Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Wed, 18 Jul 2018 10:35:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 Content Planning for the Win: 10 Expert Tips to Keep Your Audience Engaged Again & Again http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/04/expert-content-planning-tips/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/04/expert-content-planning-tips/#comments Wed, 12 Apr 2017 10:30:18 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22143 Blank space: Great when it’s a Taylor Swift song (or a nifty 20’s-style cover of same), not awesome when it’s on your editorial calendar. You want to publish with a steady cadence to keep your audience satisfied. But you know that filler won’t do—it’s got to be quality and quantity. Great content is no accident. [...]

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Blank space: Great when it’s a Taylor Swift song (or a nifty 20’s-style cover of same), not awesome when it’s on your editorial calendar. You want to publish with a steady cadence to keep your audience satisfied. But you know that filler won’t do—it’s got to be quality and quantity.

Great content is no accident. It requires careful planning to provide the value and variety your audience craves. At TopRank Marketing, we create content for dozens of clients. That’s a lot of blank space to fill. But when it’s over, we know the high was worth the pain (sorry, now I have Taylor Swift stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Hopefully you do, too).

Here’s how to create a content plan that’s designed to excel.

#1: Start with Goals

“There is no content strategy without measurement strategy. Before embarking on a content initiative, irrespective of medium or platform, it’s important to know what you want to achieve.” Rebecca Lieb, Principal, Conglomotron LLC

The goal of content marketing is to compel your audience to take action. Without the action, you’re missing the “marketing” half of the equation. So don’t start with what you want your audience to know. Start with what you want them to do.

The desired action could be signing up for your blog, downloading a gated asset, attending a webinar, scheduling a demo, or just sharing your content on social media. Whatever you decide, make sure each piece of content is connected to a measurable result.

#2: Let Your Audience Guide Topic Selection

“The reason we struggle with content marketing is because we haven’t started with ‘Why?’ Customers don’t care about your vanity metrics. Ask them, ‘How can I help?’” Kristina Halvorson, CEO and Founder, Brain Traffic

At TopRank Marketing we have a name for the type of content that gets results: Best Answer Content. The word key word is “answer,” as in “a response to a question.” You’re not starting a conversation about your brand, you’re continuing a conversation about what concerns your audience.

Listen to the questions your audience is asking through search engine queries, emails to your sales department, forums like Quora, and tools like BuzzSumo and Bloomberry.

#3: Hit the Whole Funnel

“Your top of the funnel content must be intellectually divorced from your product but emotionally wed to it.” Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing, InsightSquared

Lower-funnel content is designed to lead directly to revenue. So it’s the type of content upper management likes—meaning it’s the type that helps justify your budget. It makes sense that marketers tend to focus on the lower funnel and go light on the upper stages.

The problem with that approach is that most of your traffic and interest is in earlier stages. If you don’t fill the top of the funnel you won’t have anyone left to read your awesome lower-funnel content. It’s important to find a content balance, with a variety of content across all stages of the funnel. The quantity of content in each stage should look like a funnel, too. Think lots of content in the upper stages, less (but more in-depth) content at the bottom.

#4: Change up the Content Type

“Just as anyone would quickly tire of eating from the same food group day after day, your customers and prospects can grow tired of the same type of content again and again.” Jason Miller, Global Content & Social Marketing Leader, LinkedIn Marketing EMEA

I don’t envy the folks at Buzzfeed. They came up with a winning content formula and now they’re stuck with it. Pity the writer who has to come up with yet another “28 Hilarious Things Dogs Did This Passover (You Won’t Believe #24)!” As the world has moved on from clickbait-y listicles, the site has struggled to reinvent itself.

Keep your content fresh, and fill holes in your editorial calendar, by changing up the content type. Save room for those easy-to-write, sharable listicles, sure. But balance them with thought leadership pieces that firmly establish your brand’s point of view. Add how-to articles that are 100% utility. You can even round up useful content from other sources and curate for your audience.

#5: Look for “Turkey Slices”

“I use a Thanksgiving analogy…You cook up this giant bird to serve up on one glorious occasion and then proceed to slice and dice this thing for weeks on end. If you are like most families you are going to be repurposing this bird as leftovers for quite some time, creating everything from sandwiches, to soups, and more. Your content marketing strategy can be thought of in the same way.” Rebecca Lieb

At LinkedIn Marketing Solutions*, they have a lovely mixed metaphor to describe their content strategy. It starts with a “Big Rock,” a hefty piece of gated content that includes visuals, influencer interviews, and in-depth discussion on a single topic (like their Sophisticated Marketer’s series).

They use the Big Rock to create “turkey slices,” blog posts that repurpose a small part of the content. Turkey slices help fill in your editorial calendar, and each one can serve to promote the Big Rock. A big enough Big Rock can keep your blog supplied with turkey slices for six months or more. Just don’t ask why the rocks are made of turkey.

#6: Have a Little Fun

“For those of you who think comedy won’t work for your brand, ask yourself: Will it work for your customers?” Tim Washer, Creative Director, Cisco

When you have plenty of thought leadership and useful, practical content, it’s okay to let loose every once in a while. Generally, people like to be entertained and like to laugh. Even decision makers at Fortune 500 companies have been known to appreciate the occasional chuckle. So there’s no excuse for not experimenting with a little comedy, as long as you stay consistent with your brand voice.

Ease into the idea of humorous content with an April Fool’s Day post—it’s the one day even the most staid of institutions can crack wise. If you get a good response, try a funny, light post once a month or so. Still not convinced humor would work for your industry? Look, if financial services marketers can enjoy a silly post, your audience likely will, too.

#7: Sprinkle in Interactive Content

“By its very nature, interactive content engages participants in an activity: answering questions, making choices, exploring scenarios. It’s a great way to capture attention right from the start. Individuals have to think and respond; they can’t just snooze through it.” Scott Brinker, ion interactive Co-Founder & CTO

I’m starting to get really excited at the potential of interactive content. It takes less than an hour to make a quiz that looks professionally designed, can be embedded on your blog, and provides detailed analytics on the back end. You can create a poll or a survey even more quickly.

Your chief competitor for your audience’s attention is not other content—it’s everything else in the world. We’re asking people to stop whatever else they were doing, ignore every other source of distraction, and engage. Interactive content makes it far easier to earn that level of attention.

#8: Leverage Internal Experts

“If you want to cultivate regular contributors to your content, create an editorial committee and invite key producers to join. Staffers will feel a greater sense of ownership and engagement in the content marketing program. They’ll also feel greater responsibility to produce quality content on time.” Michael Tevlin, Freelance Copywriter & Story Expert

“Authenticity” and “transparency” are marketing buzzwords that have almost, but not quite, lost their meaning through repetition. But there’s a reason we keep talking about these two concepts: Consumers want to hear the authentic voices of the people behind your brand. They know the purest expression of your brand’s values comes from your brand’s employees.

Cultivate these voices by asking internal experts across the organization to contribute to your content. As with external influencers (more about them in a moment), start with a small request. For example, if you’re writing a how-to guide, ask someone in a relevant department to contribute a quote or two. Next time, ask for a full interview.

Before you know it, you’ll have a team of regular contributors, filling your calendar with diverse voices across your organization.

#9: Co-Create with Influencers

“The future is not about marketing to influencers; it’s about marketing with them. Treating influencers as an extension of your company, rather than a distribution channel, will result in a more impactful experience for influencers and consumers alike.” Emily Garvey, Group Account Director, SVP

At TopRank Marketing, we have our own unique take on influencer marketing. It’s not about paying Snapchat stars thousands of dollars to pose with a product. Rather, it’s about building relationships with people who are genuinely influential to a relevant audience, and aligned with your brand’s goals and values.

You can start building relationships without even making contact with an influencer. For example, you can create a post that includes already-published quotes from influencers. Like, say, this post. Let your influencers know that you featured their expertise. Then nurture the relationship by helping to promote their content. Eventually, you can start co-creating content with the influencer, building in their contributions from the ground up. As with internal experts, start with an interview and go from there.

#10: Start a Dialog

“Twenty-five percent of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user generated content and thirty-four percent of bloggers post opinions about products and brands.” Erik Qualman, Keynote Speaker & CEO, Equalman

Still stuck with a few blank spaces in your calendar? Let your audience fill them in for you. User-generated content helps foster community, builds enthusiasm for your offering, lets customers see real-world examples of what your company can do, and a host of other benefits.

The best way to encourage user-generated content is, simply, to ask for it. Ask for reviews, product photos, customer stories. Run a contest and recognize the best submissions.

Even better, ask your most valued clients if you can feature them—they will very likely jump at the chance. You get a compelling testimonial, they get extra visibility.

Fill in the Blanks

A blank content calendar can be daunting. But don’t fill it in with random acts of content. Start with your goals in mind, then match them with the topics your audience most wants to hear about. Plan for a good variety of content types and formats to keep things fresh, and make sure to fill the top of your funnel as well as engage the lower part.

And if you need help creating great content that inspires action, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ve got a long list of satisfied customers. But we’ve got a blank space…and we’ll write your name.


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9 Dos & Don’ts for Writing Compelling, Clickable Headlines to Draw in Your Audience http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/08/dos-donts-compelling-headlines/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/08/dos-donts-compelling-headlines/#comments Tue, 09 Aug 2016 10:30:04 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20842 Well, hello there. I’m so glad you’ve stopped by the TopRank Marketing blog today. I’m pretty sure I know why you’re here — you’ve been searching high and low for the most adorable cat video of the day. Well, here it is: Okay. Okay. Just kidding. But I really do know why you’re here. You’re [...]

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how-to-write-more-compelling-headlines

Well, hello there. I’m so glad you’ve stopped by the TopRank Marketing blog today. I’m pretty sure I know why you’re here — you’ve been searching high and low for the most adorable cat video of the day. Well, here it is:

Okay. Okay. Just kidding. But I really do know why you’re here. You’re looking for a little headline help. And regardless of how you found this blog post today, you believed something valuable, educational and actually on the topic of writing headlines (not cat videos) was waiting for you when you clicked—and that’s all thanks to the headline.

Headlines are arguably the most important aspect of any piece of content. It’s the first thing—and often the only thing—users will read. In fact, 8 out of 10 people read headlines, but just 2 out of 10 will actually continue reading the rest of the content, according to Copyblogger.

The bottom line? The better the headline, the better your chances for actually getting interested eyeballs on your content—with the caveat that you have a solid and engaging piece of content to back your headline up.

But what’s the secret to writing a click-compelling headline? In my opinion, there’s no one secret formula. Each brand should build their own formula for creating headlines resonate with their audience, but there are certainly some dos and don’ts that can help guide you. Below we dive into those dos and don’ts, complete with advice and examples.

Dos

#1 – Use numbers.

This is one of our absolute favorites here at TopRank Marketing. Numbers stand out in a sea of letters and they’re also easily understood by people. Here’s one of our recent examples:

Delicious Content 1

It’s a technique that many magazine publications have used for decades to sell issues. Think: “5 Simple Ways to Eat Your Way to Skinny.” It’s simple, easy to understand, and uses a number to intrigue and entice. (OK. While this example might not be all that realistic, you get my point.)

In addition, if you’re not creating a listicle post, use data or statistics for your numbers to grab attention.

#2 – Ask questions.

Asking questions is a way to connect with a problem your audience is having and signals to them that you’re there to provide the answer they need. This idea can guide your content strategy, too. Get started by answering some of the most commonly asked questions your audience has about your product or a topic related to your business.

#3 – Be original.

Your headline is your hook. Even if you’re writing about something that’s well covered, a unique headline can set you apart from your competition.

Here’s a fun example from CPQ software company Axonom (client). Not only is it original, but it also speaks directly to the target audience.

Axonom 1

Read the full Axonom article.

#4 – Use active language.

Your audience is likely looking for something that can make a difference in in their own lives or for their company. Active language helps create a sense of urgency and action — and tells them that they can do it. In my line of work, some of my favorite action verbs to use are: drive, boost, propel, motivate and power.

Here’s an example of one of my recent favorites. Not only does this post use active verbiage, but it also tells my audience the specific benefit this post can offer. This post has garnered more than 1,500 shares, as thousands of pageviews, and even a nice little discussion in the comments section.

Roadtrip 1

#5 – Be helpful.

You know your audience. You wouldn’t be in business right now if you didn’t offer something useful. Take what you know about your audience and your current customers to craft a headline that showcases how your content is valuable.

Hubspot is always a great place to draw inspiration from. For me, this headline tells me that these six steps can help me create a video that will resonate.

Hubspot !

Read the full HubSpot article.

Don’ts

#1 – Be boring.

This one is probably a no-brainer, but needs to be said anyway. Be creative, colorful, inspiring and even entertaining to give your audience something they can’t scroll past. Include a descriptive adjectives such as “powerful” or “engaging” that speaks to the value or benefit the reader can gain by reading your content.

#2 – Promise something that you can’t or won’t deliver.

The worst thing you can do is get people on the page and then fail to deliver what you promised upfront. As mentioned above, make sure to back your headline up with solid and engaging content that is educational or entertaining.

#3 – Get too wordy.

The more words you use, the more work it is for your audience to read. In addition, your headline could also become confusing. Get rid of any word that aren’t necessary. Use a headline analyzing tool to give yourself a nudge in the right direction. Sharethrough and Co-Schedule offer tools for free.

Co-Schedule

Now, with all that said, sometimes going a little longer is necessary and that’s totally fine. Just make sure it’s easy to read and conveys that necessary value to the reader.

#4 – Be afraid to start over.

Creating a great headline is a process, and it often doesn’t come to you on the first try. Take the time to write out a number of contenders and keep tweaking until you get it right. For example, here’s the evolution of the headline for this article:

  1. Here’s Your Cheat Sheet for Writing Killer Headlines That Draw Your Audience In
  2. Cheat Sheet: How to Write Killer Headlines That Draw Your Audience In
  3. How to Write Killer Headlines That’ll Get Your Audience to Click
  4. How to Write Compelling, Clickable Headlines That’ll Draw Your Audience In
  5. The Dos and Don’ts of Writing Compelling, Clickable Headlines That’ll Draw Your Audience In
  6. 9 Dos & Don’ts for Writing Compelling, Clickable Headlines That’ll Draw Your Audience In

What recent headline got you to click? What made it so compelling? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Remarketing 101: The No-Brainer Paid Search Tactic http://www.toprankblog.com/2015/11/remarketing-101-the-no-brainer-paid-search-tactic/ Thu, 19 Nov 2015 11:30:50 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=19553 As competition becomes increasingly fierce, B2B and B2C companies are all fighting for customers to read their content, and purchase their products or services. With so many options available to today’s consumers, many brands are searching for a way to stay top of mind with potential customers. Ready for a staggering piece of information? According [...]

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what-is-remarketing

As competition becomes increasingly fierce, B2B and B2C companies are all fighting for customers to read their content, and purchase their products or services. With so many options available to today’s consumers, many brands are searching for a way to stay top of mind with potential customers.

Ready for a staggering piece of information? According to Business Insider, there is over $4 trillion of merchandise that will be abandon in online carts this year, 63% of which is potentially recoverable.

One method of recovering the attention of potential customers that have left is to deploy a remarketing program. But what is remarketing really? This post is designed for someone who’s either in the dark when it comes to remarketing (sometimes referred to as retargeting) or is in the early stages of starting a program.

Breaking Down Remarketing

In laymen’s terms, remarketing is that pesky ad stalking you like an annoying mosquito around the internet and in my case, eventually getting you to buy yet ANOTHER sweater you may or may not need. Officially, remarketing (retargeting) are banner ads or text ads that are show to a specific group of people (audience) that have visited your website or digital property.

Remarketing requires you to place code on your site that drops a cookie on a visitor. Once dropped, the remarketing platform you’re using can show ads to that person as they are searching the web.

Why is Remarketing A No-Brainer?

Remarketing is the easiest and most cost effective way to re-engage an already engaged audience. Let’s say you had someone recently download your latest whitepaper or watch a video on your site or “save” items in their shopping cart for later; with remarketing you can re-engage them with a special offer, additional content or demo. Remarketing can be a tool used for moving consumers through the funnel and directing them to next action you want them to take.

There are a number of platforms that can manage remarketing programs for you. One of which is the Google Display Network (GDN). If you’re a DIY type of person, GDN is the easiest way to dip your toe in the water. Remember that GDN reaches about 90% of internet users globally and 65% of the top 200 websites ranked by ComScore are part of GDN, AdWords 2015.

An Example of Remarketing in Action

At TopRank Marketing, we understand the power of remarketing and integrate it into almost all of our client programs and campaigns.

We recently had a client that launched several assets around a major change coming to their industry. One of the assets was light on content (Asset 1) while the other asset was contained a lot of information (Asset 2). This program presented the perfect opportunity to leverage the power of remarketing.

As part of our overall integrated digital marketing strategy, we promoted Asset 1 via organic search, influencer marketing and paid social. We then remarketed Asset 2, which required additional buy-in and knowledge via remarketing on GDN. We saw tremendous results compared to previous remarketing efforts and performance more than exceeded client expectations.

Remarketing had a dramatic impact on this integrated campaign by lowering our overall Cost Per Lead while improving our lead volume.

Remarketing Example

Is Remarketing Right For You?

When you break down the information, remarketing really is a no-brainer. With remarketing, you can typically create a lower CPL and increase the number of leads generated. While the example above reviews how we’ve leveraged remarketing for content promotion, remarketing opens up a world of possibilities for engaging with your customers.

If you’re interested in exploring remarketing and putting TopRank Marketing’s brainpower to use, contact us today. We’d love to chat with you about the remarketing opportunities that could help your brand reclaim customers.

Header image via Shutterstock


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Content Marketing with Interactive Tools: Pros, Cons, Examples & Best Practices http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/interactive-tools-examples/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/interactive-tools-examples/#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 13:19:33 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=16018 At first glance, interactive online tools may not seem like a content marketing tactic. But, when you consider their educational and entertainment value, interactive tools offer exactly the kind of ‘stickiness’ marketers and brands are looking for. From the early days of collaborative online learning to sophisticated interactive tools that allow consumers to keep track [...]

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Interactive Tool as Content Marketing TacticAt first glance, interactive online tools may not seem like a content marketing tactic. But, when you consider their educational and entertainment value, interactive tools offer exactly the kind of ‘stickiness’ marketers and brands are looking for.

From the early days of collaborative online learning to sophisticated interactive tools that allow consumers to keep track of their calorie count and fitness level, today, numerous institutions, governments, news organizations and brands have incorporated interactive tools on their websites to further educate and engage their customers and constituents.

Why incorporate interactive tools as part of your content marketing mix? Because education is such a powerful and important fundamental to improving the customer experience. The ability to invest in effort and receive output contributes to a customer experience that can differentiate your brand. At the same time, useful interactive tools satisfy a need for your target audience. Ultimately, tools that enable user interaction and feedback can drive sales, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

According to a new User Experience Survey Report, almost three-quarters (74%) of businesses believe that the user experience is important for improving sales and conversions, increased customer satisfaction (72%) and customer loyalty (44%).

Big brands have been using education as a way to connect with their consumers for a long time. Tying added-value content using interactive media to education goes hand-in-hand. With a clear competitive advantage hinging on exceptional user experience, employing interactive tools as part of your content marketing strategy, will go far toward solidifying your organization as one that meets a core customer need.

In the ‘splinternet’ economy, being able to capture your visitors’ attention is becoming more and more difficult. But, when measuring which content marketing tactic earned the best ROI, interactive media ranked higher (36%) than sales copy (27.9%) and infographics (27.9%). eMarketer

Bottom line: “users want to learn and be entertained, quickly.” Interactive tools can help accomplish that.

H/T on the RF Intent Index from SmartInsights, which has other interactive tool examples.

RF Intent Index

The Goal of Interactive Content

Whether you call it a ‘widget’ or a ‘tool’, the goal of interactive content is to provide a unique personal experience that your customers and prospects might not expect from more traditional forms of content. Tools that allow user input and that publish customized output as content can be very effective, but interactive tools can also simply answer questions or facilitate a process, from quizzes to diagnostics. The focus should be on creating a meaningful touch-point with your brand and maintaining a connection among users.

Pros

  • Outstanding way to educate your visitors, especially if you employ subject matter experts
  • Chance to ‘show’ not ‘tell’ enhancing the user experience and your brand message
  • Receiving instant feedback is a compelling motivation for visitors to engage and return
  • Interactivity is a natural for offering high entertainment value, hence increased visitor engagement
  • A true value exchange creates a meaningful way to gather more in-depth customer data

Cons

  • Relatively expensive and time-consuming
  • Content focused on one idea will fail to encourage visitors to self-segment, limiting engagement
  • Confusing static product demos that do not allow for increasing levels of interaction with interactive demos that do can result in a barrier to entry

What Thought Leaders Are Saying

“Rich digital media is not just a trend; it’s the future of advertising. Agencies leveraging innovative design tools and technology have proven their effectiveness in driving higher engagement online in a cluttered Web environment.” Forrester Research

“We live in an age where we are all being bombarded with more content than we can possibly consume. As a result, if you want your content to stand out and have an impact, you have got to find ways to make it as engaging and interactive as possible. Content that you simply read is forgotten or, worse, completely overlooked.” Kevin Cain, Director of Content Strategy, OpenView

Websites Using Interactive Tools With Panache

SherwinWilliams

With content exclusive to the tablet format, Sherwin-Williams STIR® magazine tablet continues to provide inspiring ideas and technical insights into the use and application of color in residential and commercial interiors. Free to use on your tablet device.

Interactive Tools from Sherwin Williams

Getting it Right

  • Inspiring: Stunning, interactive photo slideshows
  • Engaging: Interviews with colorful design personalities and detailed project features
  • Educating: Tap to explore color by family, access RGB values and LRV numbers, and get product specs
  • Convincing: Exclusive videos, including behind-the-scenes project videos and interviews with our popular Color Spy personalities

This follows the customer journey TopRank maps for its clients: attract, engage, convert.

Vizrt

Vizrt provides real-time 3D graphics and asset management tools for the broadcast industry – from award-winning animations and maps to online publishing tools. Vizrt’s products are used by the worlds’ leading broadcasters and publishing houses, including CNN, CBS, Fox, the BBC, and others. The presenter guides viewers through pre-game statistics and lineups, in-game analysis and post-game discussions. Below, is the advanced analysis interactive tool for the 2014 World Cup.

Getting it Right

  • High entertainment value through advanced interactive elements via Multitouch screen, including 3D stadium models and maps of Brazil
  • Educating visitors using data integration from third party providers giving them a ‘team’ experience by displaying team members and player statistics
  • Ensures its viewers stay engaged by providing only highly relevant content, such as team formations and game highlights
  • Incorporates social media integration for this highly sharable content (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)

ChooseMyPlate

Brought to us from the USDA, this highly interactive web application allows you to track your diet with daily food plans, BMI calculator, virtual coaching and more. I realize there are a number of similar web and mobile apps that compete, but I wanted to acknowledge the U.S. government and the people behind this interactive online tool. Despite the recent government shut down, it’s nice to see when they get something right!

Interactive Tool as Content Marketing Tactic

Getting it Right

  • Provides high educational value
  • Visitors can receive some form of feedback through virtual coaching if desired
  • Easy profile setup, giving visitors access to a host of interactive tools and resources

When incorporating interactive tools to your content marketing plan, the benefits are numerous. In today’s fast paced and information rich world, providing answers isn’t enough. Brands need to focus on creating experiences with their content marketing and interactive tools are one way to do that. On top of that, interactive content is highly shareable, increases qualitative time spent on your web site and can support the overall customer journey from awareness to consideration to purchase. This is the same approach we evangelize at TopRank Online Marketing for our B2B marketing clients.

By bringing content to life with interactive tools, you can gain insights into the customer and design for the ultimate experience and a mutually beneficial outcome.

What do you see as the next generation of interactive tools and design? What are some great examples? Any fails?

If you’re interested in other articles about content marketing tactics, be sure to visit our content marketing tactics index.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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Maximizing Usability and Findability Among Multi-Screen Users http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/multiscreen-usability-findability/ Tue, 05 Nov 2013 21:13:37 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15972 Remember the days of just watching TV? Or just working on your computer? How about finding what you needed from one source—like a book, phonebook, or one website? Those days are over. Completely. Google released a study earlier this year that revealed 90% of people use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish their goals, using up [...]

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Web ArchitectureRemember the days of just watching TV? Or just working on your computer? How about finding what you needed from one source—like a book, phonebook, or one website? Those days are over. Completely.

Google released a study earlier this year that revealed 90% of people use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish their goals, using up to an average of 3 different screen combinations each day. The key takeaway from their study? Content needs to be optimized for all channels so brands don’t run the risk of losing conversions from any one channel.

This new initiative has posed several challenges to marketers on how to make their site findable, and usable, to multiscreen users in order to retain conversions. Bryson Meunier of Resolution Media and Shari Thurow of Omni Marketing Interactive shared a few best practices and tips on how to create the best website architecture to achieve excellent multiscreen experience.

Decide What Mobile Configuration Strategy is Best for Your Site

According to Google, you have three choices when it comes to the mobile configuration of your site:

              1. Responsive Web Design: Same HTML & URLs but a different layout served through flexible layouts, dynamic grids and media queries

The main advantage of this popular site configuration is that it’s one site. However, there a significant disadvantage to a responsively designed site: the download time can significantly increase. Workarounds are available. But when you do a workaround, it requires more JavaScript which in-turn increases downtime (so realistically, it’s hard to avoid the decreased downtime).

             2. Dynamic Serving: Same URLS potentially different HTML served through device detection
             3. Dedicated Mobile Sites: Different HTML & Different URLs

You have the power to decide what’s right for your business based on user activity and what you feel fits your messaging and design best. In order to determine which web design is best for your brand ask yourself the following:

  • Are mobile users well-served by your current information architecture? If it is, changing your site architecture might not be the best idea, but again the choice is yours.
  • Do your mobile users use the same keywords as your desktop users? If you don’t have a mobile site, or even look into mobile keywords you could miss out on dozens of keywords. For example: mobile games, mobile ringtones, navigate to [insert brand name here] etc.
  • Mobile-only features won’t help users? For example Lowes provides an in-store map to help those of us (myself included) that get lost in stores easily. Enhanced mobile experiences have the added benefit of building link equity and increasing traffic.
  • Does your audience use smartphones? If not, Google does not recommend doing a responsive web design. Instead consider dynamic serving or dedicated mobile sites.
  • Is speed not important to conversions? It’s harder to make a responsive site fast than a dynamic serving site. mobitest.akamai.com is a great tool to see how fast your site is running on mobile devices. If your users are going to want an extremely fast experience, consider dynamic or dedicated mobile.

Follow Google Guidelines

Whichever configuration design you choose for your site, it’s important to follow Google guidelines to make sure your site isn’t penalized, hidden from searchers, or creating a negative searcher experience.

  1. Use switchboard tags with Mobile URLs. These tags help create a connection between your mobile & desktop sites ensuring that indexing and link equity are shared between the two
  2. Use vary HTTP header with dynamic serving. This header lets Google know that some of your content is for mobile and some is for desktop.
  3. Do not build a separate tablet-optimized site. Use responsive design if possible
  4. Don’t block Googlebot Mobile or Otherwise! If you block your site, searchers won’t be able to find it.
  5. Consider user experience. Google is starting to penalize sites for things like app interstitials, slow-loading sites, faulty redirects and unplayable videos

Cater Your Content & Site to Mobile Users:

There are several things that mobile users are going to expect from your mobile site in terms of usability and findability. Catering to those things can help enhance user experience and improve your mobile ranking. When it comes to your site make sure:

  • Clicks actually click. Accommodate for a finger, not just a cursor. It’s extremely frustrating to press over and over again on a button that’s not clicking. Make sure your site is working, and recognizes fingers. Bonus: make things look extra clickable on mobile sites because it’s harder to know what clicks and what doesn’t.
  • Information Sent is Validated: Always remember: Go. Know. Do. Where you want to go, what you want to know more about, what you want to do. Like an elevator when you press a button, you expect it to light up and do what you asked it to. Then you expect a direction sign telling you where to go. Mobile users what the same guidance. They want to have their information and queries validated.
  • Content is Organized Logically: there are several Google implications that originate from how you organize your site. But there are also user implications. Make sure your site is logical for mobile users because their needs will be different from those of desktop users. Information architecture should be decided before the site is built. If you don’t do it right, it can cost you a lot after launch.
  • Consider On and Off Page Criteria: Keywords, labels and design are the glaringly obvious on-page-criteria that are important to your site. But off-the-page criteria like link development, social and web searcher goals will factor into your success in mobile.
  • Popular Information is Included: Three kinds of content are very important to mobile users: quick facts, location and personal information. Mobile searchers want to know where things are or where they can find them, they don’t want to read pages and pages of text, and they want the ability to login.

Use Effective & Search Engine Friendly Design

Site design and layout will change based on your content–if you have huge images it will distort the rest of the page, the same thing if you have no images. However there are a few designs that are better than the rest:

  • MostFluid Design: If you have 5 or 6 navigation buttons this layout will work well. It’s a great layout for a mobile friendly responsive site.
  • Column Drop: Also an ok format for a mobile-friendly responsive site, but you have to be conscientious of where you put your call to action because it can get lost
  • Layout Shifter: Another design that is great for a responsive site. Also, great for sites that require huge images (i.e. food)

Labeling Systems

These will strongly impact your search engine rankings. They can help tell a search engine and users that your information is consistent. There are 3 kinds of labels that are important to your site content, navigation, and document. Content labels are things like your heading that tell a searcher “this page is about x”, the navigation labels & URLs also point out “this page is about x” (they both usually have a keyword in there somewhere), and document labels, like a title tag, also indicate “this page is about x”. That consistency is extremely important to website rankings.

Remember: don’t assume that responsive design is search engine friendly. Just because someone else uses it, or because there are a lot of benefits, doesn’t mean that it’s best for your site. A key take away from this session is that design isn’t universal, you really need to think about your content, your users and your graphics and design it based on those things.

Stay tuned for more from SES Chicago! We’ll be live-blogging sessions throughout the next three days.


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Do Advertorials & Native Advertising Fit In Your Content Marketing Strategy? http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/04/advertorials-native-advertising-content-marketing-strategy/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/04/advertorials-native-advertising-content-marketing-strategy/#comments Tue, 30 Apr 2013 11:00:17 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15191 Where do advertorials, also know in politically correct terms as “native advertising”, fit into the content marketing toolkit?  To answer this question, we first have to understand what advertorials are – and also that the definition of content marketing itself is a hotly contested topic. Adam Stetzer of HubShout, in his recent investigation into the [...]

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Are advertorials a content marketing tactic?Where do advertorials, also know in politically correct terms as “native advertising”, fit into the content marketing toolkit?  To answer this question, we first have to understand what advertorials are – and also that the definition of content marketing itself is a hotly contested topic.

Adam Stetzer of HubShout, in his recent investigation into the purported Google penalization of Interflora for employing advertorial content, insists advertorials are NOT content marketing.

“Advertorials are advertisements, regardless of how you try to dress them up”, he says, “while content marketing is educational. Advertorials are biased; content marketing is free of any bias. The two may share a commercial motive, but are completely different and should be treated as separate entities”.

However, Lewis DVorkin, Chief Product Officer at Forbes Media, defines content marketing as “Brands using the tools of digital media and social sharing to behave like original-content publishers.”

His definition of content marketing includes AdVoice, the Forbes service he was speaking of at the time. “First launched 20 months ago, it’s a fully transparent way for marketers to publish and curate content on Forbes.com and in our magazine.”  In fact, Lee Odden was included (unbeknownst to him) in a recent Forbes AdVoice article published by CapitalOne, “Use Content Marketing to Boost Your Business” which looks and reads pretty much the same as regular Forbes content.

Forbes Lee Odden

It seems, then, that DVorkin’s vision of content marketing is not restricted to the unbiased, but that advertorial content is acceptable where parties ensure transparency for readers. “Content is content,” he says, “and transparency makes it possible for many different credible sources to provide useful information.”

Are Advertorials Evil By Their Very Nature?

Marketers like John Bethune at B2BMemes take exception with DVorkin’s definition. In a post questioning this expansion of content beyond owned into paid, he asks, “When a publication buys content (from staff writers or contributors), that clearly counts as editorial. But when the publication is paid to publish it (by advertisers), is it still editorial?”

It’s a valid question.

Advertorials have been around since the 1940s, when savvy newspaper publishers realized the potential of ad content posing as editorial. Then came infomercials, those wonderful paid programming spots that helped networks fill the dead air and increase their off-time revenue.

Advertorials, like infomercials, are not a new tactic.

Fast forward to the modern web; advertorials might also be known as native advertising, or more commonly, sponsored content. They typically appear in blogs as well as print and online magazines and newspapers. Sponsored content allows brands to reach beyond their own audiences, to inform, engage and convert readers through content that (ideally) reads as editorial despite the underlying advertising message.

Advertorial example

This advertorial ran in local newspapers through a service called Universal Media Syndicate. Though clearly marked an advertisement, it has a definite editorial look and feel.

Google itself has pushed the envelope as far as clearly indicating which of their content is organic or paid and has had many conversations with the FTC as a result. So while some have rightly questioned whether Google’s stance on advertorials is a move designed to cut their paid advertising competitors off at the knees, it doesn’t seem so. The penalization of flower brand Interflora for participating in BBC advertorials seems a natural extension of their paid links policy. As Stetzer points out in his evaluation of the situation, penalization for advertorial content can be prevented/remedied by ensuring all links in the content are no-follow and do not pass PageRank.

Still, we have the ethical question: do advertorials have a place in your strategy as one of the content marketing tactics to consider?

Are Advertorials Even Content Marketing At All?

When Lee Odden recently asked his social network of marketers to share their definitions of content, the range of answers was surprising:

  • Information designed for consumption, seasoned for enjoyment, and packaged to share.
  • Content comes in any form (audio, text, video), and it informs, entertains, enlightens, or teaches people who consume it.
  • Content is high quality, useful information that conveys a story presented in a contextually relevant manner with the goal of soliciting an emotion or engagement.
  • Relevant, compelling, timely and valued knowledge and/or entertainment.
  • Original and opinion-charged copy with a focused message and personalized voice.

In fact, after perusing the 40+ definitions of content, I don’t see anything about paid content falling within the bounds of content marketing territory. Then again, I see nothing definitively excluding it as a viable tactic, either.

When Advertorials Are Okay:

Unfortunately, many online marketing tactics that show promise are milked to death and taken way too far by overzealous marketers. Instead of an outright ban on advertorial content, maybe what we need is a set of common sense, ethical guidelines for its use.

“With today’s savvy consumers, sponsored content, native advertising and advertorial isn’t effective unless it provides valuable and useful information,” TopRank CEO Lee Odden recently told a German business magazine. “With reputable publications, similar, if not the same, editorial standards apply as they do for pure editorial content. The only difference is the means of inclusion: payment or editorial.”

With that in mind, here are some common sense guidelines for advertorial, native advertising or sponsored content:

  • Top quality – never forget the “editorial” part of the equation. Your competitors may have former journalists and professional editors at their disposal, as should your brand.
  • Avoid overtly promotional language because it’s ineffective and makes you look silly.
  • Aim to inform, educate, and/or entertain readers, as with other types of unpaid content.
  • Offer transparency and does not attempt to trick readers into believing they are reading unbiased, journalistic content.
  • Use no-follow links to avoid passing PageRank and falling outside Google’s guidelines.
  • Serves its purpose through careful planning and alignment with your business goals.
  • An accurate reflection of your brand voice, company culture and capabilities.

Advertorial content has been a sticky topic lately, although it doesn’t have to be dismissed without consideration. If sponsored content makes sense as a marketing tactic for your company and you can find an opportunity for placement with a reputable publication and measurable ROI, it may be worth considering. Just remember that content, whether it’s published purely based on editorial merits or as part of an advertising program, isn’t effective unless it creates value for the reader.

Are you using advertorial content as part of your marketing strategy? Share your tips or thoughts on the practice in the comments.


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Real-Time Marketing Smarts: Companies Killing It with Off-the-Cuff Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/04/real-time-marketing-smarts/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/04/real-time-marketing-smarts/#comments Wed, 03 Apr 2013 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15054 Real-time social engagement is a great way for brands to stay top of mind, build their social audience and even influence the buying decisions of consumers. On-the-fly upsets to content plans and rapid response content creation are counterintuitive for most brands, though. At TopRank, we coach brands on careful planning, implementation, measurement and ongoing improvement [...]

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Real-time marketing examples for brandsReal-time social engagement is a great way for brands to stay top of mind, build their social audience and even influence the buying decisions of consumers. On-the-fly upsets to content plans and rapid response content creation are counterintuitive for most brands, though.

At TopRank, we coach brands on careful planning, implementation, measurement and ongoing improvement based on insights. But how can brands maintain quality and ensure thoughtful content if they’re expected to produce and launch it in minutes?

Perhaps the best known example of this strategy recently was Oreo’s infamous Superbowl tweet. They showed just how effective social listening is, when their “You can still dunk in the dark” branded image was retweeted over 16,000 times.

As the story goes, Oreo had already decided to use Superbowl as the platform from which to launch a new campaign; they had no idea what the game would throw their way and certainly couldn’t have predicted a blackout. Yet with their internal teams and agency at the ready, they were able to respond to the Superbowl blackout almost instantly. As a result, the brand gained over 8,000 new followers in the days following Superbowl.

Still, too often, these real-time promotions go unnoticed. They just don’t take off; they don’t hit the mark and brands are left wondering why some succeed while others fall flat. It’s not enough to watch for popular topics, or big events, and attempt to capitalize on them by speaking about (or creating images/video on) the topic. These inauthentic, irrelevant communications are transparent and simply not interesting for the always-on, hyperconnected consumer.

Data Rich and Insight Poor - Real-time Marketing Survey

Source: Infogroup

Our generation of marketers are data-rich, yet insight-poor, say researchers from Infogroup Targeting Solutions and Yesmail Interactive. Their January 2013 survey found that 45% of marketers agree analyzing or applying data will be their greatest challenge in the coming year. Just 11% of respondents don’t plan on using real-time data to inform their marketing efforts, while 53% plan on making greater use of real-time data in their campaigns.

Brands Must Connect in a Meaningful Way

We can’t all be awesome, all the time. However, we might be able to offer some utility, information or even a laugh. Check out these three brand examples of killer on-the-fly content:

Can your brand be authentic and relevant?

Within minutes of the bill legalizing gay marriage passing in the UK, Virgin Holidays tweeted this image and posted it to their Facebook and Google+ Pages:

Not every brand can celebrate legalized gay marriage in social channels and have it come across as an authentic, relevant message.  However, Virgin knows their audience, they offer honeymoon vacations and therefore the message itself is relevant, and founder Richard Branson is an outspoken gay marriage supporter. They used the #equalmarriage hashtag to expand their reach and were rewarded with 265 retweets from their community.

Can your brand be clever and entertaining?

In response to a tweet that claimed, “Saw a bird had crapped on a Smart Car. Totaled it.,” the brand put together this hilarious infographic and tweeted back, “Couldn’t have been one bird, @adtothebone. Sounds more like 4.5 million. (Seriously, we did the math.)”

Smart Car USA real-time infographic

SmartCar USA earned themselves over 500 retweets and 300 Favorites by being great social listeners and capitalizing on an opportunity to engage. The person who had originally tweeted the slight hadn’t even tagged the @smartcarusa account; brand marketers were on simply on the ball and seized the chance.

Can your brand be creative and interesting?

Everyone and their brother tried to get a piece of the Oscars buzz, but Pantene went above and beyond by having an artist on hand to sketch pics of stars’ hair for their social content.

They were able to quickly put out sketches of the trendiest Oscar hairstyles in how-to format, featuring their own products.

Future Campaigns Need to be Planned Less and Managed More

In the future, more than half of the work of managing a social campaign may take place after a campaign starts, estimates Colin Mitchell, Worldwide Head of Planning at Ogilvy & Mather. In a recent whitepaper, Mitchell stresses the importance of dynamic content, conversation management and nurturing, and real-time optimization in modern day marketing campaigns.

Marketers will require six new skills to navigate these new waters, he says:

  1. Planning for talk – Brands need to know their point of view and be prepared to engage if they want to be the topic of conversation.
  2. Rapid-response research – Listening will become a core practice; research will have to be about the here and now.
  3. Rapid prototyping – The days of having months or years to perfect a campaign are long over.
  4. Opportunistic media – Media partners in the future will collaborate more effectively with agencies for media placement.
  5. Plan for the end – A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Don’t fade away; give your audience a satisfying ending.
  6. Spread the payments – This applies to in-house marketers as much as agencies. Understand that budget needs to extend across the life of a campaign and that the bulk of that effort is shifting from preparation to management.

What is your brand’s story and how can you plan to connect and engage with real-time content? Share your tips or questions in the comments.


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Social Content Relevance on Holidays: Baileys, Brennans & Tourism Ireland St Patrick’s Day Wins http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/st-patricks-day-social-wins/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/st-patricks-day-social-wins/#comments Tue, 19 Mar 2013 09:00:21 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=14985 Brands often struggle to hit that elusive mix of creative, timely content relevant to their audience that still directly aligns with their brand. If you have something of a sense of humor, entertaining your audience isn’t that hard. Yet for your social content to be effective in marketing, at least a good portion must be [...]

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Social media marketing wins  holidays and special occasions.Brands often struggle to hit that elusive mix of creative, timely content relevant to their audience that still directly aligns with their brand. If you have something of a sense of humor, entertaining your audience isn’t that hard. Yet for your social content to be effective in marketing, at least a good portion must be relevant to your brand, as well. You know the deal, though; if you’re only talking about your brand or products, fans get bored with your self-promotion.

Special occasions and holidays offer marketers a great chance to get creative with their social content, to capture the attention of an increasingly attention-deficit audience.  Yet simply being an Irish company doesn’t make your product or service relevant on an Irish holiday. Being a Canadian, or American, company doesn’t guarantee relevance on holidays specific to North America, either.

In January, TopRank attended NMX Las Vegas and I had the opportunity to hear Jay Baer speak on “Youtility” – that is, offering your audience something of use to them. Become a source of useful information and connect on that level. Holidays are a great chance to offer something useful from your brand while capitalizing on the popularity of the day.

This St. Patrick’s Day, Irish brands Baileys, Tourism Ireland and Brennans Bread celebrated in the spirit of the occasion with social fans through their content. Each had a different strategy and each fulfilled a need for their specific audience, successfully aligning their product with the holiday. See what you can learn from their lead.

Baileys Inspires with Drink Recipe

Just in case you had forgotten to pick up a bottle of Baileys for St. Patrick’s Day, the iconic Irish beverage maker shared a delicious and simple reminder for fans.

Bailey's shares recipes to inspire fans to use their product.

Their St. Patrick’s Day best wishes image was captioned with the following: “In a cocktail shaker filled with ice shake 1oz Baileys® Irish Cream with a hint of Biscotti Flavour, 1/2oz Bushmills Irish Whiskey and1/2oz honey. Make sure the honey is completely blended and the drink is chilled. Serve in a martini glass or over ice. Enjoy!”

The high quality image stands out in the Newsfeeds of users and offers something relevant to the occasion they can actually use – and share with friends. And they did! The recipe was one of two St. Patrick’s Day posts by the brand, the other another image wishing everyone well. Between those two simple pieces of content, Baileys earned over 3,700 Likes and 1,000 Shares.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway: Offer fans a useful tip, trick or other short bit of information relevant to your product or service they can actually use, to increase engagement and sharing. Be creative and plan to tap into upcoming special occasions.

Tourism Ireland Offers Access with Dublin Parade Livestream

Tourism Ireland chose to livestream the Dublin Parade on their website, promoting their coverage through their social accounts on St. Patrick’s Day. As you can see from the volume of activity around their post – 7,500 Likes and almost 2,000 shares – their social fans appreciated this access to an event many could not attend in person.

Offer access to an event or an insider look to offer value to social media fans.

You don’t need to have a large business or a huge online marketing budget to offer your fans an insider look or direct access to an event. Creative video content is easier than ever to produce, with free tools like YouTube and Google+ Hangouts.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway: Give fans access to or a sneak peek at an event by livestreaming or recording happenings around a holiday. Hosting your video content on your website, like Tourism Ireland, can help drive traffic to your website, as well.

Brennans Bread Makes Their Product the Solution for the Holiday

How can you make a product like bread relevant on a holiday? Brennans Bread suggests: “St Patrick’s Day Parades will be taking place around the country this weekend, perfect time to break out the picnic basket and pack it full of sandwiches!”

Brennans Bread makes their product relevant on the holiday.

They’re answering a question and solving a problem for their audience: what to do on St. Patrick’s Day? The picture is interesting and more likely to be shared because rather than using a stock image, Brennans created the iconic clover associated with the holiday out of their bread. It’s simple, doesn’t take long, and makes their product directly relevant to the occasion.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway: Find that creative angle that makes your product, service or brand directly relevant to the holiday. Proactively answer a question or need fans may not even know they have by thinking, what is it people want or need to do on this day and how can we be a part of that?

With a little creativity and planning, you can tap into the heightened traffic and buzz around holidays with social content that speaks to consumers and still gets your brand message across. How do you connect the dots between your products or services and the topics your audience members are interested in? Share your tips or questions in the comments.

Image from sxc.hu/hussey


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Remarketing & Retargeting Done Right and Wrong – 6 Do’s and Don’ts From SES Chicago http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/11/remarketing-retargeting-done-right-and-wrong-6-dos-and-donts-from-ses-chicago/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/11/remarketing-retargeting-done-right-and-wrong-6-dos-and-donts-from-ses-chicago/#comments Wed, 14 Nov 2012 12:58:23 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=14432 Live from SES Chicago, I had a fantastic opportunity to learn about the ultra-hot online marketing area of remarketing / retargeting from Christopher Hansen and Marty Weintraub.  Remarketing can be extremely powerful, but is easy to get wrong, and the consequences can be costly both in terms of budget and brand image. Below are 3 [...]

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SES Tips for RetargetingLive from SES Chicago, I had a fantastic opportunity to learn about the ultra-hot online marketing area of remarketing / retargeting from Christopher Hansen and Marty Weintraub.  Remarketing can be extremely powerful, but is easy to get wrong, and the consequences can be costly both in terms of budget and brand image.

Below are 3 tips to make retargeting campaigns work for you, and 3 potential mistakes.

Retargeting Done Right

#1:  Identify Your Best Content

The key to effective retargeting is finding what is already working in your marketing strategy. Retargeting can be very effective at increasing the success of your content, but the content must be effective on its own in order to see a benefit from retargeting.

Retargeting is best thought of as a content amplification tactic, rather than as a standalone marketing strategy.  Find out where your conversions are already happening, and focus retargeting efforts there for maximum effect.

#2: Analyze Behavior

Similar to how retargeting works best on great content, it is also most effective when used on high quality, relevant traffic.  The best way to qualify visitors is to understand and analyze their behavior.

What are the characteristic behaviors of visitors that are converting?  Some factors to consider:

  • Time on site
  • Traffic source
  • Past purchase history

Detailed visitor behavior analysis should be a part of your marketing strategy already, and is absolutely mandatory if you are considering adding retargeting to the mix.

#3: Look at Context

The third ingredient in effective retargeting is context.  Are you finding that the conversion rates are higher from people browsing entertainment sites than cooking sites?

Specific customer demographics may be more likely to convert when consuming certain types of content.  Make sure you are putting your retargeting dollars where it counts.

Retargeting Done Wrong

#1: Retargeting Bad Content

Content that isn’t working will not magically start converting through retargeting.  Before engaging in any sort of remarketing, overhaul and optimize your traditional marketing strategy to get it working for you, and then amplify it through retargeting.

#2: Being Creepy By Over-Retargeting

We’ve all been a victim of over-retargeting at some point.  The cell phone ad that follows you long after the technology is out of date, the shoe banner that won’t forget the time you let your girlfriend use your computer to shop, the Viagra ad that… you get the idea.

To quote the speaker, “don’t pee in the retargeting pool.”  You’ll cause your customers to hate you, and ruin it for the rest of us responsible remarketers.

There is no hard and fast rule, but a good guideline is to set a limit of 5-7 impressions.

#3: Not Effectively Regulating Your Retargeting Campaigns

Are you re-targeting customers who have already made a purchase?  Or people who have filled out a complaint form?  This is classic remarketing done wrong.

So many companies get this wrong, and it not only wastes money, but tarnishes the brand image, and the online marketing community as a whole.

As much as 90% of web traffic leaves without converting, which is why retargeting is such a popular tactic today.  But with great power comes the potential for consequences if it’s not used effectively.  Follow these tips and amplify your content through retargeting.

TopRank will be live blogging all week at SES Chicago, so tune in to get the latest news, tips and commentary as it happens.

 


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Integrated Marketing: What Does It Really Mean? http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/11/integrated-marketing-mean/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/11/integrated-marketing-mean/#comments Mon, 12 Nov 2012 13:11:44 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=14411 We’ve always considered our online marketing agency “search plus” and by that I mean search is central and important, but accomplishing client marketing objectives requires a broader view than just optimizing web pages and digital assets. Of course if you follow us here or you’ve read Optimize, you know that. As social and search technologies [...]

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integrated marketingWe’ve always considered our online marketing agency “search plus” and by that I mean search is central and important, but accomplishing client marketing objectives requires a broader view than just optimizing web pages and digital assets. Of course if you follow us here or you’ve read Optimize, you know that.

As social and search technologies evolve along with changes in consumer behaviors, there’s a trend towards a convergence of disciplines. Mature, data driven digital marketers see where search fits in the scheme of things but many brand marketers and traditional search agencies are still a bit lost. I’ve seen brands view SEO solely as an afterthought and SEO agencies think search is the only way to market online.  These polarized perspectives are often driven more by self interest or limits in capabilities than knowing what will make the most impact for a business.

With digital and integrated marketing, more attention is being paid to the buyer journey and the multiple channels where paid, owned, earned and shared media can attract, engage and convert new business. The convergence and integration of marketing tactics as a strategy brings many competitive advantages but also complexities.  Discounting search optimization outright wastes tremendous opportunity. Overemphasizing search misses the forest for the trees.

SES (the conference) has realized this trend and is offering a keynote panel session at SES Chicago this week (Thurs 11/15 at 9:30am), called: “Integrated Marketing” What Does That Really Mean?, to bring some meaning to the madness. Here’s the official session description:

As the debate on what to call SEO continues, and much is made of the terms “content marketing” and “inbound marketing,” many in the industry cite integrated marketing as the answer. But what exactly does this mean? This leading panel of experts will discuss the meaning of the term and the merits of a fully fledged integrated marketing strategy. From case studies of high-profile brands, you’ll learn how to plan, create, execute, and measure cross-channel tactics for advanced digital marketing initiatives.

The panel will be moderated by my fellow SES Advisory Board member and Author, Anne Kennedy with panelists that include Giovanni Rodriguez, Co-Founder and CEO of SocialxDesign and Todd Friesen, the SEO Director at Salesforce. Although, Todd will always be “Oilman” to me.

On this topic there are many considerations but two in particular come to mind:

The Customer Journey drives integrated tactics. i.e. Be where the customer is (and those who influence her) during the sales and customer lifecycle. Data informed customer segmentation calls for tactics to be integrated for efficiency, effectiveness and competitive advantage.

A simple example might be the knowledge that prospects often post certain “buying signal” questions to certain forums, then mining those opportunities for pre-sales engagement. By understanding those information pain points, the brand moves to create the right mix of relevant media, ads, email, and content that is optimized for the inevitable search queries that will be used to validate recommendations made WOM or on social networks/forums as the prospect moves from consideration to purchase.

It’s a simple concept really: Generic SEO anticipates demand through keyword research, why not evolve that process and anticipate search demand by better knowing the customer journey? Integrated implementation of this holistic view of online marketing is a central theme to my book, Optimize.

Many organizations pay lip service to the notion of integrating marketing but are not structured to execute. Investments in content marketing for example are on the rise, but companies are too often reluctant to invest in anything outside of traditional digital advertising to drive traffic to that content.

An integrated approach that involves building social and search optimization into the content creation and promotion process would extend reach and provide a greater level of continuity with consumer experience across discovery channels like search engines and social networks. The same integrated effort can be extended to Online PR, email marketing, and other marketing communications.

Growing demand for integration means a growing demand for marketers with high levels of skill. As Google’s Avinash Kaushik (opening keynote speaker at SES Chicago) has said, “You can no longer be good at just one thing, or two. It is a 10-thing world now (and maybe a 20-thing world soon).” One of the key questions is, where does that talent come from? In-house? Agency? Both?

When it comes to search marketers answering the question about what “integrated marketing” means, I think optimizing customer experience across channels along with optimizing digital marketing effectiveness for brand marketers is a big part of the answer. We’ll find out what the panel and the audience thinks about that later this week in Chicago. I hope to see you there.

What is your definition of integrated marketing? If you’re heavily invested in search as an online marketing approach, how have you evolved your search marketing initiatives to be more integrated with other channels?


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4 Ways Marketers Can Improve Customer Retention By Going the Extra Mile http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/10/4-ways-improve-customer-retention/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/10/4-ways-improve-customer-retention/#comments Tue, 30 Oct 2012 11:05:09 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=14376 One of the reasons I enjoy working for a company like TopRank Online Marketing is our dedication to the clients have been with us on our journey, and the way in which we are able to work side by side as a team. In fact, our agency mantra is simple: Client, Company, Community, Self.  What [...]

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Two people running to help clientsOne of the reasons I enjoy working for a company like TopRank Online Marketing is our dedication to the clients have been with us on our journey, and the way in which we are able to work side by side as a team.

In fact, our agency mantra is simple: Client, Company, Community, Self.  What does that mean?  In every situation that we are faced with we must ask ourselves:

  • Is the decision I’m making good for the client?
  • How will it benefit the company?
  • Will it impact the community?
  • Is it good for me?

This seemingly simple reminder of what we stand for enables us to make decisions based on what is best for all parties involved.  We’ve been fortunate to have a number of clients who have been with us for a long time.  Why?  Our team has always strived to go the extra mile for our clients.  Below are 4 helpful tips to help you do the same.

Tip #1 – Be On the Lookout For Opportunity

When your business Internet marketing, it is essential that you can think quickly on your feet and adapt when needed.  In order to be proactive you must always be on the lookout for opportunities that will allow you to provide your clients with the highest level of services and solutions available.

Say one of your clients is struggling to find a way to better communicate with their internal team.  While this may fall out of your direct area of service with them, perhaps you could suggest a they begin using a program like Yammer or Salesforce Chatter to improve the way that they share information.

You may also provide a particular service to a client but believe they would benefit from utilizing some of your additional services.  Take advantage of this opportunity and find the RIGHT time to mention it to your client and follow up in a way that is appropriate based on their feedback.

Tip #2 – Always Ask Questions

Some clients will freely offer up information, while others need prompted to share.  We’ve gotten in the habit of sending our clients surveys so that we can get and analyze their honest feedback.  While using tools like surveys are a great way to augment your communication strategy, they are not the end all be all.

Positive communication aimed at getting to the root of issues, and even successes are essential to success.  Make a habit of doing less talking and more listening where your clients are concerned.

Tip #3 – Be Honest With Yourself, Your Team, & Your Clients

No one likes to be the bearer of bad news.  Especially if there were certain expectations set with a client and they for some reason or another are not met.  However, if you’re willing to step up to the plate and share less than positive news, while still taking a proactive approach to fixing the issue, they’ll know that you have their best interests in mind, and that they can trust you.

Tip #4 – Always Be Innovating

Whether you are a B2C company or a B2B company, your clients are always looking for someone to help them innovate.  Organizations hire marketers to help improve the quality and visibility of their company messaging.  In order to do that in an effective and efficient way, it is imperative that you’re always looking for new and better ways to provide a quality product to your clients.  Innovation comes in many forms and may be something as simple as adding new services to your marketing mix, or finding a new way to solve or explain a complex problem.

I’m sure that our team is alone in believing that taking care of your clients should always be a number one priority.  What have you found that your clients appreciate the most about working with you?  How have you handled a tough situation, and what were the results?

Image provided via Shutterstock.


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Evaluate & Energize Your Social Content Marketing Strategy #SMBMSP48 http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/08/evaluate-energize-your-social-content-marketing-strategy-smbmsp48/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/08/evaluate-energize-your-social-content-marketing-strategy-smbmsp48/#comments Fri, 24 Aug 2012 18:49:21 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=14072 Note from Ashley: Please welcome this guest post from Shawna Kenyon, an Associate Account Manager with TopRank Online Marketing. As I settle in for my first Social Media Breakfast #SMBMSP48 at 514 Studios, I survey the area and see some familiar faces and others less familiar. As the caffeine starts to kick in, the stage is [...]

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#SMPMSP48 Crowd

Note from Ashley: Please welcome this guest post from Shawna Kenyon, an Associate Account Manager with TopRank Online Marketing.

As I settle in for my first Social Media Breakfast #SMBMSP48 at 514 Studios, I survey the area and see some familiar faces and others less familiar. As the caffeine starts to kick in, the stage is set and the crowd welcomes presenter Lee Odden. As an Associate Account Manager at TopRank Online Marketing, this isn’t the first time I have heard Lee speak about social media as it relates to content strategy, but I always learn something new each time.

Lee sets the stage by posing a question to the crowd; ‘What are your primary goals when it comes to social media?’ Awareness, engagement, customer service, direct sales or is it something else altogether? Most of the crowd is split between awareness and engagement, but very few identified direct sales or customer service as a primary goal. While there isn’t really a right or wrong answer to this question, it’s always interesting to see how fellow marketers measure success.

Although the audience members at today’s event may have different goals, we all have one target in mind for our social efforts: the customer. As marketers, social strategist and business owners we have the ability to create, consume, publish, interact and transact online. With 88% of brand and agency marketers using social media for social content distribution, how can social be leveraged in a way that’s meaningful enough to attract and engage customers? Below are five questions that can help evaluate and energize your current social content marketing strategy.

1) Why Invest in Social?

It’s important to first define the correlation between what you want to achieve as an organization, and how you want your audience to feel about you. Is what you’re putting out into the social sphere optimized for the best possible performance? Do you know what your customer’s goals are and how they align with the business goals your company is trying to achieve? This dialogue has to go beyond features and benefits, tell a story and make that a part of your content strategy. If from there it can be determined how best to integrate through social media marketing, that’s the win.

2) Who is Your Audience?

Do you understand the consumer? Who is your target audience? Are they new or existing customers, and are you optimized for those audiences? If we understand our audience we have an opportunity to appeal to them based on what they want and what’s important to them, and in turn create content that speaks to them throughout the sales process. By empathizing with customer’s wants and needs and knowing why they care about you as a company, you can leverage that through content marketing and deliver it to those customers in a way that speaks to them.

If we examine a hub and spoke model, assuming we know our primary goal or objective, we can do more than just release a piece of content on Facebook or YouTube. We can utilize our existing networks to exponentially increase the reach of that content. It’s not about just putting something up on Slideshare, its segmenting that content and posting it to Facebook and Twitter, publishing a blog or a white paper and truly leveraging what audience you have and motivating them to take action. If you’re going to take advantage of a model like this it’s imperative you continually grow those networks.

3) Are You Optimized for Consumption?

The notion of content optimization isn’t just about SEO; optimization is a continuous effort to make something better over time. SEO itself can be very limited to just search engines; optimization is relevant to all content and objectives. If we understand who we are trying to do business with we need to understand three things:

  • How do they discover information?
  • What are their preferences when it comes to topics and in what format do they prefer? What does your target audience appreciate that would motivate them to take action?
  • How do we retain and evolve that customer?

Creating a better user experience requires that you know what your customers are talking about, and then blend that information into a content marketing and social media marketing plan. Be focused and you will stand out.

4) What’s The Customer Journey?

Traditional sales funnel would suggest we bring most consumers to the top of the funnel. But if we look at what might be more relevant to customers throughout the entire buying cycle we can create awareness. From a 360 degree perspective we look at the lifecycle as Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Purchase, Retention and finally Advocacy. It’s important to be optimized in every phase of that customer journey and map content to throughout each phase.

People tend to make decisions based on emotions, so think about how you want people to feel when they consume your content. Instead of publishing an infographic, determine where that infographic fits within the customer journey. Remember it’s not the media format that’s most important it’s the information. Don’t fall into the trap of creating content for SEO, content should be created for people and THEN you bring in SEO.

5) How Do You Measure Value? 

If the key performance indicators or KPI’s have been defined, the next step is measuring the progress being made to achieve those goals. What’s our share of voice how many times are people talking about us vs. our competition? Are we improving the customer experience? Are we increasing orders?
Social media is about meaningful relationships with people who will take action when asked. It makes more sense to produce a smaller quantity of content that has a higher level of engagement than it does to produce a large quantity of content that elicits little to no engagement. Knowing the level of engagement customers expect can determine what they are going to deem quality. Once you know that you can then optimize for it.

Optimization whether it be search or social is an approach, so set goals, test, revise, scale and repeat. There are the talking heads out there that might provide insight from time to time, but those who have experienced high levels of success have done so because they have learned to test and adapt based on their experiences. For more information on how to optimize your content strategy check out this blog on Content Marketing 101.

Speaking of your own experiences, what questions have you posed or tested to inform your social strategy? Demonstrate your social genius with a comment below.


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Create An Online Marketing Bucket List – What Would You Do If Your Marketing Plan Options Were Limitless? http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/08/create-an-online-marketing-bucket-list-what-would-you-do-if-your-marketing-plan-options-were-limitless/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/08/create-an-online-marketing-bucket-list-what-would-you-do-if-your-marketing-plan-options-were-limitless/#comments Tue, 07 Aug 2012 11:10:47 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13981 Have you ever caught yourself saying, “If only we’d had more time/money/resources we could have knocked that project out of the park!”? Some marketers are great at brainstorming great ideas and have trouble implementing, while others are more task oriented and have a hard time seeing the big picture.  Whether you relate to one of [...]

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When it comes to your marketing, the options are limitless.

Have you ever caught yourself saying, “If only we’d had more time/money/resources we could have knocked that project out of the park!”?

Some marketers are great at brainstorming great ideas and have trouble implementing, while others are more task oriented and have a hard time seeing the big picture.  Whether you relate to one of the two types mentioned above or fall somewhere in the middle there is always an opportunity for growth and discovery.

Often we can find ourselves getting caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of completing tasks related to our structured marketing programs. While creating an executable and realistic content plan is an essential part of implementing a successful marketing strategy, I think there is another very important and often overlooked option as well.

A few months ago I started putting together what I call my “Internet Marketing Bucket List”.  This list is constantly growing and is a compilation of marketing tactics and ideas that I want to execute but may not be realistic right now.  I’ve found that this exercise accomplishes a few objectives:

  • Central place to store ideas & concepts
  • A great creative outlet
  • Helps me think outside the box

In this post I have included tips for drafting your own list, as well as some questions to get you started.  Time to begin thinking about what you would include on your very own Marketing Bucket List!

Start Brainstorming & Documenting Your Ideas

One of the toughest parts about creating this list is getting something down.  If you’re like me, sometimes you have to be in the right creative frame of mind to work on this type of project.  Don’t worry about creating the whole list at once.  I continue to add marketing items to my list whenever I think of them.  A few additional tips would include:

  • Write everything down, even if you think it might be a bad idea
  • Include ideas you think are realistic and those that may seem like a long shot
  • “Borrow” ideas from other companies

Don’t Limit Yourself

Depending on your role, you may be responsible for a segment of marketing, or marketing as a whole.  Say you’re responsible for social media but also have some ideas that would lend themselves to a content marketing plan, get it down. What are the benefits of thinking outside your job function?

  • You can become a resource for other team members
  • A unique or perspective can often solve a difficult problem
  • Your value as an employee can dramatically increase if you think outside the box

Collaborate & Share Your Ideas

Some people like to organize all of their thoughts and have a structured plan before sharing ideas with anyone else.  I on the other hand prefer to bounce ideas off of my team as I’m jotting down ideas.  Who knows that small conversation may spark additional ideas.

The Marketing Bucket List is not a project that has to be completed on your own.  Perhaps you have a weekly or monthly team meeting and could use a portion of the time allocated to brainstorm with your fellow employees.

15 Questions to Jumpstart Your Marketing Bucket List

Below I have listed some questions you can ask yourself to jumpstart the creative juices and begin your very own bucket list.

  1. How are you going to store the information? (I use Google Docs)
  2. What are some small tactics you could implement today but simply don’t have the time?
  3. What are some bigger ideas that may not be possible to implement with current budget and resources?
  4. If money were no object what sort of campaigns or events would you like to have?
  5. Can you find examples of marketing that you appreciate from other companies, even if they are competitors?
  6. What tactics have you always wanted to try but have been too timid to move forward with?
  7. What sort of marketing inspires you as a consumer or purchaser?
  8. Who do you think would be the best target market for your marketing ideas?
  9. What is something you’ve implemented before that didn’t work as well as you had anticipated?
  10. What would you have done differently?
  11. Who would be a good person within your organization to discuss your marketing ideas with?
  12. Are there areas within your field that you need additional education on? (social media, email marketing, blog writing, press releases, etc.)
  13. Is there a skill or area of marketing that you’ve mastered and want to share with the rest of your team?
  14. What is your end goal with implementing these new tactics?
  15. Can you estimate what the ROI would be for your company?

The best advice I can give is not to over-think what you’re writing down.  Keep your Marketing Bucket List in a location that is easy to access at your desk or on the go.  You never know when a good idea might pop up.  As you work through your list cross of those you’ve been able to complete, and add additional ideas as needed.

If you’re looking for some input or want to take this conversation further please feel free to comment on this post or connect with our team via Twitter: @TopRank, @AZeckman.


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Break Free of Bad SEO Advice – Optimize for Customers http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/06/break-free-of-bad-seo-advice-optimize-for-customers/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/06/break-free-of-bad-seo-advice-optimize-for-customers/#comments Thu, 28 Jun 2012 17:45:02 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13808 Despite years of warnings from Google and especially from search quality guy, Matt Cutts, there’s a certain segment of internet marketing consultants that continue to give out bad advice:  SEO shortcuts, tricks and loopholes with manufactured content and buying links to gain an artificial advantage that runs contrary to Google’s Guidelines.  Complicating matters is the fact that large [...]

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break free bad seo adviceDespite years of warnings from Google and especially from search quality guy, Matt Cutts, there’s a certain segment of internet marketing consultants that continue to give out bad advice:  SEO shortcuts, tricks and loopholes with manufactured content and buying links to gain an artificial advantage that runs contrary to Google’s Guidelines.  Complicating matters is the fact that large numbers of companies are taking that advice in their rush to win traffic and sales.

The result? Getting penalized, removed from the index or other consequences affecting visibility of their content in search. From the Florida update almost 10 years ago to the Panda and recent Penguin updates, it’s clear Google is committed to narrowing down what kinds of SEO tactics can have an explicit impact on search visibility in their quest for quality.

In my opinion the issue is not as much about complying with Google’s rules, but about managing risk and creating a sustainable marketing effort that bears fruit over and over again. The effect may be the same, but I’m in business to make our clients money, not Google. Serving our clients’ interest is #1 and since helping them connect with prospects and existing customers is the goal, our approach to optimization emphasizes customers as the priority over search engines.  That said, a focus on both is essential to be competitive.

Webmasters and website owners need to not only comply with Google guidelines (which can seem a bit ambiguous with advice like “create good user experience”) by avoiding spammy tactics, but those operating in a competitive category will need to think about how to create a competitive advantage without putting their online business at risk with Google’s increasingly conservative approach to SEO tactics.

To Google’s credit, they have done an increasingly good job of creating content for webmasters on SEO basics, like this recent video from Maile Ohye “SEO for Startups in under 10 minutes”.

But those are the basics and a better understanding of the integration of search, social and content is necessary to win in competitive markets.

Content and social media are important means to connect with customers that also results in rewards from search engines in the form of better visibility. Unfortunately, many SEO tactics that are focused on rankings objectives rather than customer acquisition and engagement limit social media participation to pushing content out through social media channels. In those situations, there’s less of a focus on creating engagement or community, which can actually produce the signals that search engines really value: content, interactions, sharing.  The good news is that many smart SEOs are educating social content producers on the use of keywords and other optimization efforts to improve visibility of social content within search. The win is to do both: optimize for search and social engagement.

Many SEOs are getting on board the content bandwagon, except the common approach so far is to produce “more” content or “great” content (what does that mean?) in order to cast a wider net within search results. This makes sense: The more web pages, the more potential entry points via search or shared links.  But how much more effective would those ranking-centric efforts with content marketing be if there was more consideration of target audience needs during the buying cycle? What about optimizing for customers and business outcomes vs. keywords and rankings?

The best SEO advice isn’t about SEO. The basis of the book Optimize and what we write about here at Online Marketing Blog is to combine best practices SEO with a more customer-centric approach to developing content.  With a strong base of purposeful content, bring in keyword and social media optimization strategically to reach business goals for any kind of content, not just getting products and services pages to rank on page one with Google and Bing. The outcome is a more efficient, effective and scalable online marketing effort that attracts and engages more customers through search and/or social, is risk free and helps grow social networks at the same time.

Successful search marketing isn’t about following the rules, it’s about creating your own rules that satisfy the needs of the market you’re doing business in to grow your own business. At the same time, it’s about managing risk and knowing what the boundaries are. Sometimes that means you have to push to see what pushes back. Ongoing testing and marketing program optimization will be your best source of information, not solely search engine guidelines or industry experts. There is a time and a place for any type of SEO, social media or other online marketing tactics. Just be sure to quantify or clarify advice that seems too good to be true and cross check with your own ability to test and analyze.


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3 Ways Customer Optimization is a lot Like Fishing (and vice-versa) http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/05/customer-optimization-like-fishing-and-vice-versa/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/05/customer-optimization-like-fishing-and-vice-versa/#comments Wed, 30 May 2012 13:39:04 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13627 Savvy internet marketers work hard to uncover and understand the common characteristics of their buying audiences, segmenting them into groups and even going so far as to develop personas. They do this for a very good reason, how can you optimize your content for an audience if you don’t know who they are or what [...]

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customer optimizationSavvy internet marketers work hard to uncover and understand the common characteristics of their buying audiences, segmenting them into groups and even going so far as to develop personas. They do this for a very good reason, how can you optimize your content for an audience if you don’t know who they are or what they want? This customer-centric approach to marketing is one that Lee has been advocating for years (see Chapter 6 of Optimize for some good nuggets).

With the sun starting to warm-up Lake Minnetonka where the TopRank Online Marketing HQ is located, it got me thinking about how the disciplines of customer optimization and fishing are similar. You may laugh at that idea, but given my tendency to leave each fishing trip with 5-7 less lures, an impressive sunburn and zero fish, I have spent a lot time reflecting on how to elevate my fishing ‘game’.

So if you’re a marketer who is trying to better connect with your audience, or an outdoors enthusiast trying to better connect your fishing net to a Northern, here are 3 Ways Customer Optimization is a lot Like Fishing.

1) Know Your Fish

Outside our offices at TopRank is the 14,000 acre+ Lake Minnetonka. Try casting a line in a random location in a lake this size with no idea of what what type of fish you’re trying to catch. Trust me, you’ll come home empty handed. Through research, good anglers know the different fish that inhabit a lake. They also know traits about the fish that will influence when, where and how they fish.

The same lesson can easily be applied to online marketing. Without a solid understanding of the different groups that buy or use your services, your content is doomed to fail.

What to do?

Conduct research of your own by working collaboratively with your sales and product teams to compile information on your buying personas. You’ll likely be surprised by how quickly that information can develop into a more strategic marketing plan.

2) Use the Right Lure

Until I was 15 years old I thought every fish was caught with a worm and a hook. If only it were that easy. Different fish eat different food based on their specific needs. Take the mighty Musky for instance. It’s a large fish that requires sizeable prey to thrive, so why would it waste it’s time on a little worm? It likely won’t. Understanding your audience is the first step, knowing what they want and/or need is what comes next.

What needs do your services fill? How do those needs relate to your different personas? Understanding these points will drive the type of content you create. At the end of the day your different customer segments may buy the same product, but how and why they purchase the product could be very different (think time savings, cost savings, competitive advantage, etc.), and so should your content.

3) Go Where the Fish are Biting

Walleye spawn when the water temperature hits approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They also are very specific in where they tend to spawn, preferring depths of 10-15 feet just off the shore. Wow, I wonder if that information would be valuable to someone trying to catch Walleye?

Your customers have tendencies too. They trust certain news sources, they prefer specific social channels and they search with keywords that match their needs. Survey your customers, dive into your analytics and listen in social. The answers to ‘where’ and ‘how’ your customers consume and share content will begin to emerge. And when they do, map your content channels to different themes and audiences in order to build your own customer-centric editorial plan.

Now, where’s my fishing pole?


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Marketo Summit Session: Engaging with Cross Channel Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/05/marketo-summit-session-engaging-with-cross-channel-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/05/marketo-summit-session-engaging-with-cross-channel-marketing/#comments Thu, 24 May 2012 20:01:45 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13656 [Note from Brian: Please note that Marketo is a client of TopRank Online Marketing] When was the last time you heard of a really successful email campaign? Or TV ad campaign? Or a campaign on any channel for that matter? It’s likely been awhile. The reason that isolated, channel-specific campaigns are rarely discussed these days is [...]

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[Note from Brian: Please note that Marketo is a client of TopRank Online Marketing]

When was the last time you heard of a really successful email campaign? Or TV ad campaign? Or a campaign on any channel for that matter? It’s likely been awhile.

The reason that isolated, channel-specific campaigns are rarely discussed these days is simple: they rarely work. That by no means is saying that email, or TV, or social, can’t be incredibly effective platforms to market your messages. Cross channel (see multiple channel) marketing is effective because each of these platforms can have an impact, when integrated into a holistic campaign.

It’s with this in mind that Maria Pergolino, Marketo’s Senior Director of Marketing, led the Marketo Summit panel discussion ‘Engaging with Cross Channel Marketing’.

Joined by Marketo users Tricia Reilly of VMWare and Loretta Jones of Echosign, Pergolino started the session by asking each panel member to share their journey to adopting Marketo’s marketing automation solution. After Reilly and Jones reviewed how their business needs and market demands led them to Marketo, the discussion then changed gears and focused on some ways VMWare and Echosign leveraged data from Marketo to identify and develop a cross-channel marketing strategy to more effectively nurture prospects through the sales funnel.

The session featured several case studies, but Pergolino’s own story of Marketo’s recent campaign to re-engage stale contacts really resonated with the crowd. Here are the details on how fortune cookies drove $200K in revenue for Marketo.

Marketo’s Fortune Cookie Campaign

Challenge: Reinvigorate high value but inactive email subscribers.

Strategy: Re-engage these stalled contacts through a multi-touch, customized campaign.

Tactics: Pergolino’s team deployed a marketing mix aimed at a targeted audience segment that included: email, direct mail, web content and phone calls.

Marketo’s marketing team started the campaign by leveraging the sales teams insights and asking them to nominnate contacts to target for the campaign. After the lists of contacts were cleaned to remove old or inaccurate data, the campaign was ready to launch.

  1. Fortune cookie baskets were sent to targeted contacts
  2. Each basket included a definitive guide resource, as well as a personal letter
  3. Once the package was received, the e-signature for the package created a notification within Marketo, triggering an email to the contact
  4. A follow up call was then automatically scheduled with the appropriate sales rep through Marketo’s integration with Salesforce.
  5. Optimized web and social content was crafted and published to reinforce the key messages

Results:  Pergolino shared that the cost to Marketo for developing and executing the campaign was approximately $13,000. The return was slightly higher, with $200,000 to-date in revenue…with more opportunities in-progress.

Food aside, this story reminds us of the importance of connecting with our audience it different ways. Direct mail, email and phone enabled Marketo to effectively push their strategic message and inspire action, while their optimized web content allowed them to pull in the target audience to destinations that moved them along the funnel.

Have you had success with a cross channel campaign?  What’s your fortune cookie story?

 

 


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It’s Like Deja Vu All Over Again: 4 Tips for Improving Marketing for Small Business http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/05/4-tips-avoid-marketing-deja-vu/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2012/05/4-tips-avoid-marketing-deja-vu/#comments Tue, 08 May 2012 12:43:31 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=13603 At some time or another we have all experienced that eerie sense of familiarity where we’ve “been there” or “done that” before.  Whether it is an actual memory or simply a “brain fart”, deja vu is an interesting experience. Let’s assume for a second that deja vu is real.  If you found yourself in a [...]

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Marketing Deja Vu Getting You Down?

At some time or another we have all experienced that eerie sense of familiarity where we’ve “been there” or “done that” before.  Whether it is an actual memory or simply a “brain fart”, deja vu is an interesting experience.

Let’s assume for a second that deja vu is real.  If you found yourself in a situation you knew for certain you had experienced before that had ended badly would you have the tools necessary to change your course of action?  Many organizations have faced and continue to deal with “marketing deja vu” or ending up in the same situations over and over again.  What can you do to avoid making the same marketing mistakes more than once?

*Speaking of deja vu: If you are looking for additional tips on improving your marketing strategy be sure to reference the posts from the TopRankBlog archive that appear in this post.

4 Tips For Avoiding Marketing Deja Vu

#1 – Learn From Your Previous Marketing Mistakes


The best way to avoid repeating mistakes?  By learning from each experience.  Do not expect that you will have different set of outcomes from the same actions.  We must remember that marketing mistakes can mean a decrease in current customer base, as well as the loss of potential new customers.

3 Tips for Learning From Your Marketing Mistakes:

  • Mistakes happen, the worst thing you can do is avoid dealing with the problem
  • Move on but don’t forget the lesson you learned
  • Don’t let frustration get the best of you

We All Make Mistakes:  20 Social Media Marketing Do’s & Dont’s

#2 – Create A Structured Marketing Process

Errors can in large part be attributed to lack of process.  A structured process provides a framework and guideline for accomplishing your marketing goals.  Marketing process improves your ability to:

  • Plan effectively for future marketing needs
  • Implement & Scale your marketing plan
  • Test, implement, and refine marketing tactics

Implement A Process: Practical Tips to Make Your Blog More Useful & Interactive

#3 – Don’t Rationalize Bad Marketing Decisions

One of the biggest mistakes we can make as marketers is to rationalize bad decisions.  It is important that we accept and face the fact that we didn’t make the best choice.  Once we’ve overcome the hurdle of admitting fault it’s time to take action:

  • Focus on why a particular marketing tactic didn’t work
  • Determine how your team can improve going forward
  • Debrief other team members so they can avoid making the same mistakes

To Be Avoided: 4 B2B Social Media & SEO Blunders to Avoid

#4 – Ask for Help & Advice to Improve Your Marketing Plan

Pride should never get in the way of improving your marketing strategy.  Some of the best ideas come from where you least expect. Suggesting collaboration with other team members and influentials can:

  • Help you come to a conclusion for next steps faster
  • Remind you of mistakes they may have made in the past that you will want to avoid
  • Provide a fresh set of eyes that may have a different perspective

Get the Help You Need: 4 Tips for Becoming A Better Influencer

Take Action

You may have heard some or all of the tips listed above prior to reading this post.  However, I want you to ask yourself:  How many of these tips has my team actually implemented and stuck with?  A good starting point to get on the right track to avoiding ‘marketing deja vu’ is to ask yourself and your team a few simple discovery questions:

  • What are 3 instances in where your marketing team has made the same mistake more than once?
  • Did you expect different outcomes each time the mistake was made?
  • What were those expected outcomes?
  • What have you done to rectify these mistakes, or adapt your process to avoid them in the future?

Remember, if you can’t answer these questions on your own perhaps you should try asking other team members.  Or you may want to consider or contacting an agency like TopRank Marketing to learn how you can attract and engage current and prospective customers by avoiding common marketing mistakes.


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