  • Popularity
  • Persuasion
  • Power

Not every influencer (even good ones) are going to have all five nailed down. Some may have a combination of passion, persuasion and power, but don’t have the popularity. That’s why it’s essential to include different types of influencers into your content programs such as brandividuals, niche experts, internal experts, up-and-comers, customers and prospects.


Influence is the ability to affect action. @leeodden
Click To Tweet


How Can Influencer Marketing Help Solve Common Marketing Challenges?

Marketers are experiencing challenges in every stage of the buying funnel all the way from the attract stage to advocacy. Here are some ways influencer marketing can help at the different stages:

Attract

  • Reach new audiences
  • Inspire advocacy
  • Retarget influencer followers

Engage

  • Creators bring talent
  • Authenticity and voice of customer
  • Influencer and audience channel match

Covert

  • Influencers are trusted
  • Relevance increases action
  • Credibility converts

Retain

  • Community participation
  • Showcase employee influencers
  • Create info-taining utility

Advocate

  • Showcase customer expertise
  • Testimonials
  • Create incentives for referrals

The people who are ignoring your ads are still engaging with peers and influencers. @leeodden
Click To Tweet


Why Empathy + Ask + Reward (repeat) = Success

To create a successful influencer marketing program, Lee suggests implementing the following three steps and then repeating to continue developing audience and influencer relationships:

Empathy: Understand customer and influencer goals

Ask: Engage influencers to collaborate

Reward: Show recognition or compensate for influencer contributions


Be thoughtful about how you ask and how you reward when working with influencers. @leeodden
Click To Tweet


How to Find the Right Influencers to Partner With

An essential key to influencer marketing success is to find the RIGHT influencers to partner with for content co-creation. Here’s how:

Topic: Determine the topic (aligned with audience needs) that you’d like influencers to contribute to.

Research: Based on the defined topic, begin searching for experts who are influential.

Validate & Refine: It’s best to use multiple tools (which pull from different sources) to validate the list you’ve created. Use tools like Onalytica, Traackr and BuzzSumo to research and correlate this information.


When you are creating content, think about which influencer you could include who might be willing to contribute and then share. @leeodden
Click To Tweet


A Maturity Model for Influencer Marketing

As with any digital marketing tactic, it’s important to know where you are now in order to understand what it takes to get to the maturity level you’d like to be. Use the sample influencer marketing maturity model below to identify where your brand lands today:

What to Do Next

If you’re ready to begin your influencer marketing journey, or just want to mature your approach, follow the three steps below:

  1. Get Expert Help: Research the market and identify who your potential influencers are. Then develop a strategy to lead your efforts.
  2. Invest in Technology: Finding the right technology (or partner that has the technology) is essential to developing and scaling a successful influencer marketing program.
  3. Activate Influencers: Begin by interviewing your internal experts, clients and existing online community. Then you can identify what works best and scale your efforts.

To see some examples of great influencer marketing in action read: How to Succeed at Great B2B Content Marketing with More Credible Content


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2018. | Lee Odden Demystifies the Confluence Equation to Help Marketers Get Better Results | http://www.toprankblog.com

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7 Down & Dirty Ways Brands Can Collaborate with Fans to Create Amazing Content #SMMW18 http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/collaborate-with-fans-ugc-smmw18/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/collaborate-with-fans-ugc-smmw18/#respond Thu, 01 Mar 2018 20:23:39 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23871 “So much time and so little content to create.” – Said no one ever Let’s face it marketers, creating a quantity of quality content isn’t easy. Even more so, creating a quantity of quality content that your audience cares about is even more difficult. So, when you don’t have an unlimited budget or execution resources, [...]

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“So much time and so little content to create.” – Said no one ever

Let’s face it marketers, creating a quantity of quality content isn’t easy. Even more so, creating a quantity of quality content that your audience cares about is even more difficult.

So, when you don’t have an unlimited budget or execution resources, what can you do?

One way to create more impactful content, is to encourage and support the creation of user generated content (UGC).

But does it really work? According to TapInfluence, 92% of consumers turn to people they know for referrals above any other source. Additionally, 88% of consumers trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from their personal contacts.

To help determine how UGC can work for your brand, the Delightful Duo which consists of MGM Resorts International’s Beverly Jackson and Microsoft’s Karianne Stinson took stage at Social Media Marketing World to share some real-world, down and dirty tips for collaborating with fans. Here are the top takeaways:

#1 – Stock Photography: Yea or Nay?

Both members of the Delightful Duo unanimously voted nay on using stock photography. But why? Authenticity is a key factor in great UGC which means if your brand is creating and sharing original images, it will inspire and encourage your audience to follow suit.


The whole point of UGC is that it drives greater engagement and makes the content more authentic. @bevjack #SMMW18
Click To Tweet


#2 – Investing in UGC

Truth be told, most brands do not have a defined budget allocated for UGC. However, there is a big opportunity to invest in your UGC strategy. That means, taking the time to be thoughtful about how you will approach UGC and what you’d like to achieve.


If your brand is just starting out, there may be an investment needed to encourage UGC. @karianne #SMMW18
Click To Tweet


#3 – Work with Influencers to Inspire UGC

Engaging influencers to create content is a fantastic way to show a good example of the type of UGC content you’d like to see your audience creating. Working with professionals will help show your audience the power of what is possible.


Using UGC in a brand narrative alongside influencers, allows you to empower your audience to see what is possible with the product/service. @karianne #SMMW18
Click To Tweet


#4 – Make the Experience Special

According to Beverly, her team has taken photos of every possible angle of the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas. So, photos of the fountain may not be the best solution for UGC. Instead, find unique and special content that truly reflects what the brand believes and share that with your audience (which will inspire them to do the same).


Get past the thing that is the obvious and find the thing that truly makes the experience special. @bevjack #SMMW18
Click To Tweet


#5 – Make Branded Content More Like UGC

Brands, take a note from UGC. Your content should feel more like UGC because let’s face it; it’s the content they want. Learn to speak your fan’s language through your branded content. The two content types should be complimentary to each other.


If UGC content is more interesting than what your brand is creating, your brand is doing it wrong. @karianne #SMMW18
Click To Tweet


#6 – Strive for Content Authenticity

In the end, if your content isn’t authentic, the audience experience will not be a great one. Make sure that you are real and honest with your content in a way that your audience won’t walk away disappointed.


Focus on great experiences. What does the content mean for real people? @bevjack #SMMW18
Click To Tweet


#7 – Keep in Mind Rights & Legality

Ultimately, brands need to ensure that UGC is used with permission and that creators are compensated in some way (if it makes sense). If necessary, get permission to use UGC in writing to avoid any legal issues.


You can’t just take someone else’s content for free. @bevjack #SMMW18
Click To Tweet


Start Making UGC Work for Your Brand!

If you’re considering UGC but haven’t started, what are your biggest questions? If you’ve incorporated UGC into your content strategy, what has worked?

For more on influencer marketing be sure to join us at 4:10PST this afternoon for TopRank Marketing’s Lee Odden’s presentation on How Content Plus Influence Equals Results: The Confluence Equation.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2018. | 7 Down & Dirty Ways Brands Can Collaborate with Fans to Create Amazing Content #SMMW18 | http://www.toprankblog.com

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How to Succeed at B2B Content Marketing with More Credible Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/win-b2b-content-marketing-credible-content/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/win-b2b-content-marketing-credible-content/#respond Wed, 28 Feb 2018 11:30:42 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23848 Creating Credible B2B Content

Creating Credible B2B Content

Ask any B2B marketer about their top digital marketing challenges and one of the first answers you’ll likely receive is: Getting in front of the right audience at the right time. In fact, Ytel’s 2018 State of B2B Marketing Communications survey revealed that 55% of respondents agreed that they have a hard time getting their message and content in front of their target audience.

Why is that? Well, there’s more content at buyers’ fingertips than ever before, search engines are getting in touch with their human sides, and organic visibility on social media is effectively extinct. But, let’s real talk for a minute, marketers—this is all old news. In today’s digital marketing landscape, creating meaningful connections with your audience on any channel really comes down to trust and credibility.

Consumers are increasingly numb to advertising and marketing messages—and they’re actively trying to avoid it all. Last year, PageFair reported that adblocking usage had grown by 30% globally. In addition, Facebook’s recent decision to de-emphasize brand content was in response to users saying that posts from businesses, brands and media were crowding their News Feeds.

However, buyers are increasingly looking to those they know and those they think they know for insights, answers and recommendations. Multiple reports have shown that somewhere around 90% of consumers trust influencers or individuals over straight branded content. In addition, according to a recent report from CMI and SmartBrief, 40% of B2B decision-makers say that credibility trumps the source of the information.

This means B2B brands and marketers need to double-down on creating quality, credible content to drive marketing objectives and wins. But how? By infusing credible voices, perspectives and insights from influential sources—namely industry experts and thought leaders—into the content marketing game plan.

[bctt tweet="#B2B brands & marketers need to double-down on creating quality, #crediblecontent to drive #marketing objectives & wins." username="toprank"]

To highlight how creating more credible content with influencers can help your B2B brand get in front of interested buyers, create an engaging experience, and inspire action, take a look at these three examples from the TopRank Marketing playbook of successful client influencer content marketing programs.

Case Study #1 – Introhive: Reaching, engaging and inspiring a niche audience.

Introhive is a leading customer relationship management (CRM) solutions provider. Working across a variety of industries, Introhive aims to help their clients gain and effectively leverage customer intelligence in a way that can grow their business.

The Situation: The legal sector is one of Introhive’s focus industries. However, it’s an industry that’s been reluctant to adopt CRM technologies. Why? Oftentimes business development isn’t an established department within law practices, making it hard to justify investments in a “sales” technology. But law firms large and small have growth aspirations—and Introhive wanted to empower them to realize those opportunities.

Another challenge with attorneys and other legal professionals is that they often build their careers on evidence and witness testimony. Essentially, this industry is by nature hard to reach without offering credibility, authority and proof.

The Solution: With two unique challenges to overcome, our team knew that engaging other legal professionals to share their expertise and insights on business development, we could not only showcase the Introhive brand, but also needed to provide their audience with unique, relevant and trustworthy insights.

TopRank Marketing worked with the team at Introhive to develop an integrated influencer content program that began with a survey of legal community members. Conducting the survey helped facilitate building influencer relationships, while also collecting valuable data that could be used to further bolster campaign content. Other pieces of the integrated content marketing mix included an eBook—our anchor asset—blog posts, organic social amplification, paid social, and email.

Introhive Credible Content Case Study

The Results: For starters, we saw 15% more eBook downloads in the first month than the benchmark asset had in its lifetime. During the same time period, the accompanying blog content garnered over 600% more views compared to benchmarks for average blog content. Finally and without specifics available, the Introhive team reports that the program has delivered “medium to huge” marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Suffice it to say, this program leveraged credible content within influencers and research to generate substantial results. 

Read the full Introhive integrated influencer campaign case study.

Case Study #2 – Cherwell: Increasing brand visibility and thought leadership in a competitive space.

Cherwell Software is a leading IT service management (ITSM) company with a mission to help their customers leverage intuitive technology to enable better, faster and more affordable innovation.

The Situation: Since its inception a little over a decade ago, Cherwell has been rapidly gaining traction in the competitive ITSM space—but they’re still one of the newer kids on the block with other new competitors emerging rapidly. To continue their growth and fend off competition, Cherwell wanted to expand its marketing channels, increase brand awareness, engage industry thought leaders and—of course—eventually drive leads.

The Solution: Given Cherwell’s position in the competitive ITSM space, the team at TopRank Marketing worked to design an influencer content campaign that was highly-targeted to key the decision-makers they wanted to reach. How? We knew in order to stand out in news feeds and build near-instant credibility with our content, we needed to understand what influences the target audience the most.

To uncover the people, publications, and content topics and types that “moved” our audience the most, as well as where they spent time on social media, we designed a new research tool—the RITHM report. 

Using insights from the RITHM report to inform the content marketing approach, the resulting campaign included an eBook anchor asset, blog posts, an SEO-driven landing page, paid and organic social media.

Cherwell Credible Content Case Study

The Results: According to Alison Munn, Social Media and Digital Marketing Lead at Cherwell: “Not only did this program meet the defined goals and objectives, but the results and process exceeded my expectations!”

With this campaign responsible for 22% of new revenue for Cherwell in 2017, it was a recent winner of the B2B Marketing Exchange "Killer Content Award".

You can learn more about this program in the case study video below:

[embed]https://youtu.be/cUf_a7RL9NY[/embed]

Case Study #3 – SAP SuccessFactors: Driving awareness and action by connecting to a specific audience pain point.

SAP SuccessFactors is a leading human capital management (HCM) suite that helps human resources (HR) professionals unleash the full potential of their workforce through transformation and engagement, and ultimately drive results across the business.

The Situation: For this niche human resources audience, employee wellness programs are part of the strategy to unleash the potential of their employees. However, the pain point for many organizations is finding a holistic solution in one place that also provides understanding of the true impact their efforts can have on the workplace. SAP wanted to drive awareness around their holistic solution, while also educating and engaging their audience.

The Solution: TopRank Marketing partnered with SAP SuccessFactors to craft an multi-pronged, influencer-driven content campaign that would not only raise awareness around their solution, but also provide their audience with credible, relevant, and actionable insights.

This campaign was anchored with an influencer eBook that featured insights from 10 top workplace culture, wellness, and technology experts, as well as internal experts from SAP SuccessFactors. In addition, other tactics such as a well-optimized landing page, social media promotion, and customized motion graphics were part of the mix.

SAP Credible Content Case Study Example

The Results: For downloads, we saw a  272% increase over SAP’s established benchmark. In addition, the accompanying landing page boasted a 68% conversion rate. Lastly, organic social promotion of the content—from the brand and influencers—drove 86% of overall views and 69% of overall conversions.

Read the full SAP SuccessFactors influencer-driven content campaign case study.

The Big B2B Takeaway for Credible Content

We’re in an era of a distrust and indifference to B2B marketing messages—which means if buyers don’t find your content credible and trustworthy, they’ll move on.

From skepticism to standing out in a crowded and more seasoned field, each of the aforementioned brands were living the trends and looking for a way to capture the attention of their audiences.

By cleverly leveraging influencers to create more credible and authoritative content and more trusted amplification, these brands were able to deliver their audiences with thoughtful opinions and diverse insights, bolster brand authority and make more meaningful connections with their audiences. But perhaps the most exciting campaign result was that building credibility led to audience activation—or conversions in other words.

To put it simply, with the right strategy, insights and influencer infusion, credible content can help brands win over your audience at every stage of the buyer journey.

[bctt tweet="With the right strategy, insights & influencer infusion, #crediblecontent can absolutely help brands win over your audience at every stage of the buyer journey. @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"]

Want to learn more creating more credible content? Check out our post on building credibility and authority with content marketing.

The post How to Succeed at B2B Content Marketing with More Credible Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Creating Credible B2B Content

Creating Credible B2B Content Ask any B2B marketer about their top digital marketing challenges and one of the first answers you’ll likely receive is: Getting in front of the right audience at the right time. In fact, Ytel’s 2018 State of B2B Marketing Communications survey revealed that 55% of respondents agreed that they have a hard time getting their message and content in front of their target audience. Why is that? Well, there’s more content at buyers’ fingertips than ever before, search engines are getting in touch with their human sides, and organic visibility on social media is effectively extinct. But, let’s real talk for a minute, marketers—this is all old news. In today’s digital marketing landscape, creating meaningful connections with your audience on any channel really comes down to trust and credibility. Consumers are increasingly numb to advertising and marketing messages—and they’re actively trying to avoid it all. Last year, PageFair reported that adblocking usage had grown by 30% globally. In addition, Facebook’s recent decision to de-emphasize brand content was in response to users saying that posts from businesses, brands and media were crowding their News Feeds. However, buyers are increasingly looking to those they know and those they think they know for insights, answers and recommendations. Multiple reports have shown that somewhere around 90% of consumers trust influencers or individuals over straight branded content. In addition, according to a recent report from CMI and SmartBrief, 40% of B2B decision-makers say that credibility trumps the source of the information. This means B2B brands and marketers need to double-down on creating quality, credible content to drive marketing objectives and wins. But how? By infusing credible voices, perspectives and insights from influential sources—namely industry experts and thought leaders—into the content marketing game plan. [bctt tweet="#B2B brands & marketers need to double-down on creating quality, #crediblecontent to drive #marketing objectives & wins." username="toprank"] To highlight how creating more credible content with influencers can help your B2B brand get in front of interested buyers, create an engaging experience, and inspire action, take a look at these three examples from the TopRank Marketing playbook of successful client influencer content marketing programs.

Case Study #1 – Introhive: Reaching, engaging and inspiring a niche audience.

Introhive is a leading customer relationship management (CRM) solutions provider. Working across a variety of industries, Introhive aims to help their clients gain and effectively leverage customer intelligence in a way that can grow their business. The Situation: The legal sector is one of Introhive’s focus industries. However, it’s an industry that’s been reluctant to adopt CRM technologies. Why? Oftentimes business development isn’t an established department within law practices, making it hard to justify investments in a “sales” technology. But law firms large and small have growth aspirations—and Introhive wanted to empower them to realize those opportunities. Another challenge with attorneys and other legal professionals is that they often build their careers on evidence and witness testimony. Essentially, this industry is by nature hard to reach without offering credibility, authority and proof. The Solution: With two unique challenges to overcome, our team knew that engaging other legal professionals to share their expertise and insights on business development, we could not only showcase the Introhive brand, but also needed to provide their audience with unique, relevant and trustworthy insights. TopRank Marketing worked with the team at Introhive to develop an integrated influencer content program that began with a survey of legal community members. Conducting the survey helped facilitate building influencer relationships, while also collecting valuable data that could be used to further bolster campaign content. Other pieces of the integrated content marketing mix included an eBook—our anchor asset—blog posts, organic social amplification, paid social, and email. Introhive Credible Content Case Study The Results: For starters, we saw 15% more eBook downloads in the first month than the benchmark asset had in its lifetime. During the same time period, the accompanying blog content garnered over 600% more views compared to benchmarks for average blog content. Finally and without specifics available, the Introhive team reports that the program has delivered “medium to huge” marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Suffice it to say, this program leveraged credible content within influencers and research to generate substantial results.  Read the full Introhive integrated influencer campaign case study.

Case Study #2 – Cherwell: Increasing brand visibility and thought leadership in a competitive space.

Cherwell Software is a leading IT service management (ITSM) company with a mission to help their customers leverage intuitive technology to enable better, faster and more affordable innovation. The Situation: Since its inception a little over a decade ago, Cherwell has been rapidly gaining traction in the competitive ITSM space—but they’re still one of the newer kids on the block with other new competitors emerging rapidly. To continue their growth and fend off competition, Cherwell wanted to expand its marketing channels, increase brand awareness, engage industry thought leaders and—of course—eventually drive leads. The Solution: Given Cherwell’s position in the competitive ITSM space, the team at TopRank Marketing worked to design an influencer content campaign that was highly-targeted to key the decision-makers they wanted to reach. How? We knew in order to stand out in news feeds and build near-instant credibility with our content, we needed to understand what influences the target audience the most. To uncover the people, publications, and content topics and types that “moved” our audience the most, as well as where they spent time on social media, we designed a new research tool—the RITHM report.  Using insights from the RITHM report to inform the content marketing approach, the resulting campaign included an eBook anchor asset, blog posts, an SEO-driven landing page, paid and organic social media. Cherwell Credible Content Case Study The Results: According to Alison Munn, Social Media and Digital Marketing Lead at Cherwell: “Not only did this program meet the defined goals and objectives, but the results and process exceeded my expectations!” With this campaign responsible for 22% of new revenue for Cherwell in 2017, it was a recent winner of the B2B Marketing Exchange "Killer Content Award". You can learn more about this program in the case study video below: [embed]https://youtu.be/cUf_a7RL9NY[/embed]

Case Study #3 – SAP SuccessFactors: Driving awareness and action by connecting to a specific audience pain point.

SAP SuccessFactors is a leading human capital management (HCM) suite that helps human resources (HR) professionals unleash the full potential of their workforce through transformation and engagement, and ultimately drive results across the business. The Situation: For this niche human resources audience, employee wellness programs are part of the strategy to unleash the potential of their employees. However, the pain point for many organizations is finding a holistic solution in one place that also provides understanding of the true impact their efforts can have on the workplace. SAP wanted to drive awareness around their holistic solution, while also educating and engaging their audience. The Solution: TopRank Marketing partnered with SAP SuccessFactors to craft an multi-pronged, influencer-driven content campaign that would not only raise awareness around their solution, but also provide their audience with credible, relevant, and actionable insights. This campaign was anchored with an influencer eBook that featured insights from 10 top workplace culture, wellness, and technology experts, as well as internal experts from SAP SuccessFactors. In addition, other tactics such as a well-optimized landing page, social media promotion, and customized motion graphics were part of the mix. SAP Credible Content Case Study Example The Results: For downloads, we saw a  272% increase over SAP’s established benchmark. In addition, the accompanying landing page boasted a 68% conversion rate. Lastly, organic social promotion of the content—from the brand and influencers—drove 86% of overall views and 69% of overall conversions. Read the full SAP SuccessFactors influencer-driven content campaign case study.

The Big B2B Takeaway for Credible Content

We’re in an era of a distrust and indifference to B2B marketing messages—which means if buyers don’t find your content credible and trustworthy, they’ll move on. From skepticism to standing out in a crowded and more seasoned field, each of the aforementioned brands were living the trends and looking for a way to capture the attention of their audiences. By cleverly leveraging influencers to create more credible and authoritative content and more trusted amplification, these brands were able to deliver their audiences with thoughtful opinions and diverse insights, bolster brand authority and make more meaningful connections with their audiences. But perhaps the most exciting campaign result was that building credibility led to audience activation—or conversions in other words. To put it simply, with the right strategy, insights and influencer infusion, credible content can help brands win over your audience at every stage of the buyer journey. [bctt tweet="With the right strategy, insights & influencer infusion, #crediblecontent can absolutely help brands win over your audience at every stage of the buyer journey. @CaitlinMBurgess" username="toprank"] Want to learn more creating more credible content? Check out our post on building credibility and authority with content marketing.

The post How to Succeed at B2B Content Marketing with More Credible Content appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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This Changes Everything: How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/artificial-intelligence-transforming-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/artificial-intelligence-transforming-marketing/#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:30:16 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23831 How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing

How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing

Will artificial intelligence (AI) put marketers out of work?

It’s a question I’m seeing a lot lately, and to me, it’s a strange one. It’s like if everyone 150 years ago was asking: “Will the tractor put farmers out of work?” Of course, John Deere didn’t put farmers out of business; better tools just made them more efficient and better able to scale.

Granted, the tractor did reduce the demand for horses and farmhands. So, no, AI will not put you out of work…as long as your work is creative, innovative and intelligent. If all of your daily work can be done by a machine, eventually it will be.

To be the farmer rather than the horse, you need to understand what AI can do to augment and scale your efforts, not replace them. Here’s what AI can do to improve your digital marketing efforts right now.

#1: Artificial Intelligence and SEO

If there’s one area of digital marketing that is most affected by AI right now, it’s SEO. Machine learning is directly affecting site visibility right now, and its influence will only increase in the future.

A machine learning algorithm called RankBrain (link to Backlinko’s incredibly useful guide) is currently Google’s third most important ranking signal. In the past, Google’s developers monitored search results and tweaked algorithms to better suit search needs. SEO experts then tried to reverse-engineer each algorithm change to better position their content.

With RankBrain in the driver’s seat, though, no human being will know why content is ranked up or down. The algorithm will continuously be testing and refining settings based on user behavior.

This switch means some traditional SEO activities, like keyword lists and backlinks, will decline in importance. The ranking signals that will matter most will be those related to user activity:

  • Time on page
  • Bounce rate
  • Pogo sticking
  • Scroll depth

Any indicator that shows how a user found your content valuable is now an SEO indicator. SEO experts and content creators will need to work more closely together to ensure content meets a specific search need, addresses a specific audience, and is compelling to read.

That’s not to say technical SEO is dead, but it is evolving. SEO experts should focus on structuring data, applying schema, implementing AMP, and optimizing for voice search. What do these tasks have in common? They’re all candidates for automation. SEO experts of the future will be feeding data into their own AI and using it to apply these ranking factors to content at scale.

[bctt tweet="#SEO experts of the future will be feeding data into their own #AI & using it to apply ranking factors to content at scale. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#2: Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots

Chatbots are AI-driven programs that interact with users in a natural-language environment. These programs are rapidly becoming a major area of interest for marketers, as an increasing amount of social media traffic takes place on private messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Buffer’s annual social media report found that there are more people on the top four messaging apps than on the top four social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn). That’s an engagement opportunity that’s hard to ignore. And, of course, chatbots can live on your brand’s homepage, answering questions and providing support.

Most digital marketers see chatbots as a way to provide personalized customer service at scale – which is tangentially related to marketing, but not directly a marketing function. However, chatbots can also help guide users through a customer journey to a sale.

A lot of the chatter (no pun intended) around chatbots is how to make them indistinguishable from interacting with a human. Marketers seem to care a great deal about this issue, but I would argue customers don’t. Customers want their questions to be understood and quickly answered; it doesn’t matter if it’s Robby the Robot or Robby the Call Center Rep who has the answers.

Marketers can make use of chatbots themselves, too. There are a growing number of smart assistants available that can aggregate and report on data in real-time, through Slack and other private messaging services.

[bctt tweet="Customers want their questions to be understood and quickly answered; it doesn’t matter if it’s Robby the Robot or Robby the Call Center Rep who has the answers. - @NiteWrites on #AI in #DigitalMarketing" username="toprank"]

#3: Artificial Intelligence and Content Marketing

If you’re a content creator, talking about AI and content marketing likely makes you feel the cold fingers of obsolescence tighten around your throat. Gartner says by the end of the year, 20% of business content will be authored by machines. AI is already being used for everything from white papers to earning reports. It’s enough to make you feel like a horse watching the farmer start up his tractor.

Should you be worried about your job? Neigh. For one, AI right now isn’t quite ready to draft content with personality and a strong hook for the reader. Since SEO is increasingly about the reader’s experience, that means human-crafted content will win out for the foreseeable future. And even when AI can write convincingly like a human, it will still need creative input from humans.

So think like a farmer: Use AI to take care of repetitive, mindless tasks like metadata tagging and adding recommended content to blog posts. And use it to deliver personalized content at scale. AI can use data from your site’s visitors to dynamically customize and display the content you create.

As the content creator, part of your new AI-enhanced job will be to look at how your audience can be segmented by behavior, and draft modular content that the AI can put together based on user behavior.

[bctt tweet="Marketers, think like a farmer: Use #AI to take care of repetitive, mindless tasks like metadata tagging & adding recommended content to blog posts. And use it to deliver personalized #content at scale. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#4: Artificial Intelligence and Email Marketing

Email marketing remains one of the most effective forms of marketing out there. Sixty-one percent of consumers enjoy receiving weekly promotional emails. Which may explain why email marketing has higher conversion rates than social media and search combined.

AI is making email marketing even better, both for you and your customer. Personalization at scale is every marketer’s dream – and AI makes it possible. AI can use data to create personalized emails to every one of your subscribers, based on their previous interactions with the brand. It can customize based on what content they’ve consumed, what’s on their wish list, what pages they have spent the most time on, and more. For example, if one user always visits links to product pages in your email, but another skips those links and goes straight for content, the AI can send different messaging with the most relevant links for each user.

AI is also making drip campaigns more sophisticated. Instead of one or two triggers and a few customized emails, you can use “If/Then” statements to customize emails for dozens of different triggers. Rather than, “send an email in two weeks,” or “send another if they opened the last one,” you could say, “if they visited three product pages, send an email with a link to a related blog post and recommended products other people have purchased.”

[bctt tweet="When it comes to #EmailMarketing, personalization at scale is every marketer’s dream & #AI makes it possible. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#5: Artificial Intelligence Influencers to Follow

As AI continues to evolve, one thing’s for sure: None of us know as much about it as we should (myself included). These four influencers are among the select few who really have a handle on AI’s potential to transform marketing.

1. Chris Penn, VP of Marketing Technology, SHIFT Communications

Chris Penn of SHIIFT Communications

Chris is a futurist, a keynote speaker, and AI visionary. His presentation at Content Marketing World last year alternately energized and scared the pants off me.

Blog - LinkedIn - Twitter

2. Paul Roetzer, Founder, Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute (MAII)

Paul Roetzer of Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute

Through the MAII, Paul aims to do for AI what Joe Pulizzi did for content marketing: Provide resources to educate people on how to use AI in marketing, and develop the standards to make AI a useful strategic tool.

Blog - LinkedIn - Twitter

3. Magnus Unemyr, Marketing Automation & AI Consultant

Magnus Unemyr - Marketing Automation & AI Consultant

Magnus has turned out a ton of high-quality content on marketing automation and AI in the past few years. He publishes daily newsletters available through his blog and Twitter feed, and has written a series of books on e-commerce and online marketing.

Blog - LinkedIn - Twitter

I, for One, Welcome Our New Robot Overlords

Will AI put marketers out of a job? Not if you think like a farmer with a shiny new tractor. It’s a tool, not a replacement – a multi-use tool that will eliminate drudgework and help you reach your audience more easily and with more compelling, personalized content.

The rise of AI in marketing is one of the top trends in 2018. Find out what other digital marketing trends deserve your attention in 2018 and into the future.

The post This Changes Everything: How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing

How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing Will artificial intelligence (AI) put marketers out of work? It’s a question I’m seeing a lot lately, and to me, it’s a strange one. It’s like if everyone 150 years ago was asking: “Will the tractor put farmers out of work?” Of course, John Deere didn’t put farmers out of business; better tools just made them more efficient and better able to scale. Granted, the tractor did reduce the demand for horses and farmhands. So, no, AI will not put you out of work…as long as your work is creative, innovative and intelligent. If all of your daily work can be done by a machine, eventually it will be. To be the farmer rather than the horse, you need to understand what AI can do to augment and scale your efforts, not replace them. Here’s what AI can do to improve your digital marketing efforts right now.

#1: Artificial Intelligence and SEO

If there’s one area of digital marketing that is most affected by AI right now, it’s SEO. Machine learning is directly affecting site visibility right now, and its influence will only increase in the future. A machine learning algorithm called RankBrain (link to Backlinko’s incredibly useful guide) is currently Google’s third most important ranking signal. In the past, Google’s developers monitored search results and tweaked algorithms to better suit search needs. SEO experts then tried to reverse-engineer each algorithm change to better position their content. With RankBrain in the driver’s seat, though, no human being will know why content is ranked up or down. The algorithm will continuously be testing and refining settings based on user behavior. This switch means some traditional SEO activities, like keyword lists and backlinks, will decline in importance. The ranking signals that will matter most will be those related to user activity:
  • Time on page
  • Bounce rate
  • Pogo sticking
  • Scroll depth
Any indicator that shows how a user found your content valuable is now an SEO indicator. SEO experts and content creators will need to work more closely together to ensure content meets a specific search need, addresses a specific audience, and is compelling to read. That’s not to say technical SEO is dead, but it is evolving. SEO experts should focus on structuring data, applying schema, implementing AMP, and optimizing for voice search. What do these tasks have in common? They’re all candidates for automation. SEO experts of the future will be feeding data into their own AI and using it to apply these ranking factors to content at scale. [bctt tweet="#SEO experts of the future will be feeding data into their own #AI & using it to apply ranking factors to content at scale. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#2: Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots

Chatbots are AI-driven programs that interact with users in a natural-language environment. These programs are rapidly becoming a major area of interest for marketers, as an increasing amount of social media traffic takes place on private messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Buffer’s annual social media report found that there are more people on the top four messaging apps than on the top four social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn). That’s an engagement opportunity that’s hard to ignore. And, of course, chatbots can live on your brand’s homepage, answering questions and providing support. Most digital marketers see chatbots as a way to provide personalized customer service at scale – which is tangentially related to marketing, but not directly a marketing function. However, chatbots can also help guide users through a customer journey to a sale. A lot of the chatter (no pun intended) around chatbots is how to make them indistinguishable from interacting with a human. Marketers seem to care a great deal about this issue, but I would argue customers don’t. Customers want their questions to be understood and quickly answered; it doesn’t matter if it’s Robby the Robot or Robby the Call Center Rep who has the answers. Marketers can make use of chatbots themselves, too. There are a growing number of smart assistants available that can aggregate and report on data in real-time, through Slack and other private messaging services. [bctt tweet="Customers want their questions to be understood and quickly answered; it doesn’t matter if it’s Robby the Robot or Robby the Call Center Rep who has the answers. - @NiteWrites on #AI in #DigitalMarketing" username="toprank"]

#3: Artificial Intelligence and Content Marketing

If you’re a content creator, talking about AI and content marketing likely makes you feel the cold fingers of obsolescence tighten around your throat. Gartner says by the end of the year, 20% of business content will be authored by machines. AI is already being used for everything from white papers to earning reports. It’s enough to make you feel like a horse watching the farmer start up his tractor. Should you be worried about your job? Neigh. For one, AI right now isn’t quite ready to draft content with personality and a strong hook for the reader. Since SEO is increasingly about the reader’s experience, that means human-crafted content will win out for the foreseeable future. And even when AI can write convincingly like a human, it will still need creative input from humans. So think like a farmer: Use AI to take care of repetitive, mindless tasks like metadata tagging and adding recommended content to blog posts. And use it to deliver personalized content at scale. AI can use data from your site’s visitors to dynamically customize and display the content you create. As the content creator, part of your new AI-enhanced job will be to look at how your audience can be segmented by behavior, and draft modular content that the AI can put together based on user behavior. [bctt tweet="Marketers, think like a farmer: Use #AI to take care of repetitive, mindless tasks like metadata tagging & adding recommended content to blog posts. And use it to deliver personalized #content at scale. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#4: Artificial Intelligence and Email Marketing

Email marketing remains one of the most effective forms of marketing out there. Sixty-one percent of consumers enjoy receiving weekly promotional emails. Which may explain why email marketing has higher conversion rates than social media and search combined. AI is making email marketing even better, both for you and your customer. Personalization at scale is every marketer’s dream – and AI makes it possible. AI can use data to create personalized emails to every one of your subscribers, based on their previous interactions with the brand. It can customize based on what content they’ve consumed, what’s on their wish list, what pages they have spent the most time on, and more. For example, if one user always visits links to product pages in your email, but another skips those links and goes straight for content, the AI can send different messaging with the most relevant links for each user. AI is also making drip campaigns more sophisticated. Instead of one or two triggers and a few customized emails, you can use “If/Then” statements to customize emails for dozens of different triggers. Rather than, “send an email in two weeks,” or “send another if they opened the last one,” you could say, “if they visited three product pages, send an email with a link to a related blog post and recommended products other people have purchased.” [bctt tweet="When it comes to #EmailMarketing, personalization at scale is every marketer’s dream & #AI makes it possible. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

#5: Artificial Intelligence Influencers to Follow

As AI continues to evolve, one thing’s for sure: None of us know as much about it as we should (myself included). These four influencers are among the select few who really have a handle on AI’s potential to transform marketing. 1. Chris Penn, VP of Marketing Technology, SHIFT Communications Chris Penn of SHIIFT Communications Chris is a futurist, a keynote speaker, and AI visionary. His presentation at Content Marketing World last year alternately energized and scared the pants off me. Blog - LinkedIn - Twitter 2. Paul Roetzer, Founder, Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute (MAII) Paul Roetzer of Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute Through the MAII, Paul aims to do for AI what Joe Pulizzi did for content marketing: Provide resources to educate people on how to use AI in marketing, and develop the standards to make AI a useful strategic tool. Blog - LinkedIn - Twitter 3. Magnus Unemyr, Marketing Automation & AI Consultant Magnus Unemyr - Marketing Automation & AI Consultant Magnus has turned out a ton of high-quality content on marketing automation and AI in the past few years. He publishes daily newsletters available through his blog and Twitter feed, and has written a series of books on e-commerce and online marketing. Blog - LinkedIn - Twitter

I, for One, Welcome Our New Robot Overlords

Will AI put marketers out of a job? Not if you think like a farmer with a shiny new tractor. It’s a tool, not a replacement – a multi-use tool that will eliminate drudgework and help you reach your audience more easily and with more compelling, personalized content. The rise of AI in marketing is one of the top trends in 2018. Find out what other digital marketing trends deserve your attention in 2018 and into the future.

The post This Changes Everything: How AI Is Transforming Digital Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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5 Productivity Hacks to Bring Content Creation From Failing to Flying High http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/5-productivity-hacks-bring-content-creation-failing-flying-high/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/5-productivity-hacks-bring-content-creation-failing-flying-high/#respond Wed, 14 Feb 2018 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23813 Hot Air Balloons

Hot Air Balloons

Let’s just get this out of the way: I don’t know anything about hacking. I’ve never hacked anything in my life, unless you’re describing my golf swing, or you count using a Game Genie to cheat at Sega Genesis back in the early ‘90s.

In general, I find terms like “life hacks” and “growth hacking” to be… well, hackneyed.

But you know what? Blog titles that include “hacks” — or other strong and compelling descriptors such as “surprising” or “critical” — have a greater tendency to gain viral traction. Sometimes a simple data point like that can be the springboard you need to uncover inspiration.

Which brings us to the purpose of today’s post.

Here at TopRank Marketing, we have an insanely talented Content Team. Legitimately some of the best writers and strategic thinkers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working alongside. But even these awesome pros are not immune to the occasional creative rut or swoon in productivity. It comes with the territory.

Recently the team came together to discuss some of our personal methods for overcoming content creation slumps and getting back on track when we’re dragging. I figured I would share some of the most salient pointers to come out of that meeting here, so other marketers can benefit and maybe adopt a few of them during their own periods of stagnation.

Hacks, insider tips, pearls of eternal wisdom — whatever attention-grabbing name you’d like to apply, I just hope you find these practical tips helpful in enhancing your productivity and elevating your content marketing success. (And feel free to comment with your own if you have tricks that work for you.)

#1 - Embrace the 5-Second Rule

The 5-Second Rule Book CoverLast year, Mel Robbins published a book called “The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage.” The premise behind this guide to conquering self-doubt and procrastination is rooted in psychology.

Basically, the crux is that because our brains are wired to avoid risk, we are innately predisposed to abandon many ideas and plans almost as quickly as they arrive.

Robbins challenges us to overcome this inclination by forcing ourselves to take some sort of action to move an idea forward within five seconds of the thought crossing our consciousness. It can be small and it doesn’t always have to lead anywhere. But it’s all about getting past your initial misgivings and, in some way, turning an idea from concept into reality.

So, next time the notion of a blog angle passes through your head, take the step to jot down a note, or even a loose outline. When you’re struck with the spark for a content campaign, but not quite sure about it, discuss it with a colleague or at least record a quick voice memo on your phone.

Basically, stop saying “later” and start saying “now.” By following this approach, you’ll find yourself with a whole lot more to work with, and it might just be that a passing fancy you’d have otherwise pushed out of mind turns into something great.

[bctt tweet="Stop saying “later” and start saying “now” when an idea crosses your mind. - @NickNelsonMN #ContentCreation #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Start with Your Conclusion

A classic writing tip from fledgling novelists is to draft the ending of a story first, and then work your way up to it. This same advice can be aptly applied to any content writer who is struggling to get a piece off the ground.

When I’m sitting down to write something new, I frequently find that getting started is the toughest part. You need a strong, compelling introduction, and in many cases can’t proceed until you’ve got one worked out. Another issue can be that once you’ve surpassed that initial hurdle, you start wandering and get sidetracked from the main points you’re trying to make.

Writing your conclusion before anything else can remedy both of these issues. Since it’s always smart to have the beginning and ending of a post tie together, you might find the pathway to your intro by taking this approach. And as you progress through the drafting process, you’ll always know exactly what the end destination is.

#3 - Keep a List of Recent, Authoritative Statistics

Sometimes, statistics can provide the backing we need to substantiate a point. But finding the right one isn’t always a quick or easy task. Getting bogged down in research is often one of the primary culprits in waning productivity.

If you have a team of writers on hand — particularly ones who cover similar topics or niches — it can be helpful to create a central doc with up-to-date stats from trusted sources, such as respected media publications or verified research organizations. Trim off older items as they lose relevance, and continually add in new ones. You’ll want to be careful to avoid the trap where everyone on your staff starts using the same numbers and sources over and over again, but in general I find this practice to be a strong productivity-booster and time-saver.

#4 - Dig Into Data

Stats are not only able to contextualize and reinforce a case we’re trying to make, but they can also illuminate a case worth making in the first place, or provide direction on how to proceed. For example, the insight I mentioned earlier about “hacks” being a clickable blog post title made me wonder: “What ‘hacks’ do I actually know? What kinds of hidden pointers could I surface that might actually be useful to our audience of smart marketers?”

Revelations can be found in insights about particular types of content that resonate within your industry (articles and studies about trends are good sources), or a conclusion drawn from your own Google Analytics (“Wow, look at how well posts about Topic X have performed!”).

Data points are stories waiting to be told, and they are almost infinitely abundant in every industry and vertical.

[bctt tweet="Data points are stories waiting to be told. Dig into them to find inspiration & overcome #ContentCreation slumps. - @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

#5 - Reckon with Writer’s Block

It can be tough to get unstuck when you hit a wall in content creation. There’ve been countless instances where I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit wordsmithing one particular sentence, or figuring the best way to transition from one idea to the next.

In these cases, it never hurts to move on to something else for a while and then circle back later. You can leave yourself a placeholder, as simple as [XXXXX] or more referential like [something about hacking and Game Genie]. This enables you to accomplish other stuff and return with a fresh mind.

Painful as it may be, you should even consider simply getting something down on the page in these moments, even if you don’t think it’s good. A 2012 article in Psychology Today on the subject of overcoming writer’s block argued that this can be necessary to achieve that frequently elusive “flow.”

“Here’s the truth about writing (or any other form of self-expression): If you can’t accept the bad, you can’t get to the good,” wrote Barry Michels. “It’s as if the flow is pure, clean water trapped behind dirty, disgusting sewage. If you can’t welcome the sewage and let it flow through you, you’ll never be able to get to the pure stuff.”

Such a lovely metaphor, isn’t it?

Put Your Content in Flight

Ready to see how high your content can fly? Try incorporating these tips into your routine and see if they can help give your productivity a lift:

  • Challenge yourself to take action on every content creation idea as soon as it strikes you.
  • Try breaking your routine by writing the conclusion to your next post before anything else, and see if it helps make your process more efficient.
  • Create a centralized doc with your most-used sources of stats and insights, then share it with your team and encourage them to add.
  • Analyze data trends from your own past content as well as the industry at large to identify hot topics for your audience.
  • Alter your writing approach to overcome writer’s block.

Otherwise, if you’re interested in learning more about how we do content marketing at TopRank Marketing, check out our services page or reach out and give us a shout. We’re all about driving growth, without any hacking required.

The post 5 Productivity Hacks to Bring Content Creation From Failing to Flying High appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
Hot Air Balloons

Hot Air Balloons Let’s just get this out of the way: I don’t know anything about hacking. I’ve never hacked anything in my life, unless you’re describing my golf swing, or you count using a Game Genie to cheat at Sega Genesis back in the early ‘90s. In general, I find terms like “life hacks” and “growth hacking” to be… well, hackneyed. But you know what? Blog titles that include “hacks” — or other strong and compelling descriptors such as “surprising” or “critical” — have a greater tendency to gain viral traction. Sometimes a simple data point like that can be the springboard you need to uncover inspiration. Which brings us to the purpose of today’s post. Here at TopRank Marketing, we have an insanely talented Content Team. Legitimately some of the best writers and strategic thinkers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working alongside. But even these awesome pros are not immune to the occasional creative rut or swoon in productivity. It comes with the territory. Recently the team came together to discuss some of our personal methods for overcoming content creation slumps and getting back on track when we’re dragging. I figured I would share some of the most salient pointers to come out of that meeting here, so other marketers can benefit and maybe adopt a few of them during their own periods of stagnation. Hacks, insider tips, pearls of eternal wisdom — whatever attention-grabbing name you’d like to apply, I just hope you find these practical tips helpful in enhancing your productivity and elevating your content marketing success. (And feel free to comment with your own if you have tricks that work for you.)

#1 - Embrace the 5-Second Rule

The 5-Second Rule Book CoverLast year, Mel Robbins published a book called “The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage.” The premise behind this guide to conquering self-doubt and procrastination is rooted in psychology. Basically, the crux is that because our brains are wired to avoid risk, we are innately predisposed to abandon many ideas and plans almost as quickly as they arrive. Robbins challenges us to overcome this inclination by forcing ourselves to take some sort of action to move an idea forward within five seconds of the thought crossing our consciousness. It can be small and it doesn’t always have to lead anywhere. But it’s all about getting past your initial misgivings and, in some way, turning an idea from concept into reality. So, next time the notion of a blog angle passes through your head, take the step to jot down a note, or even a loose outline. When you’re struck with the spark for a content campaign, but not quite sure about it, discuss it with a colleague or at least record a quick voice memo on your phone. Basically, stop saying “later” and start saying “now.” By following this approach, you’ll find yourself with a whole lot more to work with, and it might just be that a passing fancy you’d have otherwise pushed out of mind turns into something great. [bctt tweet="Stop saying “later” and start saying “now” when an idea crosses your mind. - @NickNelsonMN #ContentCreation #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Start with Your Conclusion

A classic writing tip from fledgling novelists is to draft the ending of a story first, and then work your way up to it. This same advice can be aptly applied to any content writer who is struggling to get a piece off the ground. When I’m sitting down to write something new, I frequently find that getting started is the toughest part. You need a strong, compelling introduction, and in many cases can’t proceed until you’ve got one worked out. Another issue can be that once you’ve surpassed that initial hurdle, you start wandering and get sidetracked from the main points you’re trying to make. Writing your conclusion before anything else can remedy both of these issues. Since it’s always smart to have the beginning and ending of a post tie together, you might find the pathway to your intro by taking this approach. And as you progress through the drafting process, you’ll always know exactly what the end destination is.

#3 - Keep a List of Recent, Authoritative Statistics

Sometimes, statistics can provide the backing we need to substantiate a point. But finding the right one isn’t always a quick or easy task. Getting bogged down in research is often one of the primary culprits in waning productivity. If you have a team of writers on hand — particularly ones who cover similar topics or niches — it can be helpful to create a central doc with up-to-date stats from trusted sources, such as respected media publications or verified research organizations. Trim off older items as they lose relevance, and continually add in new ones. You’ll want to be careful to avoid the trap where everyone on your staff starts using the same numbers and sources over and over again, but in general I find this practice to be a strong productivity-booster and time-saver.

#4 - Dig Into Data

Stats are not only able to contextualize and reinforce a case we’re trying to make, but they can also illuminate a case worth making in the first place, or provide direction on how to proceed. For example, the insight I mentioned earlier about “hacks” being a clickable blog post title made me wonder: “What ‘hacks’ do I actually know? What kinds of hidden pointers could I surface that might actually be useful to our audience of smart marketers?” Revelations can be found in insights about particular types of content that resonate within your industry (articles and studies about trends are good sources), or a conclusion drawn from your own Google Analytics (“Wow, look at how well posts about Topic X have performed!”). Data points are stories waiting to be told, and they are almost infinitely abundant in every industry and vertical. [bctt tweet="Data points are stories waiting to be told. Dig into them to find inspiration & overcome #ContentCreation slumps. - @NickNelsonMN" username="toprank"]

#5 - Reckon with Writer’s Block

It can be tough to get unstuck when you hit a wall in content creation. There’ve been countless instances where I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit wordsmithing one particular sentence, or figuring the best way to transition from one idea to the next. In these cases, it never hurts to move on to something else for a while and then circle back later. You can leave yourself a placeholder, as simple as [XXXXX] or more referential like [something about hacking and Game Genie]. This enables you to accomplish other stuff and return with a fresh mind. Painful as it may be, you should even consider simply getting something down on the page in these moments, even if you don’t think it’s good. A 2012 article in Psychology Today on the subject of overcoming writer’s block argued that this can be necessary to achieve that frequently elusive “flow.” “Here’s the truth about writing (or any other form of self-expression): If you can’t accept the bad, you can’t get to the good,” wrote Barry Michels. “It’s as if the flow is pure, clean water trapped behind dirty, disgusting sewage. If you can’t welcome the sewage and let it flow through you, you’ll never be able to get to the pure stuff.” Such a lovely metaphor, isn’t it?

Put Your Content in Flight

Ready to see how high your content can fly? Try incorporating these tips into your routine and see if they can help give your productivity a lift:
  • Challenge yourself to take action on every content creation idea as soon as it strikes you.
  • Try breaking your routine by writing the conclusion to your next post before anything else, and see if it helps make your process more efficient.
  • Create a centralized doc with your most-used sources of stats and insights, then share it with your team and encourage them to add.
  • Analyze data trends from your own past content as well as the industry at large to identify hot topics for your audience.
  • Alter your writing approach to overcome writer’s block.
Otherwise, if you’re interested in learning more about how we do content marketing at TopRank Marketing, check out our services page or reach out and give us a shout. We’re all about driving growth, without any hacking required.

The post 5 Productivity Hacks to Bring Content Creation From Failing to Flying High appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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9 Upcoming Events to Learn All About Content and Influencer Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/8-events-content-influencer-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/8-events-content-influencer-marketing/#respond Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:15:47 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23798 According to a new study from eMarketer, in 2018 nearly nine in 10 business-to-business (B2B) companies in the US will use digital content marketing. At the same time, influencer marketing has become one of the hottest topics in the marketing world: The L2 from Gartner reports that over 70% of brands used influencers in their 2017 [...]

The post 9 Upcoming Events to Learn All About Content and Influencer Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
Learn Content Influencer marketing

According to a new study from eMarketer, in 2018 nearly nine in 10 business-to-business (B2B) companies in the US will use digital content marketing. At the same time, influencer marketing has become one of the hottest topics in the marketing world: The L2 from Gartner reports that over 70% of brands used influencers in their 2017 marketing plans and 95% found them to be effective.

We know how this goes in marketing: a strategy or tactic becomes popular with every opportunist repeating the echo chamber of best practices until it’s unclear what’s really relevant for your business.

We’re seeing firsthand, the impact content and influence is having on marketing and have been working with many of the top B2B brands in the world to plan, implement and optimize content marketing programs with highly credible and connected influencers.

That expertise didn’t happen overnight. We’ve been working hard on B2B influencer marketing strategies, process and workflow, measurement and reporting for the past 6 years. In addition to helping clients develop and implement influencer content programs, we’re also teaching our community about this impactful intersection of disciplines.

In fact, over the next 2 1/2 months there are 9 events happening online and in cities including Scottsdale, Boston, San Francisco, Ft Lauderdale, San Diego and Minneapolis where you can learn the strategies and tactics of influencer and content marketing, presented by team members from TopRank Marketing. Find one that works with your schedule.

B2B Marketing Exchange
Feb 19-21: B2B Marketing Exchange – Scottsdale, AZ  #B2BMX

Millennials & Influencer Marketing: How to Organize & Optimize for B2B
Not only are Millennial aged professionals more trusting of social influencers when making purchase decisions, they’re also more likely to participate as influential content creators. B2B brands that can master working with internal and external Millennial talent to co-create content and engage on social channels will reap rewards now and into the future.

This presentation by Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing and Alexandra Rynne of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions will help B2B marketers understand the influencer marketing opportunity with Millennials in multiple ways:
– Understand influencer engagement models from seasoned brandividuals to rising star Millennials
– Bust myths about working with Millennials and how B2B brands can create win/win relationships
– Learn from examples of B2B influencer content in action

Demand Gen Strategies Summit
Feb 22: Demand Generation Strategies Summit (BrightTalk) – Onlin
e
The Confluence Equation: How Content & Influencers Drive B2B Marketing Success
Content and influencer marketing are hot topics for B2B marketers all over the world as two of the most promising strategies for attracting, engaging and converting ideal customers. What many marketers don’t realize is how collaborating with influencers can create even more credible, relevant, and optimized experiences for target accounts. Join Lee Odden to learn how working with influencers and their communities can help scale quality B2B content that gets results.

Digital Transformation Days - SEMRusn
Feb 22: Digital Transformation Day (SEMRush) – Online  #DTDconf
Barry Schwartz and Lee Odden interview each other
Barry Schwartz, President of Rusty Brick, News Editor of Search Engine Land and Executive Editor of Search Engine Roundtable will interview Lee Odden and Lee will interview Barry about trends in the search and digital marketing world.

SMMW
Feb 28 – Mar 2: Social Media Marketing World – San Diego, CA  #SMMW18
How Content Plus Influence Equals Results: The Confluence Equation
Content marketing and influencer marketing are hot topics for marketers all over the world as two of the most promising strategies for attracting, engaging and converting ideal customers. But how do you find the right influencers? What kind of content should you collaborate on? How do you best measure influencer and content success? Join Lee Odden to learn from his experience working with brands big and small to develop efficient and effective formulas for influencer content success.

everything content minneapolis
Mar 22: Everything: Content – Minneapolis, MN
Converging Content & Influencers to Stimulate Marketing Impact
For years we’ve seen celebrities plastered on magazine covers, perform in television ads and pimp out their social media networks for pay. But is that really influencer marketing?

What if instead, there a way for B2B and B2C brands alike to develop a structured influencer driven content program that is less about paying a famous face and more about helping your audience see themselves in the content that you create?

This presentation from Ashley Zeckman will cut below the surface to uncover top ways to work with influencers in order to create a memorable content experience for your customers, build brand authority and generate marketing ROI.

Three key things the audience will be able to do after attending this session:
– 3 stories of content + influencer marketing success
– Key steps for creating a stellar experience for influencers and customers alike
– Scrappy ideas for co-creating with influencers

AMA Iowa
Apr 4: American Marketing Association Iowa Event – Des Moines, IA

Influencer Marketing is only for B2C Brands (And Other Lies Your Parents Told You)
For years celebrities have been gracing the covers of magazines, acting in commercials and pimping out their social media profiles for pay. But should that really be considered influencer marketing?

While it may seem like B2C brands have influencer marketing all figured out, there is even more opportunity for B2B brands to begin building meaningful influencer relationships.

One way to do that is by developing influencer driven content programs. These programs provide a unique opportunity reach and build credibility your audience by working with experts that they can relate to and trust. In this presentation, Ashley Zeckman will share:
– A dive into 3 stories of successful content and influencer marketing in action.
– Steps for creating a stellar experience for your audience and your influencers.
– Scrappy ideas for collaborating with influencers when you have limited time and resources.
– Bonus: Formulas for determining content and influencer marketing ROI.

Pubcon
Apr 11-12: Pubcon Florida – Ft Laudedrale, FL  #Pubcon

Participation Marketing: The New World of Content Co-Creation, Influencers and Integration for PR
The converging roles of PR and communications with content and marketing is creating rapid demand for new strategies, skills and expectations. As earned and owned media intertwine, communications professionals who fast track their ability to adapt and evolve will gain a competitive advantage in their roles in the new world of PR.

In this session, you’ll learn tested and proven models, strategies and tactics for content marketing based on an integrated and cooperative approach. Some of the key learnings include:
– Content marketing and what it really means for earned, owned and shared media.
– How content co-creation enables content quality at scale.
– Redefining what influence and working with influencers mean for content.
– Key opportunities to integrate the best of PR and marketing for meaningful digital communications that deliver an impact

Marketo Marketing Nation Summit
Apr 29-30: Marketo Marketing Nation Summit – San Francisco, CA  #MKTGNATION

Content Marketing Integration 
Without content, there wouldn’t be any search engines and yet most marketers treat content as if it were simply a tactic for SEO. Content is the fuel that powers all forms of media on all digital channels where customers engage. The most successful marketers approach digital marketing with a customer and content-centric approach that integrates with SEO, social media, influencers and advertising in a way that helps the brand become “the best answer” wherever customers are looking. This presentation from Lee Odden focuses on how to plan, produce, promote and optimize content as a marketing approach that works with or without search engines. But definitely better with search engines. 🙂

Content Marketing Conference
May 2-4: Content Marketing Conference – Boston, MA  #CMC18
The Keys to Successful B2B Content and Influence Programs
While only 11% of B2B companies are implementing ongoing influencer marketing programs, 55% of marketers plan to spend more on influencer marketing in the coming year. Even with growing budget commitments, many B2B brands are not entirely sure about how to execute influencer marketing. Fortunately, brands with mature influencer marketing programs like SAP are elevating the practice. In this presentation with Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Marketing and Amisha Gandhi, Head of Influencer Marketing at SAP, you will learn through several examples about the strategies and best practices that can unlock success for an Enterprise B2B content and influencer marketing program.

Whether you would like to learn most about Millennials and B2B influencer marketing or content integrated with influence, SEO and social media, there’s a topic for you in the schedule above. Not only can you learn from Ashley Zeckman and myself, but our clients from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (Alex Rynne) and SAP (Amisha Gandhi) are presenting as well.

If you are already attending one of the events above, please do be sure to let us know!


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2018. | 9 Upcoming Events to Learn All About Content and Influencer Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

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How to Prove the Value of Content Marketing to Your CMO in 3 Easy Steps http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/prove-content-marketing-value/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/prove-content-marketing-value/#respond Wed, 24 Jan 2018 11:30:35 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23711 “ROI” can be a blurry idea in the world of content marketing. With often hard-to-measure costs and returns, content marketing ROI or value isn’t always crystal clear. Dealing in metrics like pageviews, time-on-page, organic impressions, and others aren’t always directly translatable into business revenue, which — let’s face it — is what your bosses really [...]

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Content Marketing Value

“ROI” can be a blurry idea in the world of content marketing. With often hard-to-measure costs and returns, content marketing ROI or value isn’t always crystal clear. Dealing in metrics like pageviews, time-on-page, organic impressions, and others aren’t always directly translatable into business revenue, which — let’s face it — is what your bosses really care about.

Even though only 8% of content marketers consider themselves successful in tracking content marketing ROI, we all know that content marketing is incredibly valuable. As our CEO Lee Odden has said for a long time:

“Content is the reason search engines exist and it’s the cornerstone of what people share on the social web. A quantity of quality content that answers readers’ questions in a useful and entertaining way serves everything from demand generation to lead generation.”

But how can you prove it with evidence that your chief marketing officer (CMO) or content director actually cares about?

Content is the foundation of everything we do here at TopRank Marketing. And our clients deserve and expect us to be able to connect our content marketing services to tangible business benefits. In just three easy steps, we can help you make that same connection and prove the value of your content marketing up the ladder.

Step 1: Identify Your Content Marketing Goals

As a marketer, you’re no doubt aware that you need to set a measurable goal before launching campaigns, but just because you know you should, doesn’t mean it always happens. Without setting a measurable goal, one could argue that your content marketing didn’t accomplish anything of real business value.

To set your goals, take a look at the current state of things to understand opportunities and what’s working well. Is there a dip in organic traffic that you hope to recover? Do you aim to increase conversions and marketing qualified leads (MQLs)? If you’re not sure where to start, review your current website performance in Google Analytics or in Google Search Console to identify potential KPIs.

As an example, if you notice in Google Search Console that your top performing organic search pages have a low click through rate (CTR), your goal may be to increase your CTR by 1% in 30 days. Keep in mind that when looking at goals and KPIs, it’s important not to lock yourself into just one metric. As our own digital marketing analyst, Allysia Kveberg, points out that:

“Sometimes marketing campaigns work a little differently than you expect, and that isn’t necessarily a negative thing.”

So, even if you’re driving results that aren’t directly tied to your goals, there might be a different marketing success lying in a related KPI that can help you sell value up the food chain.

Once you have your goals and KPIs locked down, you can now measure your content’s performance against them in real-time.


Without setting a measurable goal, one could argue that your #contentmarketing didn’t accomplish anything of real business value.
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Step 2: Measure Content Performance More Effectively

You know you need to measure content performance so you can see how you’re progressing towards your objectives. But how can you do it more effectively and efficiently? Depending on your goals, there are usually three areas of focus you’ll want to measure: awareness, engagement, and conversions. Or in other words, the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.

Brand Awareness

For measuring your brand awareness, you’ll need to track social shares, impressions, mentions, and overall website traffic from first-time visitors. For our own campaigns, we like using tools like BuzzSumo to see the traction our content is getting on social media.

Another component to awareness, is search visibility. To see if you’re gaining more organic impressions, rankings, or clicks, log into Google Search Console. It’ll take some digging to see the new keywords you may be ranking for and to identify new positions, but it’s worth the extra work to see how your content is impacting your organic traffic.

Audience Engagement

If you’re looking to develop your connection with your audience, improve trust and retention, or promote your thought leadership, you’ll want to track your audience’s engagement with your content. Engagement metrics to measure are time on page, blog pageviews, bounce rates, pages visited per session, or number of return visitors.

Often referred to as “vanity metrics,” this data can still provide you with valuable insight when looking at the numbers in the context of content. For example, an average session duration of 10 minutes overall is nice to have, but it doesn’t tell you anything about why people stayed so long. By looking at the average session duration for individual webpages, however, you can start to identify common characteristics that people stick around for.

You can drill down on these metrics for each webpage in your Google Analytics account in the “Site Content” section of the “Behavior” menu, as pictured below.

Snapshot of TopRank Marketing Google Analytics

Conversions

Conversions are all about content marketing results that have the power to drive revenue. This means form fills, conversions, MQLs, or a growing subscription base. To track most of these items, you’ll want to have your website set up with conversion or event tracking. We like using Google Tag Manager to identify and track these events as they happen. Then, to really see how our content impacts conversions, we’ll also see how many form fills or conversions happened after interacting with a piece of content.

After you’ve identified your metrics and how to track them, take a look at the data as is to set your benchmarks for each metric. Going forward on a monthly basis, make sure to document or export the data you’re seeing to see if you’re meeting or exceeding the benchmarks you’ve set. This makes it easier to see trends and wins now and later when you’re putting together your report.

When tracking these items, you’ll also want to record which pieces of content are your high performers at each stage of the funnel or customer journey. This will give you the information you need to determine the types of content that move people from top to bottom.

Step 3: Educate Your CMO

Your CMO is probably more concerned about things of business value like sales, savings, or retention over blog sessions or time on page. As Joe Pulizzi, CEO of Content Marketing Institute, shared with us:

“Skip analytics reports for your CMO.”

But to translate your performance into real business value, takes some work.

Perhaps the best place to start is in conversions. How many MQLs and form fills has your content marketing generated? Are you filling the sales pipeline with qualified prospects? Once you have that number, you can use your sales team’s closure rate and average deal size to determine the potential revenue for each lead you generated. This gives your bosses a dollar amount they can easily understand and appreciate.

The value of brand awareness and audience engagement is a little harder to determine as they don’t “directly” influence purchasing decisions. But if you have been tracking your customer journey and marketing funnel, you can show your CMO how that funnel is filling up and how content helps attract and move people from stage to stage.

Below is an illustration of some of the metrics that you should consider highlighting at each stage and in the most business-tangible way possible.

Attract, Engage, Convert Model

In addition, you can compare your social shares, likes, and mentions to that of your competitors. If you come out on top, this proves that your content marketing gives you greater visibility over your competition.

Bullet-Proof Evidence

To present your CMO with hard evidence that speaks for itself, you need to:

  • Set relevant, measurable goals and KPIs
  • Track your progress throughout the funnel
  • Translate your findings into the results your CMO cares about

If you follow the steps above, you’ll have no problem proving that content marketing is a valuable, revenue-driving tactic. For more ways to impress your CMO with real business results, use these content marketing measurement and ROI tips from brand marketing experts at Kraft and 3M.


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4 Top Trends in Customer Centricity to Drive Digital Marketing Success in 2018 http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/consumer-trends-2018/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/consumer-trends-2018/#respond Mon, 15 Jan 2018 11:30:27 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23662 Ask any digital marketer if they’ve been able to set their strategy on autopilot over the past decade, and I bet you’ll get a laugh or two—as well as an emphatic “No.” If we’ve learned anything it’s that the digital landscape is simply too fast-changing to keep the business as usual mindset. But while the [...]

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Consumer Trends Marketers Need to Know

Ask any digital marketer if they’ve been able to set their strategy on autopilot over the past decade, and I bet you’ll get a laugh or two—as well as an emphatic “No.” If we’ve learned anything it’s that the digital landscape is simply too fast-changing to keep the business as usual mindset.

But while the global rise of the internet, the explosion of social media, and the development of mobile technologies and other digital tools and platforms are undoubtedly “to blame” for the constant state of change we operate in—it’s really the everyday use of these innovations that requires our flexibility and attention.

Simply put, thanks to these modern essentials, our behavior, expectations and attitudes as consumers have changed—and they’ll continue to. The mobility and network access enabled by mobile phones and tablets, coupled with the incredible amount of content now available (thanks content marketers), means consumers now have the majority stake in developing their own customer journey.

In fact, last year comScore reported that users spend an average of 69% of their media time on smartphones—and other research shows that the great majority of people use the internet and mobile technologies to research products before they buy.

But what’s the next stage of evolution in consumer behavior? And how can digital marketers adapt their strategies to fit with consumers want and expect?

Below we highlight some of the consumer trends that will have (and are already having) a big impact on digital and content marketing in 2018 and beyond.

#1 – Voice-activated personal assistance will continue to shape consumer behavior.

While voice-command technology began to emerge in the early part of the century, it’s taken on new life over the past couple years thanks to the emergence of mobile personal assistants, and the birth and increasing adoption of tools like Amazon Echo, Cortana and Google Home.

To put it simply, these voice-activated technologies just make life simpler. According to Think with Google’s research, the top reasons people turn to voice-activated speakers are:

  1. It allows them to more easily multitask.
  2. It enables them to do things faster than other devices.
  3. It empowers them to instantly get answers and information.
  4. It makes their daily routine easier.

What does this mean for brands and marketers? Google says their research also shows that people welcome brands to be part of their experience, and they’re open to receiving information that’s helpful and relevant to their lifestyle.

Think With Google Stats on Personal Assistants

Image Credit: Think with Google

As a result, brands and marketers have the opportunity to explore digital advertising opportunities in this arena. But, perhaps more immediately important, optimizing for voice search is critical.

According to Gartner predictions, 30% of all web browsing sessions will be done without a screen by 2020. Some voice search optimization tactics include focusing on featured snippets, using more conversational keywords and content structure, and adding structured data markup to help search engines better understand the context of the content you’re providing.

#2 – Consumers want to experience a brand, product or service before they buy—and video is the conduit.

I think it’s safe to say that video is no longer an emerging or rising marketing trend—it’s part of the now and the future. According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs’ 2018 content marketing benchmark reports, 72% of B2B marketers and 76% of B2C marketers use pre-produced video as part of their strategies.

It’s certainly not difficult to see why video has taken off. Humans are visual creatures by nature, and as the internet, social media and technology have evolved, consumers are spending an increasing amount of time in front of the screen—elevating video as a preferred engagement medium.

But a bit of change is in the air. Consumers don’t just want engagement these days. They’re also looking for an experience—especially when it comes to products they’re interested in.

According to other research by Think with Google, video is straight up changing how people shop. In fact, in the past year, 40% of YouTube users turned to the platform to learn more about a product before they purchased it. In addition, the watch time of “Shop with me” videos—where viewers actually follow video creators as they shop—has increased a whopping 1,000% over the past two years.

YouTube Research by Consumers Statistic

Image Credit: Think with Google

Essentially, consumers are going beyond third-party review sites and word-of-mouth referrals, and looking to video content to learn the good, the bad and the ugly about the products they’re pondering. This means it’s time for B2B and B2C brands alike to elevate the stories they tell using video. Here’s what Think with Google had to say:

“Since many users aren’t going to be able to physically touch a product before they buy it, brands need to come up with creative ways to help people ‘experience’ it online. Think of ways to bring your product to life online so it stands out—like using virtual reality or augmented reality—such as L’Oréal’s Makeup Genius app that lets users virtually try on makeup.

“There’s a whole community of creators testing and evaluating products, including yours. That means users will be validating any claims you make, so make sure your product can live up to them.”


Consumers are looking for an experience - especially when it comes to products they’re interested in. #digitalmarketing #videomarketing @CaitlinMBurgess
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Read: Report: What Marketers Need to Know About the ‘State of Video Marketing’

#3 – Consumers are growing more curious—as well as more impatient.

To say the least, 2017 was an interesting year socially, environmentally, and—of course—politically. As the year unfolded, it’s no surprise that people turned to the internet and search engines to get a better understanding of what’s happening in their communities, countries, and around the world.

From Google’s perspective, the wide world of search in 2017 also unveiled new consumer behaviors. In yet another recent Think with Google piece, 2017 saw a “new super-empowered consumer” take shape.

“We found that people are more curious, more demanding, and more impatient than ever before,” the article said. “We saw evidence of this throughout 2017, and it will be critical for marketers to understand these new behaviors as they move into 2018.”

Essentially, people are getting more specific than ever in their searches—and they expect and demand useful, relevant information quickly. The takeaway for marketers here is that long-tail search term variations will expand—and perhaps even become a new normal. As a result, there’s no better time to double-down on creating—what TopRank Marketing likes to call—best-answer content.

What does best-answer content look like? In a nutshell, best-answer content is:

  1. Addressed to a specific audience
  2. Addressed to a specific query
  3. Substantial
  4. Comprehensive, addressing complimentary queries and crosslinking
  5. Not blatantly promotional

As our CEO, Lee Odden, so eloquently once said: “Stop creating content. And start making answers.”

This should’ve always been part of a marketers mission, but it will be even more critical in the years to come as search and consumer preferences evolve.

In addition, use the data and insights at your fingertips (and pursue new sources) to get a deeper understanding of audience needs, wants and attitudes, develop more holistic consumer personas, and create content and messaging that is highly-personalized. Personalization will be key for meeting consumer demand and expectations.


Stop creating content. And start making answers. - @leeodden #contentmarketing #BeTheBestAnswer
Click To Tweet


#4 – Distrust is at an all-time high—which calls for more transparency and authenticity in marketing.

We’ve known for a while that consumers are becoming increasingly weary of advertising and brand messaging. But over the past couple years, the general state of trust across the globe has “imploded.”

The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer Survey—an annual trust and credibility survey—showed the largest-ever drop in trust across the world’s four major institutions: business, government, media and NGOs.

2017 Edelman Trust Barometer

In the Executive Summary, the opening note is actually titled “The Implosion of Trust,” and it cites major social, economic and political upheaval—and rising “fake news” speculation—as the unsurprising culprits. But the good news is that Edelman’s findings also show that business is the “last retaining wall” of trust.

As a result, it’s more important than ever for brands and marketers to commit themselves to transparency and authenticity in all that they do. From embracing both positive and critical consumer feedback on public forums and social media, to losing the jargon and developing a more human voice—transparency and authenticity need to be baked into your strategy, rather than being afterthoughts.

One way to add both value, authenticity and credibility to your marketing efforts will be through the use of influencers. Influencer marketing has exploded over the past couple years, and it’s not going anywhere in 2018. Regardless of the type of content, there’s always an opportunity to include credible voices and opinions that will touch and resonate with your audience.

Read: Our Top 10 Influencer Marketing Posts of 2017 Plus Thoughts on 2018

The Only Constant is Change

As you move forward in 2018, now is not the time to set and forget your digital marketing strategy. On the contrary, you need to be at the ready to make meaningful change.

The fact of the matter is that consumers are playing an increasingly powerful role in their buying journey—and brands and marketers need to embrace this if they’re going to survive and thrive into the future.

Content is at the core of every digital marketing strategy. What other trends do marketers need to be on the lookout for? Read Content Conversations: Content Marketing Predictions for 2018 featuring insights from Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Chris Brogan, Alexandra Rynne, Tim Washer, Dayna Rothman, and Chris Moody.


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How to Become a Better Data-Informed Content Marketer http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/data-informed-content-marketing-tips/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/data-informed-content-marketing-tips/#comments Wed, 10 Jan 2018 11:30:27 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23651 Data-Informed Content Marketing Tips

Data-Informed Content Marketing Tips

As a 21st century marketer, you already know that data is an important player in the content marketing game. Data helps us understand who our audience is, what they care about, and how our content impacts their decisions. It helps us connect all the dots — and continue to find new dots as attitudes, needs, and preferences change.

But is your content marketing strategy taking advantage of all of the data you have at your disposal? Or is some data left on the cutting room floor?

As TopRank Marketing’s own Lee Odden recently wrote on the topic of data-informed content marketing:

“When it comes to content, creators are traditionally more art than science, and using data to guide editorial planning is still not an advanced skill for many companies.”

Not too long ago, Forrester reported that companies only use 12% of the data they have at their disposal. The remaining 88% of data is wasted and left unused. But imagine how much more effective your content marketing efforts would be if you upped that percentage even a few points — let alone to 100%.

With that said, we want to help you up your data gleaning skills and get the most out of your search, social, and behavioral data. Below are our top tips for becoming a better data-informed content marketer and really boost your content performance.

#1 - Create a segmented content pipeline.

Odds are, you already track your customers, the pages they visit, how long they stay, and the actions they take on your site. After all, it’s Content Marketing 101 to track your audience and their behavior, but this doesn’t paint a complete picture of your content and how it’s performing. To get a complete, 360-degree picture, you need to analyze the types of content you’re creating and draw some conclusions about performance.

Start breaking down your content by bucketing your pieces by length, stage of the funnel, topic, keyword, and other categories that could influence audiences. You can typically find this information in your content management system (CMS), content marketing platform (CMP), or your editorial calendar.

At TopRank Marketing, we’ve developed our own dashboard that integrates with various data sources such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, as well as pulls in our own categories and details to help us segment and analyze how our own content, as well as the content within our client programs, is performing. Here’s a little peek at how we segment:

Content Segmentation Example

Once your content has been segmented, it’s not only easier to see what types of content perform best, but also when they reach their peak performance and with whom. If a pattern starts to emerge, you can then fill up your content pipeline with items that can replicate that same success.

[bctt tweet="Use the #data at your fingertips to create a segmented content pipeline. - @aleuman4 #contentmarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Monitor social activity and engagement.

Of the world’s 3.7 billion internet users, 2.7 billion of them are active social media users, according to We Are Social. That’s roughly 35% of the world’s population logging onto social media to discover trending content and share messages with their networks.

With that in mind, using social media to distribute your content is a no-brainer. Plus, social networks make it easy for your to track your content’s social engagement through likes, retweets, shares, mentions, replies, etc. But your own social media profiles and posts aren’t the only thing you should be monitoring if you want to create a more data-informed content strategy.

Because social is such an important marketing channel, your competition and industry thought leaders will be on social as well. Monitoring their profiles and content, as well as your own, using tools like BuzzSumo or Follwerwonk can help you discover what types of content is really resonating and identify gaps in your own content plan.

BuzzSumo Example Data-Informed Content Marketing

It’s also a good idea to take a look at your top followers and customers on social to see what types of content they like and share with their own followers. With this data in hand, you can create content that is more suited to their interests, increasing your social engagement.

Read: 12 Industry-Specific Opportunities for Boosting Social Media Engagement

#3 - Refine and create new audience segments.

How are your current audience segments built? More often than not, they’re bucketed based off of demographic data. But your audiences are more than their age, location, or gender. They’re real people with real interests that you can use to your marketing advantage. You just have to find them first.

Deliver more relevant content to your customers by further drilling down your audience segments beyond what Google Analytics’ Audience Overview provides. For example, after performing a deep dive into your Google Analytics, social, email, and transactional data, you can perform new segmentation based on where each person is in the funnel, the types of content they’ve engaged in, what they’ve purchased, shared, etc.

Your audiences should never be set in stone, either. People change over time and your audience segments should, too. With new audience segments formed with specific criteria, you have more opportunities to create content tailored just for them, improving your engagement rate.

[bctt tweet="Your audiences are more than their age, location, or gender. - @aleuman4 #contentmarketing #data" username="toprank"]

#4 - Use behavioral data to find what’s valuable.

When creating a nurture campaign or onboarding experience, it’s tempting to throw everything in your arsenal at your audience. This way they have everything they need to know to make a decision, right? The problem with this approach is that “everything” probably isn’t relevant to them.

To really get a sense for what matters to each of your audience segments, take a look at your customers’ past behaviors and actions. In analyzing your past campaigns, is there a common touchpoint where customers dropped out or converted? If so, it’s your job to determine what contributed to or influenced this behavior. Was it the content, timing, or cadence? This practice will help you identify what your audience finds valuable and allow you to create campaigns that only present relevant and helpful information.

Read: 6 Best Practices for Nurturing B2B Marketing Qualified Leads

#5 - Repurpose and redeploy what didn’t work.

Failure is really just a masked opportunity. Part of being a data-informed marketer is taking information from what worked and what didn’t. If something failed to engage an audience or drive conversions, that is an opportunity to rework and improve — not throw something away and start fresh. Repurposing your content is not only sustainable, but it also has the chance to improve your reach, engagement, completed calls to action, and more.

Instead of scraping content that might have flopped or didn’t get the social engagement you were aiming for, dig deeper into the data to find what part of your content didn’t work. If no one clicked on your content to begin with, fixing the problem could be as simple as updating your promotional messages (e.g. emails, social messages, etc.) or meta description and title tags. Alternatively, if readers are exiting your content early, you may need to add more meat to your content to pique their interest and keep them reading longer.

The bottom line is that there is no such thing as bad results — even a “bad” result can tell you an awful lot about what’s happening with your content.

[bctt tweet="Failure is really just a masked opportunity. -  @aleuman4 #contentmarketing #data" username="toprank"]

Eliminate Your Content Outliers

By using the advice above, you can begin to create an effective content marketing strategy that works and weed out the practices that don’t. Get a jump start on removing those bad habits by removing these five outdated content marketing tactics from your playbook.

The post How to Become a Better Data-Informed Content Marketer appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Data-Informed Content Marketing Tips

Data-Informed Content Marketing Tips As a 21st century marketer, you already know that data is an important player in the content marketing game. Data helps us understand who our audience is, what they care about, and how our content impacts their decisions. It helps us connect all the dots — and continue to find new dots as attitudes, needs, and preferences change. But is your content marketing strategy taking advantage of all of the data you have at your disposal? Or is some data left on the cutting room floor? As TopRank Marketing’s own Lee Odden recently wrote on the topic of data-informed content marketing:
“When it comes to content, creators are traditionally more art than science, and using data to guide editorial planning is still not an advanced skill for many companies.”
Not too long ago, Forrester reported that companies only use 12% of the data they have at their disposal. The remaining 88% of data is wasted and left unused. But imagine how much more effective your content marketing efforts would be if you upped that percentage even a few points — let alone to 100%. With that said, we want to help you up your data gleaning skills and get the most out of your search, social, and behavioral data. Below are our top tips for becoming a better data-informed content marketer and really boost your content performance.

#1 - Create a segmented content pipeline.

Odds are, you already track your customers, the pages they visit, how long they stay, and the actions they take on your site. After all, it’s Content Marketing 101 to track your audience and their behavior, but this doesn’t paint a complete picture of your content and how it’s performing. To get a complete, 360-degree picture, you need to analyze the types of content you’re creating and draw some conclusions about performance. Start breaking down your content by bucketing your pieces by length, stage of the funnel, topic, keyword, and other categories that could influence audiences. You can typically find this information in your content management system (CMS), content marketing platform (CMP), or your editorial calendar. At TopRank Marketing, we’ve developed our own dashboard that integrates with various data sources such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, as well as pulls in our own categories and details to help us segment and analyze how our own content, as well as the content within our client programs, is performing. Here’s a little peek at how we segment: Content Segmentation Example Once your content has been segmented, it’s not only easier to see what types of content perform best, but also when they reach their peak performance and with whom. If a pattern starts to emerge, you can then fill up your content pipeline with items that can replicate that same success. [bctt tweet="Use the #data at your fingertips to create a segmented content pipeline. - @aleuman4 #contentmarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Monitor social activity and engagement.

Of the world’s 3.7 billion internet users, 2.7 billion of them are active social media users, according to We Are Social. That’s roughly 35% of the world’s population logging onto social media to discover trending content and share messages with their networks. With that in mind, using social media to distribute your content is a no-brainer. Plus, social networks make it easy for your to track your content’s social engagement through likes, retweets, shares, mentions, replies, etc. But your own social media profiles and posts aren’t the only thing you should be monitoring if you want to create a more data-informed content strategy. Because social is such an important marketing channel, your competition and industry thought leaders will be on social as well. Monitoring their profiles and content, as well as your own, using tools like BuzzSumo or Follwerwonk can help you discover what types of content is really resonating and identify gaps in your own content plan. BuzzSumo Example Data-Informed Content Marketing It’s also a good idea to take a look at your top followers and customers on social to see what types of content they like and share with their own followers. With this data in hand, you can create content that is more suited to their interests, increasing your social engagement. Read: 12 Industry-Specific Opportunities for Boosting Social Media Engagement

#3 - Refine and create new audience segments.

How are your current audience segments built? More often than not, they’re bucketed based off of demographic data. But your audiences are more than their age, location, or gender. They’re real people with real interests that you can use to your marketing advantage. You just have to find them first. Deliver more relevant content to your customers by further drilling down your audience segments beyond what Google Analytics’ Audience Overview provides. For example, after performing a deep dive into your Google Analytics, social, email, and transactional data, you can perform new segmentation based on where each person is in the funnel, the types of content they’ve engaged in, what they’ve purchased, shared, etc. Your audiences should never be set in stone, either. People change over time and your audience segments should, too. With new audience segments formed with specific criteria, you have more opportunities to create content tailored just for them, improving your engagement rate. [bctt tweet="Your audiences are more than their age, location, or gender. - @aleuman4 #contentmarketing #data" username="toprank"]

#4 - Use behavioral data to find what’s valuable.

When creating a nurture campaign or onboarding experience, it’s tempting to throw everything in your arsenal at your audience. This way they have everything they need to know to make a decision, right? The problem with this approach is that “everything” probably isn’t relevant to them. To really get a sense for what matters to each of your audience segments, take a look at your customers’ past behaviors and actions. In analyzing your past campaigns, is there a common touchpoint where customers dropped out or converted? If so, it’s your job to determine what contributed to or influenced this behavior. Was it the content, timing, or cadence? This practice will help you identify what your audience finds valuable and allow you to create campaigns that only present relevant and helpful information. Read: 6 Best Practices for Nurturing B2B Marketing Qualified Leads

#5 - Repurpose and redeploy what didn’t work.

Failure is really just a masked opportunity. Part of being a data-informed marketer is taking information from what worked and what didn’t. If something failed to engage an audience or drive conversions, that is an opportunity to rework and improve — not throw something away and start fresh. Repurposing your content is not only sustainable, but it also has the chance to improve your reach, engagement, completed calls to action, and more. Instead of scraping content that might have flopped or didn’t get the social engagement you were aiming for, dig deeper into the data to find what part of your content didn’t work. If no one clicked on your content to begin with, fixing the problem could be as simple as updating your promotional messages (e.g. emails, social messages, etc.) or meta description and title tags. Alternatively, if readers are exiting your content early, you may need to add more meat to your content to pique their interest and keep them reading longer. The bottom line is that there is no such thing as bad results — even a “bad” result can tell you an awful lot about what’s happening with your content. [bctt tweet="Failure is really just a masked opportunity. -  @aleuman4 #contentmarketing #data" username="toprank"]

Eliminate Your Content Outliers

By using the advice above, you can begin to create an effective content marketing strategy that works and weed out the practices that don’t. Get a jump start on removing those bad habits by removing these five outdated content marketing tactics from your playbook.

The post How to Become a Better Data-Informed Content Marketer appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Content Marketing Evolution: 5 Major Content Marketing Trends for 2018 http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/content-marketing-trends-2018/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/content-marketing-trends-2018/#comments Mon, 08 Jan 2018 11:30:14 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23630 Do you remember upgrading from an old square TV to a high-definition model? It was an amazing leap forward in the viewing experience. Then came 3D televisions…and no one really cared. Then even bigger screens, then curved displays, OLED, smart TVs, 3D and 4k. None of these advances have really fired up the imagination of [...]

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Content Marketing Trends 2018

Do you remember upgrading from an old square TV to a high-definition model? It was an amazing leap forward in the viewing experience.

Then came 3D televisions…and no one really cared. Then even bigger screens, then curved displays, OLED, smart TVs, 3D and 4k. None of these advances have really fired up the imagination of the TV-buying public. These incremental improvements just aren’t compelling enough to inspire me to upgrade.

The same thing happened with smartphones. The iPhone’s touchscreen-only design was revolutionary, and now every modern phone is a sleek rectangle. Since then, it’s been incremental change and vanity features. I can unlock this phone with my face instead of my fingerprint? And I can turn into an animated dancing unicorn? Yawn.

Content marketing had its watershed moment a decade ago, marking a monumental shift in the way marketing works. Hard selling and SEO trickery gave way to relationship-building and bringing real value to customers. Since then, we’ve been refining the formula. We’ve added new gimmicks and made small adjustments. But marketers are long overdue for a new paradigm shift.

When you’re watching content marketing trends for this year, look deeper than the marketing equivalent of 4k and curved displays. Look for the quiet revolution that is starting to take hold—look for the fundamental changes in the way we approach content.

Here are my picks for the next major movements in content marketing.

#1 – Long-Form Content

As I’ve said before, content is moving beyond the 500-word blog post. Consumers and B2B buyers simply want more depth and value than short content can provide. Even if your 500-word post does attract significant traffic, it has an inherently short life span.

Orbitmedia’s yearly blogging survey shows that the most successful bloggers are spending more time creating longer posts. The average length of a typical blog post has risen from 808 in 2014 to 1,142 in 2017.

These longer posts are attracting more audience attention. The percentage of bloggers reporting “strong results” goes up steadily with the average word count of their posts:

Average Length of Long-Form Content

While short blog posts still can serve a marketing purpose — attracting subscribers, promoting thought leadership — the most successful will re-evaluate short-form content as the basic unit of content marketing. Ungated long-form content is vital to meeting audience expectations.

#2 – Consistency & Quality over Quantity

As marketers shift from short-form to long-form content, it’s going to get harder to maintain a daily (or multiple times daily) publishing cadence. Daily publishing has been the table stakes for blog content for years, but there’s untapped value in slowing the cadence. You know the drill: The amount of content keeps increasing, while people’s time to invest in content stays the same. If you’re challenged to keep up your daily cadence, odds are your audience is, too.

Our clients at LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions EMEA dropped to 2-3 long-form posts a week last year, and have seen their readership continue to rise. The shift inspired our blogging team to try the same experiment on the TopRank Marketing Blog in 2018. More value, less content, delivered consistently — it’s a paradigm shift from “post daily, however much you can, even if it’s 300 words.”

#3 – Influencer Marketing Ecosystems

At the least sophisticated level, influencer marketing is essentially celebrity endorsement. You pay the influencer, they promote your brand, and the relationship ends as soon as the check clears. 2017 may be remembered as the year the influencer bubble burst, as the payouts grew astronomically and high-profile influencers proved problematic.

We published Influence 2.0 in January of last year to help marketers reach the next stage of influencer marketing maturity. Sustainable influencer marketing is relationship-based, co-creation based, and provides mutual value for influencers, marketers, and audiences.

The ultimate goal is to move beyond one-off collaboration with individual influencers. It’s about creating and nurturing a community of influencers, all of whom are aware of each other’s work with the brand. This influencer ecosystem takes relationship-building to the next level, and can result in a steady stream of great content.

Check out our top influencer marketing posts of 2017, as well as more insights from Lee Odden on what’s coming in 2018.

#4 – A New Focus on ROI & Attribution

As the functions of sales and marketing increasingly overlap, marketers need to get serious about proving ROI. We’re in the revenue business just as much as our partners on the sales side, and everything we do should have measurement built in. Yes, even top-of-funnel content meant to generate awareness. Do you know the value of a visitor to your website, a subscriber to your blog, or a filled-out landing page form?

If you don’t have clear answers to the above questions, you’re not alone. According to CMI and MarketingProfs’ annual content marketing benchmarks, only 35% of marketers can accurately measure ROI. Even in the top performers, only 55% are measuring ROI consistently.

In 2018, content marketers who can properly attribute ROI and prove the value of their efforts will be more successful. So it’s time to nail down the value of your content marketing, measure it, optimize it, and give dollars-and-cents reports to the C-suite.

#5 – Strange New Formats

I used to hate the phrase “consuming content.” Okay, so I sort of still do. But my loathing for that phrase may be short-sighted. It seems simpler to say, “reading content,” but that’s still thinking in terms of print, blog posts, eBooks and infographics. Our definition of what constitutes content has already moved beyond these forms, and is going to change radically in the coming years.

Video content production soared in 2017, as marketers figured out how to cheaply produce video and we began dipping a toe into livestreaming as well. In 2018, we can expect to see more video and more strategic use of live video. Audio content is on the rise, too: Podcasts are still surging in popularity and showing no signs of slowdown. And interactive content is getting easier, too — it’s simpler to make increasingly cooler end products.

But the definition of content is about to get even wider. Chatbots will need compelling writing to bring them to life. Amazon Echo and Google Home are new platforms for completely novel types of content, such as the American Heart Association’s CPR instructions and Neil Patel’s Marketing School. Augmented reality is coming to the masses, offering new ways to tell stories and engage an audience.

The Next Evolution

Content marketing is long overdue for a radical redesign, and all signs indicate the next evolution is already in progress. What content is, what forms it can take, how we amplify and measure it — these fundamental aspects of the discipline are all up for debate. It’s up to all of us to stay flexible, stay up-to-date, and most importantly, keep listening for what our audience says they need.

What do other marketers have to say about content marketing in 2018? Read Content Conversations: Content Marketing Predictions for 2018 featuring insights from Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Chris Brogan, Alexandra Rynne, Tim Washer, Dayna Rothman, and Chris Moody.


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Our Top 10 Content Marketing Posts of 2017 http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/top-content-marketing-2017/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/top-content-marketing-2017/#respond Tue, 26 Dec 2017 12:32:33 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23529 Content makes the Marketing world go ‘round, especially with our work here at TopRank Marketing. While content has been a steady drumbeat in the marketing mix over the past 7-8 years, marketers are still hungry for best practices, examples and the latest trends. Lucky for our readers, we have excellent content marketers contributing to our [...]

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top content marketing posts
Content makes the Marketing world go ‘round, especially with our work here at TopRank Marketing. While content has been a steady drumbeat in the marketing mix over the past 7-8 years, marketers are still hungry for best practices, examples and the latest trends.

Lucky for our readers, we have excellent content marketers contributing to our blog including Ashley Zeckman, Josh Nite, Caitlin Burgess and one of our new content team members this year who has made quite a splash: Anne Leuman.

As a body of work, this collection of our top 10 content marketing posts represents an incredibly useful resource, full of practical examples and relevant topics for CMOs to copywriters. As you put finishing touches on your 2018 content marketing planning, I hope these posts prove useful.

I’m going to take the most popular content marketing post with 5,500+ social shares (50 Influential Women in Content Marketing 2017) out of the list below because it’s not an article per se. You may still find it useful though, as it recognizes 50 talented professionals in the content marketing world ranging from Ann Handley to Amanda Todorovich to Amisha Gandhi and many more.

Now, on to the top 10! These are ordered by a combination of search visibility and social engagement:

Data Informed Content Marketing
What CMOs Need to Know About Data Informed Content Marketing – Lee Odden
39% of marketers are increasing spending on content marketing but only 41% are clear on what an effective content marketing program looks like. The missing link is data and this post highlights 3 sources of data marketers can use to better inform their content and 3 areas of focus for creating better content experiences. Expertise is also shared from experts including Tami Cannizzaro from CA Technologies and Josh Mueller from Dun & Bradstreet.


How 7 Startups Skyrocketed to Success with Content Marketing – Anne Leuman
Anne hit it out of the park with her first post ranking in the top 10 content marketing posts of the year! As marketers, we learn from examples and in this post, Anne outlines 7 blog and content marketing success stories ranging from Blue Apron to Glossier.


[Infographic] The In-Flight Guide to Content Marketing
– Ashley Zeckman
It wouldn’t be a great list of content marketing posts if it didn’t include an example of how we co-created content with content marketing experts to promote the Content Marketing World conference to other content marketers! With a “fly the friendly skies” metaphor, this infographic and advice from top experts highlights how marketers can plan their content marketing programs more effectively. Experts featured include: Tim Washer, Michael Brenner, Zerlina Jackson, Adele Revella, Ardath Albee and many more.


11 Content Marketing Tips to Build Your B2B Business
– Josh Nite
Josh brings his special writing magic to the topic of content marketing more consistently than any writer I know. In this post Josh builds upon another post on content marketing strategy (also included in this list) to highlight 11 practical steps B2B marketers can take to make content more valuable to customers and in turn, driving business goal achievement.


Content Conversations: Top Content Marketing Lessons Learned in 2017
– Ashley Zeckman
During the MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Ashley and our team shot video interviews with an impressive cast of content marketing influencers including conference organizer Ann Handley and famous content marketing pros like Joe Pulizzi and Chris Brogan. The post also includes highly quotable tips from brand marketers at GE Digital, LinkedIn, and Cisco as well.


How 6 B2B Brands Climbed to New Heights with Content Marketing
– Anne Leuman
At TopRank Marketing, we are very much focused on B2B marketing and in this post, Anne shines a light on 6 examples of B2B brands ranging from IBM to Slack plus takeaways for each to help marketers learn from the success of others in our industry.


The 5 W’s (and an H) That Guide Your Content Marketing Strategy
– Josh Nite
This post should be a pre-requisite for anyone making decisions about how their company will invest in, plan, create and promote content to affect business goals. Josh outlines the essentials of who, what, why, when, where and how of content marketing that is sure to guide you in the right direction.


Feeling Stuck? 5 Tips to Restart your Content-Creating Brain
– Josh Nite
Every writer and content marketer that is responsible for creating high quality content on a consistent basis runs into this situation: being stuck. With great empathy for his fellow content creators, Josh outlines 5 practical tips that content marketers can use to put your brain back on the track to creative content success.


Cracking the Code: 3 Steps to Building Influence with Content Marketing
– Ashley Zeckman
At TopRank Marketing, we walk the talk with our own marketing, especially when it comes to content collaboration with industry experts. Evidence of that fact is that many of the posts in this top 10 list include contributions from influencers. In this post, Ashley shares some of the secret sauce of how companies of any size or type can approach their content marketing collaboration efforts more effectively.


5 Outdated Content Marketing Tactics (And What to Do Instead)
– Josh Nite
Up to his neck in content creation on a daily basis, Josh has deep experience to draw from when it comes to sharing advice with other content marketers. In this post Josh highlights what he feels are tired tactics and their fresh replacements.

There you go – 10 of our top content marketing posts for 2017. A HUGE THANK YOU to Ashley Zeckman, Josh Nite, Anne Lueman, Caitlin Burgess, Nick Nelson, Tiffani Allen, Alexis Hall and Elizabeth Williams for contributing posts on content marketing topics!

We published well over 100 posts specifically about content marketing this year and we’re working to improve the effectiveness of those efforts. To that end, we’re making a number of editorial changes to our blog in 2018 and one of them is a refinement of our topical focus to make sure we are delivering what our community is most interested in.

What content marketing and content focused topics would you like us to focus on for 2018? Data? AI? Technology? Video and Interactive? Basics or advanced tactics? Case studies? We’re all ears and welcome your feedback.

Of course, with the success of our content marketing efforts for brands like LinkedIn, SAP, Dell and many more B2B industry giants, we are continuing to grow our content marketing dream team. If you’re an experienced B2B content marketing manager that wants to start 2018 with a great team of smart content marketers, you’ll want to check this out.


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The Content Marketing Juggling Act: How to Consistently Create Quality, Engaging Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/content-marketing-juggling/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/content-marketing-juggling/#respond Wed, 20 Dec 2017 11:30:04 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23479 The secret to juggling is to always have one of your chainsaws in the air. Simple, right? You have one more chainsaw than you have hands, so don’t try and hold all three at the same time. Simply, always be throwing and catching at least one. Ready to rev up your chainsaws and try it? [...]

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The secret to juggling is to always have one of your chainsaws in the air. Simple, right? You have one more chainsaw than you have hands, so don’t try and hold all three at the same time. Simply, always be throwing and catching at least one.

Ready to rev up your chainsaws and try it? Raise your hand… if you have one left.

As anyone in the industry knows, content marketing is a lot like juggling chainsaws. It’s easy, we’re told: You just have to consistently produce high-quality, engaging content. But if it were that easy, everyone would already be good at it. Statistics show we’re not there yet: 54% of B2B marketers say producing engaging content is their top challenge, and 50% say producing content consistently is.

Fortunately, just as you can learn to juggle chainsaws with practice and instruction (please don’t try this at home), you can learn to deliver quality, engaging content with a regular cadence. As you master the process, it will get easier. Eventually it will seem effortless to your audience. It might even feel (mostly) effortless to your content team.

Here’s how the team at TopRank Marketing keeps our chainsaws in the air.

#1: Consistency

A steady content cadence is invaluable for building your audience and serving your existing readership. The goal is to make your blog (or content hub) a habit – a reliable resource for fresh content. Setting that expectation with your readers, and then meeting it consistently, takes planning.

Start by creating your content marketing strategy. This document will help determine what your goals are, who your audience is, what type of content they need, and what types you will create.

Let your audience’s needs drive your goals. For example, a goal that states, “we will create fresh, high-quality content on X topics” is better than “We will post to the blog every day this year.” The latter is about deliverables; the former is about purpose, and is more likely to help you find the right cadence to meet needs.

With a strategy in place, you can develop your editorial calendar. This is where you will find the cadence that will allow you to deliver content consistently. Whether it’s once a week, every weekday, or twice a month, quality and consistency are far more important than quantity.

Plan your topics and content types at least a month in advance, but leave room in your calendar for timely posts, or random bursts of inspiration. Fill in any remaining gaps with plans for repurposing.

With a strategy in place to guide content creation, and a plan for what you’ll create, you can nail the consistency part of the juggling act.

#2: Quality

At first glance, “quality” seems like a subjective term. Your listicle on cat juggling might be pure gold for one reader, and pure lead for another. And it’s true that quality is dependent on the audience – so make sure your content is valuable to the people you want to reach.

First, make sure your content serves an existing search need. If people aren’t looking for help on your topic, you won’t have an audience. Use tools like Semrush, Keyword Planner, Google Search and Buzzsumo to explore. You’re not just looking for keywords to use: Look to see what type of content is already meeting people’s needs. That can help you get an idea of what high-quality content looks like for your audience.

Of course, quality means more than “designed to rank in organic search.” Your content should hit the center of this Venn diagram:

It’s vital to create at the intersection of your brand’s expertise, your unique insights, and your audience’s needs. Without unique insight, your content is indistinguishable from the rest. Without serving the audience’s needs, you’re irrelevant. And without expertise, your content will lack value.

Your content serves a business goal, naturally – that’s why it’s content marketing and not just “publishing.” But value is the engine that will get your content to that goal. Quality content is good for your readers and your business.

#3: Engaging

So now you have a plan for consistent publishing and you’ve done the research to create high-quality content. The final chainsaw to juggle is making the content engaging. The information in your content can be great, but if it’s a chore to read, people won’t get to the value.

There’s only one way to make content engaging: Write like a person. That means writing from the heart, with warmth and clarity and wit. That kind of writing invites people into a conversation, rather than trapping them in a lecture.

“But Josh,” you say, “I’m not writing about gooshy touch-feely stuff. I’m writing about cloud-based SaaS solutions. How do I write that from the heart?”

Excellent question, rhetorical person I made up. Regardless of what you’re writing about, think of who you’re writing for. You’re not writing to sell a SaaS solution. You’re writing to solve a problem for someone who desperately needs your expertise – and if you’re not doing that, go back to the planning stage. When you need help, you don’t want a lecture. You want someone who will empathize, even entertain, and gently guide you to a solution.  

As a writer at an agency, I will admit not every client’s product offerings thrill me to the core. Until we have a roster that’s exclusively jetpack, hot tub, and nacho companies, I may not emotionally engage with each business. But I can always engage with people.

That’s our job as content creators – to think of the person behind the problem we’re solving, reach out from the screen, and make a connection.

You May Start Your Chainsaws

Content marketing is a juggling act, and it takes time and practice to keep all the chainsaws in the air. Start with planning and strategy to enable consistency, put in the research to ensure quality, and practice empathy to make your content engaging. It’s not simple, but it’s possible to learn. Once you get in the rhythm you’ll delight your audience without risking life or limb.

Need help juggling your chainsaws? We’re here for you.


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